Part IV: Lights Out?

oca-burningMetropolitan Council: It’s Not Looking Good

The Metropolitan Council meeting recently concluded at Syosset was an effort by Syosset to convince the assembled that “all is good and peaceful” now in the OCA. This mantra was repeated in reports by Metropolitan Tikhon, Chancellor Jillions, and other inner circle apparatchiki. “Consultants” such as Greg Nescott and Fr Alexander Garklavs were called in to bolster the official message but it’s doubtful that even the inner circle were convinced. A more realistic mantra would have been “show us the money.”

Shortage of Money and the Looming Threat of Lawsuits

As a matter of fact, money and possible lawsuits were the main topics of concern at the Metropolitan Council meeting. Money, or the lack thereof, was topic number one. The embarrassingly disastrous fund-raising efforts by the Stewards of the Orthodox Church (formerly FOS), reaped a paltry $60,000. (What is that? Six dollars per member? Three dollars per member? 60 cents per member?)

Indeed, things are so desperate that some mention was made about the freeloading of the ethnic dioceses of the OCA, a refrain heard on this site not a few times. Even the Treasurer, Melanie Ringa, boldly suggested that it was time for the Albanians, Bulgarians, and Romanians to pony up and pay their fair share. (She had suggested some two weeks earlier, when the Chancellors and Treasurers of the Dioceses met in preparation of the MC, that all employees at Syosset —herself included—go to part-time status.)

This old chestnut, that the ethnic dioceses pay their freight, wasn’t the only blast from the past that reared its head. Fr John Dresko from the Diocese of the West, a one-time Syosset insider who pioneered the original “Fair Share” strategy back in 2002, was back trying to convince the MC that “proportional giving and Fair Share will save the OCA.”

That’s certainly true as far as it goes. Tithing is necessary for a Church to function so there is no essential argument with Dresko’s presentation on our part. But income isn’t the only problem facing the OCA at present. More importantly, the bleeding of members as well as dollars is a symptom of serious dysfunction in the OCA. The potential for lawsuits is an ever-hanging Sword of Damocles also hanging over Syosset’s head; real fear now that Archbishop Seraphim Storheim has been convicted of child molestation has gripped Syosset.

Lawsuits may be coming from the Moriak texting-scandal as well. Michael Herzak, the OCA’s insurance carrier was present at the MC meeting —a rare occurrence. It’s a distinct possibility that the insurance plan will not cover any further claims against the OCA. A lawsuit coming from Canada would be a death-blow to that semi-autonomous archdiocese. All these things needs to be considered in light of the fact that the OCA has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees already (and has very little to show for it).

Will All Things be Revealed?

Even more worrisome is the real fear that has gripped some long-time priests who have led rather indiscreet lives. Possible lawsuits lurk from that quarter as well. This is probably the real reason why the office of Sex Czar was established in the first place, not to rout out immoral priests (of whom there are quite a few) but to ensure our insurance carrier and the various legal jurisdictions that the OCA is “serious” about removing predators.

To be sure, the fact that a few priests are rightly worried is a good thing, unfortunately there are other openly homosexual priests who, by dint of the fact that they are long-term insiders and/or who are protected by their bishops, have nothing to fear. This gives the impression that the creation of the Sex Czar is nothing more than an elaborate kabuki theater designed to give the impression that Syosset cares.

All of the above focused the attention of the MC, whose attention was thereby focused on translating the mantra that “all is well” into money. There was no discernible strategy (outside of shaking the low-hanging fruit of getting money out of the ethnic dioceses) as how to erect the bridge from the mantra to the money.

One got the sense that even the Kool-Aid drinkers of the inner circle aren’t going to continue to drink that old brew much longer. Side bets have been made by some of the Apparatchiki for instance. There is even whispered talk of selling Syosset if things get really bad on the legal front and going to ground in South Canaan, setting up a rump administration from there.

Spiraling Numbers

Barring the arrival of actual lawsuits that is conjecture at this point. What is not conjecture are the actual numbers. Nobody present suggested a way out of the downward spiral in membership. For every one parish that is growing or mission that is opening, four or five are attriting and/or closing their doors. Even dioceses are not immune from this outflow.

The exhausting efforts of Greg Nescott and the Stokovites to keep the Diocese of Pittsburgh open so that an anti-Jonah agent could be installed as a bishop only bought some time for that coterie. There is serious talk of merging Eastern and Western Pennsylvania —both cradles of the OCA—into one diocese when the incumbent Bishop of Pittsburgh retires.

The prophecy of Melanie Ringa during Seattle, that if present trends continue, the OCA will not be viable in short order, continues to play out. At any rate, there were no indicators that she was wrong. Worse, there were no ideas on how to undo that prophecy.

Junior Varsity Joins the Big League

Further proof that the OCA may be in its death-throws is the lack of depth on the episcopal bench. Just as the same old faces (such as Garklavs and Dresko) keep on showing up every now and then, so too, do uncharismatic and questionable archimandrites continue to populate the ranks of episcopal candidates. Bishop Alexander Golitzyn for example finally made the cut after years of being in the wilderness (and working on his Oxonian accent). Now Frs. David Brum and Vladimir Wendling are being actively considered for the episcopate even though serious questions attend both of these men.

Though a well-educated Catholic canonist, Brum has never had an Orthodox seminary education. Consider the hypocrisy: Gerasim Eliel who likewise had never had an Orthodox education submitted to the Synod and went to SVS for one year as per their recommendations. After his year, he decided that he needed to continue his education and received an MDiv after three years, graduating at the top of his class. Yet the Synod is doing everything in its power to prevent his name from ever being raise in the South.

Wendling was originally invited by Archbishop Dmitri Royster to come to Dallas for vetting but his career there left much to be desired. Indeed, His Eminence said about him that “things were as bad as they could get” and thereby invited him out of the South post haste. Though both men might make good bishops, this raises several questions, the most important being, why are some episcopal candidates allowed to come in through the back door but others can’t even knock on the front door?

Lights Out?

Emblematic of the OCA’s dearth of vision was the fact that Syosset was gripped in a power-outage caused by the severe winter weather. This black-out forced the MC meeting to be conducted by candlelight and flashlights. Is there a better metaphor for what has befallen the OCA?

Think of it: no money and no plan to reverse the trend, declining membership with no viable plan on the horizon to reverse this trend, the consideration of only tired and questionable retreads for the vacant Sees, and no credible spokesmen to re-energize the OCA. (Sorry, OCA Wonder and The Chancellor’s Diary doesn’t cut the mustard.)

“All is peaceful, all is well.” Maybe when they finally turn out the lights, we’ll believe that.


  1. Special stewardship campaigns go hand in hand with shrinking membership. As membership declines, those left behind have to bear a bigger and bigger burden to maintain spending levels. Special campaign fundraising is also being done by the Dioces of NY/NJ, where it is called the Distinguished Diocesan Benefactor campaign. Absent the campaign, the diocese’s finances would be a shambles.

    Examine the lists of the stewards and benefactors available on the websites. Many derive their incomes from the OCA. The whole model is incestuous, inward-oriented and not based on growth or outreach.

    Take the sociological point of view. Is it any wonder that the moneyed elite running the show tends towards groupthink? All this create space for apostasy (on homosexuality/gay marriage, etc.). The status quo must be maintained at all costs, even if the status quo means slow decline. Above all, there can be no battles about church teaching or individuals; any outright conflict would risk alienating a good chunk of the funding base, and that would accelerate the decline.

    • Examine the lists of the stewards and benefactors available on the websites. Many derive their incomes from the OCA. The whole model is incestuous, inward-oriented and not based on growth or outreach.

      Any campaign, special or otherwise, receives initial support from those closest to the organization. If not, that indicates that the organization is not worthy of the support and external donors will not give/support the organization. That the Diocese of NY/NJ has had great success with the DDB is to their credit. The funds may support the operating fund (aka an ‘annual fund campaign’), but the funds also directly support seminarians (when restricted by the donor for such).

    • 100 Thumbs Up! says

      Send a message to Syosset and let them know you’re serious. Please give this message a thumbs up, and please tell your friends who care about the future to read this post.

      Presenting the St. Nilus of Sora Plan

      1. Lower the head tax to $40. Run the OCA on less than $1million. Keep only four full time employees consisting of the Metropolitan, a Chancellor/External Affairs liaison, a Protodeacon/Secretary, and a subdeacon/cell attendant. Hire one part-time bookkeeper. Outsource the website, archives, health, & pension plan. Push education, music, chaplains, and sexual misconduct back to dioceses. Disband the Metropolitan Council.

      2. Sell the mansion in Syosset. Transfer the icons, relics, and archives to St. Tikhons and St. Vlads. Use the proceeds to establish a permanent fund to cover the Metropolitan’s travel and living expenses. He is then free to move wherever he thinks it is best to live.

      3. We want church growth! Restore the female diaconate. Check your history books, women built the early church. We need reasons to get people excited about being an Orthodox Christian, and those rainbow flags aren’t gonna work out too well for us.

      4. Merge the ethnic dioceses into the territorial dioceses. It’s actually quite easy to imagine. The Bulgarians become a part of the Diocese of the Midwest. All the Romanians in Canada go under Canada, not Detroit. Albanians go to New York/ New Jersey. Don’t like it? Well, there’s the door…you guys haven’t been paying anything anyway.

      5. Fund the Seminaries. Give to St. Tikhon’s and St. Vlads. Have the seminaries develop a training school for Bishops to teach them administration, change management, accountability, decision-making, and leadership skills before becoming a bishop (kind of like an MBA).

      OK. Now it’s up to you to send the message. 100 Thumbs Up!

      • don’t like you asking for a thumbs up as Orthodoxy is not a popularity contest

        On your points:

        1.Make head tax a small % of the gross receipts excepting mission parishes, monasteries and seminaries
        2.Move the head cathedral of the OCA to the midwest, Detroit, Cleveland or another city with hefty real estate inventories and major airline and bus and train hubs. Move icons and such to it.
        3. Think about a female Diaconate and a married bishopric later, after OCA is reorganized and its autocephally fully legitimized. Concentrate on measures that would gain acceptance of OCA’s autocephally by rest of world Orthodoxy. Do not attempt to achieve the same through nationalism, marginalization of any part of world Orthodoxy or secular political ploys
        4. Allow any parish to choose its own languages. Allow ethnic parishes to choose whether to merge with ethnic patriarchates outside the OCA and otherwise lobby for lack of hypocrisy in so-called ethnic entities outside the OCA, i.e English speaking parishes going to ethnic jurisdictions..
        5. Don’t think bishops need necessarily be vetted academically. As for the seminaries, Metropolitan Jonah put a lot of effort into making them greater. Leadership will out, academic and spiritual

      • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

        “3. We want church growth! Restore the female diaconate. Check your history books, women built the early church. We need reasons to get people excited about being an Orthodox Christian, and those rainbow flags aren’t gonna work out too well for us.”

        The female diaconate died out when the large scale need for, and practice of, full naked adult baptismal immersion died out. The triple naked dunking predates John the Baptist, and is still practiced by Orthodox Jews assisted by female mikvah attendant(s) for protection from temptation of the male clergy involved. The Orthodox Rabbi(s) read the ritual prayers with back(s) turned (merely listening for the three immersions, not performing them directly). I guess if we were suddenly faced with an onslaught of adult female converts who wanted to baptized really “old school” (Didache) there would be a reason to revive the female diaconate. I can see why being a female deacon would be exciting to a real Orthodox woman, but would be a huge disappointment for those who are seeking earthly power.

    • Thank you John Pappas for alerting us to this website. I note that on this site Fr Zacchaeus Wood claims that he has not been given full access to documentation that will apparently be used against him in an OCA church court in a declared attempt to deprive him of his priesthood. If true, that is an egregious travesty of justice that in any civilised secular jurisdiction would be enough to render any decision of such a body invalid. If this is true, one must ask is the OCA administration being malicious (and if so, for what reason?) or is it just astoundingly incompetent (and if so, what avenues of appeal are open to Fr Zacchaeus?)? Either way, it appears, sadly, that this website is indeed necessary in the same way that a free press is necessary to correct despotism.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Well, if it’s on the level, I have a feeling it’ll take off.

  2. LOL! George, your first example of “lack of episcopal depth” is Vladyka Alexander? This statement, by itself, undermines the credibility of your piece. You can’t be serious. The man’s accomplishments dwarf those of the other members of the synod. What utter kasha! Too funny and too unserious.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I never said he was “unserious”

    • George Michalopulos says

      He is a fine scholar. I’ve read several of his papers.

    • George Michalopulos says

      What I was talking about was a statement made by Bishop Tikhon several years ago about an impediment which precluded his ordination to the episcopate

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        George, please don’t distort what I reported. I reported that on the Oath and Ordination certificate, Archpriest Thaddeus Wojcik certified as Spiritual Father that he had heard the Confession of Alexander Golitzin and “he has repented of all canonical impediments.” Nowhere did i claim that Fr. Alexander Golitzin had impediments: I only reported that Fr. Wojcik CERTIFIED that he had repented of “all canonical impediments.”
        Although then Bishop Gregory (Afonsky) went on to ordain him to the Priesthood, this did not clear up the mystery of WHAT the Polish American Archpriest meant by repenting of “all canonical impediments.” I certainly knew nothing of the matter until I became the diocesan bishop and in; the process of reviewing his personnel file for compleeeness (as I did for all the diocesan clergy’s files) I came across this bizarre and anomalous statement. Almost without exception the statement of the Spiritual Father in all other priests’ files read like this; “I have heard the confession of N. AND THERE ARE NO CANONICAL IMPEDIMENTS TO HIS ORDINATION.” No bishop should ordain anyone without that very certification. Not long after reviewing his and others’ files, there was a meeting of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Theodosius presiding, at which Metropolitan Theodosius read off the names of all the men being ;more or less considered for the episcopate. During the ensuing lunch break, I spoke privately to Metropolitan Theodosius and asked him if he knew what Father Wojcik had written on his certificate. He said, No.” So we went to the Syosset personnel files and His Beatitude pulled out the Syosset copy of the certificate, read it and turned pale. ‘I’ll take care of this,” he said. After lunch, he announced that Golitizin was taken off the eligible list. After Metropolitan Theodosius had a series of strokes, he announced his retirement. At the All-American Council to elect his successor, Bishop Seraphim got themost popular votes, but the Holy Synod, as usual, did not agree with the popular vote and instead elected Metropolitan Herman. During the first full synod meeting in Syosset after that, Archbishop Job asked to place Father Alexander Golitzin on “the list” (of eligible candidates for the episcopacy). Not having heard of any explanation or revision of Father Thaddeus Wojcik’s testimony, I asked Metropolitan Herman, during a break, if he had read Fr. Alexander’s personnel file. He had not. We went to the personnel files and he read the same statement again. He clenched his jaws. At the next session, he announced that the name of Fr. Alezander Golitzin “is permanently removed from eligibility. THAT’S all I know, George. I never learned what canonical impediments had been divulged in Confession. I still don’t know what they might be. All I know is what his Father Confessor certified to . Indignant partisans like to accuse me of “breaking the sacred seal of the Confessional!” You see, hierarchs are not the only incompetents! Since I discussed this a couple times on this site before the Holy Synod elected the man, I have to assume that the matter of the mysterious “All Canonical Impediments” MUST have been clarified by Metropolitan Jonah and found to be non-existent, right? Sure. Right. Of course there is the possibility that the hierarchs Job, Nathaniel, Nikon, and Seraphim did not brief Metropolitan Jonah and/or it never occurred to him to check the personnel files of a Golitzin who had a doctorate from Oxford, right?

        • George Michalopulos says

          Thank you for clearing the record, Your Grace. For the record I pray that you didn’t think that I stated that there was “a canonical impediment” only that it was reported that there was one.

        • If the person “repented of canoncial impediments” in confession doesn’t that mean there “are no canonical impediments” any longer? After all, when we confess we repent and are forgiven. Or is it that canonical impediments can’t be removed or changed? I’m confused about this.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Surely it is better to have someone who does not NEED to be certified as repentant of a canonical impediment. Repentance does not guarantee a sin will disappear. Some sins have a high recidivism rate. Those with such proclivities should not be in a position of authority no matter HOW repentant they are.

          • Christopher Jones says

            Impediments are impediments. A person can always repent, but, according to the canonical tradition, there are sins and circumstances that exclude a candidate from priestly office (and even invalidate one’s ordination).

            Such impediments include carnal sin; having any kind of sex outside of marriage; having been married more than once; being married to a heterodox woman or a woman who is a widow or divorcee, etc. See Apostolic Canons 17, 18, and 19; Neocaesarea 10; Basil 12; Trullo 3 and 26.

            Various local churches also include other situations.

