OCATruth: Goodbye OCA

A reader sent this email to OCATruth who published it. Please, no baseless comments about anonymity in response to this. The reader points to a hard truth: this attempt to remove +Jonah is so shameful that people are scandalized and leaving the Church. Comments below the parenthesis are from OCATruth.

From a reader:

No need to print. But I might represent at least another dozen or so people. Go ahead and report the trend. We are leaving in droves!!! Convert of 20 years. Have had ENOUGH.

Since this newest scandal started, I decided to take my own ‘leave of absence.’ I decided to check out other churches, and have found refreshingly joyful services elsewhere, and better run churches – both pastorally and financially. Orthodoxy is in danger. OCA in particular. The faithful vote with their feet. For those fearful of where you will go to worship when the church leaves you…..just realize that God is greater than Orthodoxy.

Sadly, there is a “need to print,” and that’s why we’re printing this. The Synod has got to wake up and understand what it is doing to the Church. It sat around for years and did nothing about Met. Theodosius’s abuse of office. It did nothing but wring its hands over Met. Herman following in that tradition. When we finally got a primate who was uncorrupt and visionary, though one who needs help mastering the finer points of administration, oh, that’s when they suddenly got vigilant — and now are willing to risk tearing the Church apart to have their way.

Nothing these bishops are doing makes a single thing the Orthodox Church teaches untrue. But ordinary people are getting so sick and tired of this garbage from the leadership that they’re walking away, because they figure that the bishops can’t really believe in what they preach, not when they act like they do.

We know that the OCA’s numbers are collapsing, and were collapsing long before Metropolitan Jonah had even been tonsured a monk. This is not his fault. As recently as 2006, Fr. Tom Hopko gave a chapter-and-verse recitation of the OCA’s steep decline. What have the bishops done to address this? What has Fr. Hopko, who denounced His Beatitude on Clean Monday, done to address this? He was dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary from 1992 to 2002, and as such, was one of the most important figures in shaping the minds and the ministries of many priests. Does he feel no responsibility for what has happened to the OCA?

It makes me sick to see all these bishops and prominent Orthodox dumping on a man, Jonah, who has no responsibility for the sick state the OCA finds itself in, and has struggled to find firm footing on the deck of a sinking ship, which started to capsize long before he was brought up to the bridge, while the bishops and other men whose job it was to right the ship preferred to stand around singing “Nearer My God to Thee.” Meanwhile, people like this anonymous reader above are catching lifeboats. You would think this might matter to the bishops and the Metropolitan Council.

This is not a game! This is real life.


  1. A. Rymlianin says

    Maybe our bishops are thinking of turning the parish churches and cathedrals into “alternative lifestyle wedding chapels” because that’s going to be all that’s left of the OCA if they manage to circumvent Moscow and get rid of Met. Jonah. The rest of us can easily move down the road to Carpatho-Russian or Antiochian parishes. Has anyone noticed how many parishes of the MP there are in the US?

    • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

      “Circumvent Moscow”?

      Please explain. We’re autocephalous.

      • lexcaritas says

        More like polycephalous and acephelous, brother, all the rage. Meawhile how many blog comments evince a failure even to acknowledge our God Who is everwhere present. How many of us are acting like practical atheists?


        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          lexcaritas remarks:

          “More like polycephalous and acephelous”

          If I were a Roman Catholic, lexcaritas, I would say “bingo” to that!

      • Autocephaly does not give a church free license to act without regard to her sisters. Moscow has the right to give warning when one of those sister churches appears to be in danger of stumbling, and she and the other churches have the right to withdraw from communion with the OCA if they see the OCA’s bishops acting in a manner not in accordance with Scripture and Holy Tradition.

        • Helga, I myself wish that sister churches would be more proactive when they see things that trouble them. And by this I mean in all directions. A little cessation of Communion might be the necessary corrective for potentially alarming situations.

          I would be mortified if the Orthodox Church in North America became the ECUSA of Orthodoxy: the sodomite tail that wags the traditional dog. I bow to no man in my pride of my country and its exceptionalism, but I utterly despise the conceit that because we are Americans we have the right to impose our values on our sister churches. And that goes for our precious pluralism.

          Hey, here’s a thought: for all the Kishkovskyites in American Orthodoxy, if pluralism is so good, let’s dispense with all hierarchy and accountability. Let’s engage in the “hermeneutics of dissent” that is all the rage in modern Protestantism and Cafeteria Catholicism. And then while we’re at it, we can save some real money and start closing churches. Then I can start worshiping God on the golf course and not have to put up with preachy sermons about why the NCC is such a good thing.

          • Certainly, George. I thought that things like Chambesy were intended to help get everyone on the same page, to keep individual churches from acting as if they had no accountability to the rest of the Church.

            I would have liked to have seen someone, anyone, hold Metropolitan Philip accountable. The Allen affair would have been a good time. The demoting-bishops affair would have been a good time. Instead, Antioch shrugged and put its rubber stamp on everything he wanted, and everyone else cast their eyes downward.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Helga, that was one of the stated objectives of Chambesy. I’m not so optimistic about that entire process. However, the accountability factor is definately in play thanks to +Kirill.

              • Yeah, I’m not optimistic either, as long as Constantinople and Moscow are at an impasse over the “barely canonical” OCA. Maybe the OCA bishops need to gate-crash the next Chambesy meeting. “It appears our invitations were lost in the mail. Don’t worry, we brought our own chairs.”

                • George Michalopulos says

                  That would entail them having spines. Instead, they’d rather choke on camels while straining on gnats.

    • Fr. Christopher Allen says

      And ROCOR. 😉

      • Well, Fr. Christopher, I know I’d be OK with an English-language ROCOR parish! 😉

  2. Anonymous since it's all the rage says

    Please, no baseless comments about anonymity in response to this.

    It’s an anonymous letter on an anonymous website. That’s a fact, not baseless. I’d also point out that I’ve noted a wondrous consistency in the writing styles among these “a reader who writes” and their scribblings. Can’t prove it, of course, so it’s just conspiracy-mongering, I know.

    The Synod has got to wake up and understand what it is doing to the Church. It sat around for years and did nothing about Met. Theodosius’s abuse of office. It did nothing but wring its hands over Met. Herman following in that tradition.

    So, now when it perceives a problem, it should do nothing? I said it before: we don’t know the facts. But I find it impossible to ignore that Fr. Hopko, Fr. Oleksa, and, oh yeah, THE ENTIRE SYNOD are saying we have a major problem, but I must believe these two guys without names that everything is hunky-dory. Sorry, no. Being an American Orthodox is an exercise of your cynical muscle at the best of times, and these ain’t them.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      The “entire Synod” is not saying we have a “major problem.” The Synod’s statements on the “problem” have been very limited. The public statements by individual bishops have also been very limited. And NOT ONE of the public statements by anyone — Fr. Hopko and Fr. Oleksa included — has made an allegation serious enough to justify the damage done to the OCA and the Orthodox Church by this mugging of the Metropolitan.

      • lexcaritas says

        Thank you, Fr. Dcn. Your comments are, as usual, spot on.

        Furthermore, I may say personally that what the writer to OCA Truth says is something personally felt by me and with which I can identify–so his (or hers) is not an isolated case. The fact that most clergy hope that their people are and will remain disinterested in, or unaware of, what is going on is testimony to the fact of how ugly it is and that, if known, it would drive some out of the Church and would certainly deter many others from entering. Therefore, the instinct is to keep the whole thing under wraps. However, it is already sapping energy and enthusiasm that should be used to edify the Church and evangelize an America that seems bent on its own destruction by moral and economic suicide to which the Gospel alone is the only effective medicine–but we are failing to deliver it.


      • Chris Plourde says

        Deacon Brian,

        Your post seems to have things both ways. You concede the facts that the Synod and Bishops have been “very limited” in their statements, yet you refer to a “public mugging.”

        If the “public mugging” is not by the Synod or the Bishops, the only ones with any authority in this entire affair, who is it by and why should we care?

        In all honesty, my take all along is that mountains are being made of molehills and, it seems, the only ones who disagree breathlessly tell us of their anonymous sources who feed them anonymous information that turns out to contain only about a fraction of the information required to arrive at understanding.

        It is not the actions of Bishops or the Metropolitan that is creating the crisis, it is the trumpeting of rumor as fact.

        If you think Jonah was “publicly mugged” you should be able to identify the muggers, since it was public. You’ve left the Synod and individual Bishops off the hook (or have you?) so what power do any of these players have?


        • I believe the “mugging” is largely the doing of Mark Stokoe and his company of like-minded individuals. OCANews may not have the authority of the Synod, but they certainly have influence over public opinion.

          • Harry Coin says

            ‘OCATruth’ might have power over public opinion too if only they’d man up and sign their names to their writing. Seriously — what we are treated to is an anonymous website arguing for what they see as propriety in personnel decisions. It reminds me of a monk who wrote that he spent years in a ‘two person monastery’ with ‘a bishop’ who made homosexual advances to various, but as the bishop ‘never got anywhere’ with the monk it wasn’t important. Are we living in a clown universe now?

            Please oh please– those who like the message Met. Jonah has been speaking about cook up a website that presents facts people can check and sign your name to it!!

            • George Michalopulos says

              But Harry, that’s what’s eating a lot of the +Jonah-haters, isn’t it? The very fact that OCAT has tremendous power over public opinion.

              This wasn’t supposed to happen was it? Once the great OZ speaks, the Munchkins were supposed to tremble and accept it without question. But like the great OZ, it was all an illusion.

        • Amen, Chris. We’ve heard about this “mugging” and abusive treatment, but the only hard evidence is that the Holy Synod asked the Metropolitan to request a leave of absence, that he agreed, that he then changed his mind, and then, following a meeting with a Russian hierarch, well, yes, there would be a leave of absence. It’s the Anonymous Cowards at the truth website who have generated all the conspiracy theories that are currently in play.

          • Is there hard evidence that the Metropolitan “changed his mind”? He has largely stuck precisely to his word as recorded in DC on the Sunday after Santa Fe. He said he would devote himself to his personal health, mostly stay in DC, visit loved ones (his family in San Diego), and see physicians. He has done all those things. He’s even gone on a diet, bless his heart.

            The only two possible exceptions would be his meetings with the primates of the Czech and Serbian churches, and I think it was wise to have him attend those, considering the damage and worry that the false rumors of his resignation caused. I would hope the Synod saw the wisdom of that, too.

            • It has been reported to me that the bishops of the Holy Synod review the minutes at the end of their meetings and approve them at that time. (I believe this is done by signing them, but I haven’t confirmed the precise manner of approval.) The minutes approved for public release indicate that the Metropolitan agreed to request the leave, and I haven’t heard that he has protested that the minutes do not reflect the actions taken during the meeting. After all, the very purpose of the minutes is to record the nature of the discussions and the actions taken by the participants.

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                Yes, yes, and we’ve been through this all already. The truth is that minutes are not a transcript, so what was actually, literally requested by the Metropolitan, agreed to by the Metropolitan, and accepted by the Synod is not known to us. In all likelihood, there was some uncertainty among them as to what they were talking about, and their differences in understanding only came out after the meeting, when some people interpreted “leave of absence” to mean temporary deposition. If you think, the Metropolitan agreed to that, I’ve got a few bridges to sell you.

                Now can you address my point below about your absurd statement that the conspiracy against the Metropolitan is just an invention by “Anonymous Cowards”?

                • Dn Brian (or Patrick?), have you met any of the hierarchs being accused of manipulating these minutes (which is what this suggestion amounts to)? The minutes are approved at the end of the meeting so that the actions that can be authorized only by the Holy Synod are confirmed and therefore implementable by the chancery staff and Metropolitan Council. “Uncertainty” doesn’t allow for that.

                  There’s no such thing as a temporary deposition. (There are numerous accounts of clergy being reinstated following unjust deposition (cf. Ss Athanasius and John Chrysostom), but the canons concerning deposition never present a vision that removal from the ranks of clergy is anything other than permanent.) As a deacon, you should know this. Certainly the bishops all know this. A leave of absence is by no means a deposition.

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    Father, you are jumping to conclusions and reading things not written. No one is accusing anyone of “manipulating” the minutes, only of misunderstanding what was agreed to and accepted in the meeting. That was the impression of the ROCOR bishop who said as much on line.

                    Have you ever taken minutes of a meeting? Have you ever then been asked to make changes based on someone else’s understanding of what was said? Do you know for a fact that +Jonah was given the opportunity to review and approve the minutes? Do the minutes themselves define the term “leave of absence” or specify any conditions of this particular leave of absence?

                    As for temporary deposition, Stokoe himself reminded us that the OCA has used “leaves of absence” to effectively depose hierarchs on more than one occasion. But wait, even better, even before the minutes were released, the chancellor of the Metropolitan’s own archdiocese interpretated the press release coming out of Santa Fe to mean that the Metropolitan would no longer be commemorated in the Divine Liturgy and that AB Nathaniel, as acting administrator, would be commemorated instead. He sent an email to all of the clergy of the archdiocese to that effect, which was then countermanded by an email from Fr. Joseph Fester on behalf of the Metropolitan. If that’s not deposition, what is?

                    It was under those circumstances that the Metropolitan saw the need to assert himself and make it plain to the world that he had not agreed to such a “leave of absence” and was still the metropolitan.

                    • Alexandra Safchuk says

                      Fr. Dn. Brian Patrick
                      I include below the email sent from Fr. Gregory to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Washington. Please use it to correct your post above.
                      Matushka Alexandra Safchuk

                      Dear Brothers,
                      In the light of the announcement on the OCA website concerning Archbishop Nathaniel assisting in the temporary administration of the OCA during His Beatitude’s retreat, a number of you have asked if he should also be included in petitions for and commemoration of the hierarchs during liturgical services. I’ve put in a request for guidance on this, but until I hear back from him, I advise that His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel, be added following the regular commemoration of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah.
                      Thanks for your patience and prayers.
                      In Christ,
                      Fr. Gregory

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      CORRECTION: The email from the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington did not advise removing +Jonah’s name from the commemorations but did advise adding +Nathaniel’s after +Jonah’s. I remembered it wrongly, and I regret the mistake.

                      I still think the guidance to add +Nathaniel gives evidence of the confusion among even the clergy about what a “leave of absence” meant. No one quite knew. For my part, I would never have thought to add +Nathaniel’s name to commemorations, as if he were now our diocesan bishop.

                    • To follow the logic of this argument to its final conclusion:

                      Have you ever taken minutes of a meeting? Have you ever then been asked to make changes based on someone else’s understanding of what was said? Do you know for a fact that +Jonah was given the opportunity to review and approve the minutes? Do the minutes themselves define the term “leave of absence” or specify any conditions of this particular leave of absence?

                      It was under those circumstances that the Metropolitan saw the need to assert himself and make it plain to the world that he had not agreed to such a “leave of absence” and was still the metropolitan.

                      Requires us to believe that: all the other OCA bishops present at the SantaFe retreat in February 2011 falsely and/or incorrectly represented the “Leave of Absence” discussion and agreement between them and Metropolitan Jonah in the publicly released Minutes on the OCA site. http://www.oca.org/PDF/NEWS/2011/2011-0301-public-minutes-santafe.pdf

                      In other words we are asked to believe on speculation and “secret conspiracy theories” that all the other 8 bishops of the OCA created these false/incorrect/biased minutes in order to purposely discredit Met. Jonah and technically “depose” him.

                      Just making sure I understand your story line. I’m willing to listen, but it would help to actually see some documentation and objective proof of these serious and troubling assertions, besides the claims and wild speculations of countless anonymous posters.

              • Again, where did the Metropolitan “change his mind”? The minutes said he would go on leave, and he has done exactly that, and at no point publicly acted against it. The only source claiming he is ‘disobedient’ and that he ‘changed his mind’ is Mark Stokoe, and he did not provide a direct quotation at any point.

                I think it’s more likely that the Metropolitan simply pointed out that whatever intentions were brought by other Synod members to the meeting, no actual agreement for an official leave of absence was ever made. And he’d be right, frankly: as the active primate, he had every right to determine what he would do during this 60-day period.

                Look back at this really bizarre press release from about a week after Santa Fe, regarding the Metropolitan’s authority to postpone the HS/MC meetings. To me it sounds like it really was the Synod’s intention to have the Metropolitan effectively suspended. Otherwise, why would there even be a question of the Metropolitan’s authority? Why would they have to ask the Synod along with canonists and the legal committee, about the Metropolitan’s authority to do anything, unless it had come in to question? Once the question was under consideration, though, they admitted that the Metropolitan had the right to postpone the meetings.

          • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

            Priest Biberdorf, you are right that the Synod as a whole has not said or done much publicly in this matter, contrary to the exaggerated claims by critics of the Metropolitan that “all eight” are aligned against him.

            But by “mugging” I meant the behind-the-scenes machinations against the Metropolitan, including the preparation of a secret SMPAC report, the attempts by members of the Synod to dictate the conditions of the leave of absence, the campaign of rumors (never substantiated) about the Metropolitan’s mental health, and the shameful resolution from the DOW against him. In view of such machinations and the leaked emails, an honest man cannot simply dismiss the mugging as invention by OCATruth.

            • Descriptions of everything that you mention (machinations, the nature of any SMPAC report alterations, questions of mental health, and all the rumors) have come almost exclusively, if not absolutely exclusively, from OCATruth. The leaked emails can be read in several ways (descriptive, not proscriptive, etc.), and, even to the extent they reveal personal biases of their authors, it takes some clever reading to turn them into planning for a coup. This is especially true in light of the fact that none of them came from members of the Holy Synod. (Mr. Michalopulos has yet to substantiate his claim the bishops were participants in Mr. Stokoe’s email.)

              What’s interesting to contemplate in all of this is that the big players in these negative rumors were everyone’s darlings during the exposure of the scandals under Metropolitans Theodosius and Herman. We loved Stokoe when he was reporting the truth about what was and wasn’t being said and done, and being vilified for it. Fr Garklavs entered at a very difficult time and provided a steady, mature hand on the administrative rudder as continued the cleanup while Herman will still primate. Solodow was part of the SIC whose report revealed the extent of the corruption. Fr Reeves was on the first SIC and resigned in protest after the manipulations by the Metropolitan. Gregg Nescott, the federal prosecutor, was forced off the first SIC by the Metropolitan, after insisting on disclosure and access. Faith Skordinski held on like a pitbull during the tumult (Rod Dreher even said so, as part of a title of a blog entry that’s still Google-able – try “faith skordinski pit bull”, although his Beliefnet blogs have been taken offline in the past week, leading one to raise an eyebrow, or two.).