            • Of course, a bishop has the ability to exercise economia when looking at a candidate for ordination. For example, many candidates for ordination have had sex before marriage, as it’s becoming more and more common in today’s society. It is ultimately up to the bishop’s discretion, and they hold the final responsibility if they ordain an unworthy candidate.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Mr. Jones,

              It seems to me that you are mistaking the “canonical tradition” for something akin to the United States Code, something by which we, as clerks or lawyers search for “impediments” like searching for the title of a house. This is hardly our Tradition, and in fact, mocks the sacrifice of our Lord to free us, only to enslave us to the “Rudder,” or any other codification of the canons. I would direct your attention here, and then to consider the words of Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky), the First Hierarch of ROCOR in his book, Confession; while it is directed to the attention of confessors, priests, it is well worth your time in noting “we are far removed from the time of Grace.” By this he means the Church takes into consideration both the times and tolls on our fallen humanity: “If thou, O Lord, would remember iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (Ps. 129:3) While, obviously, “economy” is acting “as the Master would act in His own house” judiciously & wisely, the Lord has designated those to make these decisions.

              • Christopher Jones says

                M. Stankovich,

                I happen to agree, for the most part. It seems strange that you would presume otherwise. My post was concerned with providing very basic information: the kind presented in any introductory textbook or class on Orthodox canon law, not the results of some difficult search or lawyerly enterprise, and certainly not an interpretation of this very basic information. The question of how our Tradition interprets and applies these and other canons is an entirely different matter, far more complicated, variegated, contested, and, at times, downright contradictory than your references here would have it.

                As for the theories about “jurisprudence” on your blog, I would suggest reading material other than J. Meyendorff, whose work on this particular subject is very unrepresentative of Orthodox (or secular) scholarship on the question and makes insufficient sense of the historical evidence. It is also completely ignorant of the contributions of philosophy of law (from any historical period, East or West). Meyendorff’s is a tempting argument to make when faced with self-proclaimed rigorists, whose knowledge of canon law is circumscribed by The Rudder — and it captures part of the picture — but it is hardly complete or satisfactory, from either a historical or theological point of view. It worked for his time, and continues to have its place for first-year seminarians who need disabusing of netodoxy, but it is high time to move on to the full story.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Your Grace,

          Could you give us a few examples of canonical impediments? Just a “for instance. . . ”

          In Christ,


          • Jackson Downs says

            Dear Gail,

            As you can see, I am not Bishop Tikhon, but I can give you a couple of impediments to ordination, as I understand them (I am very open to correction by better educated posters):

            Mental illness of extreme nature, and which require anti-psychotic medication; having killed someone, even in the line of duty, or by accident, or by being complicit in an abortion; having been divorced and remarried, or being married to someone previously divorced; having attempted suicide; currently holding political office which is in conflict with potential Church responsibilities; physical inability to perform a rite of the Church, i.e. a right hand with significant loss of function, or a debilitating muscle condition which jeopardizes mobility.

            These are a few. Is it possible that repentance could change the situation of a man with one of the above impediments, or another I haven’t listed? I’m not sure. But maybe. I don’t know anything about Bishop Alexander or his situation, but I hope he leads his diocese as well as he can in these dark and ever-darkening times for the Church.

        • Where can the full range of impediments to ordination be found? Are some impediments permanent and non-starters when it comes to ordination and consecration while others are sometimes or routinely allowed by economia? For instance, it’s my understanding that causing the death of another is an unquestioned impediment, as are physical deformities. Divorce and/or remarriage are generally not allowed, though there have been at least some examples of priests remaining priests following a divorce (without remarriage) and other priest (far more rarely) allowed to remarry. It is also my understanding that one must by either a virgin or married (and a virgin until marriage) to be ordained deacon, and that this impediment is routinely set aside by economia. Are there other impediments that are regularly set aside? perhaps only once a person has repented of them and committed themselves to refrain from such sins, and perhaps had refrained from such for a lengthy period of time already?

          It would seem that we are all assuming impediments are one size fits all and set in stone when this may not be the case in practice in the OCA, in North America, or in different local churches. Are there differences in how impediments are understood and handled that still fall within the tradition – even if not within one stream of tradition (e.g., Great Russian)? What sort of precedent for economia is there from unimpeachable sources? Is there a difference between unimpeachable sources on this matter?


            Again, remember that a bishop can exercise economia regarding many of these things.

            • And yet many still want to say Bp. Alexander “repented of impediments” with a ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge’, you know what that means as if we have any idea what his confessor could have been talking about, and which wouldn’t mean anything given the fact that his bishop did in fact ordain him using the same economia most every priest and bishop in the Church (much less the OCA) has been ordained with. But we still like to be better than that Publican, better than that Prodigal, even when we have no idea what we are feeling superior about or whether we have any right to be. We don’t.

              • Unless I am greatly mistaken, a canonical impediment is not something that can be repented of. They aren’t even necessarily sinful. Sins that cause a canonical impediment can be repented of, but the impediment itself remains.

                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                  Helga! Quite right! The Archpriest certifying to such repentance was apparently not a careful or thoughtful man. We used to joke on the Air Staff; ‘Well, I guess that’s close enough for government work!” That’s your ‘Anything not included in the doctrines of liturgical theology is not that big a deal” at work.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              “economia” is only to be exercised when enforcement would endanger a soul.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Your Grace, that is one of the most profound statements I’ve every heard. Thank you.

              • Fr. George Washburn says

                Come, come, Mr. Panos. Do you actually believe that you are well situated enough to know and recall what non-decisions might have been considered and preferred ….but ultimately rejected by bishops in order to conform to Tradition? I highly doubt it.

                A certain mindset loves to reveal itself in pessimistic and dismissive remarks. And in the end that is SO much of what bloggery offers: a vent hole rather than a microscope, telescope or corrective lenses. And when bloggery consists largely of venting it sells unwary buyers the illusion that we are seeing things that are actually there rather than our own reflections.

                And when we buy that instead of lamp oil is it any wonder so many of us run short while awaiting the Bridegroom?

    • SAM,

      How well do you know the history of Bishop Alexander? Are you aware of his days at seminary? Are you aware of how long he was preclude from episcopal consideration? Do you know why he was not considered for over 20 years?

      I think your comments expose a depth of ignorance to the reality of this bishop of the OCA.

      • Alexander:

        I think your comments display a depth of ignorance, too. We should form a club!

        Wishing you a pleasant day,


    • George Michalopulos says

      “Lack of episcopal depth” was a broad brush indeed, perhaps too broad for Bp Alexander’s scholarly credentials. However as Bp Tikhon Fitzgerald has pointed out, both of Jonah’s predecessors had removed then Fr Alexander’s name from the eligible list. Also, the scholarly credentials of Fr David Brum are impressive and I understand that Fr Vladimir Wendling has a fine Orthodox education as well. All three men may turn out to be good bishops. Regardless, there are questions that need to be answered but in Brum’s case, are being swept aside for a hurried elevation to the episcopate. I merely brought these up to contrast them with the bum’s rush that is being given to Fr Gerasim Eliel who has done yeoman’s work at seminary, been a life-long monastic, and has served as rector for one year under the tutelage of Benjamin and is now rector of St Seraphim’s in Dallas, ostensibly under the tutelage of Arb Nikon. Indeed, there are other very well-qualified men eligible for the episcopate but every effort is being made to preclude their names from coming forth in order to pave the way for Brum and Wendling.

      • Christopher Williams says

        Absolutely ridiculous postings. Sure, the OCA can use more money, but who couldn’t? Will the OCA close? NO. There was a time when the Met. lived at his cathedral and a part-time secretary wrote his letters. Regarding Bishop Alexander, what a hatchet job George and Fitzy are trying to pull. There never were any canonical impediments against Bishop Alexander and Fitzy knows this. If anyone had canonical impediments it was Fitzy. So, lots of skata here with the same “theme” that dominates this forum; USE DISINFORMATION TO TRY AND DESTROY THE OCA. Oh, by the way, Brum was RSK’s right-hand guy. He’s not a good candidate for anything; maybe dog catcher. Wendling needs to be vetted more properly.

        • Christopher Williams

          well said.. and true.. start out by selling the house in NY and having +Michael move into the 2nd St cathedral……. live within your means…

          • Christopher Williams says

            + Michael lives in a very small bungalow in Bronxville, NY. Bronxville is a very high cost of living area, but this small house carries no mortgage. The 2nd St. Cathedral is the Cathedral of the Primate of the OCA. Please note, + Tikhon hardly goes there; Priest Calin of notable reputation resides there.

            • Bishop Michael lives in a two-story house, not a bungalow. A bungalow is a one-story cottage. Bishop Michael’s rectory has four bedrooms and a garage.

              The 2nd St Cathedral has not been the primatial cathedral in several years. The primatial Cathedral is St. Nicholas in Washington, DC.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                Well, a “bungalow” covers a lot more than a “one-storey cottage”.

                Not that that has anything to do with the topic, but I live in a Craftsman bungalow, and it is not a cottage, nor is it one-storey.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                Helga’s right. It’s the same residence where Archbishop Peter dwelt, and considered to be the residence of the ruling bishop of the New York diocese. It is, in fact, a VERY nice residence in a very upscale neighborhood. And the Protection Cathedral is likewise the See Cathedral of the New York diocese–nothing ‘primatial” about it for many years.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Christopher Williams, I have never EVER stated or claimed or even hinted that Bishop Alexander had canonical impediments and if you continue to say so, you are lying outright. I have reported what Archpriest Thaddeus Wojcik, writing as Bishop Alexander’s Spiritual Father, WROTE on the certificate of the Spiritual Father on Bishop Alexander’s ordination certificate prior to his ordination by Bishop Gregory (Afonsky), namely, ‘I have heard the confession of Alexander Golitzin and he has repented of all canonical impediments.” See that, Christopher? I do not know, nor have indicated i know, or even hinted that I know what canonical impediments Fathers Wojcik and Golitsin discussed in the latter’s Confession. I have also commented that both Metropolitan Theodosius and Metropolitan Herman removed his name from the list of those eligible for elevation to the episcopate. Do you think they learned or know more? Then when Bishop Jonah became the Metropolitan, Father Alexander was elevated to the episcopate. That’s all I know. Where, Christopher Williams, is the “hatchet job” in that, please?
          Incidentally, I am inordinately proud of my service in our Armed Forces,especially my term of enlistment in the U.S. Army, where from 1954-57, I served in the Signal Corps. My army buddies often called me ‘Fitz’ or “Fitzie.” One thing I liked about it was that my Dad also had that nickname. I don’t consider the use of my name by the likes of you to be appropriate in any sense, humanly or even churchly. Some of my fellow officers on the Air Staff later on, in the Pentagon, where I had my office as Deputy Chief, Personnel Security Group on the fifth floor, “D” Ring, also called me ‘Fitz’ or “Fitzie”. So did my immediate military boss as well as the Air Force Deputy for Security Policy, John Whalen, call me “Fitz.’ I served in the Air Force 1960-65, and 1966-71.
          YOU, Christopher Williams, have written this of me; “If anyone had canonical impediments it was Fitzy.” Please explain yourself, Christopher Williams, if that is your real name and you are an Orthodox Christian. I held a Top Secret Clearance after thorough Background Investigations by the U.S.Air Force Office of Special Investigations. I also was Certifying Official for US Air Force Security Clearances for ALL military personnel and civilian employees of HQs U.S. Air Force (The Air Staff), as well. I’m 81 years old, and my record in the OCA is open and public. I’m not too old to take a career change and sue anyone at all and still trust in God.
          I pray that you, Christopher Williams, will repent of the unconscionable aspersions you have cast on the devout Archpriest and kind pastor, David Brum, whose background and qualifications are an open book. i pray, too, that such further sins of False Witness will not be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, figuratively, at the Last Day.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        George, what questions are being brushed aside in the matter of Fr. David Brum’s candidacy? NO one posting here knows Father David better than the clergy of the Diocese of the West. All the deans of the Diocese of the West have known him since he was received into the Church. They all know him since he ha been a member of the Diocesan Council. SS Peter & Paul Church in Phoenix where he has been Rector these past years since the Stokoe Holocaust is a place to go to learn what kind of priest and MAN Father David is. Archbishop Job of blessed memory attended St. Tikhon’s as an AUDITOR, but years later the Seminary found it politic to have an alumnus in the episcopate and he was given credit retroactively. Archbishop Nathaniel Popp studied at the Gregorianum or the Russicon—anyhow, a “pontifical institute” in Rome, but never matriculated at an Orthodox school. But it is Father David who is a man ‘in whom there is no guile.’ Father Wendlng’s candidacy was stopped in its tracks by (according to what Vladyka Dmitri told me) by a phone call from the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters. (You can’t diss that man without paying for it, as Archpriest J. Fester also found out.)
        By the way, Father Gerasim was not Rector in Los Angeles, but 2nd Priest to the Rector, Father N. Boldireff. I feel that both Father Gerasim and Father David are intellectually, spiritually, and morally head and shoulders above the incumbent members of the Holy Synod. My recommendation will be a mark against these men, but Mrs. Fitzgerald’s son is not going to back down.

        • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

          Your Grace:
          Master, Bless! Are you sure you didn’t mean that Archbishop Job attended St. Vladimir’s Seminary as an auditor, probably around the time he was being groomed for the hierarchy? I believe His Eminence graduated St. Tikhon’s,Class of 1971. I began my studies there in 1972. Soon after, I met the future Archbishop, at the time the Reader John Osacky, who was to become a close friend of my roomate(who later became my nephew through marriage), Fr. Stephan Meholick.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            I was told by a seemingly disgusted New England priest after Fr. John was made a Bishop and assigned to New England, ‘And you know, Stephen, all that time he was at St. Tikhon’s he was only auditing.’ When I mentioned this to another New England priest, I was told “Metropolitan Herman took care of that later.” Perhaps that Priest, now a Bishop in another jurisdiction, was misinformed. Or I was misinformed? It wouldn’t be the first time. I was also told that Fr. John Osacky, Archbishop Job was a convert from the Unia. When I mentioned this elsewhere, I got an irate letter from Archbishop Job, informing me that he had never been a Uniate and that he was a convert from the ROMAN CATHOLIC Church, who left it in his teens because he objected to the changes made by Vatican II. His new Orthodox parish was the former Uniate Church of SS Peter & Paul in Chicago, a Metropolia parish where the two priests were father and son, and where they had Procession of the Blessed Sacrament some Sunday evenings.

            • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

              Master, Bless! And forgive me, a sinner. I think Your Grace may have been misinformed. The future Archbishop told me that his father was a Slovak Latin Rite Catholic, although many from that East Slovak region are Uniates; some of them were part of the back to Orthodoxy movement here, along with Carpatho-Rusyns AND Western Ukrainians. Slovakia does not seem to have produced as many fanatics as Poland and Hungary, but +Job’s father took it extremely amiss when the future Archbishop switched to the Orthodox Church Your Grace mentioned, which was his mother’s parish. His Eminence was more of a Carpathorussophile than Russophile like Meholick. He also told me that while he wasn’t so keen on the Ukrainian influence among his people; that that was still better than their being absorbed into the Slovak nation.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                Then, Father, it is ever-memorable Job, the Archbishop, who misinformed me in writing of how he became Orthodox.. I’m sorry I can’t correct him according to your superior knowledge. I assumed that what he put in writing would be less reckless with the truth than what he said before he was a hierarch!

            • Isa Almisry says

              I come from the same parish as Abp. Job of blessed memory. IIRC, his father was a Latin, but his mother was a uniate, and hence, according to Vatican rules, he would be a Latin. SS Peter and Paul was not formerly uniate, but all its congregation and founding priests were. When the founder Fr. Peter of blessed memory left the old country to come to the US, his uniate bishop told him “when you go to America, don’t go to the Katolik bishop, go to the Orthodox bishop! Here we have to be Katolik, there you don’t have to be Katolik” (to preserve the accent as I was told the story). Fr. Peter, rather confused, went to the Vatican bishop anyway, and was rejected because of his wife. Fr. Peter went on to found 5 Orthodox parishes from OH, MI to Chicago, SS. Peter and Paul being his last. Abp. Job’s mother’s parish IIRC was St. Mary’s, the source of many of the original parishioners of SS PP. She was not a member of SS PP, when when Abp. Job would come home to visit, someone from SS PP would contact his mother so they could meet without the father’s knowledge. Before their deaths, Abp. Job and his father were reconciled.

              Procession of the Eucharist? Not when I was there (from 1984). Even the open heart Jesus and Mary banners had been closed up, at least by then.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                I’m glad to hear from Isa that the the vestiges of old Roman Catholic piety have vanished from SS Peter & Paul parish. Ironic that Archbishop Job who wrote that he left the RC Church because of his disappointment with the changes wrought by Vatican II, ended up in an Orthodox parish that kept such pre-Vatican II practices ALIVE!
                And some of the ever-memorable Archbishop Job’s most ardent supporters are suspicious of Archpriest David Brum!!!

  3. George,

    Nice summary of the affairs of the OCA. I just went to their website to try and find the latest and greatest financials and noticed that nothing has been posted by Ms. Ringa for quite some time. If I recall correctly, she sent a report sometime in the summer or fall but the famed “accountability and transparency” seems to have disappeared now that the OCA is back in the red. If you or anyone else knows where the financials are please feel free to share the link or post the information here.

  4. Small point but Michael Herzak is not the OCA’s insurance carrier. He is Vice President of Insurance Systems Agency, Inc. (ISA), formerly known as The Herzak Agency. It is “one of the largest independent agencies in northeast Ohio” and offers insurance coverage from “some of the finest insurance companies around, both regional and national”. Looks like ISA sells special insurance Programs for the OCA and Antiochian Archdioceses, which provides coverage underwritten by GuideOne Insurance, a “leading insurer of churches, churchgoers, and faith-based institutions”. Among other products offered (e.g., Property, Workers Compensation), ISA can also broker Sexual Misconduct Liability coverage. It’s possible these products are all underwritten as part of a package policy within the program rather than selected a la carte by the insured.