              All of these people who served honorably, and at risk of their own reputations, to get to the root of the previous corruption are now being attacked and accused of participation in an attempt to overthrow the Metropolitan. The one thing they have in common is that they are all….intensely disliked…by players in the old regime. (I’m sure you can guess which ones.) Yet no one asks who’s really behind OCATruth. Michalopulos insists that the anonymity is nothing, but, seriously, if you stand for the truth, get out and confess it. Hang those icons of St Maximus, St Basil, St Nicetas, and the numerous other saints with the title “Confessor” on the wall and pray for their intercessions.

              Otherwise, they’re just cowards giving everyone good reason to doubt their suspicious motives.

              • Fr. Basil is absolutely right! I second everything he has written.

                This is NOT a defense of Stokoe. This is about trusting many men and women of PROVEN character, integrity, and trustworthiness and a proven track record of helping the Church in very difficult times and standing for truth and accountability. Contrast that with quite a few others who abused and pillaged the Church’s Talents and then said and did NOTHING to help, and then ran away when asked to speak up.

                A man’s character is made manifest in times of trouble and crisis.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Chris, better be careful with that one about “proven integrity.”

                  • George, What happened to my post comparing retired +Tikhon of the West’s claims vs. reality? I believe it was held in que since it included several links. Can you check and approve it? Thanks!

              • Harry Coin says

                Bravo. Very well written indeed!

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                Nonsense. Your argument is based on two simple fallacies: (1) anonymity equals falsehood, and (2) people who were right then must be right now. Sheer nonsense.

                • Well, as I said previously,

                  It’s likely superfluous to note this, but when one’s entire worldview is (apparently) predicated on the notion that the entire OCA administration,the entire Holy Synod, and (at a minimum) a solid majority of the Metropolitan Council is out to “get” Your Guy, maybe it’s time to step back, take a deep breath, say “Lord, Have Mercy” a dozen times with prostrations, and reflect on the significance of the word “paranoia.”

                  I’ll take individuals I know personally and by reputation as men and women of integrity over a bunch of anonymous cowards publishing unsubstantiated rumors and leaks that could only have come from sources with dubious motives.

                  • AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

                  • Heracleides says

                    “I’ll take individuals I know personally and by reputation as men and women of integrity over a bunch of anonymous cowards publishing unsubstantiated rumors and leaks that could only have come from sources with dubious motives.”

                    Are you seriously asserting that Bishop +Tikon is 1) anonymous, 2) a coward, and 3) publishes unsubstantiated rumors and leaks? You are obviously unacquainted with the bishop; +Tikon is anything but anonymous, hardly a coward, and the emails he has leaked have gone unchallenged by their authors as to authenticity – in fact, Stokoe has publically acknowledged the one he is purported to have authored as his own work. Care to retract/revise your fallacious statement Priest Basil Biberdorf once you get your facts straight? As for “dubious motives,” one can only wonder what reward you expect to get out of this once the dust settles.

                  • Not sure if retired Bishop Tikhon of the West (Fitzgerald) is a coward in the traditional sense of the word (although many priests, parish councils, and parishes in the West would disagree). However, his judgment and discernment leave a lot to be desired! Many of his previous public statements with regards to several key issues in the past were proven to be not only be incorrect, but really delusional and absolutely false.

                    Here are just a few examples:

                    Bishop Tikhon regarding the OCA Financial Scandal and Weeler’s Allegations
                    Posted on Sat, 11 Feb 2006 15:20:12 on Indiana Listserv

                    “All allegations of criminal conduct and financial malfeasance are false.”

                    OCA SIC Report – 2008
                    Dcn. Eric Wheeler’s allegations where proven true!

                    Bishop Tikhon regarding Robert Kondratick Deserving a Mitre
                    Posted on Sat, 11 Feb 2006 15:20:12 on Indiana Listserv

                    “I would add that the Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick, has devoted his life to The Orthodox Church in America. He is a devout Priest, fulfilling in every respect these admonitions of Saint Paul to Timothy: “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” as well as “Blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach, Not given to wine, no striker, NOR GREEDY OF FILTHY LUCRE; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in all subjectivity, with all gravity…”

                    In the normal way of things, Father Bob should have been awarded the Priestly Mitre long ago.

                    OCA SIC Report – 2008

                    7. The Former Chancellor Robert Kondratick
                    (a) misused hundreds of thousands of dollars from OCA accounts;

                    (b) created unauthorized and unaudited “discretionary account,” funds from which are either undocumented or untraceable and apparently were used for payment of personal expenses;

                    (c) submitted and received reimbursement for unauthorized personal and family expenses from the CA;

                    (d) lived rent-free in a home owned by the OCA while receiving a housing allowance;

                    (e) willfully ignored OCA procedures by seeking and receiving reimbursement for undocumented credit card expenses;

                    (f) created a culture of deception, deceit, and covertness, which permeated the Chancery;

                    (g) used OCA resources to develop personal loyalty, dependence, and silence an the part of hierarchy, clergy, and laity through gifts, which included cash, jewelry, meals, travel, lodging, and incidentals;

                    (h) authorized numerous undocumented cash withdrawals just under the $10,000 United States Treasury reporting limit; and

                    (i) imported religious and other articles for resale without proper documentation and accounting.


                    Bishop Tikhon regarding Deacon Wheeler’s Allegations
                    Posted on Sat, 4 Mar 2006 15:22:49 on Indiana Listserv

                    “Our Holy Synod recently held a special meeting to address the unimpeded, unhindered, free-wheeling, irregular, shameless and disorderly allegations which became the source of so much totally unnecessary and uncalled-for disorder in our Church and which were even bruited on the internet and in the press, finally leading senior clergy to cry out for someone to address the lack of control at the top. Most of the allegations had been made by those who followed that canon for scoundrels: ‘Start at the top and work your way up!'”

                    OCA SIC Report – 2008
                    Dcn. Eric Wheeler’s allegations where proven true and accurate!


                    Bishop Tikhon regarding Fr. Thomas Hopko Comments on the Crisis
                    Posted on 4/4/2006, 3:34 pm on OCANews.org

                    “I am perplexed by the role of faculty members, clergy members of the faculty of Saint Vladimir’s in advising Your Beatitude and/or fomenting greater disorder and chaos. I’m especially perplexed by the irrational advice gratuitously afforded me and others by Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, who may be having some kind of stress incident. He first wrote us that the ONLY solution was his advice. No sooner had he done that, than, after the sensational and scandalous and arbitrary discharge of the Chancellor, he generously afforded us copies of the wisdom he has dispensed to the Metropolitan Council!

                    I have my own diocesan council, and a Presbyterium second to none. What do I need with a dogmatic theologian’s, (I should say, ‘popularizer of theology for the educationally challenged’) kibbitzing advice? Any matushka and many other ladies in all my parishes have as good a grip, as advanced piety, and as many brains as Father Thomas Hopko. His letter to the Metropolitan Council is an unconscionable and mob-inciting RANT. What arrogance and self-delusion! He and that Protodeacon Danilchick, former Exxon or Enron accountant are, I understand, among Your Beatitude’s most favored advisors, though why anyone would curry their favor is way beyond my ken.”

                    Most of the OCA and All of Us Living in the Real World – 1980-2011
                    Fr. Thomas Hopko is a trusted and respected priest, teacher, writer, preacher, and theologian, with a proven track record of speaking truthfully and righteously.


                    Bishop Tikhon regarding Robert Kondratick (Ode to Kondratick)
                    Posted on Sat, 4 Mar 2006 15:22:49 on Indiana Listserv

                    “I know of single human being alive in our Local Church today who has done more for more people in this Church than “Father Bob.” Before we had a program (often considered the answer to this or that problem) to assist the Clergy when there seemed to be no possible recourse at hand in the Church, there was Father Bob. Even though we now have a very good “Pastoral Assistance” program, I know that recourse to Father Bob personally remains the best possible solution in some cases. I would hesitate to estimate the unwieldy inundation of paper that would load down the Syosset Post Office at some future date if, on the occasion of his retirement, a call for personal testimonials to being helped by him or Bette by letter were to be solicited!”

                    “That and the loving image of our Local Church as exemplified by both Father Bob and Metropolitan Theodosius, would not have taken place as it did, without their preparing the way for it.

                    I hope that our Church leadership will find a way, perhaps after the Spring Session of the Holy Synod, to cite this outstanding model of a Christian Priest and his wife. I’m only writing this now because I feel that SOMEONE should do so, especially during a period when Father Bob has been the target and focus of most of the egregious behaviour being tolerated on and on and on and on, and and Bette both have endured ***unimaginable” calumnies and abuse”

                    OCA SIC Report – 2008

                    7. The Former Chancellor Robert Kondratick
                    (a) misused hundreds of thousands of dollars from OCA accounts;

                    (b) created unauthorized and unaudited “discretionary account,” funds from which are either undocumented or untraceable and apparently were used for payment of personal expenses;

                    (c) submitted and received reimbursement for unauthorized personal and family expenses from the CA;

                    (d) lived rent-free in a home owned by the OCA while receiving a housing allowance;

                    (e) willfully ignored OCA procedures by seeking and receiving reimbursement for undocumented credit card expenses;

                    (f) created a culture of deception, deceit, and covertness, which permeated the Chancery;

                    (g) used OCA resources to develop personal loyalty, dependence, and silence an the part of hierarchy, clergy, and laity through gifts, which included cash, jewelry, meals, travel, lodging, and incidentals;

                    (h) authorized numerous undocumented cash withdrawals just under the $10,000 United States Treasury reporting limit; and

                    (i) imported religious and other articles for resale without proper documentation and accounting.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Fr Basil, no one here (or OCAT) said the “entire” anything. The original leaked e-mail specifically mentioned only four bishops, three priests, a couple of functionaries, and some of the MC. And no, it’s not really possible to read Stokoe’s e-mail as anything but nefarious, especially in light of the subsequent leaked e-mails.

                    Chris, a cautionary word: not all the bishops are on board with the attempted lynching. It could get very lonely for one in particular.

              • Fr. Basil, it’s true that a lot of the explicit information about those things comes from OCAT, but I think it is very firmly reflected in what OCAN has been posting even if not in so many words. Take Fr. Hopko’s “gravely troubled” and “record hardly demonstrates worthiness of consideration”… honestly!

                it takes some clever reading to turn them into planning for a coup.

                Yes, a very clever literal reading. What does “I call for a vote of no confidence”, in the sense of an intended future action, mean in your view?

                The one thing they have in common is that they are all….intensely disliked…by players in the old regime.

                Who are these players from the old regime of whom you speak? You’ve cleverly beaten to death the point that most of the current Synod members have not been around for much longer than Metropolitan Jonah himself. What associates that company (Nescott, Skordinski, Solodow, etc.) strongest in the present climate is their long-lasting alliance with Mark Stokoe.

                I am not convinced Stokoe or any of those people (including Frs. Garklavs and Reeves) are necessarily the ones running the show. I do not know who is pulling the strings. Those who know better likely have reasons for keeping quiet. Those who don’t have no reason to doubt the “savior of Syosset” with his “proven track record”.

              • To #29

                Dear Fr.,

                It’s interesting what you write about the “darlings” of the former scandal now being the ones demonized in this one by some. It bothers me that Kondradic was not found guilty in the court of law. Could the former “darlings” have made a scapegoat which would make them unpopular now-by those who followed the whole controvery? (I did not)

    • George Michalopulos says

      Anonymous, if this is all you got, then it’s clear that the guys at OCAT are winning the battle big-time. The “anonymity” card is a complete bust. Find something better.

      • Harry Coin says


        I understand you think so. I’m sure there are many in the world who don’t care about anonymity.

        Some share of those will appreciate the point of view you prefer.

        Seems counter-productive to alienate the fraction who won’t read stories without a byline.

        Just a thought if you care about the point of view.

        • Harry, let me concede your point for the sake of argument. Has anything they said been incorrect so far?

          • Harry Coin says

            George, as I among many share the trait of not reading anonymous websites, whether what they say is correct or not isn’t something I’ve paid enough attention to develop an opinion about. I did read here through this website (being your name is on it) to see there were two allegedly leaked emails. I rummaged to find the retired bishop of the west posting some part of one of them. The other seems to have been edited further.

            There appear to be some points on OCATruth Fr. Hans agrees with as they echo some experiences he’s had. That’s of importance to me.

            I don’t think I’m alone in thinking ideas of importance carry more weight when people are willing to stand behind them. Otherwise it has a little bit of a immature feeling like: ‘tee-hee, lookie at how upset I made them, and they don’t even know it’s mee the dummies! Now let’s hide in the closet’ .

            In my experience I’ve seen a few versions of ‘ocatruth’ in the past in other church contexts. They turn out to be done by well meaning followers of a self-serving manipulator. In those cases, they remained anonymous at the suggestion of the manipulator on the basis that the manipulator feared folk would tie the followers as his rather slavish devotees. I have no idea what’s true about OCATruth, only that’s a pattern I’ve seen in the past. The followers don’t have enough independent sources of inside information to know they’re being used and to consent. Some are fans of the Nuremberg defense and fancy the obedience thingy, others just like to have the local man in black owe them one, others fancy the Dr. Jekyll aspects of the man in black and are in denial about the Mr. Hyde bit they don’t know about (or don’t want to know about..)

            Remember, we’ve seen clerics swing for the fences and deliver exactly what the room wants to hear, only then a short while later to have actual decisions go 100% the other way in inexplicably– usually after the speaker got 80% of the value from the support. I can cite you quite a list of that sort of thing, but it makes me sad.

            It pains me some that ideas of importance enough to be appreciated by Fr. Hans are articulated only in such a rabbly fashion. Again I suggest a new website led by people sure enough about what they write they’re willing to stand up. And not just stand up, but do as you have done and allow comments and engage in dialogue. Right or wrong you get respect from me for that.

            (P.S. The editing thing works well.)

            • Harry,

              Your comments are right on the money regarding my own analysis and evaluation for the reasons why the posters and administrators of ocatruth purposely hide their identities:

              In my experience I’ve seen a few versions of ‘ocatruth’ in the past in other church contexts. They turn out to be done by well meaning followers of a self-serving manipulator. In those cases, they remained anonymous at the suggestion of the manipulator on the basis that the manipulator feared folk would tie the followers as his rather slavish devotees. I have no idea what’s true about OCATruth, only that’s a pattern I’ve seen in the past.

              Yes, that’s the pattern I’ve seen in the past also. As a long-time veteran and participant in the previous OCA crisis I’m seeing too many hints and shades (my opinion only) of previous “operators” working behind the scenes capitalizing on their close relationship with Met. Jonah and using this latest scuffle to settle accounts and “pay back” many of those who have previously defended the Church and exposed them for the impostors and unethical manipulators they were.

              (FYI – I was one of the original group of Orthodox Christian attorneys who signed a letter that was sent to the MC expressing our concerns about the alleged (then, proven 100% since) financial improprieties in our Church and the MC’s failure to investigate the situation responsibly and thoroughly. I stayed in that battle and supported the efforts of countless men, women, priests, and bishops (especially +Job) to restore good order, ethics, and accountability for our Church. I say this not to “brag”, but to explain why I’m concerned and suspect that some of these anonymous “partisans” are in this “fight” for other reasons than just helping Metropolitan Jonah and defending conservative values.)

              • Harry Coin says


                My admiration to you for your past efforts. I know that sort of thing gets you thrown off the guest list at special men-in-black parties, but it was the right thing to do.

                • Thank you Harry, you’re very gracious. I would do it all over again if I had to. The sad part was that my entire family was shunned also, not just me; even by very close “men-in-black” which we considered friends and almost family. If it wasn’t for Fr. Hans and his friendship and Magdy Baiady, another true Orthodox Christian friend and brother in Christ, things could have been even darker.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    So you haven’t read the “anonymous” website and you therefore reject its facts out of hand? How is that possible?

  3. I’d be interested to know in what regions of the US are all these OCA folks who are leaving the church due to the bishops. Many folks I know are very focused on their parish and maybe diocese. Even though they hear the name of Met. Jonah multiple times each Sunday in litanies, they would be hard pressed to name him off the top of their heads. They’re observant Orthodox, their focus is just very local or regional.

    I also doubt the majority of my fellow parishioners have any idea of what is currently going on in the OCA.

    • lexcaritas says

      I agree with you, Marie. Many parishioners are not aware of what is going on. But supposer they were . . . The fact that most of us would not want them to is testimony to the scandalous nature of this business, isn’t it?


    • Harry Coin says

      That’s a fact broadly under-appreciated. Scandals on high that are bad enough to impact parish life usually are out-of-control trains that by then are really, really hard to stop and lead to damage that doesn’t get fixed. Parish life has its own patterns and in some ways its a good thing that these scandals generally involve people far, far away that visit seldom and when they do, don’t really recognize anybody, even the priest’s own family. Then they go do what they do. It leads to the ‘rock star’ bishop mentality, the bishop as administrator, not as father. Being they aren’t fathers really anymore, most of them, it works for them. I can tell you stories of young men in the seminaries who were great friends of bishops until the bishop learned of their intent to marry. Then they didn’t speak to them again. Same thing happened to me in college when a cute girl learned I wasn’t Jewish.

  4. An anonymous “reader”, on an anonymous website, run by anonymous individuals, makes unsubstantiated and hysterical claims, and we’re supposed to take him/her/them seriously? Good heavens!

    • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

      Clearly, Mr. Banescu, you don’t understand how this works. Let me explain.

      What happens is that when people who have served the church for years, perhaps as seminary professors or bishops or even gadflies and muckrakers, come together to express concern over the actions of the Metropolitan, anonymous kids come out of the woodwork to attack, despite the fact that they have even fewer facts than most. It’s like an anti-capitalism rally, but with the smell of chrism replacing that of patchoulli.

      • skeptical says

        ASIATR and Mr Banescu,

        Actually I have it on good authority that the fellas (?) at OCAT are not anonymous BUT ACTUALLY ROBOTS. I would point out however, that holding it against them is an ad hominem fallacy.

        In other words, the reason that you cannot seem to get anyone else here to care about the issue of anonymity is because it is irrelevant. But please, continue to beat this dead horse as it has been providing some much needed comic relief.

        The part of this that is NOT comic is that it seems yet another demonstration of pettiness. The issues facing are Church are real, whether kids with zero facts come out of the woodwork or no. The fact that people are leaving the Church is real, whether or not it can be proved that this one guy who wrote this one letter did in fact leave. Our Synod’s sorry lack of pastoral leadership thoughout this crisis, the MC’s corruption and power-grabbing tendencies, and Mark Stokoe’s poisonous bias have pretty much nothing to do with whether or not a couple people who voice their opinion wear nametags.

        I doubt that the identity of the OCAT crew will matter a whit at the AAC.

        • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

          So, the source doesn’t matter unless that source is Mark Stokoe?

          People are leaving in droves because an anonymous letter to anonymous publishers says so? Can you, friend, name one of these individuals? Just one? (A “drovum”, if you will?)

          I see a Synod trying to get one of its members, the Primate, in line with the conciliar way. The “other side” is seeing a queer, abortionist, Obama-loving conspiracy that wants to destroy Jonah, the “anti-scapegoat”, from your perspective.

          Please. This is pure BS.

          • skeptical says

            I’m glad you brought that up. I believe the reason that Stokoe’s lifestyle was brought up was because it helps make since of his motivation for being anti-Jonah, being part of the “cabal” that plotted to get him to walk into a trap. His obvious hatred of +Jonah and his apparent glee after Sata Fe was off-putting and confusing to a lot of people — like me. When I learned he was living with another man he considers his spouse, the picture made a whole lot more sense.

            Of course it doesn’t invalidate any of his arguments or facts, just makes the reader aware they might be selectively reported and phrased. If only this had been made clear by the irresponsible anonymous robots who man that disgusting OCAT website….

            Oh wait. It was.

            Let me say clearly and unmistakably: Stokoe’s arguments and logic stand or fall on their own.

            Now take Stokoe’s treatment of the tonsuring of the dyring woman. That is completely irresponsible reporting. If it wasn’t for OCAT, I bet there would be people hopping mad @ +Jonah for doing this beautiful pastoral action. Stokoe should be ashamed of himself… and I am glad OCAT was there to provide a venue for the parishioner to tell the truth.

            I suppose you think it would be better for there to be no OCAT than one that has anonymous posters? Either that’s a gigantic pet peeve of yours, or I would think that you are upset with +Jonah from before Santa Fe. Just a guess.

          • Well, Anonymous, since you seem to despise the fellows at OCAT so much because they hide behind their anonymity, why don’t you publish your name?

      • skeptical says

        I would also like to draw you attention to the following quote from OCAT. They, unlike some other websites, are up front and reasonable about what they want people to do and believe.

        I trust the information that we have put up on this site, and we didn’t put it up here in haste. However you would be hasty to believe wholesale anything that we put up on this site, especially us quoting vaguely from our sources.

    • Chris Plourde says

      I always take it seriously when people leave the Church. More than just “membership numbers” are at stake, more than the “survival of the Church” is at stake. Real people’s souls are at stake, real lives are at risk.

      But who can blame these weaklings who are falling away? They are told by the blogs of those who claim knowledge, like OCANews and OCATruth, that their Metropolitans are corrupt or their Bishops are deeply flawed, and that what really matters for the Church flows from ecclesial action or inaction. And so in their weakness they come to believe that Orthodoxy is defined by political things, about ecclesial politics, about personalities, about intrigues and conspiracies and cabals.

      This is not the work of defending Orthodoxy. This is the work of the enemy of Orthodoxy.

      Rod’s post below illuminates the most salient point, that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit who works through the most flawed of men. And just as it was by Faith that Jonah gave his talk in 2008, by faith the current contretemps, too, will be conquered.

      But let’s be perfectly clear with each other: The disheartened anonymous writer was not put at risk by the actions of our Metropolitan or our Synod, but by the battle going on in these parts and elsewhere.

      The only truly Orthodox position is one of repentance that leads to our being as compassionate and merciful as Christ himself. With that in mind I’m off to the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete.

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says


        • I must disagree. Who said “when the shephard is killed, the sheep will scatter?” If we are not rational sheep, then we don’t need shepherds. But since we need shepherds, then the blame for the sheep scattering will fall on them, not on the sheep.

          • Chris Plourde says


            There are sheep acting as wolves. What should a shepherd do?

            • George Michalopulos says

              My estimation of those who drink Stokoe’s Kool-Aid are Churchillian: they are sheep in sheep’s clothing.

  5. I am going to sidestep the debate on anonymous contributers you are guys are having. I’ve been reading closely though and this post says something really accurate: we are losing our people. I think too that the poor spiritual care is a big part of this. Put another way, I can completely understand why the letter writer thinks the way he does. (What he describes is happening, that’s why I think it is true.)

    From Bradley Nassif: Reclaiming the Gospel

    I fear that many converts are coming to the Church through a revolving door, quietly leaving because their lives and families are not being sufficiently fed. Only a gospel-transformation will make the Orthodox Church healthy enough to sustain the lives of parishioners who seek spiritual nourishment in our communities.

    Granted, the article derives the conclusion from a different context, but from my perspective the centrality of the Gospel is one thing Met. Jonah really understands. I saw it in his talks to the Episcopalians and elsewhere. Among most Orthodox Bishops (not all) this kind of clarity and boldness is rare.

    And I know I am not the only one. People have been waiting for this for a long time. You can be sure though that if +Jonah goes, the hope for a clear and unequivocal explication and defense of the Gospel will go along with it. Look around. Who could possibly represent Orthodox Christianity in the public square with the clarity he has? I don’t see anyone.

    Just to remind everyone:

    Source: Metropolitan Jonah speaks to Anglican assembly

    From Anglican TV. Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America addresses The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Assembly at St. Vincent’s Cathedral in Bedford, Texas, which was held June 21-25. The ACNA claims 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes with some 28 or more dioceses. It is bigger than the Anglican provinces of Wales and Scotland, according to VirtueOnline. (HT: Byzantine, TX)

    • Harry Coin says

      I wonder what happened from the time everyone was on the Met. Jonah bandwagon, then, to change some of his biggest backers into people who think he needs a vacation. Remember that the folk who are now not so happy were completely in favor at the time.

      I notice the people closest to the much discussed undisclosed sexual misconduct report seem to have made the most complete turn about.

      The one thing that I wonder about most in the minutes of that synod meeting is: why did they order that the Met. separate himself from the young monk-aide from California? That they had to be on opposite sides of the country. It must have been a thing of particular significance that an entire synod concerns itself with what an aide does with himself.

      The people the anonymites don’t like were bigtime Jonah backers when it happened.

      I feel like a judge in a divorce case when the last thing the two parties involved want is to tell the judge what really went down.

      • The one thing that I wonder about most in the minutes of that synod meeting is: why did they order that the Met. separate himself from the young monk-aide from California? That they had to be on opposite sides of the country. It must have been a thing of particular significance that an entire synod concerns itself with what an aide does with himself.

        Where’s the proof that the Synod “ordered” Fr. Gregory to do anything? I would think that would have been reflected in the minutes if it was really an order. Fr. Gregory is not even mentioned in the minutes.

        As for their possible reasons for telling Fr. Gregory to go to California, if in fact they did, my guess would be that it was to give Fr. Gregory a chance to recuperate from his own labors and reconnect with his brethren at the monastery. It’s possible that by taking away his assistant, they also wanted to limit what Met. Jonah is able to do, but I’m not aware of any personal limitations that Met. Jonah actually has (he can use computers and cell phones on his own), so that’s pure speculation.

        At any rate, it seems Fr. Gregory chose to stay by his abbot’s side, and I will not presume to judge him for that.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        I find this deeply offensive, if indeed that is what you’re inferring with regard to His Beatitude’s relationship with the young monk-aide.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Harry, I completely agree with Lola. This is deeply offensive and baseless. It’s the other bishops (and MC members and priests) who should be worried.

          • Harry Coin says

            Baseless? You think I made this up? Please now.

            • Really, Harry, I also find the insinuation disgusting. If you didn’t make it up, what are you basing this off of, apart from Stokoe’s statement that the Synod wanted to send Fr. Gregory to California? I for one never had my “gaydar” go off around them, nor did I witness anything unseemly pass between them.

              Must it always be the case that celibate people have some sort of wild sexual deviance to hide? If so, how well do you think these two would hide it once Metropolitan Jonah gets that monastery in Washington off the ground? One would think that if he had some kind of illicit relationship with his monk-assistant to hide, he wouldn’t want other monks (and nuns) living around them, who might see something and tattle.

              Furthermore, if Metropolitan Jonah had had homosexual tendencies, he would have had no problem living with those and expressing them as an Episcopalian in California, for crying out loud. A young man named Eugene Rose certainly didn’t, for a time.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              Harry, when someone declares your claim baseless, it’s on you to prove that it’s not by providing a basis. So what is it? It’s not the minutes from Santa Fe, because they make no mention of Fr. Gregory, onymously or anonymously.

              • Harry Coin says

                Dn. Brian, Surely if that’s your view no doubt you’ll be able to show many in the Gospel who taught by how they lived their life that it was enough for a Christian to simply declare something without providing a basis. Right? Christ didn’t need to multiply the fishes and the bread, heal the sick, etc.

                But I attempt to answer your point in a response to Fr. Hans. In short, for a Christian, modelling is a requirement, the saying is not enough. Anonymity makes modelling impossible.

                I apologize if my complaint about the hiding somehow is thought to mean I don’t agree with so much of Met. Jonah has said and written. I’m generally supportive of whatever you call the sort of politics that has less space between the seeming, the saying and the being — both when being watched by people and when being watched only by God.

                Those who care about the messages in the OCATruth world would do well to recognize that among not only very conservative Christians, and also among the others, if the OCATruth point of view so important, it has a better chance of consideration if there was not an aspect of hiding.

                Certainly some fraction (who knows how many) of those who have no problem with it are already persuaded. Are they enough? Or do you need more folk to support you? If you do, then consider launching an effort that does not include hiding. Or, well, not. Just one man’s view.

                • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                  You’re deflecting. Where’s the evidence? If there’s none, then move on to something else.

                  • Heracleides says

                    Agreed. Harry, you totally side-stepped with your non-answer. If you have some evidentiary basis for your rather transparent insinuation, then let’s see it. Otherwise, I must conclude you are speaking from personal experience… who is your bishop anyway and how often do the two of you go on camping trips to a certain notorious mountain in Montana? (See how insinuation works?)

                  • Harry Coin says

                    You’re asking me for evidence against what an anonymous website asserts might be true based on speculations and maybe-yes-maybe-no copies of emails? Roswell, Roswell!

                    • No, you’re being asked for evidence with respect to this:

                      The one thing that I wonder about most in the minutes of that synod meeting is: why did they order that the Met. separate himself from the young monk-aide from California? That they had to be on opposite sides of the country. It must have been a thing of particular significance that an entire synod concerns itself with what an aide does with himself.

                      For the record, the monk Gregory is actually *not* mentioned in the Synod minutes, only Stokoe’s reporting on the matter.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Harry, you’re a better man than that. You criticize two chaste monks based on no evidence whatsoever but you contort the plain facts on the ground about Stokoe? That’s like comparing the Boy Scouts to Hamas. Both are para-military type organizations.

      • wow, talk about speculations and spin, how low can you go??

      • Harry, because I consider you an honest man and a friend, I will answer your question. That is, what changed between now and two years ago? What could cause some of the Holy Synod to turn on +Jonah. I will tell you, but in doing so, I must break my promise a little to the bishop I talked to two weeks ago.

        The reason is because of mistakes and missteps that +Jonah made. First, his talk to the Canadian Assembly about “reimagining” autocephaly was a biggie. Second, his talk about moving the Chancery to Washington (where incidentally, it belongs if we’re truly a national church) was another. Third, +Jonah’s closeness with the Russians. Fourth his absolute hatred of Fester. This bishop was emphatic about how disturbed he was by all this. BUT NOTHING ELSE!

        Mind you, none of this is grounds for removal. Nothing here is uncanonical, illegal, unethical, or criminal. At most, some may have been imprudent (I personally don’t think so. What’s wrong with being close to Moscow? Would you rather he was close to Istanbul, a really moribund see?)

        Personally, if I had to put on my amateur demographer’s hat, I’d have to guess that the antipathy by many of the rump ethnic core of the OCA is due to the fact that they are Carpatho-Russians rather than Great Russians. I’m just guessing. I could be wrong. If I am, I’ll apologize.

        As for Fester, well, if he is really such a bad man, then this bishop should have defrocked him when he had the chance. I’m sorry, I don’t believe in guilt by association. The Chancery should be moved to DC. After all if Bishop +Michael is the Bishop of NY/NJ, then what business does the Archbishop of Washington have in his diocese? I’ll tell you: NONE.

        As for the “reimagining” autocephaly, well, I would be 100% against it if meant having a semi-autocephalous church (especially under Istanbul). Having said that, +Jonah’s musings on this gives the lie to Stokoe’s claim that +Jonah was some lone gunslinger taking on the Phanar, doesn’t it?

        • Harry Coin says

          I hope you’re right about that George. Really I hope that’s all there is.

          I too wonder what’s so terrible about moving to DC. Maybe issues to do with timing and so on, but the concept doesn’t sound off. Not that I see a big problem staying put either, they just need to draw maps that make sense if that’s the case.

          Makes you wonder what Fester must have done to get someone whose character you admire so much, Jonah, to see him as damaging. In the Byzantine way of seeing things, having Jonah’s would – be supporters be sourced in less credible, anonymous website seems to fit.

          All the little mind games and petty agendas get reduced to nothing and without the need for people to bother to understand them all in one context: Maximum Light. The more people telling the truth about what they see and whose hearts are sincere about a good future for our families and people– and willing to put their names to what they know to be true: That will save us.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Agreed. As far as Fr Fester is concerned, all I can say is “by your fruits you shall know them.” Maybe he screwed up bigtime in being friends with Kondratick. But in the two years he’s been in Dallas, nary an ill-word passed anybody’s lips about him. And that is a thriving, growing parish.

  6. While I am at it…

    I find the effort to brand Met. Jonah as psychologically unfit deeply offensive. This tactic has no other purpose than to destroy reputations. He has done nothing to deserve this kind of abuse. I am not going to defend this statement because it needs no defense. I suggest no one even try to defend it because it will lead you to dark places.

    Does he have things to work on? Of course. Who doesn’t? I remember some of the blunders I made in parishes (not sins, blunders) and I am grateful to this day that people overlooked them once I realized what I did and corrected them.

    Here’s what I see:

    From a post I published on AOI several years back.

    Source: AOI Observer

    ACNA’09: Metropolitan Jonah calls Anglicans to return to Apostolic Faith

    By Michael Heidt | Special to Virtueonline | http://www.virtueonline.org | 6/24/2009

    Ed. Note: Finally, a hierach not afraid of speaking moral truth.

    “Homosexualism not only “destroys authentic masculinity, it destroys authentic womanhood.”
    “Gay ideology is neither from nurture or nature… we cannot accept their lifestyle or validate their unions.”
    “We must eliminate any shred of immorality in our lives,” not least because sin “kills and maims the soul… and “demoralizes our culture.”
    “A culture demoralized by immorality “cannot stand up to the strict asceticism of Islam.”
    “Faith… is the knowledge of the heart (that) I have died and my life is hidden in the heart of God… it is only Jesus that matters.”

    Speaking on Wednesday morning to the ACNA Assembly, His Beatitude, Jonah, Metropolitan of All America and Canada and leader of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), called for a “full… intercommunion” with the Anglican Church in North America. “What will it take,” he asked, “for a true ecumenical reconciliation? That is what I am seeking by being with you today.”

    This marks the potential resumption of an Orthodox/Anglican dialogue that began a hundred years ago between two missionary bishops, St. Tikhon of Moscow and Bishop Grafton of Fond du Lac, only to be broken off in the 1970s with the ordination of women. Metropolitan Jonah spoke as the successor of Tikhon, “I come to you as the successor of Tikhon… with the same openness, the same invitation, the same love and desire to unify Anglicanism and Orthodoxy.”

    What would it take for this reconciliation to occur? The Metropolitan was explicit:.

    Full affirmation of the orthodox Faith of the Apostles and Church Fathers, the seven Ecumenical Councils, the Nicene Creed in its original form (without the filioque clause inserted at the Council of Toledo, 589 A.D.), all seven Sacraments and a rejection of ‘the heresies of the Reformation.”

    His Beatitude listed these in a series of ‘isms’; Calvinism, anti-sacramentalism, iconoclasm and Gnosticism. The ordination of women to the Presbyterate and their consecration as Bishops has to end if intercommunion is to occur.

    These are controversial words, especially given the make up of the Assembly, which is admittedly divided on key issues such as the ordination of women, the nature and number of the Sacraments and perhaps the essential character of the Church itself. Still, the delegates welcomed his candor with applause, perhaps because His Beatitude was self-evidently “speaking the truth with love.” Less controversially, he called for a true renunciation of sin and immorality, “We must eliminate any shred of immorality in our lives,” not least because sin “kills and maims the soul,” likewise immorality, which destroys the soul and “demoralizes our culture.” Coming from a faith tradition fully alive to the aggressive threat of militant Islam, the Metropolitan issued the following warning:; a culture demoralized by immorality “cannot stand up to the strict asceticism of Islam.”

    He then spoke to the current blurring of gender identity. Homosexualism not only “destroys authentic masculinity, it destroys authentic womanhood.” Again, “gay ideology is neither from nurture or nature… we cannot accept their lifestyle or validate their unions.” These are not something healthy, but “something to be healed”. His Beatitude was equally emphatic on abortion, “Abortion not only rips out the soul of the fetus from the body of a woman, it rips out her own soul also… We must stand together in an absolute condemnation of abortion.” The Assembly rose in thunderous acclamation. There should be no doubt whatsoever that ACNA stands for the life of the unborn child.

    The Metropolitan’s words on the unity of the Church were equally well received. We must find, “unity of vision, unity of life, unity of being in Jesus Christ” in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is to be found in true orthodoxy, which means, for Jonah at least, not simply “right opinion”, but also “right glory”, which is discovered in the worship of God. This gives the faithful entry into the liturgy of the Angels and Saints as revealed to Moses, Ezekiel and St. John, being a true participation on earth in the worship of heaven. The same meeting of heaven and earth is to be found in the Church; this “is not simply human, it is divine,” and to be believed in as we believe in Jesus Himself – not merely as a man made institution, who may or may not “like the same prayer Book”, but as the organic union of Christians with Our Savior in the Body of Christ. Again, this met with spontaneous applause.

    The same approval was given to his Beatitude’s description of faith and the necessity of surrendering to Christ.

    “Faith… is the knowledge of the heart (that) I have died and my life is hidden in the heart of God… it is only Jesus that matters.”

    This means a total self-oblation:

    “We have to surrender to God in the depths of our being,” and this “is that spiritual quest… to be transformed by the Spirit.” The corollary of this is radical forgiveness and a giving up of all resentments against those “who have offended… abused… (and) slandered you… When you forgive like that, you liken yourself to Jesus Christ.”