    It looks as if the two OCA parishes I have been a member of are insured through this ISA program. I actually thought the OCA was insured by Church Mutual, but looks like I am mistaken.

    • Mr Herzak and his company does broker insurance for the OCA as well as St TIkhon’s where he is on the Board of Trustees. Is that a conflict of interest?

      Mr Herzak was at the meeting for what reason? To discuss liability and how it could be limited.

      Please stop trying to distract thinking people from the obvious.

      • Simmer down, just providing a little point of clarification, which also opened up information on one important way the OCA and its institutions insures itself. As I noted, I had thought the OCA primarily used Church Mutual rather than a Program run by an Agency and underwritten by GuideOne.

        Mr. Herzak could also have been discussing an exclusion for any and all future Sexual Misconduct Liability coverage, or he could have been discussing a massive increase in rates due to Sexual Misconduct Liability coverage. He may also have been there to discuss how the OCA’s efforts at limiting Sexual Misconduct have resulted in lower premiums. He could have been discussing other coverages, inlcuding management and professional liability coverage, property coverage in the aftermath of Sandy, etc. I have no idea what he discussed and wasn’t intimating anything.

        I do think it odd there is a program specifically for the OCA, but that may be standard in the insurance coverage for church bodies. Again, simply context around one person (who does not represent a carrier directly).

  5. Fact Finder says

    George, your interpretation of the MC meeting isn’t quite right. Not sure who your sources are, but it sounds more like gossip than facts. First, the Ethnic dioceses pay an average of somewhere around $10 per person. All the other ones pay a head tax of a little over $90 per person. The ethnic dioceses now make up nearly half of OCA members. So, if the ethnic dioceses paid $90, or even $50 per person, that would make a big difference.

    Next let’s talk about declining numbers. People are members of a parish first, then the OCA. It’s been clear for awhile what a parish needs to do in order to grow. The OCA even offers tools to help evaluate the health of a parish. Parishes grow if 1) they offer a robust education program to children, adults, and newcomers, and 2) they do activities and help others outside of their local parish. It’s not a magic formula.

    Lastly, let’s review the dearth of candidates for bishop. The OCA contributes $0 to the seminaries. So, we’re asking to have a brilliant, talented future administrator: pay his own way through an MDiv, remain celibate for life, take a job at a parish for 30 years making $20,000 a year, and then be crowned bishop just to get dragged through the mud on Monomakhos for every little hiccup. Sign me up!

    • Fact Finder,

      Nice attempt but no sale.

      If your assessment of how the OCA supports its seminaries were true, then you would have to conclude that the current crop of bishops are all incompetent. They all went through the same process, so I guess you have made the point without knowing it that OCA bishops are at best a sorry lot and worse are mentally impaired masochists.

      The OCA is hemorrhaging members and your examples of how they might stave her losses are self-evident in her failure. The OCA does not offer a robust education program nor do they encourage nor expect her parishes to help outside their membership in any systematic manner. Heck, they can’t even get their clergy to join their pension plan or health insurance plan.

      You are also totally wrong in saying that the so-called OCA ethnic diocese make up 50% of total OCA membership. Where do you get such fabricated numbers. The OCA ethic diocese total at best 30% (that is 20K plus 10K) of total OCA membership but if that 10,000 did pay the OCA assessment, well, I think even you could do the math on how it would boost the OCA bottom line. So to review, 30K total, of which 10K are from the Ethnic dioceses is not 50%.

      Please, don’t insult people with your ignorance. Folks here are not stupid and won’t fall for your amateur efforts to put lipstick on a pig.

      • Roman,

        Your mistakes are many.

        I reiterate the fact that the OCA national church does not give one thin dime to the seminaries; there is no expense line item on any budget in Syosset. Furthermore, you draw false conclusions about my comments on this matter. Our bishops are not at all as you describe, but rather they are the chosen ones out of whom many have been called. They are the good guys.

        You made a totally random comment about the clergy pension plan. It is a guaranteed for life defined benefit plan. One reason young priests do not sign up is they believe the Wall Street lies that an individual investor can beat the market. Over the long run, the OCA pension plan is a better investment for the clergy.

        Finally, you rant about the census numbers. For argument sake, let’s accept your 10,000 free-loading Romanians as accurate. Then, in 2012 the Romanians sent in a check for about $2.50 per Romanian. In 2013, they sent in zero. Yes, Roman, zero. Even the Mexicans, Albanians, Bulgarians, Canadians, and Alaskans pay up something. The rent check is due from the Romanians, or the landlord should send the eviction notice. Oh yeah, that Fr. Susan was a Romanian, too. What did that cost, and did the Romanians pay for any of that? No, they did not.

        • Fact Finder,

          Sorry to disagree with you, but you misunderstand, again.

          As for the OCA bishops, let’s look at the recent history. One run out of Alaska. One convicted of child abuse, another “retired” for being caught sending suggestive and stupid emails to a young woman. Another “retired” bishop lives with his long-time partner, who married another man, then went back to his bishop-partner. Oh, and of course, +Jonah, “retired” under a cloud of something. So if you think they are “good guys” well, to each his own.

          Now, the ROEA has only 6,000 members, the Albanians a couple thousand and the same for the Bulgarians, a total of 10,000, and actually maybe even less. The ROEA use to send $12K, they doubled that to $24K about 10 years ago, and have not increased it. I will take your word for it that they gave a big Goose egg last year, however they are not bound to send a dime. They religiously hold to the terms of their agreement with the OCA back in the 70’s and the particular item which states that only a bilateral agreement (the ROEA and OCA) together can change the terms of the agreement. You can stand on your soapbox and give it your best “Tea Party” rhetoric, but unless the ROEA agrees to it, the OCA can’t impose anything. Now, the only way the ROEA will leave the OCA is if they get a better deal from the Romanian Patriarchate, which they tried once before, on the sly, and that didn’t work out. So, the OCA is stuck with the agreement they made.

          As for the Pension Plan, let me remind you that it is required that all full-time OCA clergy and full-time workers participate. That is the OCA rule, but it is not enforceable, so all don’t. Clergy don’t have the right to not participate. So where is the followup by your “good guy” bishops? The same goes for the Health Insurance Plan, required participation, but again, no enforceable. So my comments were not random at all.

          So, again, the MC is trying to pick off some low hanging money fruit beating that “bad old ethnic diocese” drum. Nobody is listening.

      • Sean Richardson says

        I think it is perhaps an incorrect approach to suggest that “the OCA is hemorrhaging members…” As Fact Finder suggests, no one joins the OCA. People join a particular local parish, agree to be a member of that flock, and to support that community. When one becomes Orthodox (as I did), or when one comes from another country, they do not accept nor reject the OCA, ROCOR, GOA, etc. Rather, people join a local parish because it serves their needs. The OCA held its strength, for decades, in the small communities of Pennsylvania and the upper Midwest. Those communities, as a whole, are now suffering. It’s not just the Orthodox parish that’s hurting, it’s the entire town. ROCOR has benefited from being a predominantly urban and ethnic church, and many urban areas have benefited from huge waves of immigration. It remains to be seen how these economic and cultural trends will play out in the decades to come. For me, as one convert, I will always attend a local parish that is in English and that feels comfortable to me as an American and a convert to Orthodoxy.

        • Pere LaChaise says

          Excellent points on demographics, Sean. It distresses me that there seems to be no way for the OCA or any jurisdiction, to discuss national demographics and the effect of economics on parish and thus diocesan/archdiocesan life.
          The industrial heartland of America has been eviscerated over the last half century and no wonder old parishes there are dying. The South and the West are where Americans want to live these days and there is church growth in those regions. The problem with the OCA is that its power base is in the dying part of America and not the growing part. Its culture derives from the communities now in serious decline. There is inadequate positive response to good things happening where economic life makes new parish growth possible – opportunities are lost for lack of focus and resource allocation. Basically the parish is the default organization and bishops and Metr. Councils don’t affect that as much as many would pretend. The parish priest is the one who makes stuff happen in the churches. Too bad he gets so little support from the higher-ups.
          There are many large cities in America lacking English-language Orthodox services. Take Los Angeles for instance. One would think that Fr. Alexander Schmemann had never preached to these churches which despite significant decline, still focus on emigre communities to the exclusion of converts. Such churches cannot grow.
          If we want to complain that the OCA is moribund, we need look no farther than the local parish. Is the parish life all about 1960s steel workers’ needs, or 1980s Eastern European political refugees? Are these needs so demanding that the people and their priests cannot rise above them to become an asset to their town? It’s not just an episcopal problem, or a moral decline. It’s a much more subtle decadence of nice people who just lack interest in the strangers just outside the church door. Who wants to join somebody else’s ethnic kaffeeklatsch?

          • Ground Zero says

            The parish priest is the one who makes stuff happen in the churches. Too bad he gets so little support from the higher-ups.

            If parish priests are the ones who make stuff happen, why does the current administration seem to think they all should have targets on their heads? Was a church with declining membership and diminishing funding hiring a Sex Czar the best message to send to already embittered and disunitifed priests? Read this synopsis of changes to the PSP and tell me how it encourages priests in ministry?

            • M. Stankovich says

              Ground Zero,

              When I had passed all background checks and began orientation to work in high security penal institutions, I was told emphatically that if I was found to be in possession of any contraband, weapons, or drugs, I would be escorted from the premises, placed under arrest, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I was required to sign a document that I had been informed and was aware of the consequence of violating this agreement. In fact, every time I entered such an institution, as I signed the logbook, presented my identification, and my possessions were searched, a large sign reminded me again of the consequence of violating this agreement. I believe it reasonable to conclude that 1) the result of such a violation has been factually determined to be harmful enough to warrant such penalties, and 2) the number of actual violations warrants the number of attempts to preempt further violations. In my experience, the states of New York and California refer to this as “prudence,” while you refer to this as “putting targets on their heads.” When I entered, I was clean as a whistle. End of story. I took no offense to the sign or search, even while frequently feeling embittered and “disengruntled.” Actually, it really made me angry when a psychologist was “walked off” for possessing box cutters, or a nurse was selling drugs, and so on. It jeopardized the safety, homogeneity, and camaraderie of everyone. Get it?

              I cannot imagine how you could conceive “unity” while there is active misconduct that this policy is intended to address?

              • No Blueprint says

                Thank you, Dr. Stankovich, for your excellent example. It concerns me, however, that OCA parishes have policies imposed on them that are similar to working in a penal institution.

                Dr Stankovich, can you tell me if you think there is high morale among the clergy in the OCA? Do you think morale and camaraderie among the clergy is important?

                • No Blueprint,

                  How would Michael Stankovich know if there is

                  ….high morale among the clergy in the OCA? or if there is camaraderie among the clergy is important?

                  Stankovich is not a member of the OCA. What contact he has with OCA clergy is not representative nor does he have a wide enough statistical base to answer such a question. He swims with OCA insiders who run the OCA.

                  In fact, Stankovich has made it clear by his posts here that he thinks the OCA is doing just fine now. All is peaceful, enlightened. That is all we need to believe. We have been told.

                  All is good now. Clergy morale is good. Clergy camaraderie is good. We have new sex rules. All is good. We got a million dollars. All is good. Metropolitan Tikhon has a cute dog. All is good. The OCA uses Focus Groups. All is good.

                  Come on, No Blueprint. Didn’t you get the memo. The OCA is here to stay.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Syosset Shuffle,

                    Is it possible that you could miss the irony of referring to me by name, disrespecting an Archbishop the Church by disregarding his title, and demanding I “need” to come clean as you hide behind this idiotic name? Did I miss something, Deputy Dog, or does the copyright for this site still belong to Mr. Michalopulos? Madonna mia.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Dr, while I cringe at disrespect shown to any man, let alone an archbishop, the fact remains that respect is earned. The question thus becomes why certain men in episcopal robes have become the object of mockery and derision. The one thing that cannot be forgotten, that can’t be whistled away by wishful thinking, was the fact that the Synod conspired against their brother and bore false witness about him. That is why the OCA has become a laughingstock. The only hope for the OCA at this point is repentance.

                  • M. Stankovich writes, “disrespecting an Archbishop the Church by disregarding his title”

                    In that case, you need to stop referring to Metropolitan Jonah as simply “Jonah” or “Jonah Paffhausen”.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Mr. Michalopulos,

                    Can you imagine that this week I took the genetic test for narcolepsy without catalepsy (i.e. the loss of muscle control) and actually have the damaged allele. Can you imagine! So, if I happen to fall asleep during yet another one of your unsubstantiated, unproven, and rollicking expositions of internet-driven speculation, there is a chance – however slight – that it was not boredom, but, in fact, genetically-driven pathology that put me to sleep. And what is the likelihood you would recall me saying to you on this very site three years ago that this,

                    proves my notion of the internet process of gossip begets innuendo, innuendo begets conjecture, and conjecture begets “internet truth.” And “internet truth” unashamedly reeks of the absence of fact, where extant “contra-opinion” is “conspiracy.” You say, “we are no longer under any obligation to prove it was a lie,” without ever establishing “truth.”

                    Within the past several weeks alone, you have dredged up some of the most spirited jingoism of the past battlefields as if they were Normandy, only to have them wither on the thread. Three long years of seeking a justice that, perhaps, you are beginning to conclude is not yours? “How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (Lk. 13:34)

                • M. Stankovich says

                  No Blueprint,

                  Drat! As is too frequently the case, all of my attempts to “follow after the things which make for peace, and things with which one may edify another,” (Rom.14:19) couldn’t fool a sharp cookie like Roman. I would say to you directly, “Roman,” you do not have the the faintest idea what my statistical base might be, of what my representative contact might consist, or with whom I swim. And without this information, you would state “in fact” anything I believe? And apparently you do not appreciate logic, nor the hip-hop music:

                  You should think about it, take a second
                  Matter fact, you should take four B
                  And think before you mess wit lil skateboard P

                  Before you intend to attribute your ridiculous thoughts to me, you might consider the logic of my advocacy of the sexual misconduct policy if “all is good.” And turn your hat around! Hat on backward means a man has no direction.

                  The prison analogy was simply to say that in this broken world, where people gather, we are subject to the most loathsome of human behaviour. Ironically, the Fathers warn that the churches and the monasteries are the “battlegrounds,” yet when some fall, we are shocked and scandalized – and as the tolerance for sinfulness and scandal has risen, the disingenuousness of outrage expands proportionally to self-righteousness. The policies “imposed” are nothing more than what are required by civil law, ethical standards of medical/mental healthcare providers, teachers, and so on. I find repulsive the idea that this policy would be used to manipulate and/or control priests with suspension and withholding their salary. If you are a priest and actually believe this, I say re-read St. Chrysostom’s On the Priesthood and No One Can Harm the Man Who does Not Harm Himself. As St. John Climacus writes, the inability to trust that God will not suffer injustice to the righteous – though not necessarily as we see it – is founded in disobedience, and ultimately in pride. Return to the laity and do something else.

                  My point was that, like in prison, the policy is there because the misconduct has and is happening, and the consequences are destructive; the benefit of preempting and/or early intervention is demonstratively desirable. The impact of the prison contraband policy on someone like me: totally benign.

                  • No Blueprint says

                    Totally benign. Got it.

                    I’m sure any priests reading your “wise” words will be “cut to the heart” and most certainly “return to the laity and do something else.” Of course! Hundreds of them!

                    Meanwhile, the Day of Reckoning draws closer and closer for the OCA. Polices and procedures in which they put their trust (and the lawyers who wrote them) will evaporate with the demise of a formerly promising institution, now struck with the cruel hammer of irrelevancy.

                    The pride of your heart has deceived you,
                    you who dwell in the clefts of the rock,
                    whose habitation is high;
                    you who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ (Obadiah 1:3)

                  • I don’t believe that +Benjamin (Peterson) has earned my respect for his additive personality and his submission to his passions. If it isn’t booze its porn and if it isn’t porn is food and if it isn’t food it is his bitter anger and spitefulness.

                    No, +Benjamin (Peterson) may be a bishop and I may kiss his hand because he is a bishop of Christ’s Church, but he is not someone I respect as a man.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      No Blueprint,

                      If a priest lacks the ability to submit himself – his life, his heart, his security, his needs – to the care of the Lord who said: “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (Jn. 15:16), something is gravely wrong. Is it conceivable that he could preach and call upon others to act upon a faith he does not have himself? “The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.” (Ps. 68:32) St. John Climacus calls these “actors” cowards born of pride.

                      While you somehow have anointed yourself informed enough to speak of a “day of reckoning” and a prophecy where there is no where to hide, where in the world is your outrage for those who have forced the necessity for this policy? You know nothing! I have devoted hours and hours of my time to assisting – as recently as yesterday – speaking with programs & clinicians, making referrals and arrangements for evaluations & treatment because, as the policy clearly states, the mission to is save vocations, salvage marriages and families, and restore otherwise good and otherwise faithful men to ministry. The pride of your heart has deceived you, pal, because not only do you have no blueprint, but you lack the common sense to close your mouth over what you should not speak.


                      I do not defend Archbishop Benjamin and his “additive (sic) personality and his submission to his passions.” However, If you would like to post a transcript of your most recent confession, perhaps we would have something by which to contrast, because apparently, you have successfully overcome submitting to your own passions. Secondly, I suspect that you know nothing about recovery from chemical dependency through treatment and self-help. First, members claim it is a “God-given program,” and second, by following its simple steps of recovery, not only are they restored to sanity and their lives are again made manageable, they claim they have become the best people they have ever been, even before they ever started drinking or drugging (or both).

                      If you will recall, the great King David submitted to his passions and committed murder in order to have a woman. The Lord sent Nathan, a prophet to confront him, and David’s repentance is forever with us in Psalm 50. There are two interesting points David makes: “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me,” (v.3) and “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” (v.17) David declares that even though I am forgiven, I must always live with the consequence – the shame of my sin – and while a “sin offering” is what is customary for such an occasion, David realizes the insufficiency and offers “a sincerely broken heart.” Your comments are so angry and directed at someone I am sure you have never met. I strongly suggest you email or phone him and share with him your concerns, man to man. I believe you would be quite surprised with his response.

                    • Another nice hatchet job on an OCA bishop. I’m sure you know all about his passions. What pompous jerks like yourself have no clue of are the Scriptures. Mary Magdelene, a woman of many demons and healed by Christ, was the 1st among the women who followed Christ. You will have to stand before Christ and answer for your slander.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Anonymous by Necessity,

                      Have I misread the Scripture? Was David removed as unfit to be King because he committed murder?

                      Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. He had reigned forty years over Israel—seven years in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established. (1 Kg. 2:10-12)

                      And likewise, despite the fact that the disciples “murmured against her,” did not the Lord say of Mary,

                      Let her alone; why trouble you her? she has worked a good work on me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you will you may do them good: but me you have not always. She has done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Truly I say to you, Wherever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. (Mk. 14:6-9)

                      And further, as we approach Forgiveness Sunday and the Rite of Forgiveness that proceeds the Vespers of that evening, you might contemplate the words of Fr. Alexander Schmemann: why ask “forgiveness” of individuals I don’t even know; people I don’t interact with; people I could not have possibly offended? Because sin is a cosmic event and affront that is not isolated, even if I somehow imagine it only involves “me.” It always involves “the other,” our fallen and broken life, and our broken and fallen world, and it is our foolishness and deception that prevents us from seeing it in its totality. You are indeed foolish to trivialize the point.

                      What you cannot seem to grasp are the words of St. Paul: “Whereof I am made a min­is­ter, accord­ing to the [κατὰ τὴν οἰκονομίαν] man­age­ment of God which is given to me for you, to ful­fill the word of God,” (Col.1:25) The authority of the Church comes from the Bishops and the Councils, not from websites, 100 “thumbs-up,” and surveys as to Fr. Susan’s day in court. A Church and hierarchy that would be bullied by such tactics is doomed. Do you honestly imagine if the Bishops and Councils are wrong God is impotent to bring justice to the righteous? Honestly? So impotent, in fact, that you are needed to declare who is unfit, rather than the Bishops? And pay attention to the words of St Paul: a minister “given to me for you.” Answerable before God Himself for every decision. You issue anonymous speeches without being answerable even to this forum for your judgements! Can a leopard change his spots? Before you rush to judgement – and emphatically so at that – read the Scripture before you bark at me, pal.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Dr Stankovich, both David and Solomon were kings anointed by God. So was Saul, the first king and he was an absolute disaster. Yet the nature of anointed kingship as given by God is such that even if the man is a moron, his person is inviolate.

                      A bishop on the other hand is an elected “overseer.” He is either elected by a body competent to do so or drawn by lot (as was Matthias). His vocation is to oversee that part of the Catholic Church which is given to him (i.e. a diocese). If he preaches heresy or commits some civil or criminal wrong, or moral transgression he can be removed.

                      Herein lies the confusion. The episcopate is not the place for a fallible man to work out his salvation, his job is to oversee the diocese. Period. That’s why St Paul elucidates what exactly are the hallmarks of candidacy. That the bishop in question may be attaining theosis is a good thing for him as it would be for any of us to attain theosis as well. The problem is that he has fallen short of the Pauline ideals.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Michalopulos,

                      This is an absurdist notion that we have ever relied upon the personal sanctity of the clergy to determine the sanctity or operation of the Catholic Church, yet at the same time, I refer you again to the paradox of Anton Chekhov’s The Bishop. How is it possible for you to say the “episcopate” – or the ordained priesthood, for that matter – “is not the place for a fallible man to work out his salvation,” when during the censing before the Great Entrance, the Ustav calls for the recitation of Psalm 50: “Have mercy on me, O God… Against You only have I sinned and my sin is ever before me.. Create in me a clean heart…” Further, in the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, in the litany immediately preceding the Creed, the Bishop or Priest prays,

                      As You accepted this true worship from Your holy apostles, accept also in Your goodness, O Lord, these gifts from the hands of us sinners, that being deemed worthy to serve at Your holy altar without blame., we may obtain the reward of the faithful stewards on the fearful day of Your just judgment.

                      And likewise in the Anaphora,

                      Therefore, most holy Master, we also, Your sinful and unworthy servants, whom You have made worthy to serve at Your holy altar, not because of our own righteousness (for we have not done anything good upon the earth), but because of Your mercy and compassion, which You have so richly poured upon us, we dare to approach Your holy altar, and bring forth the symbols of the holy Body and Blood of Your Christ.

                      And finally, in the first prayer of the blessing of water for baptism, there is this astonishing prayer,,

                      O Lord who knows everything concerning me, do not look upon me with loathing, neither turn Your face from me; do not remember my iniquities at this present hour, as You are He who disregards a man’s sins unto his repentance. And wash away the vileness of my body, and the pollution of my soul. And sanctify me wholly by Your all-perfect, invisible might, and by Your spiritual right hand; lest, while I proclaim freedom unto others, and administer this sacrament with perfect faith in Your unutterable love toward mankind, I myself may become the base slave of sin.

                      You are mistaken that kings are “anointed” and bishops are “elected” if you are suggesting there is somehow less dignity, As St. Chrysostom has written, such dignity has the ordained ministry that,

                      if a king should bestow this honor upon any of his subjects, authorizing him to cast into prison whom he pleased and to release them again, he becomes an object of envy and respect to all men; but he who has received from God an authority as much greater as heaven is more precious than earth, and souls more precious than bodies, seems to some to have received so small an honor that they are actually able to imagine that one of those who have been entrusted with these things will despise the gift. Away with such madness! For transparent madness it is to despise so great a dignity, without which it is not possible to obtain either our own salvation, or the good things which have been promised to us.

                      And so my last point to you is that, as you say, “If he preaches heresy or commits some civil or criminal wrong, or moral transgression he can be removed,” it is not by democratic process, website, “thumbs-up,” surveys, or being held in abeyance by the Sons of Job, but by the mechanisms of our Holy Tradition. And rather than me serving to “reinforce this institutional dysfunction” and “institutionalized pathology” as Anonymous by Necessity accuses me, rather it makes me one of the few “traditionalist” in the house.

                    • Pere LaChaise says

                      Roman says:
                      February 15, 2014 at 9:57 am
                      I don’t believe that +Benjamin (Peterson) has earned my respect for his additive personality and his submission to his passions. If it isn’t booze its porn and if it isn’t porn is food and if it isn’t food it is his bitter anger and spitefulness.

                      No, +Benjamin (Peterson) may be a bishop and I may kiss his hand because he is a bishop of Christ’s Church, but he is not someone I respect as a man.

                      While I reserve judgment on the veracity of all of what Roman says above, I will say that the imputation thereof – widespread public knowledge of past indiscretions – renders the Hierarch in question vulnerable to scandal, and thereby adversely affects his governance. Especially, the taint of scandal exposes him to manipulation, soft blackmail by those he is forced to keep close to him by their inside knowledge of his weaknesses. I suppose everyone in a position of power has to deal with this. But Abp. Benjamin has it in spades. Having actual personal acquaintance with the man and his style of leadership (sic), I aver that his temper, paranoia and lack of human concern for the clergy under his care seriously impugn his episcopacy.
                      But he won’t be unseated. A man such as the Archbishop will not make the kind of mistakes that will cost him his job. No repeat of the early inebriation incidents. And he has people around him, promoted by him, who will steer him away from the shoals, so that they also may maintain their positions of influence. All in all,it’s not a very happy place, his diocese. Ask the clergy what they think. Oh, i forgot, they won’t say, if they want to keep their jobs there.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Pere LaChaise,

                      As someone asked to consult as an expert from the outside, to assist and intervene with clergy in that Diocese, rather than struggling with a “lack of human concern for the clergy under his care,” I struggled with exactly the opposite with him, even having to resort to great verbal force and the authority of my experience to accomplish what I knew was correct. And if you were not hiding out like the rest, I would be happy to share the proof of my statement: clergy in “positions” of influence, but also of great respect, who are otherwise untouchable financially and set for retirement who would refute you in a second.

                      Secondly, you are completely, and woefully ignorant of one the fundamental and primary principles of recovery: you are as vulnerable as your secrets. Without secrets, before God and man, you have nothing to fear. Those with “skeletons,” those with “holders,” and those with “confidants,” always fears exposure, always produce anxiety – acknowledged or unacknowledged – continuously, and always promote distrust and fear. Thus, you are as vulnerable as your secrets. You apparently assume this. I do not. Programs of recovery promise a life “happy, joyous, and free.” And your reductive “translation” of a chancellor, deans, and confidants into sinister “handlers” steer[ing] him away from the shoals, so that they also may maintain their positions of influence” is truly projected from darkness; in fact, everything missing and prayed for by Checkov’s The Bishop. Very nice touch, though predictable from a cemetary.

                      I will personally aver that I am well aware of his temper, and so on, and that he is well aware of his temper. But for you to say, “having actual personal acquaintance with the man,” if I were to bore into the supraorbital notch of your skull, I would expect to find a fine French semi-soft cheese – I’m thinking a Camembert, perhaps?

                      I will always wonder what prevents an intelligent man or woman from sitting down with someone like Archbishop Benjamin, face to face, and talking about these matters? Fear? Rejection? Physical harm? Excommunication? What is it? It seems no one here has the respect or courage to face anyone over anything for any reason! It seems all that remains is loud-mouth aggression, insult, cowardice, and judgement.

          • There appears to be a backlash against the “English” services here in Jacksonville, Florida..Two Slavonic parishes have opened one ROCOR and one OCA .The Antiochian parish here is nicknamed “Ramallah West ” because the service is about 98% Arabic and the interesting thing is that people come to the Greek Orthodox Church because they want English…The English OCA parish is thriving too. There are ethnic parishes which cater to the Serbs, Romanians and Syrians.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          I very much agree with Sean. I’m joining the GOC parish because it is 1.5 miles from my house, and is the only Orthodox church in my city proper. There is an OCA church in the near suburbs, about 20 minutes away. But the Presbyterian church where I’d been a member for 65 years is 5 city blocks away from my house, and I want a parish where I am. I can drive to the GOC in 4 minutes and walk there in a half-hour.

          The substantial majority of the service is in English. Such Greek as there is fine with me. The Greek ethnicity issues are a drawback, but in my case a small one, largely because I have known many of the members for years, personally and in business.

          My nature and circumstances are such that having my church close by in my own town is of great importance to me. Fortunately, such a church exists. As Sean says, I’m joining the parish church, and the Orthodox church. I don’t think of myself as joining the “Greek” church, which in and of itself would make no sense to me at all.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Tim R. When I joined, the Antiochian Archdiocese was the only game in town–still is with three.

            Nearest functioning GOA parish is over 4 hours away and it is GREEK before being Orthodox, nearest OCA parish is 3 hours away; Patriarchal Bulgarian 6 hours away; ROCOR 12 hours. In all the cities where the other jurisdictions have parishes there are also Antiochian parishes. At almost any point on the compass from where I am, I can get to an Antiochian parish before I get to a parish of any other jurisdiction. Still I am 20-25 minutes from my home parish.

            The shame of it is that the GOA parish here could have been something really dynamic except the GOA sent as a priest a young (30’s) married priest with children who they KNEW preferred altar boys. The rest is sad history. The saddest part is that he was very effective at parish building before his problem took hold here as it had in a previous parish. He was in an administration position but the bishops sent him out to a small parish with the closest Greek bishop 6 hours away. Even with Bp Basil filling in as best he could, the inevitable happened.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              Michael, I am in Tacoma, and the nearest Antiochian parish is in Yakima, or Portland, Or.; both are roughly equidistant from here. I’ve been to both, as I have briefly stated in earlier posts here.

              I was in Yakima on business at the beginning of Lent last year, and I looked in the phone book to see if I could find an Orthodox church to go to for the St. Andrew Canon. I found Holy Cross, a lovely new church which I initially took to be Russian or a particularly conservative OCA congregation, because besides no pews, all of the women were wearing headscarves. The all-English service ruled out the Russians.

              I shortly found out its history: it was founded by members of the evangelical movement into the Orthodox Church, by way of Antioch.

              To me personally the really fascinating thing was that despite my strong interest in Orthodoxy for 30 years as a Protestant, and my extensive reading and attendance at countless Orthodox services all over the world, and the whole issue of conversion which I had long considered (and then shelved), I had never heard or read about the movement of the Evangelical Orthodox into the Antiochian church! This was all quite new to me and of great personal interest.

              It follows that I got “observant” all through Lent back home, attended Vespers and all the other plethora of Lenten services, got acquainted and involved (along with one of my sons), and finally made my long-deferred decision, at last.

              So Antioch has played its role for me, too!

              • Engaged observer says


                It’s not true that the Antiochian Orthodox parish closest to you is in Portland or Yakima. St Paul’s Orthodox Church (Antiochian Archdiocese) is in Brier, Washington, outside of Seattle ( — probably 45-50 mins from you. Its priest is Fr James Bernstein, who has a fascinating story of growing up Jewish in New York City and converting to Orthodox Christianity as an adult. He wrote about his story in a book entitled “Surprised by Christ” — I recommend reading it!

                That being said, one of the strongest Orthodox parishes I ever attended was Holy Resurrection (OCA) in east Tacoma when I was at Fort Lewis with the Army some years ago — wonderful priest, wonderful choir, wonderful people. I miss it.

                Also be sure to check out the All Merciful Savior Orthodox monastery on Vashon Island.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  Thanks, EO; I didn’t know about St. Paul’s and will try to visit it sometime.

                  On the other hand, I know Holy Rusurrection/Holy Trinity well. I’ve attended HR a few times since they built the church, but I have gone to services at Holy Trinity countless times, especially in the 1980s, and now and then over the years since.

                  I agree with you whole-heartedly about Fr. John Pierce, whom I met when he first came to Holy Trinity in Wilkeson 25 years ago. I reintroduced myself to him a few months back, when I attended HR a few times. Were it not for St. Nicholas GOC really close by, I’d be going to Holy Resurrection now.

                  I will be attending Vespers now and then at HR during Lent, and I look forward to telling Fr. John of my new “status”!

                  Of course, these congregations are well-known to one another, being the two Orthodox churches in the Tacoma area.

    • This is the Difference says

      Fact Finder,

      “It’s the parish’s fault!” Nice.

      The reality is that if the OCA thinks that throwing a few webpages up (i.e. “programs for church growth”) with various articles and opinions is what they “did” to help parishes grow, is it any wonder that many of the parishes didn’t?

      The fact is that Syosset has been more worried about self-preservation for the past seven years than church growth. Very little, if anything, of what Syosset does is relevant to parish life. And you can quote me in “The Orthodox Church” newspaper. Oh, wait, there isn’t one. Not even an e-version. And the majority of the information posted on the website is non-OCA anyway.

      So tell me again what they do to support parishes and individual members of the OCA?

    • Disgusted With It says

      I was always under the impression that all or some of the ethnic dioceses give some kind of assessment to the OCA but do not receive program funding in return. They are self-supporting. Has this changed?

      • What is program funding? And who has been receiving it?

        • Disgusted With It says

          From what I understand, at least the Romanian diocese has its own departments for missions, Christian education, publications, etc. Neither their diocese nor any of their communities receive any financial assistance or support from the OCA for any of their activities.

          If they did pay more to Syosset, would that mean the OCA department of missions, for example, would be on the hook to support all of the Romanian missions too? And the OCA department of Christian education pay for all of their Romanian language materials likewise?

          The ethnic dioceses do not seem to be an apples-to-apples comparison with the territorial dioceses.

          • Dear Disgusted,

            My question above was not intended to be snark.

            It seems that the diocese model developed by the Romanians might be one that should be adopted by all of the OCA dioceses. They are headed by a bishop (+Nathaniel) who seems to have a vision, and the diocesan financial support provided by his parishes are put to use in implementing his vision in supporting those parishes. If the Romanians are paying the OCA based on the perceived value of the central church’s services, shouldn’t the other dioceses, including the regional ones, consider following suit?