    This, in the end, was at the heart of Metropolitan’s message. He called on ACNA to embrace Christ in His totality – in His Church and Sacraments, in the Faith and Morals handed down by Jesus Himself to the faithful throughout the ages, and in that true repentance which is nothing other than complete surrender of self to the mind and Person of Our Lord. With such a spirit in place, his vision of unity between loyal Anglicans and Orthodoxy may be realized. There can be no question that the invitation is on the table, and the prize is big, nothing less than the recognized integration of the Anglican Church in North America with historic Catholicism. Will ACNA rise to the challenge?

    • lexcaritas says

      Thank you for your two posts, Fr. Hans. I appreciate them very much and agree with them completely. As with Fr. Dcn. Patrick, it instills hope and encourages me to see clergy who are zealous for the Gospel and the salvation of those who are called to experience it in Christ, to Whom be all glory, both now and ever and unto ages of ages.

      May He richly bless your respective ministries and grant you many years full of days.


    • Oh my gosh, LIKE! Goose bumps. Thanks.

      I want to sign my real name, but I can’t so…



    • R. Dreher says

      Indeed, thank you, Fr. Hans. Here’s a true story that sheds light on this whole thing. About two years ago, I guess, Met. Jonah was having dinner at our house in Dallas. I asked him about the electrifying speech he gave at the AAC, the same congress that elected him Metropolitan. I asked him if he had planned that speech.

      No, he told me; he had less than five minutes to prepare. The other bishops told him that they needed him to go out and address the restive crowd. He said he only had time for a quick prayer, then went out and spoke from the heart. And the rest is history. In telling this story, Jonah wasn’t bragging, or criticizing his fellow bishops, but rather took pains to clarify that he was giving thanks and credit to the Holy Spirit, Who helped a new bishop rise to the occasion.

      Reading your entries, Fr. Hans, brought that story back to mind, but in a different way. What does it say about the Synod of 2008 when they saw the AAC falling apart over the Synod’s inability to credibly address the crisis, that they basically shoved the baby bishop out onto the stage and told him to perform? And look what the Holy Spirit did through him! That moment of trial tells us about leadership. It tells us about Jonah’s leadership, and it tells us about the Synod’s.

      (To be fair, not all of the present members of the Synod were on the Synod at that time — but three of Mark Stokoe’s “Appalled Four” who are driving this thing [Nikon, Benjamin, and Tikhon] were.)

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        Richard Nixon once stepped on my Mom’s foot.

        As long as we’re name dropping.

        • R. Dreher says

          Don’t be a trivial jerk, Anon. I’m not name-dropping — I’m trying to share an actual anecdote that illuminates the situation we’re all discussing. When he was in and around our parish in Dallas, the Metropolitan was friendly and accessible to the people of the cathedral.

          • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

            Oh lighten up, Rod. I was just tweaking you. I’m sure he was accessible, and friendly, and all of those things. I’m sure he’s a great guy. I’ve been privileged here in the MW to know +Job, whom I loved, and +Melchisedek, who’s one of the smarter guys I’ve ever met, and just recently got to know Fr. Matthias, who’s as genuine and loving a man as you’re likely to ever meet.

            They’re all nice guys. They’re in the business of nice, and beyond that, love. That doesn’t make them good administrators, or people you want in your organization in a leadership post, especially when conciliarity is the watchword.

          • Oh Rod, calm down. You want to write articles and use phrases like Our Lady of Pizza Hut but someone pokes fun at you and you melt down. Whats the problems its just fun :)?

            • George Michalopulos says

              so in other words, when Rod brings up facts to flesh out the story, he’s “name-dropping.” What next, accusing him of being a lapsed Catholic?

    • Since I’m in the health care field, and deal with psychiatric patients, I too find the soviet-style tactics of the Appalled Four deeply offensive. Most people don’t know what turmoil hurting people have undergone and have to undergo in order to seek professional help. By making an issue of this (when it is completely baseless), it will cause some disturbed individuals from seeking the help that they need.

  7. I agree with you whole-heartedly! When I heard +Jonah’s words for the first time, I felt a breeze blow through the church, a stirring. I never expected to be motivated in such a way from a Metropoltan! I had new hope for the OCA and Orthodoxy in America. I could see +Jonah understood and connected to America (and Russia-this from a Russian) in a way I’d never seen in any bishop my 20 years or so of being in the faith. He is the right man for this time. I can see how certain people would find him a threat and want him out, he’s fresh and full of ideas-which we need-but that means something different than what we’ve had here. A change and change is scary-especiay when it feels foreign. I think he felt foreign to Syossid and Syossid felt foreign to him. This could turn out to be a very important and wonderful time for us in the OCA, let’s not miss that.

    I also want to say this; +Jonah has been with us at the Cathedral for 2 or so years now. This is a very complicated church. I have been here for almost 10 years, and always felt a little uneasy-which is strange for me. There’s major distrust, however since +Jonah (and Fr. Fester) have arrived a thawing has taken place. People are more free and loving towards one another. The parish council meetings are short and civil, things are actually accomplished. I don’t see any unstability, chaos, disobediance-he has stayed put this whole resting time. To “get rid” of him would be a crime, to stifle him would be a waste.

    George-please edit this . . .writing is not my strength

  8. Rod, this comment from you suffers from the same subjectivity and partisan emotionalism we’ve witnessed from both Stokoe and many other anonymous posters since this latest OCA incident began.

    they basically shoved the baby bishop out onto the stage and told him to perform?

    First of all, asking the new Metropolitan to address the people would be a normal process, not some kind of unreasonable demand you seem to imply.

    Second of all, addressing the people is not “performing” in any sense of the word.

    Third of all, having to give a speech with just a few minutes preparation happens all the time, especially for teachers, preachers, leaders, speakers, and clergy. It is nowhere near the the kind of unkind act by the Synod you seem to imply it was.

    Finally, since when do we consider it to be an outrageous request to expect mature clergy, with many years preaching experience, to give impromptu speeches without having it written it down first?

    As it turns out, his speech was very powerful and inspired; one of the best he has given. Why are you suddenly implying unkind and nefarious purposes in the normal actions of his fellow bishops? How is this helping the current situation?

    • skeptical says


      The speech that Rod is referring to happened before +Jonah was made Metropolitan. He had been a bishop for about a week, as I recall. The question might be rephrased more to your liking: “Why didn’t one of the senior bishops address the faithful at this time of crisis? Why entrust this important task to a bishop who hadn’t been consecrated for more than a month, and who arguably didn’t know the situation as comprehensively?”

      Seems like an interesting question. It also seems that your objections, and that of our trendy anonymous poster, are petty.

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        Here that, Rod? I’m “trendy”.

        Take that.

        • skeptical says


          I must apologize. This whole time I thought that your moniker was about trendiness, but I just realized it might have more to do with your anger towards the OCAT crew. My bad. Rage, rage against the dying of non-anonymity.

        • Trendy? Anon. don’t you know that “trendy” in granola Orthodox circles means looking for the image of Mama Fred in your lentil soup while you read the new LL Bean Catalog and admire your new Canon of St. Andrew IPhone Application.

          Now thats trendy baby…….

    • Chris, they were having him speak in response to the list of questions submitted to the Synod. The Synod basically had the poor guy go out and answer for the entire Synod’s part in the scandal, which he’d had no involvement with, and to do it by himself.

      That is a ridiculously tall order for anybody, much less a ten-days-consecrated bishop who had spent the entire period of the scandal running a monastery three thousand miles away from Syosset. It was ridiculous for the Synod to expect Bishop Jonah to do that, and a miracle that he measured up to the task.

      And really, what does it say about the rest of the bishops that they couldn’t even explain themselves? To prostrate before the flocks they had neglected through their silence, and ask their forgiveness? They’re lucky they had Bishop Jonah there speaking for them, and not me, that’s all I can say.

    • R. Dreher says

      Chris, re-read what I said. Jonah was not the Metropolitan when he was asked to address the AAC. Jonah was not complaining to me that he was asked to address the AAC. He was simply saying that things in the hall were pretty tense, and the bishops, who were tied up in knots over it all, asked him to get out there and talk to the crowd. He was saying to me that he was unprepared to do so, and had only a few minutes to gather his thoughts. He was crediting the Holy Spirit with any good he did with that speech. I knew people in that crowd, and they told me afterward that everything changed with that speech, and the fear and anxiety people felt over the church situation was dispelled.

      Reading Fr. Hans’s remarks, especially in light of this current crisis, made me think about that whole anecdote in a different light — a light that was not at all intended by Jonah when he told me that story. As “skeptical” says above, it tells you something that none of the senior bishops wanted to face the faithful at that AAC, having failed so dismally to deal with years of crisis leading up to that point — and that they put the brand-new bishop in charge of saying something to calm people down. And somehow, he not only calmed people down, but he won their confidence.

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        It was a monster speech, no doubt. You could tell it was off-the-cuff, and he hadn’t had much time to prepare, but he nailed it. A masterpiece of communication, he hit every salient point, and helped to put to rest a lot of the concerns of the people assembled. It was truly grand, as was his takedown of the EP at St Seraphim’s a bit later.

        It was also 2 1/2 years ago, and what is apparent is that he did not internalize the contents of it. He is not working in concert with his brother bishops. My fear in this whole thing is that he is blowing off real concerns raised by the Sexual Misconduct Committee, and they are lashing back in fear that his inaction is going to blow the whole works, and the bishops know it. That is, in fact, what I think is happening. If he were able to work with the entire Synod this would not be happening. He can’t, and the Manhattan Declaration and the move to DC and the issues with Garklavs are all indicative of a man unable to be told “you’re wrong”.

        That’s not the type of man we need at the top, and no glorious speechifying will change that. I, too, was thrilled right down to my belly button when he was elected. But he is either going to work with people or he is going to have to go.

        • R. Dreher says

          I think you’re wrong about this, but I confess that I don’t know the whole story (but I don’t think you do either). I think it’s imperative by this point that the whole Church see the SMPAC report, if there’s a way to do it while redacting names and protecting confidentiality. I have not spoken to HB about any of this, and would not attempt to, but I am told that the SMPAC report is highly prejudicial — that facts are selectively presented in a way to put HB in the worst possible light. I really look forward to his response, and hope that too is made public. I have also heard more than a rumor that Fr. Garklavs manipulated the information he gave to the SMPAC committee in order to lead them to anti-Jonah conclusions (this was supported by one of the e-mails retired Bp Tikhon publicized).

          I don’t think there was any obligation at all by this or any Metropolitan to ask brother bishops for permission to sign a public document affirming basic Christian moral teaching, which is what the Manhattan Declaration was. On the Syosset move, I think it is the right move, but was launched at the wrong time.

          The bottom line is that I am fairly confident that the problems with HB and his administrative leadership of the Church are more minor than we’ve been led to believe by his enemies — but I am prepared to be proved wrong about that. I hope we will all get the chance to see the documents and judge for ourselves. I think that the things the bishops have against Jonah by no means warrant his removal, and I find all the conspiratorial material that has come out since the Santa Fe meeting to be very disturbing. I do believe that there is a mystery, or set of mysteries, to this whole thing that we haven’t yet gotten to the bottom of. But like most of what I’ve said here, that’s speculation.

          • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

            We’re all speculating, Rod. That’s not good, and in a truly transparent Church we wouldn’t have to. On that, I think, you and I would agree.

            I want more facts.

            • Chris Plourde says

              Here’s my thought on whether the Church needs to be “truly transparent” about personnel matters:

              As an employer I know that if I’m “truly transparent” about the employment files of any of my employees I have violated the law, and am subject to civil sanctions. The employee holds that confidentiality, and I am not allowed to release that file even if the employee is totally lying about its contents and the reason behind actions I take regarding that employee. Period.

              The Church is supposed to be better than the law, not in violation of it. You are no more entitled to see Metropolitan Jonah’s files than the man on the moon, and were the Church to release them without his authorization the Church would be liable.

              All the current speculation is based on non-knowledge. Better we stop such speculation than continue to engage it, as the only thing that can result is damage that we cannot begin to fathom.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Chris, you’re absolutely right.

                To all who accept the highly prejudicial spin put out by OCAN about the SMPAC report and +Jonah’s supposed ineptness: do you realize what you’re asking? What will you do when HB goes all Rooster Cogburn on the the OCA and starts acting on your stated wishes to clean up the mess? Especially now that Hopko’s view that +Jonah had not gone the full Charlie Sheen lost all traction?

                • Chris Plourde says

                  Followed this right up to the Rooster Cogburn reference, at which point you’re making connections I couldn’t follow.

                  Because if our Metropolitan were, indeed, to go “all Rooster Cogburn” then he, in fact would have likewise “gone the full Charlie Sheen.” I think. :/

            • I do as well. And the reason we’re at each other’s throats (forgive me) is because Stokoe has put out precious few that didn’t have a whole lotta spin.

          • I agree more needs to be said about the contents of the SMPAC report. The contents may be compromised, but I think it’s important that the SMC at least open up to a wider circle of people, people uninvolved with any current or past OCA administration, to avoid the appearance of bias and witch-hunting. There must be some law firm or other agency that could help with that. It would be like the independent financial audits that the OCA gets every year now.

            If Met. Jonah truly dropped the ball, the real issue would be to determine if it was out of sheer malice, or a lack of concern for the welfare of abuse victims, either of which seem extremely unlikely to me. It’s possible some or all of the issues with Met. Jonah’s inaction could be put down to lost paperwork, miscommunication, or an honest belief, however mistaken or ill-advised, that some of the victims and accused in these cases would be better served by deviations from the official policy. I would not say any of those explanations are good or excusable, but they seem to be more in keeping with the Met. Jonah most people know and love. They are also things that can likely be fixed, forgiven, and learned from.

            I just want to say that, from what I know of him, I find it incredibly outlandish that Met. Jonah would have no compassion for victims of sexual abuse. I also find it difficult to believe that the enforcement of the SM policies would depend entirely on this one man, so much that his “inactions” could completely stymie the SMC’s ability to do anything.

        • Harry Coin says

          I remember then Archbishop Spyridon made some amazing speeches in his early days. Then, it became clear they were designed with a support purpose in mind as his later choices made everyone wonder who kidnapped the person who gave those speeches?

          Then there was all the huge rally behind the grand ‘self-ruled’ pronouncements in the AOA. And, here we are…

          Echo… Echo…

          • Harry, puh-leeze. +Spyiridon wasn’t even in the same league as +Jonah. Can you imagine ANY GOA bishop going to ACNA? Or speaking forcefully against the culture of homosexualism that has taken over mainline Protestantism? Can you imagine any OCA metropolitan going to small, dying ethnic parishes in Oklahoma coal country to celebrate the liturgy for 8 people?

            • Harry Coin says

              Well, there are cases that I can. Remember I was a big fan of Spyridon when he arrived, sincerely I was. Celebrated a liturgy in Spanish Harlem as one of his first things upon getting the job. I thought that guy really got it. When four clergy professors and some others on a school committee who voted to expel a graduate unmarried priest on the basis he molested an undergraduate boy instead got fired themselves by the school president (while the wrongdoer got a diploma) I was so green I and others appealed to Spyridon to correct the obvious miscarriage of integrity and injustice. Then we found out it was him taking orders and did the deed himself. Ooops.

              I’ve heard many speak of the kindly Met in the eastern US who agreed years ago with a leadership group, got praise for it– then put out a press release the next day going the other direction. And don’t even start with the whole ‘self ruled turns out to mean he rules it himself’ thing.

              So I understand very well why those who like what Met. Jonah has said in certain contexts, a breath of fresh air, are really upset at anything that might derail him from doing more along those lines. By his policy pronouncements in public he’s cemented your support. But he’s certainly done something inside the kitchen there the other cooks on the synod really, really can’t abide. What it is, really? I don’t know. But I think many who like his point of view in public don’t want to know, so desperate are we for hearing that sort of thing.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Harry, +Spyridon may have started out right (and I’m still agnostic about whether he was sincere or just the Phanar’s agent), but he quickly devolved into +Bartholomew’s boy. I can’t imagine he would have done so had that not been his intention from the start.

                But that is speculation. Let us examine the facts:

                1. the Phanar fired +Iakovos. The GOA had no say in the matter.

                2. the GOA did not elect +Spyridon. Again, without any say in the matter.

                3. the homosexual assault speaks for itself. Why did +Spyridon come to this pervert’s defense?

                4. the four professors were unjustly fired. The GOA had no say in the matter.

                .5. the GOA was divided unilerally by the Phanar. The ” ” ” ” ” ” “.

                6. the bishops were elevated to auxiliary metropolitan status. ” ” ” ” ” “.

                7. the bishops were then elevated to “real” metropolitan status. ” ” ” ” ” ”

                8. In the end, the Phanar got what it wanted. A completely dependent GOA, the fruits of which are declining membership, closed parishes, and ever-decreasing attendance at all subsequent Clergy-Laity Congresses.

                Those are facts. Now speculation: I must believe that +Spyidon could have stopped this from the start. But like the dysfunctional hierarchy that makes up the Phanar, he was himself part of this same culture of ineptitude. Probably through no fault of his own but that’s the sad thing, isn’t it?

      • Rod, Thanks for clarifying the scenario. It does explain your description of the situation much better and places the manner in which the bishops approached it in a more cowardly light. 🙂

        • George Michalopulos says

          Chris, I agree with you. The question at heart is: why couldn’t any of them have mustered the courage to do what the neophyte +Jonah did?

  9. Michael Bauman says

    Chris, Met. Jonah was not yet Met. when he was asked to give that speech. It seems a strange choice to choose the youngest, newest and least experience one in the bunch to speak.

    Those that leave need not leave and are missing the point when they do. We are being given an opportunity to go more deeply into the faith, indeed I believe we are being called to. Lord, Basil the Great and others did not leave when the Arians had the majority of the bishops and the Emperor too. Athanasius endured 5 separate exiles from his episcopal see. St. John Chrysostom’s dying words aftger being driven into exile far from his ministry and friends where “Glory to God for All Things”. The list goes on. Where did Christ promise us that it would be easy? Sorry to say, the folks who are leaving just because some bishops are being idiots (nothing new there) don’t get it and are unlikely to be happy anywhere else. They are likely looking for a Chritianity without a Cross. The posted letter indicates that to me.

    Life in the Church will never be easy, smooth, or without a great deal of sin. What else are we to expect since we are the maimed, the halt and the lame called to eat at our master’s table because the strong and the favored rejected the invitation. We are called into the Church precisely becasue we are sinners…and OMG it is so totally unexpected that we act like sinners that we HAVE to go looking for greener grass? Stupid, stupid, stupid…….!

    To be a Christian one has to have courage. At least Met. Jonah has demonstrated that on a number of occasions. AB Job did toward the end of his life. Who else in the OCA, bishops, priests, deacons, laity?

    Pray, worship, fast, give alms, repent and forgive. That is the work of Lent. The rest is a weave of sinfulness that we can either allow to overcome us or not.