            If the OCA persists in recreating the Metropolia (centralized) model of long ago, and the current members of the Synod are content to abdicate both their role in developing their dioceses, and their role in disciplining their clergy, then the OCA will get what it has always gotten. Vacant dioceses will not be a problem, if the bishops won’t lead their flock anyway. The “strong chancellor” model, so reviled during RK’s tenure, will quietly re-take both the helm and the funding – no money will be available to develop a robust diocesan structure.

            With the exception of a couple of mission planting grants, what program funding is delivered to either parishes or diocese from Syosset? The current OCA structure is national in scope, and centralized in its worldview. Huge geographies operate without an episcopal head.

            If the bishop is the heart of the diocese, then maybe Archbishop Nathaniel is on to something.

  6. Fraud Watcher says
  7. Where can this go? A slow path to oblivion financially, with the Leman Brother’s bishops all crowded at the end of the path. These will claim sovereignty over any attempt to restore, any attempt to reboot, a Church that addresses spiritual life first, They will remain in the great Whore, as dogs in the manger, they won’t serve God alone, and they won’t let anybody else lead, who would

  8. This is the Difference says

    Stewards of the OCA raised $20,000, not $60,000 as you reported.

  9. This is the Difference says

    Just a thought about the ethnic dioceses and funding: 20 years ago (or more) the ethnic dioceses were approached to pay a larger portion of Syosset’s funding. They were refused again and again. (Does anyone remember the soliloquy by Archbishop Nathaniel who made an unconvincing and circular argument at one of the AACs while simultaneously negotiating with the Romanian Patriarchate?)

    Today, the situation is different. The OCA needs the ethnic dioceses more than the ethnic dioceses need the OCA. The OCA needs the numbers that the ethnic dioceses provide (especially the Romanians) but ironically, the OCA is now in no position to negotiate. They have nothing to offer the Romanians, most of whom couldn’t give a twit less about the OCA, save a few clerical voices.

    Enter Fr Dresko resurrecting proportional giving. Parish priests and faithful should be fully aware that this latest move has little to do with more “biblical” or “Christian” forms of giving. It has to do with sucking every penny out of the parishes that they can. It has to do with keeping the gravy train flowing from the parishes which has diminished to a trickle. Note Fr Jillion’s illustration a while back when he fancifully noted that the approximate income of all the parishes (using the number 700) is $70 million. ( It doesn’t take a genius to realize that possibly 150 parishes, not 700, have income that approaches or exceeds $100,000 a year. The rest of the parishes (maybe 400?) are extremely small, less than 25 people) and do not have such an income. The number 700 is not an accurate number for the number of active parishes in the OCA.

    Thus, the $1.2 million or so that Syosset subsides on is actually a reasonable number for what they do and what they provide, and even that may be inflated. Parishes should resist any methodology which increases their financial submission to Syosset and work hard and vocally to keep money in the parish – the locus of work in the OCA.

    • This Is the Difference,

      A “tip of the hat” for your analysis. It is certainly critical but it is also accurate.

      I think that the next All American Council is going to be a “All Hands On Deck” push to increase the OCA head tax, undo what was started in Seattle by curtailing money to Syosset and keeping more of it in the diocese and parish.

      Everyone (except maybe those who work in Syosset) know that the parish and the diocese is where the work of the Gospel takes place. Although now and in the past, “Syosset” tried to present the case that it was an indispensable piece of the OCA puzzle, history has proven that, at best, “Syosset” is a symbolic place, where the Synod meets (sometimes), where statistics are generated and where a letter or two from the Primate is sent to the Church or other correspondence in times of need.

      The recent efforts to try and make “Syosset” something by Statute it was never intended to be, i.e. a Metropolitan Council giving itself beyond Statute powers, has only insulated “Syosset” more from the OCA rank and file. Never before has it been more true that the Metropolitan Council, and “Syosset” has little or no impact on the parish, except to suck precious money out of it.

      So, again, kudos for your analysis.

      • James P,

        Your analysis is spot on. I posted earlier that I couldn’t find the recent financial statements and archivist suggested that I read the officers’ reports. So I went back and found the last reports from I believe October 2013. I believe everyone should reread these statements because they are truly alarming.

        The OCA administration seems to have no real clue about what it should or should not be doing. They were bleeding red at an alarming pace and no one seems to really care. For instance, did anyone pick up on the fact that the national magazine is now an annual publication? While Syosset was bleeding red the travel and legal fees continue to pile up at a very alarming rate. It seems that no one has the wisdom to just ask the question, “Why?” Why is the headquarters located in one of the most expensive places in the US? Why not move to a warmer climate where they could reduce the travel expenses? Why is it that the average parishioner doesn’t want to fund Syosset? Could it be because they provide nothing of relevance to the average parishioner?

        The Syosset administration truly excels at pet projects that mean nothing to the average parishioner. For instance, the national insurance plan. Churches all across the country just call a local broker and get their own insurance. Instead, the OCA has a national program that requires the services of the secretary to run around and collect data on every parish. Why?

        Why, exactly must the OCA meet every three years for an All American Council? What is so perfect about three years? How about five years? Oh, but that’s what it says in the statutes. Here’s an idea. Change the statutes to suit the times. All I see in the reports of Fr. Tosi is that he runs from one AAC to another and takes care of an incredibly dilapidated building that could be sold.

        Ms. Ringa, the current treasurer suggested that the officers all go part-time like her. This should have been done years ago. It’s just lunacy. There is absolutely no need to continue to spend thousands of dollars for tree removal, new phone systems, new computer systems, mansion renovations, house keeping, etc. etc. when the entire administration can work out of 2,000 square foot offce in place like Dallas, TX at a fraction of the cost.

        And how about those legal fees? Why? It is government work at its finest. How much is being paid to the chief counsel? There are many attorneys in the OCA. How about a little pro bono work? Because of the insistence that all the poop rolls back to Syosset, the OCA keeps footing the bill for problems that really belong to the respective dioceses. Or here is another idea, make each diocese pay for the legal matters that are associated with their diocese.

        As others have said, there is very little vision, and what vision there is does not address the reality. There parishes and dioceses that are dying and there is no plan to help them. People are still flying off to far away places because “that’s what is expected.” It is just silly.

        One suggestion I would offer is make each Metropolitan Council member responsible for their own travel expenses and tell them that they must personally pay the legal and travel bills for Syosset. Then, perhaps, they might grow up and start voting to stop the insanity.

    • anonymus per Scorilo says

      They have nothing to offer the Romanians, most of whom couldn’t give a twit less about the OCA, save a few clerical voices.

      You are correct, but the situation is even worse than that 🙁

      The Romanian parishes already pay an assessment to the Romanian Episcopate (less than $90/parishioner), which in turn provides the “services” Syosset provides to the non-ethnic OCA parishes. Given that less than 20% of the priests receive anything that a decent person could call “salary” from their parishes, and the rest have to work secular jobs, there is already much complaint even about this assessment. Thinking that anybody would give an extra 90$/year/parishioner is clearly delusional. And for what ? To pay some 100k/year-earning Syosset bureaucrat and get essentially nothing in return while your parish priest has to wash dishes or clean floors to make ends meet ?

      You can also add into the mix the fact that the priests of the Romanian patriarchate receive between $300 and $400/month from the Romanian state (as compensation for lands taken by the state from the Church in the 19’th century). Since this can be of the same order as the “salary” some Romanian OCA priests receive from their parishes, this makes for a pretty large crowd of clerical voices cheering for leaving the OCA.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      “They have nothing to offer the Romanians, most of whom couldn’t give a twit less about the OCA, save a few clerical voices.”

      Nothing personal, and no offense intended, but for all the Orthodox that North Americans couldn’t give a twit less about, the Romanians are the ones they most couldn’t give a twit less about.

      • Ground Zero says

        ….and that is exactly why the OCA is doomed. It’s not 1970. If the OCA doesn’t care about the Romanians or the Russians or any others, then it’s reaping what it sows. Wake up and smell the reality!

  10. George, is it really necessary to speculate regarding lawsuits? It does nothing but stir the pot of temptations during this Pre-Lenten time, which is right up the devil’s alley. There’s been no indication of any of that and it is wise to be pro-active about it rather than re-active. In this and many other matters, we bash the Synod for both. That doesn’t seem fair or right. Don’t get me wrong – I think many of them are nincompoops, but one must give credit where credit is due.

    The Stewards fundraising program did make me chuckle. Since they went about it completely wrong, they reaped what they sowed.

    I can’t help but wonder what will happen to the bottom line if parishes are required to tithe to the Diocese. Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% in support of tithing. What I mean by my statement is that smaller parishes will more likely than not tithe less than they currently ‘pay’ to the Diocese in assessment. I know our small parish will – to the tune of nearly $1,000. Will the tithe of larger parishes make up the difference, I wonder?

  11. Michael Kinsey says

    Where the eagles are gathered together, there also will the body be.. Where Is this taking place? And when? What does this mean ,in light of a great falling away from the authentic Church of Jesus Christ. The falling away is predicted by St Paul, and Ir will (is?), happening now. Authentic Christianity does not disappear completely, the eagles gather together. That what it says. The economy will worsen to drastic conditions, which will make the chances of economic stability for the OCA even more difficult. The only Christian group that ever welcomed me was pro-life activist, and I also have to include this site.

  12. 100 Thumbs Up! says

    Send a message to Syosset and let them know you’re serious. Please give this message a thumbs up, and please tell your friends who care about the future to thumbs up this post.

    Presenting the St. Nilus of Sora Plan

    1. Lower the head tax to $40. Run the OCA on less than $1million. Keep only four full time employees consisting of the Metropolitan, a Chancellor/External Affairs liaison, a Protodeacon/Secretary, and a subdeacon/cell attendant. Hire one part-time bookkeeper. Outsource the website, archives, health, & pension plan. Push education, music, chaplains, and sexual misconduct back to dioceses. Disband the Metropolitan Council.

    2. Sell the mansion in Syosset. Use the proceeds to establish a permanent fund to cover the Metropolitan’s travel and living expenses. He is then free to move wherever he thinks its best to live.

    3. We want church growth on steroids! Restore the female diaconate. Check your history books, women built the early church. We need reasons to get people excited about being an Orthodox Christian, and those rainbow flags aren’t gonna work out too well for us.

    4. Merge the ethnic dioceses into the territorial dioceses. The Bulgarians become a part of the Diocese of the Midwest. All the Romanians in Canada go under Canada, not Detroit. Albanians go to New York/ New Jersey. Don’t like it? Well, there’s the door…you guys haven’t been paying anything anyway.

    5. Fund the Seminaries. Create an OCA budget for $100,000 to St. Tikhon’s and $100,000 to St. Vlads. Have the seminaries develop a training school for Bishops to learn administration, change management, decision-making, and leadership skills before becoming a bishop (kind of like an MBA).

    OK. Now it’s up to you to send the message. 100 Thumbs Up!

  13. Chris Thomas says

    Lot’s of bull cocka here. 1st, Bp. Alexander had his name removed from any episcopal election until he finished his teaching position at Marquette. There never were ANY “impediments” that limited him from episcopal election. Regarding Brum, he was hand-picked by RSK and really has no Orthodox theological bkgd. He’s out. Wendling was talked about before, but he has issues. Time for good, solid married bishops.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Good, solid married bishops are not a panacea for anything. Married men can molest just as easily as un-married men (in fact they might do so more easily). They won’t just be molesting women either.

      It does increase the candidate pool, but, good grief, considering all of the nonsense that wives of priests have to put up with—it would be multiplied exponentially for the wife of a bishop. I would question the sanity of any woman who allowed her husband to become a bishop.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        I don’t accept that. The large number of RC pedophile priests I have no doubt is related to the fact that their parish clergy is unmarried. Maybe they have produced some “study” to the contrary, but I don’t buy it.

        As for the problems of bishops’ wives, there is a lot of 19th century English literature that would back you up!

  14. Fr. George Washburn says

    Hello friends:

    Some of us who occasionally take the bait and call in to the Rush Michalopobaugh Show do it with mixed feelings. on the one hand not wanting sheer dreck to go unchallenged, but on the other not wanting to lend legitimacy to an effort that is so clearly tendentious and myopic, not to say sectarian, in outlook and effect.

    In that spirit I would like to strongly challenge some of the lawsuit fear-mongering tripe with which George larded the editorial at the head of this thread. But with some fundamental, if lukewarm, appreciation for the fact that it is George himself who permits me to take these very pokes at his mindset, views and methodology.

    Self-promoters of every kind, not just religious ones, use fear to get people to buy what they are selling. The fear of devastating financial consequences from litigation lies behind much ill-expended time, money and energy, whether in the purchase of insurance, the defensive practice of medicine, or the super-documenting and self-protective way in which so many of our institutions feel they must operate. Well-intentioned people (like the readership here) feel vulnerable to its essentially-undeserved threat. We watch too much TV. Boogeymen scare us!

    So it is a pretty reliable ploy to trot out the lawsuit-fear trump card from time to time to energize a constituency. George has done it before, perhaps most notably in the seeming efforts to scupper Bishop Michael’s possible candidacy for Metropolitan by trumpeting as real **an actually non-existent EEOC lawsuit ** related to Fr. Alexander Atty’s departure from St. Tikhon’s seminary. No suit existed then ….and none has EVER been filed since!

    No acknowledgment of that from our George, though. Maybe because the fear and confusion generating had its intended effect at the time, and he does not feel fettered by any sense of accountability when proved wrong.

    In the essay above George plays the same dog-eared card once again. Let’s look at it more carefully instead of automatically salivating just because Pavlov, I mean Rush, I mean George, rang that darn bell again.

    A lawsuit is normally a very expensive and unpleasant endeavor. People tend to bring and sustain them when there is good reason to think they can get money, promote change or punish others.

    In the case of Bishop Matthew’s indiscretions, which of the above motives can reasonably be imputed to a young woman who, by all accounts, responded to the incidents in a mature, balanced, humane way and has shown no indication of axes in life to grind? None; she does not sound like a revenge-seeker, and with Bishop Matthew out of office there is nothing realistic to correct through civil court litigation.

    What about money? She does not sound like the type to be motivated by it in the first place. In the second she seems to be someone who would have suffered little, if any, **compensable** harm from the undeniably improper contacts standing alone …and stand alone the reports suggest they do. (civil courts do not redress spiritual harm)

    And who is going to bring such a case? Had she been so traumatized as to have lost a job or need medical care, for example, a lawyer might foresee a worthwhile payday at the other end of litigation, but not if she coped pretty well and moved on with little or no monetarily quantifiable loss. (please excuse me for talking about what was no doubt a very unpleasant experience for her in such terms, but that is how litigation actually works, and the only way seemingly phony fears can be addressed). There is **no evidence** that the victim has suffered such injury, let alone contemplated or taken action seeking such redress.

    In the absence of any such indication to date, then, what has George sold us? Imagination, fantasy, fear.

    Why has he sold it? Because he has arguably become not a wise and truly Christian promoter of the health of the Church, but rather an opponent of those who seem to have caused or tolerated Her real (and imagined) ills.

    Christ cautioned those who would rush out into the field of growing grain to pull out the tares the Enemy had secretly sown lest the good part of the crop be damaged. By evidence-free fear-mongering that may well be what George is doing. Let’s not buy imagination and fantasy. It robs us of the present and expends the precious capital of Christian comity ….to our very own detriment! (we ARE members one of another)

    I invite those who are tempted to react to this post to first consider carefully the actual and rather narrow scope of what I have written. It challenges only the completely unsupported fear of Bishop Matthew litigation. It does so without denying a) the wrongness of his conduct, b) what a damaging or potentially damaging experience it was or could have been for the young woman, or c) the scandal to both the Church and those outside. I am only criticizing the “sky is falling” tactics re this one set of facts that, so far as we know to date, are based in **imagination only**, and not any **evidence** of existing or likely legal threat.

    tough love,

    Fr. George

    • Disgusted With It says

      Who is Bishop Matthew???

    • Why does the term ‘gasbag’ come to mind…?

    • Ima Lawyer 2 says

      Let’s start with your opening missive, Fr. Barrister.

      tendentious and myopic, not to say sectarian,

      Using big, fancy words is bad form in legal writing these days. In the blogosphere it just makes people wonder what lack of substance you are trying to hide.

      Everything else aside, you know what kind of cases lawyers do like? Sexual misconduct cases against churches. In case you haven’t heard, some lawyers have made a pretty penny off these. And even in cases of questionable damages, those silly insurance companies you consider a waste of money, settle doubtful claims at a discount to avoid the possibility of a bad verdict. Now go check the OCA’s various reports and minutes.

      What budget item is constantly over budget: Legal
      What did our own chancellor say takes up most of his time: “Sexual Misconduct”

      I scarcely think that suggesting the existence of a legal threat to the ongoing viability of the OCA is imagination or fantasy. If he claims that a lawsuit is out there right now, maybe that is overstatement. However, the existence of a threat? The circumstantial evidence strongly supports that analysis, and as you know, circumstantial evidence, TV lawyer shows aside, is every bit as good as direct evidence.