    If folks want to leave, fine. They are likely running from themselves. There is nothing, NOTHING, in the dysfunction of any of the jurisdictions that would cause someone dedicated to finding the truth to leave. I know the pearl of great price is in the Orthodox Church and no where else. I’m not going to let sinfulness, stupidity and ineptness mine or anyone else’s drive me from it.

    Stop whining everybody. Let us take up our Cross and follow Him. Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeez!

    Lord have mercy on us!

  10. Harry Coin says

    Re: ‘Goodbye OCA’—

    Let’s be clear that bishops not getting along at all well has very little impact in the parishes in any immediate way. When they start ordering goofy changes, approve unqualified clergy, extract cash while providing no new faces, that’s when people leave.

    We are losing people, and this fuss is not helping but I don’t think it’s had any important impact yet.

    Just look at the dynamic behind all the scenes – – look out over the landscape: who might be a bishop that knows anything about what a married adult’s life is really like, clergy or laity? We’ve lost the ‘white’ or ‘widower’ bishops owing to changes in human lifespan.

    If we don’t fix that, we’ll all be here again in a year, two years, whether for the OCA, GOA, AOA, whatever. Fewer of us will be here. Until we fix that, we dance on the Titanic.

    • Heracleides says

      To quote Ronny: “There you go again.”

      Simply curious Harry, but is that the only tune you know how to play on that harp of yours?

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        Yep . . . what you said.

        All I care about is that we have bishops who lead by example when it comes to getting out there and preaching the Gospel. At a time when Christians are being persecuted worldwide, and we’re being urged to believe that we should be more sensitive to people who have no problems with stoning rape victims to death.

        • Harry Coin says

          Well, then you should be happy. Unless you need them to show that it can be lived and not only preached. Then, there’s an issue.

    • Bishop Nikon was married for thirty years. His wife died in 2000.

      Bishop Michael is also a widower, but his wife died tragically only a month after their marriage.

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        Likewise Fr. Matthias, incoming bishop of Chicago. It’s admittedly odd, in a good way, to hear the Archimandrite, your incoming bishop, talk with pride about his grown kids. His son is a priest with a couple kids of his own.

        As for +Michael, I have to really admire his faith. That a very young Fr. Michael, just a few days into his first parish assignment, could go through that and hold it all together is testament to his strength.

      • Harry Coin says

        There’s a wisdom a person can get only from experience. Doesn’t mean everyone having the experience is paying attention, but without it, well, you don’t go to a blind person for advice about colors.

  11. Nick Katich says

    George: I have an anonymous owner of a huge field of anonymous oil wells in an anonymous part of Serbia with a proven anonymous amount of oil in the ground who is willing to anonymously let me broker a sale of it for a reasonable sum to be paid in an anonymous currency and who is willing to anonymously guarantee that you will become wealtier than an anonymous American mogul. I would never think of making such an offer to George Michalopulos. But, this Monomakhos dude who is tilting with windmills might be a pretty good target to sell this anonymous oil field to. What is the best way to get in touch with him so that I can try to negotiate this deal?

    P.S. This oil field in next to an anonymous mountain range in the Balkans and it is an anonymously know fact that “there is AU nuggets floating in the H2O pouring forth from the mountains down into the valley”.

    • Nick Katich says

      To all:

      I just anonymously learned that George was actually kidnapped a month ago by the EP through anonymous secret agents of the GOA and is actually being held for ransom in an anonymous location for an anonymous amount of anonymous currency and this Monomakhos dude has actually taken over our dear friend’s identity. I am setting up an anonymous website and will notify all of the URL. I am asking all to use that website to send me your donations so that I can free our friend George from this nefarious EP/GOA cabal. I will promise total and transparent anonymity in using the funds you send for their intended purpose. To ensure that I do not personally benefit from those funds, I pledge to set up an anonymous trust fund with a well respected anonymous trustee to administer it. Please send you donations as soon as I post the URL. Don’t let this situation “fester” as George may well be in anonymous danger!!!!!

      • Chris Plourde says


      • Nick, somewhere in that diatribe is a question, or a statement, or a confabulation. Did you have a point? I forgot, I guess all you got is a will-of-the-wisp of an argument about some anonymous website that is actually posting some hard facts. Oh well. If you click your ruby red slippers together then you’ll go back to to the past when things were really great and you didn’t have to worry about the Big Bad +Jonah who –did what, exactly? Please refresh my memory.

        • Nick Katich says


          I was indeed making a point. The George that I used to know would never take seriously an anonymous website that publishes anonymous posts that seem to have all been written by the same anonymous person and give them credibility and call them facts. Apart from the fact that you seem hell bent on trying to foment hysteria based on factual-less speculation, I am finding some form of amusement here by noting that hysteria and hysterical seem to share a common root.

          Buddy, the only one that is going to lose credibility when the dust settles over this is Monomakhos. And, that will be a real shame. I note that Quixote also fought the windmills alone.

          • George Michalopulos says

            I’ll take my chances.

            In reality, I’m not really being that audacious when it’s already been proven that Stokoe’s version was chockablock full of biases, half-truths, and things that can never be proven. (Did the sages of Syosset really warn +Jonah about not making the speech in Dallas? Why doesn’t one of them step up and set the record straight? No pun intended.)

  12. Ivan Vasiliev says

    Why isn’t anyone addressing the fact that someone who was in the Church for 20 years (“convert of 20 years”, I assume, is not referring to his/her age) up and left because the bishops are not being nice? Or that some people are behaving in naughty and (truly) un-Christian ways?
    Does one abandon the Ark of Faith, the “True Faith”, because of the behaviors of others? Could such a person have ever been Orthodox in the first place, if he or she would run down the street to join a (non-denominational?) “church” that makes him/her feel good?

    Even if all our bishops were corrupt and wicked perverts, they would not be able to deprive us of from receiving the Body of Christ and tasting the Cup of Immortality. They would not be able to deprive us of the grace of baptism. They would not be able to steal from us the surpassing beauty of our faith: the solemn, sober joy of this Lenten season, the heart-wrenching, soul changing beauty of Holy Week, or the transforming Light of the Resurrection. Human beings and demons both are powerless against these gifts. How could anyone walk away from that for the consumer-friendly, “refreshingly joyful services elsewhere, and better run churches – both pastorally and financially”?

    The statement that “God is bigger than Orthodoxy” is patently false if one actually believes that the Church IS the Body of Christ. Evil-doers, wicked men and women, Judases, may enter the Church, but, unless they repent, they can never be OF it. What would have happened if Peter, James, John, and the others left Christ on account of Judas–for a “better run” operation? And how is it possible that the discussion on this thread entirely missed the real tragedy of that OCAT email? There is something profoundly wrong with our catechesis (does it even exist?) if people can away from the Church after living 20 years within her grace. Twenty years? One would think that by then that person would have put down deeper roots; instead he or she discovered that the seeds of the faith had been sown on rocky soil. This, far more than the Metropolitan Jonah/Holy Synod crisis, is cause for alarm.

    • Harry Coin says

      Why isn’t anyone addressing it? Because there’s no way to know whether it’s a self serving fabrication by an anonymite or true.

      And, regarding ‘if all the bishops’ as you wrote.. When there is an accepted culture of not paying attention to this or that part of the Gospel among the bishops, and not just an individual foible or stumble here or there, the word for that is ‘heresy’.

      I think at the bottom, what people are learning is that if the leaders can act in one way as a group no matter what they say, then the saying isn’t what counts and maybe it’s just as well to go to the church closer to home if the people there are nice and the pastor is inspiring– without regard to the label on the door.

      • Harry, Ivan, this is why I believe it’s true: how many of you are willing to go out and start a new OCA mission parish right now? It’s a given that the GOA isn’t starting new missions (after all, how do you fit foustanelles on white boys?) and who wants to go to AOCNA now that +Philip threw out his only convert bishop because some Arab traders in Detroit hated him?

        Oh, here’s the ticket! Let’s all join the OCA, where we can get pointers from Syosset on when is the best time of the year to show The Dear Hunter and learn how to sell raffle tickets in dying Mon Valley parishes.

        Yeah, I believe this guy, and I envy him. To paraphrase Jessus: “You pharisees go throughout the world looking to make converts and in so doing, you make them twice the sons fo the devil that you are!”


    • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

      Indeed, there has been far more chicanery in the OCA in the past two decades than this little dust-up, and if that didn’t run this alleged ship-jumper out, why would this? That’s one of the reasons, along with the “familiar” writing style, that makes me believe the whole tale is bunkum.

      To expropriate something a priest said not long ago at OCANews: The reason we accept the stench inside the Ark is because of the ferocity of the Flood outside.

      • Ivan Vasiliev says

        To expropriate something a priest said not long ago at OCANews: The reason we accept the stench inside the Ark is because of the ferocity of the Flood outside.

        Precisely. Better the ark with all its stench than an attractive piece of flotsam which will go under as soon as the pastor leaves or some pretty looking heresy comes along to entice the congregation/denomination even further from the truth.
        Incidentally, if our bishops do actually veer into heresy, I expect that we will know it, and the rest of the Orthodox world will know it. As ridiculous as the situation is now, and as morally compromised as some may be, we do not have an Arius or Nestorius out there challenging the doctrines of the faith. Bad as is may be, even those who are morally compromised do not have the hubris to dare say that our teachings in any area should be re-considered. What we have are sinners (of whom each one of us is first) who need to repent–on a personal and collective level. Hmmm…. might be a nice idea for all of us about now…
        This sinner is probably paying far too much attention to the current crisis, but one thing I know, is that there is no other Church to which I can flee. As Peter said after many of Jesus’ followers left when he began to talk about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, “Lord to Whom shall we go?” (Jn 6:68). I may get me some feel good religion somewhere else, but I will not be given the bread of eternal life. If I have to deal with the stench of my fellow sinners (while adding my own to the mix), then so be it.

        • No picking on you Ivan (really!) but here too is something that needs some clarification:

          As ridiculous as the situation is now, and as morally compromised as some may be, we do not have an Arius or Nestorius out there challenging the doctrines of the faith. Bad as is may be, even those who are morally compromised do not have the hubris to dare say that our teachings in any area should be re-considered. What we have are sinners (of whom each one of us is first) who need to repent–on a personal and collective level.

          Kinda, sorta, but not quite. The moral compromises in the Church draw from the tolerance towards sin in the dominant culture. And the toleration is specific to our age, usually sexual (adultery, fornication, pornography, homosexuality although you can also throw in abortion, euthanasia, and others). Why is that?

          The reason is that these sins are tied together by a common thread we can frame as a question: What does it mean to be a human being? If you look at the rationales justifying these particular sins, you will see that each posits different ideas about what constitutes human self-identity. From my vantage point this means that the next great theological question facing mankind is anthropological. (I develop this in an essay I wrote several years back: Orthodox Leadership in a Brave New World.)

          Secularism is the prevailing attitude of the dominant culture. But understand that secularism is nothing more than a transition from one orthodoxy to another. Secularism is merely a layover between cities, although this trip may take a century or two to complete.

          So you are right, repentance is needed, but repentance properly understood is also restoration. If there is no repentance or, more likely, if repentance is not complete so that no restoration occurs, the Church will end up in heresy. And that heresy will be anthropological since anthropology is the next great stage of human development.

          The Church will either hold forth the truth against great odds as it did in the early years when Nicaea I defined who Christ was and Nicaea II defined the Holy Spirit, to hold a Nicaea III where it must define in concrete terms what it means to be human. If we fail, the Church will absorb the values and ideas of the dominant culture and end up like the Episcopalian Church — the amen corner of secular progressives.

          The problem that faces us today is that the post-modern anthropological confusion is already with us. We are already fighting that battle. There is a deep philosophical congruence between, say, homosexual pathology or the relativizing of the ancient prohibitions against abortion and the post-modern anthropological vision that defines man as primarily a self-directed and self-referencing moral agent (the real sin in the Garden as we Orthodox understand it). The outlines are already here, in the Church.

          So I am not so sure if the problem is that “(t)his sinner is probably paying far too much attention to the current crisis.” He might be paying more attention than you realize and senses that we don’t understand what the stakes really are. I’d go a bit easier on him. He might see more than we do.

          I think too, that Met. Jonah understands this.

          • R. Dreher says

            Hear, hear, Fr. Hans.

            Back when I was blogging, I wrote a lot about something the sociologist Christian Smith calls “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” It is the default religion of young Americans — Christians of all sorts (though less so with Evangelicals, and not really so much with Mormon youth), as well as Jews and others. In brief, it’s a false religion that corrupts true Christianity. It basically says God exists and he loves you and wants nothing much from you except being nice. The god of MTD is non-specific, though people might think of him as the Christian deity (they’ve emptied him of content), and the religion is therapeutic in the sense that faith is seen not as something that helps you overcome yourself, but rather something that helps you become comfortable with yourself.

            This, Smith has written, is American religion today. Only the Mormons seem to have insulated their kids from it, and it’s interesting to think about why that might be.

            Flannery O’Connor warned a Christian friend that you have to push as hard against the age as the age pushes against you. The point is that if you are not being consciously countercultural, you are going to be co-opted by the values of the time and place where you live. You point this out beautifully, Fr. Hans. I agree with you that Met. Jonah seems to understand this. I wish I had confidence that the other bishops did. It’s not just our bishops, either. So many leaders in the churches seem to think that we can go along to get along, and all will be well. It’s not true! If you read the book “American Grace,” co-authored by Harvard political scientists Robert Putnam and his Notre Dame counterpart David Campbell, you’ll see lots of data showing that young Americans (under 30) are walking away en masse from organized religion. They don’t believe there is any precedent for this in American history — not even the legendarily rebellious Sixties. Something big is happening here, and you don’t know what it is, do you, Your Grace? (You fellow elderly readers can thank me later for the Bob Dylan reference). It doesn’t seem to be the case that they are choosing atheism so much as they are choosing MTD — that they don’t believe they need the Church to relate to God, that they can do just fine on their own.

            Is it possible that among Orthodox churches, we have given people no reason to think that they need to be active in Church to work out their salvation? I think it’s not only possible, but probable. This is a big part of what’s really getting to me about this OCA situation. I don’t think +Jonah is perfect, and from what I’ve heard, he really does have some non-trivial problems with administration (who wouldn’t, going from being an abbot to Metropolitan in one month?). But the charism he has, unique among the bishops as far as I can tell, is one of evangelization and vision. That rarely comes along. If the bishops had their priorities straight, they would be working sincerely to help him succeed, because the success of one as gifted is he will lift us all. Instead, the worst are plotting secretly to bring him down for spurious reasons, and the better members of the Synod are sitting silently, watching it happen.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              It used to be that nominal Christians raised nominal Christians. Nowadays nominal Christians raise non-Christians susceptible to becoming anti-Christians.

            • Rod, one parish that seems to get this is Kevin Allen’s parish. They actually address post-modern thinking in their ministry (St. Barnabas). I checked out their website a few weeks ago and they attract tattoo kids, the whole nine yards. They have something like 20 catechumens or more every year. Fr. John Peck at St. George in Prescott, Arizona has the same results. He moved there not too long ago and people just come. What do their priests have in common? The believe in the centrality of the Gospel and they take care of their people. There are more parishes I’m sure that I don’t know about.

              On the St. Barnabas site that the priest mentions he has to father the young men that come, teach them things that a dad would. I don’t know the man, but after reading this I know he gets it.

              This isn’t brain surgery. One of my critiques of contemporary Orthodoxy is the clericalism. Priests like it because they have a sense of importance without doing much work; the laity likes it because adoration of the clergy substitutes for real encounter with Christ. In truth they hold each other in fear and sometimes contempt while convincing themselves that “serving the Church” is the same thing as serving Christ.

              And no one should think that a critical seeker can’t see through this. Of course they can. That’s why they walk away. In some places Orthodoxy doesn’t differ much from consumer Christianity except that our flavor is a bit more exotic.

              As I said above, I think Met. Jonah gets this. One of the things I foresee under Met. Jonah, if his detractors are not successful in removing him, is an unleashing of activity among the laity that just might stun the Orthodox world in its energy and creativity. We’ll see.

              You are right. Met. Jonah needs to fix a few things, administrative mostly. Nothing that a few good aides can’t rectify. He probably needs to communicate with the Synod a bit more too. At the same time, the letter signed by Bp. Nikhon to the Washington Post shows a dearth of imagination. There’s not one memorable idea in it; it’s one bland sentence after another. I can understand how someone would grow frustrated dealing with them.

              Controlling Met. Jonah is not going to work either. He is not that kind of man. He’s independent, self-directed, visionary (and maybe a bit too eager, at least these first few years anyway). But, if they work with him, the OCA may recover what was lost and the then some.

              • Harry Coin says

                Fr Hans wrote ‘Priests like it because they have a sense of importance without doing much work; the laity likes it because adoration of the clergy substitutes for real encounter with Christ.’ — Yes I think that says it very well. It’s where the ‘Rock Star’ bishop phenomenon comes from. The thing about ‘Rock Stars’ is– they come, they go, and you only see what they put on stage.

                Fr. Hans, re remarks and hopes for Met. Jonah: What possible reason for ‘bringing him down’ is there motivating the folk when Met. Jonah’s agenda you deem is among all the virtues you listed? The only thing I can think of is the motivation does not arise from his public agenda.

                Is the ‘Kryptonite’ severely poor as yet undisclosed personal choices? Or is it that he can’t get along with his team? Or, well, what? What turned all the supporters into objectors? Given the past I don’t think it can be about policy disagreements, it had to be more than that. I’m guessing something that will come out sooner or later.

                • Well, I don’t want to get into a debate about this bit this is how I see it (and this is all I am going to say about it): a framework has been constructed that gives the appearance of guilt, but I don’t see anything inside of it pointing to any wrong doing apart from some administrative blunders that are easily fixed.

                  I’m all for checks and balances too, but I don’t think they work by adding rules upon rule to create some Byzantine monolith that reduces everything to the dealings of the moment.

                  Rather, I think checks and balances are fluid. When the Courts get out of line, Congress pushes back. When Congress gets out of line, the Courts push back. (Notice how few laws are declared unconstitutional by lower courts once Congress and the Executive brand started complaining about judicial excess?)

                  So I don’t really buy that the Primate (I really wish they would choose another word) has to account for every action to the Synod. That’s unworkable. No bishop does this. A Primate needs broad latitude and the checks and balances have to remain fluid. In some respects I think the Synod just doesn’t know what to do with a pro-active leader, perhaps a bit too pro-active at times. They’ll learn. So will Met. Jonah.

                  If some unknown corruption is revealed down the road, I’ll deal with it when I see it. So far I don’t see anything, and I am unwilling to take the word of those who, while never saying something is wrong outright, remain silent and thus imply something exists. I don’t work that way. That’s one reason why I found the entire “psychological evaluation” episode so offensive.