      I don’t mean to be “didactic”. I don’t mean to suggest my portfolio of “adversarial” trials makes me a better analyst than you. That would be “pretentious” if not “supercilious” of me. All I am saying is, you took a lot of words to condescend to people who might consider you qualified to hold the opinions you express. I find them disingenuous and outcome oriented.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Tendentious, myopic,and sectarian are “BIG, FANCY WORDS?”
        With reference to “Ima Lawyer’s” last, shouting paragraph, I find hisuse of ‘disingenuous” and “outcome-oriented” to be much more “fancy” and self-promoting….why, even MBA-talkish, than anything Fr. George Washburn wrote. I know, Father George didn’t show emotion and that sometimes makes those who disagree with him go all to pieces, so that’s all right.. (And I hope no one ever embarrasses you by identifying you!)
        Perhaps an undue emphasis on potential lawsuits is caused by the threats which must have caused the disappearance of all the Heracleides’s cartoons?

        • Ima Lawyer 2 says

          With reference to “Ima Lawyer’s” last, shouting paragraph, I find hisuse of ‘disingenuous” and “outcome-oriented” to be much more “fancy” and self-promoting…

          That was the point, Vladyka. I didn’t figure you would miss it.

        • Heracleides says

          Silly Bishop – my lampoons are still online – George’s link is simply broken, something over which I have no control. But not to worry – my caricatures of you and sundry other OCA clerics will remain viewable long after you and the other past/present duffers of the OCA Unholy Synod meet your maker.

          • Is this an example of Orthodox humility? A case where in order to hide ones acts of charity, the name is changed? A place where a nameless, secularist brags his cartoons will outlive retired bishops and wins the popularity contest?

            A good bishop would ask this site to be taken down because there are atheists that are better Christians than Heracleides.

            Who needs the church when the churchgoers behave as such?

            • Michael Bauman says

              Wheat and tares Mr. Fall. We are the maimed, the halt and the lame. I don’t like the scarasm either but the good bishop is well known for his own brand.

              Scarasm or normalization of homosexuality? If I had to pick, I’d take the scarasm any day.

              That’s the problem: knowing the tares from the wheat

              Some atheists may be more moral and nicer people but the can not be “better Christians” because they don’t believe in Jesus Christ nor have they proclaimed union with him.

              The fact that you don’t understand that suggests you have and ideological approach to the faith.

              May God lead us all into repentance.

              • Oh, Michael cut the bullkaka. You know perfectly well what I mean. While an atheist may not speak to God; they behave better toward others than an anonymous churchgoer posting vile cartoons Christ would shake his head at -and they exemplify better behavior than the nameless so shameless secularist.

                The continued attempt at anarchy here needs to end. I don’t see the reason for mentioning the gays when the real story is Heracleides bad behavior, but nice try at a diversion. This time I wont let Heracleides off too easily when he refers to the Synod et al as unholy.

                The facts are vividly clear as to why the fmr Metrolopolitan was asked to exit. Just take a look at his friends.

                Of course this is what has the A clique here in such a furror. Now they insist on attacking et al. A good bishop would ask this site close.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  How irenic of you Mr. Fall. Since George is sans bishop any way except for a distant and (unfortunatly) ill locum tenens you’ll have to put up with it a while longer.

                  Don’t let the bullkaka of others disturb your peace.

                  You need to find another metaphor. It is really impossible for an atheist to be a better Christian. The distinction is one worth maintaining unless you collapse Christianity to some sort of moralistic ideology.

                  You are right about the scarasm though. It is mean-spirited and destructive.

                  • Daniel E Fall says

                    Well, Michael, we can agree in part. I’m surprised, but joyful. And an atheist can certainly behave in a more Christian fashion than a Christian Michael; the only difference is what they believe. If you wish to parse out my words, fair enough, I misspoke on a nit. If a Christian behaves horribly worse than an atheist, do they pass Peter easier than the nonbeliever? Even Mother Teresa doubted God; she said so herself.

                    And yes, I overuse bullkaka because too much of it abounds in cyberspace. People’s perceptions become their realities in an instant.

                    As for the site, the only reason it should be closed at the request of a bishop is because George does not appear to support one single person in the hierarchy, or the central administration. He comes off as an anarchist and anti-establishment, nearly bar none. His other (anti-ness) is clearly anti-gay which doesn’t need to be related to the church; well, except there are gays in the church, and frankly, I’m not sure he should pick on them more than the drunks. I don’t agree with Paul here and won’t ever, but I digress. I think George could be a beacon of good, but his fight is just a fight. Fighting to fight!

                    He might have recently reversed his position on a singular bishop, but it has been pointed out by a much wiser person than me that even that position is inconsistent.

                    If you’ve got nothing good to say about anything or anyone, then why bother saying it. If you can point out a singular positive article by George on the hierarchy or central administration in the last 12 months; kindly provide the link. I’d enjoy being in error.

                    I personally think George needs to recognize he is a critic that never applauds. And this is why I have decide to stop spending time here pissing into the wind of discontent.

                    But I still try.

                    People are good most of the time.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Actually, you’d be wrong. I’ve praised Pat Bartholomew now twice, Metropolitan Methodius of Boston once, and defended the Vatopedi monastery and that’s just within the last 3 months. I’ve praised Benedict XIV and his successor, Francis. A little over a year ago, I praised Bishop Edward Slattery of the Diocese of Tulsa. I’d applaud more if there were more to applaud. Instead, our bishops would rather beat themselves over the head regarding seating arrangements at the Episcopal Assemblies.

      • Fr. George Washburn says

        Hi Friends:

        First let’s ask ourselves (and our correspondent Ima) just what sort of foreseeable, dire consequences he must avoid by posting under an assumed name? Defrocking or loss of income? Disbarment? Embarrassment? Accountability?

        Now let’s review Ima’s primer in the misuse (2 syllable word) of lawyerly skill.

        1. Misdirection into semantics. Those few words aren’t too big for him or the majority of the readership here, and they communicate exactly what I was trying to say. If anything those few words stand out by contrast with the everyday words like imagination, fantasy and fear that were the gist of my charges.

        2. Misperception. Ima mistakes his own inner settings – or rather the decoding of my message that results from those inner settings – for condescension on my part. I can’t help that, or at least not much.

        3. Mischaracterization. He misstates my view as being *against* insurance. What I actually said is that in our society (4 syllable word) the purchase of insurance arises from fear of litigation. He is welcome to give any and all reasons for disagreeing, but not to mischaracterize.

        4. Minor snideness. “in case (I) haven’t heard that some lawyers make a pretty penny off” sexual misconduct cases? Of course -we have all heard of that. My post frankly acknowledged that some lawyers love to pursue such cases, but *only* when there is an arguable money damage claim. So far we do not know of one here, and I hope for at least three reasons that is correct.

        5. Missing evidence. Ima saya he thinks the threat of litigation from this set of facts is worth scaring people with, but when you try to sift out the wheat from chaff, he offers us no more than George: complete guesswork based on fear and unsupported by any actual reason to believe that the young lady will do so or that a lawyer will take it. Absent facts and rational analysis, all George and Ima are selling is imagined fears. Given all the real and unpleasant circumstances the Church must recognize and deal with, it is my belief that sorting out false and imagined threats from those that have a real evidentiary basis (and therefore merit our attention and efforts) is a good idea. But if one prefers or chooses to a) be all lit up, or b) light others up, because one or both is better for a beleagured Church, then my approach is the wrong one.

        6. Misleading. Ima misleads us as to relevance of circumstantial evidence in the matter under discussion, the Bishop Matthias matter. The question is not “did he offend” or “did the young woman feel repugnance or suffer spiritual harm,” but rather “Did the young woman suffer a loss civil courts will redress, and which a real world lawyer will pursue?”

        This is not a question on which circumstantial evidence (for example the fact that other viable claims have been made against other OCA people in other places) is the least bit probative. The question is “do we have any evidence from which a clear-eyed observer could reasonably conclude there is an actual threat of litigation worth anticipating?”

        7. Mistake. And as to the Bishop’s name, yes indeed, I was absolutely wrong to call Matthias Matthew. By pointing out this mistake some have made an actual contribution, and elevated the level of our discussions. My apologies for any actual confusion or offense.

        Fr. George

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Father George, isn’t Rush Michalopobaugh the guy that Ann Coultereides is dating?

    • Why can’t I escape the sense that some Antiochian clergy (on occaision) play the Antiochian version of Let’s Shoot the Messenger! Wasn’t that a game show? I may be wrong. +Phillip continues to have his multi-faceted, surrogated fingers in many pies. Though to be fair, who can resist American pie? On a side note: The OCA head-tax is an issue worthy of the Fathers of the American Revolution circa 1776. But at least they got their tea. What OCA parishioners are increasingly receiving is more scandal for our $. Life in the USA is a soap opera.

    • George Michalopulos says

      For what it’s worth, Fr, I never tried to “scupper” Bp Michael’s candidacy. Though I am not sanguine about the long-term viability of the OCA, and am horrified at their SOPs regarding this, that, or the other, I had earnestly hoped that Bp Michael Dahulich would have been elected as Jonah’s successor. Among all the bishops, I’ve heard nothing but the best about him from men I deeply respect.

      • Ted Theodore says

        + Michael was at STS while + Herman was mortgaging the monastery without telling anyone. The fact that + Michael said he knew nothing of this and many other irregularities, was why he had to be removed from the situation. So, they promote him to Bishop of NY/NJ. The guy can be trusted as far as you can throw him. He still meddles at STS. He should be transferred to DOS. If he would have waited for his consecration, maybe he could have been considered as the head of the Carps; where he belongs.

        • Ted Theodore (February 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm) says:

          + Michael was at STS while + Herman was mortgaging the monastery without telling anyone. The fact that + Michael said he knew nothing of this and many other irregularities, was why he had to be removed from the situation. So, they promote him to Bishop of NY/NJ. The guy can be trusted as far as you can throw him. He still meddles at STS. He should be transferred to DOS. If he would have waited for his consecration, maybe he could have been considered as the head of the Carps; where he belongs.


          ‘Ted Theodore’ needs to get his facts straight, lest he put forth any more inanity.

          Bp Michael Dahulich has never had any involvement in or responsibility for Met. Herman’s financial arrangements, nor has he ever been involved with the financial management of St Tikhon Monastery.

          Bp Michael’s decision to leave the ACROD and enter the OCA was occasioned by the feckless, shameful, traitorous behavior of Met. Nicholas Smishko and Bp Vsevolod Maydanskiy, ethnic client hierarchs of Constantinople, who flew to Istanbul to lie to the EP about the Ligonier meetings in 1993, thereby setting back the cause of north american orthodox unity for decades.

          Let us all weep for our sins, and beg the Lord’s forgiveness.

          • +Michael…how to set the record straight.

            If my memory is correct, in 1984 the Carpathos picked Metropolitan Nicholas Smisko to be their new bishop OVER +Michael. All the younger priests voted for +Michael. All the older ones voted for +Nicholas. WHY? because the older priests knew about +Michael.

            His decision to leave ACROD was so he could become a bishop…plain and simple. +Nicholas finally gave the OK for +Michael to go to the OCA.

            Finally Monk James, exactly what “traitorous behavior”?

      • Fr. George Washburn says

        The heck of it is, George, I basically believe you about Bp. Michael, namely that you preferred him to others and did not intend to damage his chances. I believe you allowed a sectarian mindset and your sadness over the resignation of the undermined predecessor to cloud your judgment about what to do and how.

        If you don’t think you undermined Bishop Michael and damaged his chances with the stuff you posted and fostered others to post here in the leadup to the vote, you are simply kidding yourself. Go back into the archives and re-read what you and/or your contributors were saying and implying about him ….and then tell me what it would have done to Met. Jonah’s chances if people had been saying that about him before his elevation.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Fr, there was no way I or anybody else for that matter could have undermined anybody’s candidacy to the Primacy. The Lesser Synod met secretly sometime in late Sept (if I remember correctly) and they decided right then and there that Tikhon was the least, worst choice. Benjamin was damaged goods. Benjamin wasn’t happy but he’d take the half-a-loaf. At that point getting rid of the upstart Jonah was the best he could hope for. Everybody else had an impediment or issue, even Nikon (who has no scandal but does have cancer). Tikhon who as a non-entity had made no enemies but accomplished nothing. The only possible issue was the fact that there was a seminary professor at STS who like to offer back-rubs to seminarians but he was hastily suspended again. (Like the mortgages on STS, this professor had almost as many suspensions.) Therefore when all was said and done, Tikhon was the least, worst candidate. End of story.

          Michael’s “issue” was the possible EEOC claim against STS, not a grave thing (like drunkenness, homosexuality, child molestation, etc) but still a worry. If it didn’t go away then skeletons could come rattling out of the STS closet (like the 40 mortgages that Herman had taken out over the years). They feared that Michael would get the most votes but they were going to go ahead and ratify Tikhon regardless.

          • Fr. George Washburn says

            Dear George:

            I get the distinct impression that you seldom cross-examine yourself and aren’t very good at it when you do. Let’s look at your latest post together from a more objective standpoint than you seem able to take.

            I will start by accepting your premise without knowing if it is true or false: the bishops decided in advance on Met Tikhon a short time before the delegate gathering.

            You also tell us that the bishops picked him on the basis of the public perception of the stains with which the candidates seemed to be besmirched in the public perception. Once again without knowing for sure it is correct, but suspecting it is, I will proceed on the assumption that this must have been a big factor in any such advance discussions.

            Unfortunately this allows the cross-examiner to ask the witness (you) this inconvenient question:

            Q: “Who was the chief purveyor of pubic perceptions about the candidates in the months just before the “election?”

            The witness seems to find this question difficult; the cross-examiner “helps” him with a follow up.

            Q: “Was it Mr. Stokoe?” followed several questions later by “Did you try to fill the vacuum he left?”

            And then a series of questions about just what you were publishing (equal-opportunity dirt , surmise, innuendo, speculation and gossip on ALL candidates) Since as to Bishop Michael there wasn’t any actual dirt ‘cept his failure to be omniscient (know what bad others including Met. Herman were secretly doing), failure to be omnipotent (stop the man who had all the power, including the power to sack him, from secretly doing bad things) failure to invent and then carry out (with nobody’s backing) a new role for himself (the New Sheriff-Inquisitor of New Canaan) and especially his abject failure to manufacture the extra 24 hours a day it would have taken someone in his position to add all these imaginary duties on top of the ones he already had, you guys falsely manufactured a “lawsuit” (and stuck to calling it that despite my calling the truth to your attention *repeatedly* at the time) out of a form letter sent by a rather low level office functionary!!!

            I am glad that NOW, long after the damage to his reputation was done, you finally concede the EEOC letter was “not a grave thing.” But that is not how you, your guest editorial writer and the comment posters you hosted, spun it at the crucial time. You guys cooperated, no doubt to some degree unwittingly, but nonetheless most foolishly, to present **an intentional and unjust** portrait of Bishop Michael as damaged goods for those trumped up reasons. I personally believe you ought to apologize to him and the entire Church for that whole sorry exercise in yellow journalism.

            Having already admitted that the Lesser Synod was paying attention to those public perceptions and found Met. Tikhon the only person who hadn’t been sufficiently besmirched to be eliminated, voila! – you have convicted yourself of having done exactly what all those pieces and comments obviously were meant to do _ influence the public perception of the candidates ….and even the Synod’s perception of what would fly or not. What you call “not grave” now was being trumpeted as turpitude **then**!

            I can’t prove that it would have come out differently if you and your crew had been as Christian about Bishop Michael back then as you would have wanted people to be if it was you, or your wife or your mother in the crosshairs, but having SO assiduously (too many syllables to count) promoted that negative perception, you ought to be the VERY last person in hindsight to give yourself a pass on this. Those bishops on the Lesser Synod knew exactly what George & Co. had been peddling, and for all we know it might have helped Bishop Michael to say to himself or his brethren “Nah, I think I’ll just do my job in the diocese and not risk standing for or taking office amid a phony brouhaha.”


            Fr. George

            • George Michalopulos says

              I beg to differ. No bishop was “besmirched.” Facts were brought forward and analyses based on these facts were made. Unless of course you ascribe to the rose-colored scenario that every bishop is impeccable and that they cannot therefore make mistakes. Using this criteria Athanasius (a deacon) wouldn’t have ripped the hide off of Arius (a bishop).

              Fr, I don’t understand the gist of your critique. If a blogger/journalist/whatever reports on something that is curious, what is he supposed to do? Hide his head in the sand pretending that all is well? The fact that M Stokoe took it upon himself to root out only the corruption that he wanted to root out (and studiously ignored that which he didn’t) did him no credit. I didn’t appreciate the way your Metropolitan took his anger at Stokoe out on SVS but I very much respect the fact that he knew a troublemaker when he saw one and moved heaven and earth to get rid of him. But that’s a story for another day.

              Plus, I didn’t “besmirch” anybody. What was reported was all factual or at the very least didn’t pass the smell test. Case in point: certain priests wanted me to point out the homosexuality of an episcopal candidate. I refused to do so unless I had evidence. What I did do was report on the published remarks made at a diocesan assembly that several priests (and their bishop if memory serves) publicly raised questions about that candidate’s supposed homosexuality. That’s a matter of the historical record. I don’t like the fact that George Washington owned slaves my feelings don’t enter into it.

              As a lawyer you should know the difference. It is one thing to say that Tom Cruise is gay, it is another thing entirely to say that there is heated talk in the gay community about Tom Cruise’s sexual identity. I don’t know (or care) whether the first is true but it is indisputable that the second contention is true.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                George, such an approach is surely subject to abuse!

                “I’m not saying that [ ] is a thief, but there is heated talk among the thieves that he is.”

                Say no more! [wink, wink]

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Of course the insinuation is there. The fact remains however that despite all the talk among the thieves, he may not still be a thief after all. In other words both propositions may be true: (a) the thieves speculate about him and (b) he is not a thief (despite their speculations).

              • Fr. George Washburn says

                Dear George:

                I am sorry to have to call you on this, George, but you are so carried away with your self-serving revisionism that somebody has to shine more light than you…or some of our readers …will prefer.

                Let’s start by refocusing. Despite the attempt to muddy the waters in the post just above, I am NOT engaged in some wholesale defense of all bishops, nor a defense of any one bishop. I AM only, but still most definitely, saying that ***George used this blog in the fall of 2012 to unfairly denigrate Bishop Michael in the leadup to the election of Met. Jonah’s successor***

                Now let’s focus on some key facts. NO EEOC lawsuit was ever brought against STOS, Bishop Michael or anyone else over the end of the Fr. Alexander Atty administration, has it? I have searched the court’s pacer index and found nothing.

                George protests that all he did back in 2012 was post facts and fair comment on them. BULL.

                Use the function at the top of your screen, folks, to do a Google search of Monomakhos re: the letters EEOC. If yours works like mine it will offer you the opportunity to click on an October 19, 2012 Sons of Job piece, which in turn has an update posted below it.

                You can immediately see the bias and unfairness of the article on the face of the lead sentence “More details are emerging about the discrimination against Dean Alexander Atty …”

                In actuality as of that time, I believe, the only question of possible discrimination was some allegations made by Fr. Alexander or someone in his behalf. Fair enough. When a wrong has been committed, or, as in many cases an arguable or potential wrong has been committed, proceedings have to start somewhere.

                And so people start with allegations. By definition allegations are made by or for the alleged victim by someone whose self-interest is to make the claim sound good. Our system gives the opposition a chance to respond, and in due course there is a trial to see if any of the claims were true. But it is SO fundamental that one sometimes overlooks it: a claim is not a fact. A claim or allegation is only a self favoring statement made by the claimant or his attorney.

                Scripture says what we all know to be true, that the person whose position is stated first sounds right until the other side has been heard. Scripture also says it is foolish and shameful for someone to judge a matter before hearing all the evidence in the matter from both sides.

                If you read the October 19 piece carefully, and I invite you to look it up and do so, you are liable to conclude, as I did, that the writer and blogger hadn’t even heard from Fr. Alexander’s side (calls not returned) let alone from the seminary or Syosset!!! So the article was being written about “the discrimination,” not the “alleged discrimination,” based only on some whispering from an anonymous source. So far as we can tell the report was written without seeing Fr. Atty’s actual claim, the EEOC file, let alone hearing hearing from claimant or defense.

                Untroubled, the writer of the piece phrased the opening sentence of the article as if there had in fact already been a trial and an adjudication of discrimination. It reads “about the discrimination” as if it were already proven fact.

                Is that what responsible news providers do in your neck of the woods? No, and not in mine either. The police can catch a killer on videotape with the smoking weapon in his hand, the victim at his feet and the killer’s signed confession in his pocket, but until there has been a guilty verdict or a plea, in the media the person will still be the “alleged perpetrator” or some cognate thereof no matter how obvious it is.

                Why would a Christian reporter who has anointed himself an arbiter of the merits of anything and everything regarding the True Faith operate by vastly lower standards than the secular press on the eve of an election for Metropolitan? Because he cares how it comes out.

                And, surprise, surprise, that claim of discrimination could be used to hit one of the candidates, a man with an otherwise clean record of selfless and skillful service to the Church. (A man who George NOW tells us he wishes had been the choice for Metropolitan!) All the months of Jonah-centricity since strongly suggest that George and his collaborating Sons of _____ let resentment about the resignation tempt into unfairly trashing Bishop Michael on this blog, which they knew delegates read.

                So George, your own archive shows that you treated the untested allegations as if they were fact on the eve of that election. It also shows that the untested allegations were unfavorable to a candidate who had no other stains on his record to disqualify him.


                Fr. George

                • Disgusted With It says

                  While Bishop Michael may have many good attributes, there are those people out there who believe he has some negative ones too. I don’t believe an article on this blog is responsible for him not getting every vote in the room.

                  That being said, like George, I also heard myself that the synod and chancellor decided on Vladyka Tikhon before Parma. Originally, they tried to figure out how to get Archbishop Benjamin into the position, but knew that there would be greater backlash. According to what I have been told, they never seriously considered Bishop Michael, which is a shame. (You can believe that or not, but that is the witness I received directly from people who would know.)

                  • Janice Chadwick says

                    Disgusted With It, who doesn’t have some negative attributes? There was (and is) only one who is sinless, and that is Christ Himself. If bishops are expected to be sinless, it is no wonder that so many dioceses don’t have bishops because we won’t ever find one that is sinless and has no negative attributes.

                    By the way, I think Fr. George is right in what he is saying here. And also, the fact that the posts that hurt +Bishop Michael were made by someone who was posting anonymously (as something tells me that his parents did not name him “Son of Job”). Maybe he was afraid to post these things under his own name because he could be held accountable for what he said in those posts. After all, +Bishop Michael could possibly have decided to sue him for libel (since they were said in writing). Personally, I think +Bishop Michael is too good a person to do that, but he certainly would have had the standing to do so if it had been posted under the person’s real name. Just remember, people can try and hide behind pseudomyms but the One who really holds us accountable knows who the person posting those things are. With both slander and libel, you must be able to PROVE what you said is true.

                    Also, George, you have to know that the delegates and probably the Holy Synod (or those who serve them) read your site. To think that what this site says has no influence is not true.

                    • Disgusted With It says


                      You’re either misinterpreting or misrepresenting my statement. My point was not that a bishop must be “sinless” but that it is unrealistic to think that everyone in the room, 100 percent of the clergy and laity, would have voted for him regardless of various people’s opinions stated on this website. I may even be so bold as to wager that many of the people who were there have never seen this website.

                      The fact is, it is extremely rare (if at all possible) in our world to find someone who does not have anyone who finds some kind of negative criticism of him or her. That’s just life. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to accept the fact that maybe the people who voted for someone else simply preferred a different candidate who they thought was a better man for the job. What a crazy notion!

                      But if you paid close attention to my second paragraph, I said that I think it is a shame that the bishops themselves reportedly never seriously considered him as a candidate for the position.

                • Fr. George Washburn says

                  Dear John:

                  First, thanks for posting under what seems like your real name. I appreciate it.

                  Second, I did acknowledge the other day that it is within George’s sole control whether anything I write about him ever gets published here. My appreciation of that is tempered by the wish that
                  George would own up to the mistakes I mention and stop making them.

                  Third, let m ask you be be specific about what seems like moralizing to you. Is it when I point out a falsehood, or something else? Just making the flat statement without saying what you think is an example makes it impossible to benefit from your comment or discuss it.


                  Fr. George

                  Fr. George

        • Fr. George, I don’t suppose you have actually checked the minutes of the Parma shindig and noticed that Michael actually led the popular vote there. Tikhon was the second-place vote getter.

          If George really “undermined” Michael and “damaged his chances”, as you claim, Fr. George, then it would appear that the only ones at Parma who were influenced by Monomakhos were the members of the Synod. That has interesting implications.

          If memory serves, Melchisedek was also on the table before the council, but he was a distant third and thus not one of the choices given to the Synod.

          • Who actually cares what this Fr Washburn has to say about OCA affairs? Does this priest have a life that he can spend his time commenting here? Like most lawyers, hearing the sound of his own voice is what gives him the most pleasure.

            Fr Washburn, when we want your opinion, we will pay for it. Billable hours are where it is at.

            • Fr. George Washburn says

              Hello friends:

              I DO recall that Bishop Michael led the popular vote. The question therefore is what if he led by a lot more?

              I am NOT willing to ask whether this blog caused MORE people to vote for him in reaction to the slander.

              And for me this is not about Bishop Michael vs. Met Tikhon either. It’s about abuse of internet power.

              And what is an “antilock?” Something that swings your door open when a burglar comes along… or prevents you from securing it in the first place? Here it’s someone with nothing to contribute.


              Fr. George

              • George Michalopulos says

                He overwhelmingly led the popular vote. Not at Roysteresque levels but he was definitely way out in front.

            • Ima Lawyer 2 says

              The most annoying trait of lawyers is how much they love the sound of their own voices, prose or other bodily emissions.

              If I were to ever be called to the priesthood, it would be to leave aside all these lawyerly traits which serve the goals of division and argumentation and seem to serve little in the way of Christian love and charity.

              At any rate, hanging out on internet forums haranguing posters with a mix of legal knowledge and theology hardly seems like an edifying pursuit to me.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                Well, Ima, it’s a world of strife and conflict. And that’s a good thing! It’s our stock-in-trade, after all…..

              • Fr. George Washburn says

                Hello friends:

                In the abstract or ideal, I quite agree with that last sentence of Ima’s, but in the (un) real world of internet bloggery and manipulation – where people like George peddle misinformation, guesswork, half-truths, rumors, etc. im my opinion TO THE DETRIMENT OF CHRIST’S CHURCH – it doesn’t seem too very much to me for ONE little old man (well, according to the scale maybe not so little any more) with experience and training to try to increase the percentage of truth and love around here by calling out falsehood, bad truth-seeking methodology, faulty reasoning and manipulation.

                Unless of course one is SO insecure about his views that even a single dissenting voice must be insulted and shouted down. George posts infinitely more than I do here, and on a vastly wider range of topics. Don’t hear the Imas questioning his love for the sound of HIS own voice or making childish, playground references to HIS bodily processes, do we? How puerile.

                Mark well that **nowhere** in his posts does Ima point out a single factual misstatement on my part or a single misuse of the reasoning process. Not even a serious attempt to add anything but ad hominem to the discussion. He just prefers George’s voluminously stated views, and can’t stand to see him severely criticized by even one lone, effective voice. Sad but true, Ima.

                relatively briefly,

                Fr. George

                • The only thing better than not pointing out a single factual misstatement on your part Fr. George would be no statements at all from you.

                  sick to death of your statements,


            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              “Antilock”!! I’m interested in what Father George Washburn contributes here, and I just despise anonymous vituperation, imprecation, ranting and just plain uninformed meanness hiding for fear of being held accountable by others, including mental and spiritual health practitioners behind a pseudonym, sometimes glorified as a “pen name.” I also sense an addled brain in the mysterious ‘better than (sic) not pointing out a single factual misstatement on your part.” What would be good about whatever that is? By the way, i think that 99.9 percent of these using made up names are men, not women, men whom my generation called “sissies.,” without sexual connotation.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                Well, Your Grace, if you hadn’t added those last three words, I was going to clobber you with my handbag!

  15. Chris Thomas says

    Gee, the OCA received $1MM recently. Yep, it’s going under!

    • No Blueprint says

      Let’s try to get a grip on reality. The $1 million gift was, very likely, from a recently deceased OCA insider (a Greek, actually) who had a decent job at a large corporation and probably made a few good investments to be able to give that gift. (That pales in comparison to the GOA who has millionaires and billionaires aplenty.) In any event, may his memory be eternal and may God bless him with heavenly riches.

      However, let’s face the facts here: the recent writings about the $1 million gift are, honestly, laughable. Every time the OCA gets handed something on a silver platter, the powers-that-be squander it. A $1 million gift to be used for missions and evangelism will not keep the OCA from going under, that’s for sure.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      $1M isn’t all that much in the scheme of things, but $1MM sounds like a big sum indeed: a million million, which I think is 10 billion. That is good news!

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      My understanding is that that money is in a trust and has to be used for missions only. (Which is a good thing.)

      • Though to read the Chancellor’s Diary, Priest Jillions said the money was “unrestricted” to be used for “missions and evangelism.” If truly “unrestricted” then it ethically can be used for anything. If truly for “missions and evangelism” then it must be used for those purposes. So, Priest Jillions, which is it? Unrestricted? Or restricted for missions and evangelism?


      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        So it is $1M then, not $1MM……oh well; not chopped liver, by any means.

        • MM = common business abbreviation for million (read: 1,000 x 1,000), maybe old fashioned?

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            Perhaps. I’ve been in the law business for 40 years, and $1K is $1,000 and $1M is $1,000,000.

            But I was pulling the poster’s leg, of course. I knew nobody had given $10 billion! Now, that would set off a fight! That’s “Tomos-rescinding” cash! 😉

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            “Clarifying!” You are quite right. For some of us old timers, “m” will always mean a thousand, just as a millimeter will always be a thousandth of a meter. But you know, the media have been hiring people whose first qualification is presentability, not smarts.. So, even the word “media” has become a singular, rather than the plural of a medium–as in the medium of radio, or the medium of TV. I cringe when I hear “a media,” and read 10m as meaning ten million. But I’m wrong to do so. The language is alive and changeable, and unless one is a dinosaur, like the members of the French Academy, it’s foolish to imagine that people will not make language their own, even if means breaking a rule. I stubbornly keep calling my refrigerator (NEVER FRIDGE) my icebox and if anyone objects, too bad for them.

  16. Chris Thomas,

    If it weren’t for these gifts the OCA would be in even more serious trouble. This money was earmarked for mission and evangelization, thus Syosset still has to survive on dwindling assessment money. I suppose you should be praying that more folks die, and fast to keep the doors open?

  17. Chris Thomas says

    Where do you people think most of the monies of all the Orthodox churches come from? From bequests. The GOA may have billions, but the corruption from + Bart down to the priests is quite shocking. Oh, by the way, very shortly the OCA will be receiving another $5MM for operations. More to come also! So, if this forum wants to continue to try and sink the OCA with it’s disinformation and innuendos, you better go back to your homophobic attacks. Oh, what’s that you say, 1 out of 8 GOA and ROCOR clerics prefer men or boys; imagine that!

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Christine! Get help!

    • No Blueprint says

      If Syosset is getting $5 million for “operations” then, by all means, open up the floodgates of those bequests and leave the parishes alone! It’s clear that the assessment can be lowered again, and certainly there should be no plans for “proportional giving.” Keep parish money in the parishes!

      • Chris Thomas,

        That would be great news. Then the OCA Head Tax can disappear and parishes and dioceses won’t have to live under the burden of Syosset moneychangers.

        • And how about giving some of those millions to the priests who have to work and hold a parish or who live on next to nothing.

          • Colette,

            What a wonderful idea, except for the fact that money that goes to Syosset never trickles down to the people who do the real work of spreading the Gospel. Syosset is a very simple place. Money in, no money out.

  18. If, Mr Thomas is correct concerning this large sum of money, than the OCA has no need of parish funding. No doubt, they have what they want, the money and the rest of the church can love it or leave it. Set for mortal lfe pensioners, but very iffy eternal life consequences Nothing new under the sun..

  19. Hey, everyone here should go to ROCOR. They’re already bankrupt! Recently they had a fire in the basement of the cathedral they stole from the OCA. They had no money for repairs. Thanks to the generosity of people in the OCA, they could perform the repairs. Go figure!

    • That was the Moscow Patriarchal cathedral that had the fire. The ROCOR cathedral is four blocks away and completely separate.

      If memory serves, the cathedral at 15 E 97th St was “stolen” by due process in a court of law, winding up in the hands of the “Living Church” that sputtered out by 1945, which left the cathedral to the Moscow Patriarchate.

      If OCA people gave them the money to repair the basement, what is there to say but glory to God.

    • Tom Jones,

      “What’s new Pussy Cat?” The Russian Orthodox scene here in the USA isn’t that complicated, but if you don’t know the difference between ROCOR and the MP, well, I don’t think anything you say here is of any consequence. Go away and stop shilling for your OCA handlers.

  20. Abbouna Michel says

    George contrasts the kings of Israel who are the annointed of God, and bishops, who are elected or chosen by lot, and opines that the episcopacy is not a place for someone to work out his salvation.

    I’m confused. Aren’t bishops ordained/consecrated by the laying on of hands AFTER they’ve been elected/chosen by lot? I seemed to recall seeing something like that at 1 or 2–or 20–episcopal ordinations. Doesn’t that confer a special role analogous to that of others annointed to office? I’ll have to go back and look at my notes from Sacramental Theology a LONG time ago, but I’m pretty sure the theology hasn’t changed.

    Isn’t each of us called to work out his/her salvation in fear and trembling in whatever the ministry and state of life to which we’ve been called? I seem to recall Paul saying something about this, too.

    I’m soooo confused!


    Looks like Metropolitan Jonah is appreciated by some people!

  22. Fr. George Washburn says

    Good morning, friends:

    What a beautifully dappled sunrise this morning: pinks and golds, blue and grey. “How manifold are Thy works!”

    Today I want to briefly return to the evidence that supports my thesis that George does not, as he contends, always deal exclusively in facts and fair comment, but instead misused this blog to trash Bishop Michael unfairly just before the last AAC vote. I invited the readership to search EEOC on the bar at the top of the home page and then click on the editorial piece dated October 19, 2012. Last time I focused on the first sentence only.