                  That’s all I am going to say about this.

                • lexcaritas says

                  Some good questions here, Harry, but is this part true:” What turned all the supporters into objectors?” Are the people leading the charge against ++Jonah people who were his “supporters” as you say? I’m suspicious. Mark Stokoe himself has said that he had misgivings and had warned us from the beginning. he must not have been the only one. It seems to me from what I read that most of Jonah’s original supporters are still with him, nor do I read the Synod’s minutes or the Synod’s subsequent official silence quite the way you do. But then maybe you have (dare I say it) anonymous sources. I admittedly have none.


                  • Harry Coin says

                    The postings at the time of Jonah’s arrival were all uniformly hopeful and positive. There were some people at Pokrov who were concerned, but other than that I don’t know how any organization could have been more uniformly supportive than the OCA was reported to be in OCAnews in those days.

                    You might be suspicious, but then you use the word ‘I’ while not giving your name. So, I’m done here until that changes.

                    • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

                      If I recall rightly, Stokoe was actually quite enthusiastic about the election of Jonah. I believe they in fact know each other from way back. Given how small the OCA actually is, how could they not? They’ve both bounced around our little playground for a long time.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Harry, does this go for ABIATR as well?

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Harry, why do you suppose that there’s some “kryptonite” somewhere? Why can’t you just accept the fact that we have some flawed bishops in the OCA? Lord knows, we got them in Istanbul. What sane reason was there for the Phanar to get rid of the one truly visionary bishop in the GOA (+Iakovos)? Can’t you just accept the fact that bishops are men subject to the same foibles as you and I? One of those foibles being insanely jealous of the New Kid on the Block (especially after the WaPo did a glittering story on him)?

            • Unless one lived at the bottom of a deep well, with the cover nailed shut, thus unable to notice the environment, Abp. Dmitri’s pastoral ministry has been characterized by its solid core of “evangelization and vision”. Met. Jonah repeatedly voiced his admiration for this while he was here. He (Met. Jonah) sometimes appears to have different target audiences than did Vladika; however, the driving impulses are quite similar, I think.

              • R. Dreher says

                Antonia, I’m talking about the current Synod. Besides, by the time I got to St. Seraphim’s, Abp Dmitri was effectively retired. Unfortunately for me, I missed his more active years.

                • Rod, the opening sentence is written clearly NOT to address you, personally. :>) I know that you arrived very, very late in his “term of office.” (Your book intro, however, shows that you did have the joy of seeing him at his best!) I just was picking up on your cited element of a mission-minded hierarch, to remind people who arrived in the OCA later than did my family that this key characteristic of an effective hierarch has been present for many years.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  +Dmitri was the best. Sigh. I pray at times that he could muster the strength (he’s quite feeble now) to put the others in their place and come to +Jonah’s aid. A true prophet. And wonderful preacher of the Gospel.

            • Chris Plourde says

              If you read the book “American Grace,” co-authored by Harvard political scientists Robert Putnam and his Notre Dame counterpart David Campbell, you’ll see lots of data showing that young Americans (under 30) are walking away en masse from organized religion. They don’t believe there is any precedent for this in American history — not even the legendarily rebellious Sixties.

              This data and the data that demonstrate that young people are more likely to accept moral failings as normative than anyone rises from the world that America created thirty years ago, in the 1980s. That was when we took the sexual and cultural “freedom” of the 1960s and mainstreamed it as the sole propelling value for the whole of our culture.

              It was also when we declared mercy and compassion to be personal qualities and not societal qualities, and in the name of “personal responsibility” and “meritocracy” embraced a form of social darwinism as our ethos. Not con-incidentally, it’s also when we de-coupled “self esteem” from actual achievement.

              Having forced God’s mercy and compassion out of the public square, the only thing left in the public square was a god of judgement and condemnation, which is why today we have the second highest percentage of people in prison of any nation on earth. That false god is rightly rejected by those under 30, and doubling-down on the message of judgement and punishment is not going to do anything but further isolate them from any church.

              If Orthodoxy is to counter these trends in the culture, it can only do so by changing the terms of the discussion. We cannot do so by following the lead of the Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants and issuing more and more draconian statements “affirming” what’s wrong with the world. We cannot do so by following the lead of Mainstream Protestantism and telling people that what’s wrong with the world is really not so bad.

              What we need to do is rediscover the Light of Christ in ourselves, the mercy and compassion of Christ, and bring that to the forefront. Unfortunately, whenever an Orthodox clergy member actually does that they’re accused of “softening” the Church’s position on sin, as if Jesus “softened” God’s position on prostitution by associating with prostitutes.

              We won’t reach the sub-30-somethings by telling them things they know are half-loaded half-truths. Like telling them that homosexuality is a bigger threat to marriage than their parent’s multiple divorces and affairs. They’re just not going to buy that no matter how adamant anyone gets. Try not telling them that charity is a private affair but chastity is a public one, especially not given the history they’ve lived. And most of all, as they live in the wreckage created by the generation before them try not telling them how much better things used to be, because it that’s acclaiming the era that created the mess we’re in today.

              Orthodoxy has the ability to make sense in their world, but only if we steadfastly proclaim the compassion and mercy of God and the beauty of His house. To quote Bowie:

              And these children that you spit on
              As they try to change their worlds
              Are immune to your consultations
              They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

              We have a great God who suffers with us, which is the meaning of compassion. He doesn’t hector us, doesn’t lecture us, doesn’t remand us to hades for our shortcomings, but suffers with us. That’s a God worth witnessing to the world, especially to those who are “quite aware what they’re going through.”

              • Chris, to everything there is a time and season.

                To a man who has found Christ but is struggling with same sex desire, you strengthen him in his struggle and clarify it for him. You also pray with him

                To a man involved in homosexuality looking for Christ but not ready to give up the lifestyle you say Christ will be waiting for him when he is ready.

                To the Orthodox Christian who is confused about the attempts to normalize homosexuality you teach what the tradition says.

                To the man who thinks that homosexuality ranks as the top sin and divorce and broken families can be winked at you correct.

                To young people growing up in a pro-homosexual culture, you don’t bring up the topic until they do, and you discuss it in ways that affirm the innate self-dignity they are trying to discover for themselves.

                It’s called discernment.

                • Chris Plourde says

                  Amen to this, Father.

                  How different this is from saying that we must at all times go into the public square and denounce homosexuality and homosexual marriage.

                  It’s called discernment. Exactly.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Chris, so by you’re logic +Jonah should just shut up about the moral collapse of our nation? Pastors need to discern how they deal with individuals, bishops need to lead. You’re being more than obtuse. It’s complete jackassery.

                    • Chris Plourde says


                      That’s not my logic at all, nor is it implicit in anything I’ve written.

                      I think you misinterpret me because you assume me to be a critic of our Metropolitan. I am not. I am a critic of both those who oppose and defend Jonah by stoking the fires of outrage about each other and him. To me that’s a bigger threat to the OCA than any ecclesial dustup.

                      It seems to me that the evangelical task of Orthodox witness to the world is to draw all men to Christ. And it seems to me that, unlike the western apostates, Orthodoxy does this by proclaiming the Gospel of Christ’s resurrection and salvation first and foremost, not by proclaiming judgement and damnation first and foremost.

                      And as we’re in the midst of Lent, we know that Orthodoxy does not in the least shy away from the truth of judgement and real possibility of damnation.

                      The issue, as Fr. Hans points out above, is in discernment. Doing the “right” think in the wrong circumstance and time succeeds only in hardening hearts, and that does not serve the goal of the Church.

                      So are there times and places where we rightly proclaim the moral teachings of the Church to an indifferent and secular world? Of course there are. But it’s not all the time, it’s not in every circumstance, and it’s not a failure of our evangelical mission when discernment suggests a different approach.

          • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

            Hear! Hear!

          • Ivan Vasiliev says

            “this sinner” referred to myself…not the emailer….

          • Chris Plourde says

            The moral compromises in the Church draw from the tolerance towards sin in the dominant culture.

            Here’s where Rod and I often go opposite directions. 😉 Fr. Hans you’ve now stepped on my one good nerve, so I apologize in advance for the tone and ask that you read it with an Irish lilt to take some of the sting off.

            Where? Where has the Church altered its clear and constant position on any of the moral issues you raise?

            This is what drives me nuts, you say the Church has compromised its position, but where has any Bishop (or even a priest) said “You know, the Church historically teaches this is wrong, but that’s old-fashioned and we know better now?” (As if being “old-fashioned” would be considered bad in any Orthodox setting.)

            Where is this more than the tea leaves of personal projection? My people are from Missouri: Show Me.

            I find it terribly un-Orthodox to presume the worst about our Bishops, clergy and faithful. And I find it even more un-Orthodox to do as OCATruth did and demand that a priest disclose the content of confession, to tell us all whether an Orthodox individual is living a chaste life. The presumption of wrongdoing on the part of all is clear, and the challenge to violate the confessional in order to prove one’s innocence is pernicious.

            Are you, Fr. Hans, in the habit of reassuring your parishioners that someone they think is sinning is not, or perhaps that they are? Of everyone here you should use the standard you’d want used for yourself.

            Either names and bring your evidence to the table, or stop this foolishness.

            • There is a difference between tolerating things that go against the tradition and challenging the tradition outright. In Orthodoxy, it is difficult to challenge the tradition directly because, well, it is the tradition. You won’t find it, except in a few cases. More often you find justifications for practices that violate the tradition without challenging the tradition explicitly.

              One example that could be construed as a challenge to the received tradition:

              A patriarch who ‘generally speaking, respects human life’

              Another example where the edges of correct practice are blurred:

              Pushing the Gay Agenda in the Greek Archdiocese

              The rest of you post is editorializing so I won’t address it. Remember, I said this:

              The moral compromises in the Church draw from the tolerance towards sin in the dominant culture.

              My point is that the leniency we see employs the arguments and attitudes of the dominant culture.

              • Chris Plourde says

                I’m happy to acknowledge editorializing, though claiming it allows you to neatly sidestep the issue of those who demand a priest “come clean” and tell us all if someone else is living in sin or not. That’s not an editorial question, by the way, it is the demand of OCATruth.

                And I must say that the links you provided were interesting, but upon closer inspection they reveal something very different than you think.

                I attempted to trace the most important quote in the first article to its source. The claimed source article at the San Francisco Chronicle does not in fact exist. No Ecumenical Patriarch visited San Francisco in 1990, so no Ecumenical Patriarch could have made a statement in San Francisco in 1990.

                Further, the salient quote claims to be from Patriarch Bartholomew in 1990, when in fact the Patriarch at the time was Dimitrios, who died in 1991. Bartholomew didn’t become Patriarch until November of 1991.

                The first iteration of this citation arrives at the Orthodox listserv in 1997 where the posting ROCOR priest got the name of the reigning Patriarch right, but again that article and quote appear no-where at the Chronicle and a certain OCA Bishop named Tikhon notes this in the discussion that follows. He also that even if such a quote did exist a reporter’s take on anything said by any Bishop is not going to be dispositive.

                The quote then pops up with the wrong Patriarch named on many pro-life Orthodox sites in 2009. The fact that no-one bothered to confirm it speaks to a willingness to believe the worst of our Bishops and clergy, especially when it conforms to our pre-existing ideas.

                Nowhere can I find that any Ecumenical Patriarch actually said what these pro-life sites and articles claims was said. Yet the quote and the vitriol that arises from it lives on….

                I welcome your research to the contrary.

                And meaning no disrespect to anyone, but Michael Huffington is not my source for the teachings of the Orthodox Church, nor should he be anyone’s. That this is the second link, one that states explicitly that the Orthodox Church rejects his view of these things, is sad. It is as if you cited OCANews to give the Orthodox Church’s view of anything.

                What you’ve demonstrated, in fact, is the truthiness of your allegations. They sound right to you….whether they’re actually correct or not is beside the point.

                • Take the question about “come clean” to OCATruth. I usually don’t defend or explain points made by other people unless I think it is important.

                  The online archives at the Chronicle only go back to 1995. The article was written in 1990 which probably explains why you can’t find it. A copy is provided.

                  The article quotes Metropolitan Bartholomais of Chalcedon who is the current Ecumenical Patriarch. It does not say he was the Patriarch in 1990. (He would not be identified as a Metropolitan if he were the Patriarch.)

                  Orthodox Patriarch Dimitrios I visited San Francisco in 1990 (see: http://articles.latimes.com/1990-04-14/news/ss-1121_1_greek-orthodox). Metropolitan Bartholomais of Chalcedon (the current Ecumenical Patriarch) was part of the entourage.

                  All the other quotes are cited. They’re there. You can look them up.

                  Correct, Michael Huffington is not a teacher in the Church.

                  That’s about all I am going to say about this. There’s a lot of editorializing in your post and I am just not interested in engaging it. I’ll let the readers make up their own minds.

                  • Chris Plourde says

                    I welcome the corrections from both you and Mark.

                    I apologize for my erroneous inferences and conclusions.

                    There is no end to my need to repent.

                    • Apology accepted Chris. Meanwhile, lighten up on me a little bit. I’m actually a likable guy. 🙂

                    • Chris Plourde says

                      I have no doubt, Fr. Hans, that we would totally enjoy each other’s company.

                      As you pointed out above, the pastoral issue is one of discernment. Where others may infer a tolerance for immorality, a pastor may be in fact witnessing as you suggest, or the circumstances may not at all be what is outwardly assumed.

                      That last one is my story. At our former parish a very new parishioner was scandalized that our pastor would commune me, she “just knew” I was actively homosexual because I have an earring. She told members of other parishes her conclusion as if it were fact. Of course, she had not yet met me nor my wife or our daughter….and in meeting us ceased to spread that rumor, and today we are friends and again at the same parish. But for a decade members of other parishes considered our pastor to be “pro gay” based largely upon this one unfounded and unfortunate rumor, though they don’t know where or how the “common knowledge” originated.

                      That’s not an excuse for my reaction, of course, but it is why I view “common knowledge” of scandalous behavior that doesn’t arrive with a healthy amount of factual support with a great deal of skepticism.

                • The article from the SF Chronicle in 1990, “SF Shows Off Its Ecumenical Spirit; Church Leaders welcome Head of Orthodox Christianity” most certainly does exist. It’s not in the free archive at the Chronicle’s site which only goes back to 1995, but I found the full text in two databases, LexisNexis Academic and NewsBank (neither available freely unfortunately). The byline is assigned to Don Lattin, and the first line is “Pope Leo IX (1048-54) and Patriarch Michael I (1043-58) would be shocked.”

                  The quote in question appears in the 1990 SF Chronicle story exactly as cited in the AOI article, and the speaker is clearly identified as Metropolitan Bartholomais of Chalcedon, just as he is (I trust not coincidentally) in the AOI piece.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Or you can just do what Stokoe wants our bishops to do: and that is just shut up. “All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.”

              • Ivan Vasiliev says

                The link to the article about Huffington and Schaeffer is deeply disturbing. There is a difference between lovingly supporting those who are struggling with sexual (and any other) sin and endorsing it whether openly or silently
                I think the biggest problem we face is our inability to be both loving and righteous; we either become hateful and self-righteous or we take on a falsely non-judgmental attitude. This is why God needs to raise saints among us–men and women who can preach the truth with love and whose presence is a healing balm to the suffering.

                That said, the Church’s moral teaching transcends–MUST transcend–the false dichotomies of the “culture war”. Otherwise, we will become pawns in the monstrous war between God and Magog–neither of which we should want anything to do with.

                • I agree, Ivan. Sadly, I wonder if the toleration of Huffington’s “sexuality” has more to do with tolerating his wallet than anything.

                  On the other hand, I’ve seen many other Orthodox express views similar to Frank Schaeffer with respect to abortion and gay rights.

            • There is no call to violate the confessional. Mr. Stokoe clearly and unambiguously declared himself to be married to another man to his family, and through whatever means this was reflected in his mother’s public obituary. Getting married outside the Church is a serious sin in Orthodoxy. Getting “married” to a person of the same sex is even more serious. Allowing them to present themselves as if they were in good standing with the Church, when in fact their “marriage” is a serious and ongoing preclusion to that, compromises the public moral witness of the Church in that locality. That is something that absolutely must be taken seriously. Whether this couple lives chastely or in fornication is totally irrelevant to the question, although it is something that must be dealt with, in private and in the context of confession.

              • Harry Coin says

                George, Since you are allowing anonymity you’re the one taking personal/legal responsibility for what’s written here by all the anonymous including ‘Helga’. Are you sure you want to allow the assertion that Mark Stokoe did ‘clearly and unambiguously’ do what the writer above suggested? You know that he’s the author of such a statement?

                • I can say that because there is evidence of it. That is a conclusion anyone would reasonably draw from reading that article. Bigamy is both illegal and rare in this country, while homosexual relationships are both legal and relatively common, so the natural conclusion is that the third son-in-law is with the son. There is no point in arguing about it.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Or the next time someone’s wife comes to visit him at the office and he’s getting the full Lewinsky from his secretary, he could just say he was helping her quit smoking. Yeah, the old battle-axe will buy that one in a heartbeat!

              • If George believes it puts him at risk, he is welcome to delete it and hold me responsible. I stand by it because there is no reasonable alternative explanation for what was printed.

                • Harry Coin says

                  How can he hold you responsible? ‘You’ are hiding who ‘you’ are. No, he’s on the hook here. Unless you want to post your name, that is. Do you have enough confidence about the truth of what you’ve said to do that? Or is there that little doubt that it might not be true that won’t let you actually step up and put your name to it?

                  • Yes, Harry. I do have a sneaking suspicion that an obituary might have erroneously accounted for members of the family. Obituaries are technically classified advertisements produced by the family of the deceased, but it’s still possible that the family misclassified and miscounted themselves, or that an obituary editor’s mistake went so far as to invent another family member out of whole cloth. Hmm…

                    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                      My understanding is that the family usually supplies the information about the deceased person to the newspaper, and they will edit and write it into the standard format. In some cases, the family (or the funeral home) writes the obituary and submits it to the newspaper. So, it is logical to assume that the family gave out the information as intended (although, the obituary writer do make mistakes sometimes . . . I should know – they screwed up a bit with my grandfather’s obituary, but the facts were mostly accurate). Whoever is it that is allegedly Stokoe’s partner – the family probably did mean to list him there because they considered him to be part of the family, for whatever reasons.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Lola is absolutely right. There are two kinds of obits: those written by newspaper staff members based on interviews and research, and those written by the family or the funeral parlor and merely edited by a newspaper staff members without interviews or research. The latter are often called “death notices” instead of obituaries, and they are often paid for by the family or funeral parlor, just like an ad. In both cases, information on family relationships originates with the family. The only exception is when a relationship is publicly known. As someone who has worked in journalism and written obits, I can’t believe that the Seattle Times came up with the “in-law” identification on its own. The only question in my mind is whether this “in-law” relationship was truly in law or just the family’s way of explaining Stokoe’s cohabitation with another man.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Helga, you are a true she-warrior for Christ! I applaud your courage and fortitude. If only our bishops were as stalwart.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Helga, we mayl have a defense if we consult the great oracle Seinfeld: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”

              • Heracleides says

                Give me a break. Let us – just this once – set aside the PC nonsense and simply call a spade a spade.

                The obituary quite clearly states that Mrs. Stokoe has three children: “Kitty, Suzy & Mark” and three sons-in-law: “Eric Nelson, Bill Phillips and Steve Brown.” Now it just so happens that the third son-in-law is in fact Mark Stokoe’s ‘house-mate’ – so, is Mr. Brown married to one of Mark’s sisters (which would then make him a bigamist) and just happens to live apart from her (and her other husband) with her brother Mark? Highly doubtful. Indeed, we either have two “married” homosexual men sitting on the MC or a bigamist sitting on the MC. Take your pick.

                ( Don’t take my word for it – read the obituary yourself: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/seattletimes/obituary.aspx?n=elizabeth-helen-hatton-stokoe&pid=142783348 )

                • Harry Coin says

                  What this article raises is a reasonable basis to call for an explanation in public only if the people involved wish to continue in positions of church decision making.

                  What that article is not, is proof. It could have been a typo, it could have been done by others in the family with an agenda, lots of things. I understand how it is a reasonable inference, but not proof.

                  If it was you in the crosshairs, I don’t think you’d want to trust your future to whether a newbie working at the newspaper got the editing in the obits correct.

                  But, this sort of thing is what anonymity does, some people feel free to say things they wouldn’t say even fearing no reprisals, simply as a carefree way to launch word bombs without being accountable. It’s entertaining, in the manner of kicking around a barnyard disturbing the flies.

                  I think the only honorable use of anonymity in the context of important decision making is for those who fear retribution to post anonymously only those facts readers can check for themselves.

                  • Contrariwise says

                    Harry, you’re twisting yourself into a pretzel to avoid what is bloody obvious. The Stokoe family bought an ad in which Mark’s housemate (OCATruth showed that they share the same address) is identified as the late Mrs. Stokoe’s “son-in-law.” Mark’s homosexuality is not a secret among those who have been around the top of the OCA for a while. As far as I can tell, Mark has not responded one way or another to the publicity. If I were an Orthodox Christian, and people were saying I was living in a gay relationship, and providing evidence for this claim, I would be quick to dispute it. His silence tells us something.

                    I know it is inconvenient for you folks who support Mark’s mission to get rid of Metropolitan Jonah, who has been so outspoken against the normalization of homosexuality, to have it revealed that your hero is a partnered gay man. However, it is true. Deal with it, Harry, but please stop hiding behind implausible scenarios.

                    I don’t understand either why some Stokoe supporters act like it was a dirty move for OCATruth to publicize this publicly available information about Stokoe and his partner. It’s true, and it’s highly relevant! Stokoe has chosen to make himself a public figure, and an important public figure to boot, in the OCA. If the faithful learn this information about Stokoe, and don’t care, that’s their right. In my opinion, it’s important for people to understand the full picture of what’s going on here.

                    Stokoe has made his name calling for “transparency” in the OCA. Isn’t this transparency? I’m not trying to be a smart aleck here. If Stokoe was living quietly and privately with his male partner, I wouldn’t think it was my business or yours. He is not doing that. He is living openly with a man his family knows about and thinks of as a spouse (according to a newspaper ad they bought), and he has chosen to make himself a prominent and effective advocate for policy within the OCA. If you are going to play hardball — and collaborating with other OCA leaders to bring down the Metropolitan is definitely hardball — then you better realize this comes with the game. So should your supporters.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      Now ‘I support Mark’s mission to oust Met. Jonah’? Just because I’m not ready to shoot first then see whether rumors are true and whether the seeming in the newspaper is what it appears or some mistake?

                      See what the anonymous will do. See who the anonymous attract. Does Met Jonah want these to be known as ‘his supporters’– not willing to support him if they have to be recognized as doing so? Willing to support him right or wrong, except namelessly?

                  • We get your point, you are now just being a bully.

          • lexcaritas says

            Fr. Hans, you have expressed it better and more perspicasiously than I could have. May God bless you and your service.


        • George Michalopulos says

          I guess that Hopko was blowing smoke then back in 2006 when he painted such a dire picture of a dying church then?

    • Ivan, in theory everything you write has a certain logic to it. In reality, life works out much differently. If parishes languish in leadership, they fail. People leave. There are several reasons for this but they always boil down to the bishop and priest. The scenarios run in different ways but the two most common ones are:

      1) A parish has a poor priest and strong laity who appeal to the bishop but the bishop does nothing.
      2) A parish has a strong priest but antagonistic laity (usually only a handful but that is all it takes) and a weak bishop who does not support the priest. This scenario has a few variation but the antagonists always win.

      (The dynamics of healthier parish operate differently but I won’t go into it here.)

      You say that…

      Even if all our bishops were corrupt and wicked perverts, they would not be able to deprive us of from receiving the Body of Christ and tasting the Cup of Immortality.

      …but this is not really true either. If the shepherd is struck down (either by his own hand or the hand of others), the sheep will scatter. The scriptures are clear about this. In fact, it happened to the disciples. That’s why they were hiding in the upper room. They regrouped only when their Shepherd, the Risen Christ, appeared to them who in turn made them shepherds over His flock.

      Yes, a person can go to another Orthodox Church without blame or condemnation (indeed, even with God’s blessing and approval I think) but only if another Orthodox Church is nearby. If there isn’t, the sheep will seek out another shepherd. Is this a good thing? No, I don’t think it is. But the condemnation is ours, not the person who was scandalized by our indifference and sin.

      Look at the parishes that are flourishing. They have strong priests and strong bishops. Occasionally you will find parishes that flourish that have strong priests and weak bishops but these are very rare and usually fail after a while because of the intense pressure placed on priests by lay antagonists on one side and a compliant bishop on the other. The priest wont be able to withstand the abuse of the antagonists and will leave or, in rarer circumstances, the bishop will remove him to appease the antagonists.

      Now you can say all you want that these people are weak, misinformed, whatever but the way I described it is how it really works. That’s the reason the Church was constituted with leaders in the first place.

      Chris Banescu: If you read this: Not trying to change your mind about anonymity here (the issue isn’t very important from my point of view), but how about telling the story of how your parish went from on the more thriving parishes in S. California to a shell of its former self because of poor leadership? Your parish is turning around now because you have a good priest at the helm (Fr. Yousuf), but earlier didn’t you see people just drift away?

      Michael Bauman: If you read this: You write from the vantage point of one of the healthier parishes in the country with good priests and a dynamic and pro-active bishop at the helm. You would think differently I think if you had to endure years of mediocrity in a spiritually impoverished parish with no real hope that it would ever improve. Loss is incremental, but a person reaches a point where there is little left to loose and so they look elsewhere.

      If anything thinks this is farfetched, recall the churches St. John mentions in Revelation. They all were burning with the love of Christ at one point. Some went dark. Would you stay there? That’s the question that people who leave ask themselves.

      And, to answer the anonymity critics, as I mentioned in my post upstream, Dr. Bradley Nassif warned of this over five years ago: Reclaiming the Gospel. If you like that essay, try this one: The Calling of a Bishop is to Preach the Gospel.

      • Harry Coin says

        Fr. Hans, I think the anonymity hinders the issue’s deserved serious consideration.

        I add this among the notes in the chord sounded above and below: The visible dynamics between the parish groups and individuals you mention. The ‘issue/policy/personnel/preaching’ issues Rod and others mention.

        For my part, I elevate and uphold the as just as, if not more, important dimension of modelling by all recognized as in community leadership, and the more in the greater the official nature of the duty/task/assignment/job/rank.

        Because if people didn’t need to see the life modelling of all this, we’d simply buy some DVD’s or watch the great orations, or do internet chats or follow the ‘tweets’ of the luminaries at home. Maybe get together in small groups of similar minded and ‘acuna-matata- bother free is the way to be’.

        A great, great motivator for many is to come see how people who take this seriously live, how does it work out for them? How do they handle the bumps? How do they handle success? How do they handle having administrative power? How do they handle being powerless? How do they lead groups? How do they form part of the workers in groups they don’t lead? How do they handle not feeling well themselves? How do they get along with people who are different than them, the same as them? Wealthier? Poorer? Better educated? Less well educated? People who’ve made more mistakes in the past, people who’ve made fewer? How do they handle mistreatment? When I hit that bump who have I seen who hit a similar one and what did they do, who can I ask for advice that’s been through it already?

        This is the ‘everyday’ dimension, the answer to ‘who are you, really, and why are you here?’ That’s the glue that gets people past the not-the-best singing voice, the human gaffes in leadership. Absent that not even amazing sermons, golden singing, liturgical flawlessness, will be enough.

        It’s from that sense that anonymity by those who use words like ‘should’ and ‘ought’ damages their own message. It’s from that sense that accepting a culture of misdoing over time in this or that area of leadership is toxic– because it models not a struggle against, but indeed a toleration of, and dare I say it even a certain fondness for, hypocrisy. Parishioners as, well, something between guests and cash cows. And so, those who see the leaders not appear to even struggle in a sincere way to close the gap between the saying and the seeming– that’s unwelcome enough during the week, much less being visible in high relief at church where it is preached it is minimized.

        The note at the bottom of the chord that supports all the rest, and I suggest without which the rest even if perfect will not be enough to sustain a future is: modelling by all in leadership.

        That’s the main and most positive reason why we need those who’ve known marriage and family plentiful among the high leadership as bishops. Those we had in every century, dwindling dramatically only in the last century (the rule changes in the middle centuries didn’t affect this fact until this century). Even if all we have that haven’t known marriage were pure and good, they as a group are incapable of modelling the life mentioned in the Gospel to those married. And without those, tasked with bringing forth the future, there won’t be a future.

        • Harry, yes, I understand what you are saying and agree with it. I think it mirrors my points about clericalism upstream (might be downstream). You are describing something that could be called vibrancy (or something like that), where the relationships are real, supportive, and reach into something deeper than the formalism that defines and shape the clericalism we usually settle for.

          And yes, this has to modeled rather than only talked about. It can’t be modeled if it is not lived.

          My only point with the anonymity is that the stories told, even anonymously, conform to what I know as true in the Church. So it’s not an issue of principle for me. I read past it, much like reading a post from someone I don’t know even though the author signed his name.

      • Fr. Hans, The story of our parish and the tragedy that occurred because, as you correctly said, it “always boil down to the bishop and priest”, was described in this parable I wrote several years ago:

        The Parable of the Missing Samaritan

        Note – Eventually the “new Bishop” came to his senses and started acting like a real shepherd and helped the suffering flock. By then the largest English only OCA parish in Los Angeles had gone from 128 pledging members/families to 39.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          Chris, I’m saddened to read what you had to go through at the parish. Maybe the experience explains your concern for what might appear from a distance to be neglect or incompetence by another bishop.

          But let me assure you that we at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, DC, do not see any sign of neglect or incompetence on the part of our bishop, Metropolitan Jonah. The parish was deeply and bitterly divided before he became our bishop. For a variety of reasons, we were losing members and not bringing in nearly enough money for pay for everything. The previous metropolitans were only occasional visitors (two or three times a year) and had little to do with their cathedral. Even when they were here, they did not interact with the people or even much of the clergy. I was ordained by +Herman in 2007; he spoke to me all of twice in all his visits here — once in the obligatory guidance to ordinands during the ordination and once when he asked me to fetch someone for him.

          With +Jonah, it has been another story. He actually came into the job thinking that this was his cathedral, his see, his diocese, his vineyard, the place he belonged. He visited as often as possible, resisting expectations that he stay in Syosset. When here, he was always available. He took a very active role in the parish, singing with the choir at times, hearing confessions, having everyone at church over to his house after some services, and presiding over parish council meetings (unheard of before). He gave councilmembers his email address and answered our emails to him. And he did all this despite being extremely busy with other matters at several higher levels.

          When he realized what was wrong at St. Nicholas’s, he took surprisingly bold action to correct things. I myself would never have expected a bishop to be so proactive, based on the way I’ve seen other bishops work. The major decisions he made were very good decisions that took a lot of courage and vision. A few minor decisions didn’t go the way I would have liked, but he never held it against me when I spoke against his position at meetings of the parish, parish council, or diocesan council. He was nothing but magnanimous and encouraging. The only thing not to like about him as a pastor is that — being a hierarch, and being a monk, and taking worship very seriously and very sincerely — our services are longer now, but that’s it as far as a downside.

          And then there’s his bold witness to the world on major moral issues that most bishops won’t touch with a 10-foot crozier. What a breath of fresh air! An Orthodox bishop here in America, in Washington, DC, who will speak the truth to power! I count myself especially blessed to have such a bishop, because I myself have held forth publicly on such issues and know that many bishops would not share my sympathies or allow me such freedom. The proof is in these recent attacks on him — a good man, a God-fearing man, a man of simple, honest faith who has already done us much good.

          That is the +Jonah I have known. That is why I stand by him.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Fr. Hans, yes–without +Basil it would be quite different yet the turn around began before +Basil was the pastor here as Fr. Basil, before there was any other bishop but Met. Philip. My parish was in civil war between two different tribal factions. We had just endured a horrible priest who drove many folks away. Met. Philip latter apologized for not responding to the entreaties of the parish to do something. Still people stayed (some did leave never to return, some later returned). They stayed because of family because of faith because of culture.

        We’ve got folks in our community whose family came from the diocese of Houran in southern Syria (one of the oldest diocese in all of Christendom) and can trace their Orthodox Christianity back almost to the time of Christ. The grandfathers and grandmothers of these folks fled an Islamic pogrom. So we have roots onto which newbies like me can be grafted. The sacrifies that were made in order to establish and maintain the parish in the early days were amazing. The prejudice that was endured in this town (being spit on if they ventured into the ‘good’ parts of town, etc.). There was no money, no priest except a supply priest occasionally. Bad priests. Little to no contact with our bishop, having our sister parish in town on the opposite side of the Antiochian Schism in the 50’s and 60’s. (just 6 blocks away during the time of the schism since they were not welcome on the east side of town due to their dark skin). I strongly suspect that if +Basil and our priests were taken away and we reverted to the house church we once were, most would still stay, pray, serve and give because the blood, sweat and tears of their parents and grandparents are here. It takes time and dedication to develop a history and roots like that.

        The leadership of +Basil and Fr. Paul would not be as dynamic if we did not give of our time and treasure as we do (I am the least to be sure) if we did not respond.

        What we have is a testament to the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome anything IF we want it to.

        It takes a tremendous dedication to break up soil and put down real roots–to build community centered on Jesus Christ, the sacraments and the teachings of the Church but Americans tend to be spoiled and want instant gratification. We are, all of us, infected with the virus of modernity and the neo-protestant individualism that puts our wishes and desires above everything else.

        No one has to leave. I know because I am also speaking as a former unbaptized heathen who dabbled in a lot of spiritual crap before being led to the Church. New Age, Protestant, RC I’ve investigated it all at one time or another. Not going back. No life there.

        I see your point and you are correct in some ways, but unless and until the laity are willing to continue in the faith with or without ‘good’ priests or ‘proper’ bishops we won’t get many of either.

        Christianity is a martial faith, not a pacifist one. It takes a willingness to fight, a tenacity to hold on to what small measure of truth each of us is given. Lord know, I give up on many battles before they even get serious, but that does not change the fact that the battle is still there to be joined. We can’t really run away from it. All of those baptized into Christ through the Orthodox Church are part of that battle whether we want to be or not. The attempt to run away just means we will have to fight it elsewhere on ground the devil has choosen with worse weapons.

        OCA, you want to your autocephally to mean something? Fight for in peace and with humility.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Fr, btw, wasn’t the The Epistle to the Hebrews anonymous?

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          George asks, “wasn’t the The Epistle to the Hebrews anonymous.”


          Also, it appears to be a sermon, rather than an epistle.

          Nor is it clear that the work was written to the Hebrews.

          • JDWatton says

            Fr. can you tell me who wrote “The Way of a Pilgrim”? I’m dieing to know so that I can decide if anything I’ve been reading is of value.

    • Michael Bauman says

      It is not about catechesis, not after 20 years. It is about actually caring about the reality that is all around us and in us as we worship. If someone hasn’t gotten that after 20 years, he must be as abtuse, unconcerned and dense as a limestone fence post. That, more than the misbehavior of the bishops is the reason we are in the mess we are in. Too many want to be “American”, i.e, secular individualists with a pretty wrapping.

      If the folks at OCAT fabricated such a statement merely to further there own ends–they are worse than those they condemn.

      There is no free speech in the Church, there is no free exercise of conscience within the Church. We are supposed to be conformed to Christ in our actions and declare his praise when we open our mouths.

      Where Patrick Henry’s oration declared, “Give me liberty or give me death!” I say, lead me to obedience or give me death.

      The bishops sit in the seat of the Apostles whether they like it or we like it they have Apostolic authority. Modern Americans, myself included don’t really like that. We have been shaped in a culture of egalitarianism that goes after anyone who stands above or who is set apart. With that attitude the Incarnation never would have occured. A Mary from our culture would have replied as Bill Cosby’s Noah…………….Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight! and gone back to her tasks at had (downloading the latest tunes on Ipod

      • lexcaritas says

        Michael, I can sympathize and agree with a lot of what you have shared, but I find this problematic:

        “”If the folks at OCAT fabricated such a statement merely to further there own ends–they are worse than those they condemn.

        “”There is no free speech in the Church, there is no free exercise of conscience within the Church.”

        Why would you assume anyone fabricated anything? The statement rings true to my experience as it apparently does to Fr. Hans’. Nor can I agree with you that there is “no free speech in the Church” and “no free exercise of conscience.” Perhpas I do not understand what you mean, but to my mind our heavenly Father has, by creation in His image, given us those very freedoms and we are required to exercise them. Priests and bishops can be wrong and they can be so even in Synods.

        Furthermore, true obedience is alway mutual and out of active love of the fear of losing communion with and disappointing, the one we love. It is never “slavish” (i.e. by complusion and coercion) nor does the one seeking it expect it to be so.


        • Michael Bauman says

          lexicaritas, several posts made reference to the possibility that the 20 years and leaving letter was fabricated. If they are correct, the fabrication is a heinous act.

          There is no free speech in the Church because every word that proceeds from our mouth has consequences. We are not allowed by God to have a filthy mouth (all though we do). There are cannons that specifically forbid the type of language and attiudes some faithful have exhibited toward their clergy and hierarchs on this blog and others. Canonically, such language in and of itself is worthy of a penance.

          In today’s world, free exercise of conscience is to do anything one wants–the human being as self referencing moral agent as when President Obama said that sin, to him, was violating his own values.

          Real freedom comes from obedience (the kenotic act of submission in love as you note) to which we are all called. As many have said, such freedom is always relational and conditional. We are free because we obey Christ out of our love for Him and our communion with Him. We do not obey because we are free and ‘choose’ to and it pleses us.

          Obviously I am writing with far different assumptions that you and did not make myself clear. Please forgive me.

          • Heracleides says

            “lexicaritas, several posts made reference to the possibility that the 20 years and leaving letter was fabricated. If they are correct, the fabrication is a heinous act. ”

            Which, if I recall correctly, said references were made by ASIATR and Harry for the most part. Do either of them have any factual basis for such “heinous” speculation… excuse me, “possibility” of supposed fabrication?

            Didn’t think so.

    • R. Dreher says

      Guys, you’re right on one level, but wrong on another, more important level. Let me explain from my own experience as a former Roman Catholic.

      When the sex abuse scandal got rolling in 2002, I believed exactly as you do. I was well-catechized, and didn’t think corruption in the Church could shake my faith in Catholic Christianity, no matter what I learned about the bishops and bad priests. I discovered the opposite, much to my surprise and heartbreak. If I had had a good, solid parish, I might have been able to withstand all the corruption. But I didn’t, and I couldn’t find one towards the end. Yes, I had the Sacraments, which were the main thing, but having to endure crappy parish life, and the very serious corruption of bishops who were unwilling or unable to clean up the sex-abuse messes they had made finally became too much. I was so angry and anxious and depressed all the time that I was starting to lose Christ.

      I started to examine more closely doubts I had always had about Catholic ecclesiology, but hadn’t explored. Was I looking for a way out? Yes, because I was at the breaking point, and most of all, feared that I would lose my children to the faith because the only thing they saw in their father re: the faith was constant anger and depression. Orthodoxy was the only thing I considered, because as a Catholic, it was the only church that I recognized as having the true Sacraments. And so, eventually, I came over. But I didn’t come over in joy and exultation. I came over as an exile, grateful to be in a new country, but heartbroken over the pain of leaving the old.

      This corruption we have in the OCA is, to my mind, nothing compared to what the Catholics have had to deal with, because at least so far, it doesn’t involve the rape of children. But “at least our bishops are not covering up child rape” is hardly a comforting or acceptable strategy. What I really want you to understand is that if you don’t have a good parish, and you’ve had to live for years — even 20 years — with one crummy thing after another in your parish and among the bishops, you may get to the point where you don’t believe the claims of Orthodoxy. I honestly stopped believing in Catholicism. You could say that I lost my faith because holding onto it had become too painful, and you’d probably be right. But the point was, I lost it, in large part because I had a misplaced confidence in the intellectual side of the faith as strong enough to carry me through anything.

      Some of my Orthodox friends have expressed concern for me, worried that this OCA situation would cause me to lose heart, given my background. Not a chance, I say. I know where I made my mistakes before, especially by believing too much in doctrine and rationality. Besides, unlike my Catholic experience, I came into Orthodoxy expecting the bishops to be lousy. If they turn out to be good, thanks be to God! I have therefore been upset with them, but not, alas, all that disappointed. They’re living down to my expectations. Maybe that’s cynical, but it’s keeping me solidly Orthodox when others might be falling away.

      That said, I became Orthodox at a great parish, St. Seraphim’s cathedral in Dallas. I was warned when I got ready to move to Philadelphia that the Orthodoxy I experienced in the Diocese of the South is not the same as what I was likely to experience in this part of the world. That turns out to have been true, I’m sorry to confess.

      Finally, I do think God is bigger than Orthodoxy. We have the fullness of the Truth, but it is more important for people to be transformed in Christ than to be Orthodox. I firmly believe Orthodoxy offers the truest way to theosis, but I believe too that people can be saved outside the Orthodox Church, through God’s mercy. As a deeply broken Catholic, I realized one day that if I stayed inside the Roman structure, I would likely reach my judgment and tell God, “Lord, I come to you a bitter man, crippled by anger and mistrust and fear. My children were lost to you because I was a poor icon of your love to them. But I stayed Catholic!” I saw that as my fate, and I couldn’t believe that’s what God would have for me. I don’t know any Orthodox who are in that position now, but I don’t rule it out as a possibility. I believe that OCATruth letter from the convert was authentic, because I myself have been in his or her shoes. If we dismiss it as false, or say that nobody who was a real Orthodox Christian could say such things, we are hiding from a serious problem.

      • R. Dreher says

        I wish I had been able to read Fr. Hans’s comments before I completed my post. What he says is so true! It’s a real mistake to take one own’s parish experience for the whole of Orthodoxy, either for better or for worse. And to amplify Fr. Hans’s point about sheep going where they are fed, I believe that if someone is truly and deeply seeking the living Christ, that it is possible he will, out of desperation, leave the Orthodox Church. This should never happen! But I believe it can, and it does. The fault in these cases might be with the fallen-away sheep. But it could also be with the shepherd. In my last year as a Catholic, I was in despair all the time over my Christian life. I was in what was reputed to be one of the healthiest parishes in my diocese, but there was no meaningful Christian leadership from the pastor and deacons, and though the pews were full, and the people were really nice, there was no sense of mission there. In fact, you could believe just about anything you wanted to, and nobody would hassle you about it. My wife, a volunteer in the parish, said that we weren’t going to put our kids in Sunday School there because the parish was letting women who didn’t even go to mass teach the Sunday School classes so they could get cheaper tuition at the parish school.

        Bottom line: to me, it felt like this parish — with its nice people, and friendly priest — was not serious about life in Christ. Though I was furious at the Catholic hierarchy, and couldn’t shake that, we didn’t leave that parish in anger. We left out of boredom and alienation. I bet if you could ask the tens of thousands of Orthodox Christians who have left the OCA over the past years why they left, you’d find the same thing.

        • Ivan Vasiliev says

          At last we all seem to be addressing the issue raised in the OCAT email (whether fabricated or not). I would never contend that people outside the Orthodox Church cannot be saved. We know where the Holy Spirit is, but we cannot say where He is absent. My concern is for Orthodox people who apostatize. Again, God is their judge, not me.

          In my parish I know of only one other person who is aware of what is going on (I imagine our priest may be, but I would never add to his burdens by bringing this subject up). This other fellow and I sometimes talk about it in (our halting) Russian, but neither of us would dream of “informing” anyone else of the sewer we stumbled into. And it is just that, a sewer–not something you want to pull others into. I would be appalled if our priest were to ever publicize it–especially in the midst of Holy Lent.

          My parish is average, I think. Our people love God and work hard for the Church. The emphasis is on the first part of the sentence– the people love God. No one is especially brilliant or rich or has a high powered job (well, we do have one lawyer, but he is a Christian, too). We are on the much maligned East Coast and in a very liberal state. None of us would ever dream of “excusing” anything being done. But I can’t imagine anyone leaving the church, including the converts, over this sickness. We all know that God is stronger than our weaknesses and we are not afraid.

          Perhaps I will be proven wrong if all this vileness gets out, but no one gave the “financial crisis” a second thought. One old lady just said, “So what, we always knew that there were thieves in the church. God will take care of them and us!” She died a couple of years ago. I hope she is praying for us all right now.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Rod, I can well understand leaving a parish, etc because of the burdens imposed either from above or from nominalism from within. That does not make the battle go away (as you’ve discovered).

          But you all are invited to come to the Antiochian Diocese of Wichita and the Mid-west if you want to help out. While I am sure there are parishes that are struggling, you will be fed and we’d like to have you.

          But maybe you are actually called to be a witness to a much deeper authentic way of Orthodox life in your new parish.

          Podvig will always be with us as unique persons and as a community. It is unlikely to get any easier any time soon.

      • lexcaritas says

        Indeed, brother Rod: “We have the fullness of the Truth, but it is more important for people to be transformed in Christ than to be Orthodox.” I was teaching my Latin class this morning from the Passion Gospels. “I am the True Vine, and my Father is the vinedresser . . . and He has appointed you to bear much fruit.” In another context, our Lord tells us that it is by one’s fruit that we are to know them and the Apostles make it clear that there are wolves in sheeps clothing and that some a spots on the Churche’s agape meals. The only real tragedy, says Leon Bloy, is to fail to become a saint. Some have said that the Church is a hospital for sinners, but many who say this do not expect healing and recovery. We do. We yearn and strive for sainthood and we may not settle for less either in ourselves or in our clergy and hierarchy. To do so is neither a service to ourselves nor to them. We are, in fact, our brothers keeper, and Scrpture is clear in the verse right before loving our neighbour as ourselves–for we are members of each other–that we are not to suffer sin upon our neighbour but reprove him therapeutically and out of love (at least this is an ancient interpretation and application of Lev. 19:17-18 and its fulfillment in the Gospel of Christ.


      • George Michalopulos says

        Rod, if I may interject. As much as I love the Catholic Church, the adoption of the Filioque clause caused much heresy downstream. One of the most pernicious, is the doctrine that when a man is ordained, he receives an “indelible mark” that causes an ontological change in his personhood. “Once a priest, always a priest.” (Am I correct on this?)

        Assuming that I am, it then becomes easy to justify any actions by the priest. Hence clericalism. Ordinarly, that wouldn’t be bad if we were talking about venial sins, but what you describe are nothing short of atrocities (the sexual abuse of a child, etc.) Unfortunately, because of centuries of clericalism, it becomes impossible for those within the clerisy to see evil, or at least to find ways to justify it. This takes St Augustine’s (correct) polemic against the Donatists to evil ends. Hence, the inevitable creation of sinful cabals within the clergy.

        BTW, the Protestants merely expanded this doctrine to the “priesthood of all believers,” in the likewise abominable doctrine of “once saved, always saved.”

  13. Marge Kostas says

    It is difficult measure how many leave a church. Let’s ask for a show of hands. Raise your hands if you are NOT here (that works…) But the faithful are leaving. The damage has been done. The damage continues. We are witnessing a decline in Orthodoxy – mainly because the bishops, clergy and laymen, have failed to be Christians.

    Archimandrite Spyridon, a nineteenth-century missionary-preacher in Siberia, had major difficulties in preaching the Gospel to Buddhists. Here’s the Buddhist’s response: “But have a look yourself, Mr. Missionary, have an impartial look: does the world live as Christ taught? Christ preached peace, meekness, humility, universal forgiveness, and to love God and people. He commanded to pay back harm with good, not to collect riches, not just not to kill but also not to be angry, to preserve marriage in purity, and to love God more than father, mother, son, daughter, wife, and even more that oneself. So taught Christ; but you Christians are not like that.”
    “No, Mr. Missionary, first let Christians themselves believe in their God and let them show us how they love Him. Perhaps then we will accept you missionaries as God’s angels and will accept Christianity.”
    Further, Fr. Spyridon writes: “How painful and offensive it was, but I understood that in many regards the Buddhist llama was right; I could not take offense at him personally. What could this be, I thought, are we Christians ourselves enemies of Christ’s preaching? Does our life really dishonor Christianity in the world? And I felt vividly that, indeed, my life goes counter to the Gospel” (Christian Thought, 1917).

    Put simply, we should blame neither those who do not come to church nor this world that “lieth in wickedness,” which distracts them from “the one thing needful”; but we should look at ourselves. We should not look at others and reproach them, but should care constantly about correcting ourselves and living as Christians.

  14. Anonymous says

    I don’t have any insight to the current scandal that we find ourselves in. What I do know however is that if a Bishop, Priest or Lay Person is involved in anything other than the work of the Church then they should be ashamed of themselves. If one is conspiring against anyone within the Body of Christ then they should be ashamed, if a person is a homosexual and they are trying to advance a homosexual agenda then they should be ashamed, if they are a heterosexual and trying to advance an agenda other than what the Church teaches then they should be just as ashamed. When we seek to control and change each other or to control and change the Life of the Church then we actually put ourselves outside of the life of the Church and we lose out on our relationship with one another and with Christ. Life is hard enough without us having to devour each other and to try to destroy each other. The Scriptures tell us that they (those without Christ) will know we are His disciples by our Love. Who is it that we love the most? What master do we love because we can only love one.

    • lexcaritas says

      Thank you, Marge. May God bless you and help us heed and do your advice. I am gratified that this thread has led to many good and fruitful exchanges and a softending in sarcasm and pray that we will all be the better for it. I hope I will and thank you all.


  15. This article from the truth site once again tries to impute the sins of previous members of the Holy Synod to the current members, while ignoring the massive turnover on the Synod in the past few years. His Beatitude is having difficulties not with an old guard of crypto-liberals and fossilized ethnarchs but with a group of men who, until proven otherwise, must be understood as leading the faithful and the unbelieving of their own dioceses to find salvation in Christ.

    More at http://orthodoxleader.com/2011/04/07/still-more-accuracy-in-reporting/

    Sorry, Muzhik (and I know you’re reading this discussion), but your sources are providing quite misleading information.

  16. Anonymous since it's all the rage says

    Yea, O Lord and King,
    grant that I may perceive
    my own transgressions,
    and judge not my bro…..

    What? A witch? BURN HER!!!

    Well, we did do the nose. And, uh, and the hat…..

  17. Anonymous since it's all the rage says

    Fr. Hans:

    Father, if I may say so, this is one of the best articles I’ve read in a very long time:

    You are a very concise writer. Thank you.

  18. Ian James says

    Answer to comment #20 Dn. Patrick.

    This makes me ask why Stokoe devoted three articles to pushing the story that +Jonah was a “rogue” because +Jonah did not agree to a “suspension.” Either Stokoe has the facts right, or he is driving the story. It is one or the other.

    The emails make it look like he is driving the story. They contain the plan on how to manufacture that story and were sent out before he posted his news.


    (February 13, 2011)

    (February 15, 2011)

    Before Sante Fe (Stokoe knew but did not report the the SMPAC report wad doctored)


    BREAKING NEWS (March 1, 2011)

    Part Two of “Jonah’s Leave” (March 2, 2011)
    +Jonah Pushes Back

    Part Three of “Jonah’s Leave” (March 6, 2011)
    +Jonah Goes Rogue

    We have evidence Stokoe helped manufacture the events that he reported as “news”.

    Since Stokoe helped manufacture the events he “reported” on, it shows that his three reports are attempts to rescue a story that was sinking because +Jonah wasn’t playing along.

    Mark, all we want to know is are the allegations true or false? When are you going to explain your role with the emails on OCANews.org?

    • Hear hear! I am very happy for this forum and that there are so many comments with so much pith and real discussion. But it’s too bad there are so many comments on this particular page, because THIS is a good one and it shouldn’t get lost. HEAR HEAR!! I couldn’t have put it better.

  19. Chris,

    That last one is my story. At our former parish a very new parishioner was scandalized that our pastor would commune me, she “just knew” I was actively homosexual because I have an earring. She told members of other parishes her conclusion as if it were fact. Of course, she had not yet met me nor my wife or our daughter….and in meeting us ceased to spread that rumor, and today we are friends and again at the same parish. But for a decade members of other parishes considered our pastor to be “pro gay” based largely upon this one unfounded and unfortunate rumor, though they don’t know where or how the “common knowledge” originated.

    I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days. One thing it shows is how destructive gossip is. I pastored a parish where an earlier priest had an affair with a parishioner. It split two families who were very close and tore the parish apart. The priest that followed him was a very good man and very rigorous. He held the parish together, but the resultant dysfunction from the poor priest became frozen in amber.

    When I got there I worked hard for a year but got nowhere. Finally I saw that the gossip was the sin and that one woman was the chief instigator. I knew nothing good would happen until we just stopped tearing each other to shreds. So one Sunday, a day when we had no visitors, I confronted it head on. I told them several variations of this truth: If you don’t try to love each other, you chase Jesus out. He doesn’t live here. He wants to live here but if you don’t love your neighbor how can you love God? Each one of us act like we want Him, but when we go after each other we push Him out of the back door.

    The woman, who I did not name or highlight, quit coming. Fine by me I thought. She had two choices: repent or leave. She chose to leave. I let her go. The scripture says seek out the lost sheep. It does not say seek out the lost wolf.

    A few months after my sermon, some men approached me and said, “Father we need to caulk the windows.” At that point I knew something was being restored. After that they paved the parking lot (no more mud pit in the spring or after a rain). Then we got our first catechumen. Within a year two entire families joined. At that point the people woke up thinking that if these families want to become Orthodox, then maybe we have something valuable after all. Self-respect returned. Once that happened, the two families estranged by the affair eight years before reconciled. After I left they got a priest who took their energy and vision and completely redid the interior of the Church. Today it is still going.

    The point is that gossip is horribly destructive. You were on the receiving end and your story explains to me why you feel as strongly as you do. I appreciate knowing it, and now you know why I understand it.

    • Harry Coin says

      Fr. Hans, I’ve got one that happens to me a few times a year at least along those lines. It happens that I’m not strongly ‘handed’, I use the right or left for various categories of tasks that just seem easier for me. So, because of both that and when I was married decades ago the wedding ring was put on my right hand, I just wear it there for nostalgic reasons. Mostly I forget it’s there.

      Well, seems wearing a ring on the right hand is a signal of some sort to a fair few homosexuals, and a few normally oriented people who take it to mean something I certainly never intended. Gay barbers have gotten the wrong idea, some women, business folk who don’t know my family story.

      In one GOA parish I went to years ago, some of the folk there wondered why ‘a (gay?) Jew like me’ would be coming to their church, then they met my wife, so the ‘gay’ thing was settled, the Jew thing stuck for a couple years– and during that time they were pretty frosty to my wife. So, now I leave it there on purpose. (All four of my grandparents were Orthodox for generations and born in Greece….)

  20. George, good idea for the Seinfeld defense! 🙂

    If by some accident of weirdness it actually turned out not to be true, though, it’s still the most logical conclusion based on the evidence. They live together, he’s referred to as Mrs. S’s son-in-law, they can’t possibly have gotten married in the Church, and this information is all available via public records. I can’t see how anybody could be blamed for concluding that they are a homosexual couple, and that they married by some means not involving the Church (it could be just a private thing they did, or the full on ‘commitment ceremony’, or whatever). The regarding of the relationship as a marriage is what is essential to me.

    On the other hand, I can’t find anything that lists the qualifications for being on the MC anyway, good standing or not, so whatever their relationship is like, it’s “…not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

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