    When you look at the body of this piece you find the following absolutely ignorant howler: “Little chance they can win any suit the feds may launch.” Let’s take that apart for a moment.

    First it assumes that the EEOC exists as an agency to redress individual acts of alleged discrimination in religious venues. If it did, who would we expect to be more vigilant and disapproving about the incursion of Big Government into the “free exercise of religion” than George? (and as this blog demonstrates daily, a great deal of exercise is gotten by the religious indeed!)

    There isn’t enough tax money to fund the kind of bureaucracy THAT would require, and so far not the political will to sustain it. The “feds” have a sense of proportion and priorities, and so they fund many other things more generouly than the EEOC and focus the fire of the EEOC on addressing alleged *systemic* wrongs in companies, whole industries and institutions, etc. It was sheer ignorance and fear mongering for George to suggest that there was ANY chance whatsoever that the federal bureaucracy would concentrate its resources on a single employee of a small and relatively obscure religious institution.

    What MIGHT have eventuated was a civil suit brought by Fr. Alexander, but which those of us who know him doubt he would have ever brought. And had he done so, it would have been a horse race between competing versions of the facts and motives, plaintiff claiming it was for reasons the law forbids employers to consider, and St. Tikhon’s trying to show it was on reasonable grounds which the courts will not consider, such as disagreements about policy or Fr. Alexander’s ability to continue with the stresses of the job while fighting for his life. Knowing essentially NOTHING about the facts, but realizing how reluctant federal courts are to get in the middle of religious disputes, I believe any realistic, experienced employment lawyer would say such a suit would be more likely than not to face an uphill battle.

    That is not how George spun it, though. He crowed “At this stage it appears that even if Syosset manages to avoid a trial the fines will be hefty and the rescinding of the non-profit status of St. Tikhon’s a distinct possibility.” There was NO basis in the law or the publicly known facts for an experienced, objective federal practice employment attorney (I was involved in a few such matters over the years and have some basis for saying this) to make such a dire prediction at that juncture – before evidence was known or a suit even filed – let alone a pharmacist from the Great Plains.

    But George got a “2 fer” with this statement. Not only could he use it to besmirch Bishop Michael with this totally misconceived and imaginary course of events, but he could also scare away donors from an OCA institution that has always struggled to survive financially.

    George has a poor memory for his mistakes, and I only point them out in the hope that the readers will not believe him on questionable matters and that he will learn to measure unto others with the same measure that he would want to see employed if foul gossip was being circulated against him or his loved ones. How “moralistic” of me in a Christian blog discussion to allude to the words of Jesus Christ about the measure we should use on others.


    Fr. George

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fr George, ordinarily I let your comments pass unopposed because I often think we’re talking passed each other.

      In this instance however I must protest: I did not “trash” Bp Michael. I merely stated that he was in charge of STS while Fr Alexander Atty was bringing an EOCC suit against it. That was a fact. I believe that in the interim, the suit was squashed.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      I know nothing of the dispute, but I know a lot of smart pharmacists. I assume that there are some on the Great Plains, too.

      That’s about as weirdly ad hominem as it gets…..

      • Fr. George Washburn says

        Tim, in your 40 years or so of experience how often have you known pharmacists to be able to correctly evaluate anything more than the most basic legal principles, pleadings, and procedures in other areas of the country? Never, and neither have I. I am not saying that George is not an educated man or a fine professional ….in his field.

        I am saying that his sectarian biases combined with a lack of training and experience in the legal field and great geographic distance from the place, people and events he makes pronouncements about demonstrably result in inaccurate and misleading comments, not to say gossip, which needlessly harms the Church. He does not even know the difference between an allegation, demand letter, or administrative proceeding on the one hand and a an actual lawsuit on the other!!

  23. Mark from the DOS says

    I don’t understand the poll question. Are you talking about a spiritual court or a civil court?

  24. Older But Wiser says

    With all this round n round about whether the OCA is being sued, and the references to +Seraphim and to the former bishop of the Midwest, etc. who apparently are not, at the moment, being sued, the OCA actually was sued last summer regarding a priest named Fr. Joseph Soucek. Is they is, or is they ain’t? Are there other suits out there, already filed, but not yet hitting the public consciousness? Everybody wants to make abstract arguments, nobody, including me, has all the empirical evidence. Just sayin’

    • well I don"t know says

      OCA Priest Sued for Child Sexual Abuse

      Author: Staff

      Date Published: 02/16/2014

      Father John Soucek, along with the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and Saint Innocent Orthodox Church in Tarzana, Californa, was sued on June 25, 2013 for the sexual abuse of a minor female child (13 years of age). The lawsuit was filed by attorney Barry P. Goldberg of Woodland Hills, California.

      According to the complaint, the abuse occurred circa 2000, when Soucek was an ordained reader as well as the choir director at Saint Innocent. At the time, Soucek was also a married man with children of his own.

      In addition, the complaint alleged that Soucek sent an inappropriate email to the child, expressing a romantic interest in her, and that this email was inadvertently sent to other members of the parish. The girl complained to the parish priest and brought the email to his attention. The parish priest, Father Gregory Safchuk, did nothing in response. Subsequently, the child was abused by Soucek on at least three occasions. The complaint alleged that there were other victims at the Tarzana parish as well.

      Soucek subsequently attended Saint Tikhon’s Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. Although the priest is no longer listed among the clergy on the OCA’s website, he worked at Saint Michael Church in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, following his ordination to the priesthood.

      • Ground Zero says

        No arrest, no criminal case, no headlines…. Shaky. Hmmmm….

        • I think the most important thing to focus on is the allegation that there are other victims. IF other victims come forward then the inaction of Fr Gregory becomes very serious and he should be subject to the penalties not only of the law but what the OCA has set forth in their new sexual misconduct policies. Does this mean that he should also be suspended while this case is investigated? Fr Soucek has been suspended but I do not think Fr. Gregory has been suspended.

          I have heard already that people are saying the the young girl had all sorts of mental issues and that was why Fr Gregory did not take her claims seriously. But on the other hand, it is precisely the vulnerable and unstable young person that makes an easy abuse target. They should not be ignored.

          All very sad and troubling.

          • Fr. George Washburn says

            So you are for advocating an OCA Star Chamber that investigates not just ALLEGED perpetrators into the infinite past, but also any leader from back then (clergy, parish council chairs, Sunday School superintendents, deacons, choir directors, deans and bishops too?) who MIGHT have noticed or found out or acted upon what was ALLEGEDLY going on had they seen their ministries as being more investigative in nature?

            And you think this process, based on an untested allegation, should automatically suspend those who allegedly did not take action 15 or 20 years later while the juridical process digs up as much hearsay and scattered recollection as it can? If you think vulnerable young people are easy targets of predators, and you are correct, just think of what the vulnerability of parish clergy and other leaders would be to predatory gossips in your imagined system.

            If you had read as many hundreds of legal complaints as I have, and seen the way the professional complainer pumps as much air and sensationalism into a complaint as he possibly can, you would be extremely slow to imagine or assume there actually are other victims, let alone that others beyond the alleged wrongdoer should be suspected and named and shamed and punished ….starting now.

            The attorney will try to dig up anything he can, and we’ll hear soon enough if he does. Silence for now and focus on our real lives and our actual duties …. rather than speculation about real people who are not the alleged perp …..would be a more Christian and humane, to say nothing of Lenten, approach.


            Fr. George

            • No Blueprint says

              But Fr. George, that’s exactly what the OCA has! They have a full time investigator (NO other jurisdiction has this), they have an investigative committee, they have a consultative committee, they have a highly detailed and draconian process. They continue to review every closed case going back decades. They have followed up on unsubstantiated rumors about former Metropolitans, even where there was no complaint! What do you call that? And they’ve developed a process where the defendant has very few rights, where the defendant cannot face his accuser, where complaints do not have to be put in writing and where the defendant is not even given the opportunity to read the charges against him, where the bishop is not free to handle doubtful case as he sees fit, where he’s bound to follow the “recommendation” of the investigative committee, or else he must detail in writing why he doesn’t (and we know no bishop would ever do that). The Star Chamber would be justice compared to this!

              • Ima Lawyer 2 says

                This is a fine description of the OCA’s process. That Star Chamber wishes it could have conceived of so many processes that defy the basic concepts of due process. Yes, all it takes is an untested allegation to automatically suspend someone. The bishop is deprived of disciplinary oversight of his diocese and there is no timetable or procedure to bring the “investigation” to a close beyond whatever the powers that be decide to make it for each individual case.

                Yes Father George, what you find so incomprehensible is the OCA investigative process to a T.

            • Fr George,

              You are sounding rather desperate. Best you stick to your own Antiochian knitting and stop trying to be another apologist for the OCA

              “Silence for now”? When has that ever stopped you from shooting off your mouth? And you play the be quiet because Lent is coming card? Why don’t you follow that rule outside of Lent? Isn’t that what Lent is suppose to be about?

              I would suggest you be quiet now because Lent approaches.

              Anyone like to bet that Fr George won’t be able to follow his own advice?

              • Fr. George Washburn says

                Good morning!

                I hate to give any credence to what IP writes, but if there are bettors willing to take the other side of that wager from him in the next 9 days, I’d like a piece of the action. We could spend our winnings on a nice Holy Week BBQ party, say St. George day, but only if he came without his mask.

                If he re-reads the last paragraph of my post, he will hopefully see I am not advocating utter silence, but only Lenten silence from speculation on real people with realer names than “IP,” real lives and real feelings …when they are not accused of actually harming someone, but only to have **perhaps** failed to detect and investigate what the real (alleged) perp did many years ago … and presumably did his best to hide!

                As for No Blueprint, let me say I have steadfastly avoided even reading, let alone commenting on those new OCA policies and procedures. Some of the reluctance has been that they are OCA matters and therefore not any direct concern of mine, and some the fear that the new practices may do some of what you have described. Having participated in a number of clergy discipline matters and trials in the last 20 years, I have some ideas that might someday be of use to authorities, accusers and/or accused, but not on the internet.


                Fr. G

          • But this is what the OCA wanted since they focused so much on it in the past three years. So now they’ve got it. Enjoy!

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        What does Chris Mitescu have to say about this? Wasn’t he a very active member of St. Innocent Church during the incumbency of Fr. Gregory Safchuk?

  25. George,

    Was it squashed or quashed?

  26. Fr. George Washburn says

    Good morning again:

    A morning drizzle today but last night’s spectacular pink, gold and peach sunset will last me for days.

    The question under discussion is a clear and simple one: a) does George as he claims always use this blog to present only facts and fair comment thereon, and b) was the treatment of Bishop Michael in the leadup to Parma an example of the very opposite? Let’s look at some different sections of the archives and see. This time I ask you to use the search function to look for Sons of Job and to click on the guest editorial of October 29 which George hosted.

    The editorial trumpets a bold thesis, namely that the Canons of the Church prohibited ALL bishops, not just Bishop Michael, from voting at Parma because there was dirt on them. I am NOT discussing anything about any of the other bishops here, but only Bishop Michael.

    In order to get that attention-grabbing headline the authors and the publisher had to promulgate dirt on ALL.
    As to Bishop Michael I believe the evidence shows they concocted it.

    They wanted the headline saying NO bishop should vote, and wanted it badly enough that they either a) invented the lie that he had been sued for wrongdoing in federal court OR b) they believed somebody else’s misinformation about it without elementary fact-checking, perhaps because they were ignorant of legal terminology and processes.

    The net result however was absolutely false. There was not a federal lawsuit at that time about Dean Atty. There never has been one since. But on Oct 29, 2012 under the heading of Allegations that was the one thing the smear team could throw up there against him, so throw it they did. or they couldn’t have the headline.

    Nobody had signed his/her name to a formal accusation to the Church, the seminary, or the federal court. At worst, so far as is publicly known, there had been an exchange of letters with EEOC office staff which showed strong minded people disagreed on the best way to handle the seminary’s future at a time when Dean Atty was battling a very serious case of cancer.. Anybody with a knowledge of playgrounds or the legal system knows that all kinds of hufffing and puffing goes on. Names may be called, threats made, but until somebody actually pays the filing fee and files …. or throws the first punch …. there isn’t an actual “suit” or a “fight.”

    What if the SoJobs had told the truth in their piece? What if they had said “Bishop Michael shouldn’t be able to do his job and vote because he and the seriously ill Dean Atty disagree about seminary policy and operations and Fr. Alexander’s lawyer someday might want to make something of it court?” We would have waited to see what might happen, but in the meanwhile laughed them off the continent, I hope, for suggesting he should be stopped from serving his people based on claims that had not been formally made to the Church or the state..

    The SoJobs “got” what they were doing. You can find the sentence “A Church can’t run on rumors.” rather early in the editorial. But rumors and flat out misstatements of fact and misunderstandings of legal process and terminology along with it is what they were using so that they could have that headline “Canons Prohibit All.”

    Is there a more serious allegation against a bishop than violating the Canons? I don’t think so, because the canons prohibit every kind of possible wrong from big to little, and the mere allegation of canon breaking carries with it the suggestion of something really big. But we know now that nobody has ever made a formal accusation to the Church or the secular authorities of anything little or big against Bp. Michael re: Dean Atty..

    The SoJobs also got something else, and we know they did because they said so: “Undermine confidence in the leadership and you undermine confidence in the Church.” And so they undermined confidence in Bishop Michael just before the election by treating rumors as fact and unfiled allegations as if they were actually the proverbial “federal case.” (i.e. something of more substance and gravity than a state case) They wanted and needed a federal case to make it sound big enough for their headline, but there wasn’t even a state one!

    We must not overlook the ludicrous standard that the SoJobs were advocating either: namely that a mere, unsworn rumor or difference of opinion (that’s all it ever was) should be enough to stop the bishop from doing his job until he can prove his innocence (in federal court? Church court? – they don’t say) But they did say “Until the matter is cleared up and it has been determined that no illegal or unethical decisions were made, Bishop Michael should not vote for the new Metropolitan.” Guilty ‘tl proven innocent is the same standard that George and the Naysayers (sounds like a 60s rock band, doesn’t it) are so quick to suggest the new misconduct policies now are unfairly subjecting accused priests to, isn’t it? (I disagree with such a standard in both instances)

    Was George merely publishing facts about Bishop Michael or the whole election? No. The SoJob agenda appears early in the Oct 29 piece when it refers to that old letter of accusation against Met. Jonah. It does not take a genius to see (but raising four kids and having four grandchildren gives me plenty of examples) that this is a tit for tat, and they are going to give Bishop Michael a taste of turnabout (spun and tendentious allegations) is fair play as payback for the Met. Jonah letter.

    But make no mistake: George and the Naysayers knew exactly what they were aiming at, and George was quick to trumpet it on November 11, 2012 in a piece he entitled “And the White Hat Goes To…the Bishop of Pittsburgh.” In it appears the following sentence “At least that’s what the most recent word on the street is, now that Bishops Michael and Tikhon lost the inside track due to the legal troubles faced by St. Tikhon’s Seminary.” More rumor-mongering buttressed by making the readership (delegates?) think that the smear campaign had worked and it was a lost cause **based on the STOTS spin campaign to advocate or vote for either of the two “damaged goods” bishops.

    No, George is still clinging (in his most recent response to me) to the misuse of the term which is so foundational to the whole smear effort: the word “suit.” He still cannot bring himself to admit to us that he was wrong to use it so often, and to help others misuse it in order to create misimpressions and achieve that undermining of Bishop Michael’s credibility they were striving for at a crucial time.

    And please remember this is not about saying Bishop Michael is always right or should have been elected, Met. Tikhon should not have been, or that no claims about other bishops were or are valid. I am ONLY focusing on this one issue because it shows so clearly the misuse of internet power that George and this blog sometimes foster.

    firmly again,

    Fr. George

    • George Michalopulos says

      A few things Fr. The reason Parma was a conventicle and not a legal council was that all the English-speaking bishops participated in at least two secret conclaves in order to eject the legitimate Primate. To my knowledge, Bp Michael was the only one who was against the removal of Jonah. I believe I said that. The facts that I described of all the bishops having some problem was a pragmatic one: how could bishops who have impediments and/or are involved in some type of scandal vote for a new Metropolitan from among them?

      As for Tikhon Mollard being the pre-determined choice, I had that from a source close to Syosset. The boomlet for Melchisedek was a hiccup that was being floated out their at the last minute, probably to give the impression that a real election was going to take place. I thought about not running with it but I went ahead and took the bait.

      I still think that all things being equal, Michael should have been elected.

      • Archdeacon Kirill Sokolov says


        I urge you to go back to Saturday night’s hymnology and consider whether the tone of this message is appropriate. “Conventicle?” “Tikhon Mollard”? “Eject” ? “Conclave?” This is just not sober speech. You can agree or disagree with our hierarchs, in my opinion, but there is no reason to abandon good form. In my opinion, it’s just too risky to use words like conventicle when the people gather and sing things like “Come let us worship God..” or “The grace of the Holy Spirit..” I wouldn’t use a word like that about any sincere gathering of Christians, even those that are explicitly not Orthodox.

        • Facts Schmacts says

          Father Deacon Kirill, thank you for the kindly tone of your comment. I would like to invite you to reflect upon the reading from Isaiah on Pure Monday.

          “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of he-goats.

          “When you come to appear before me, who requires of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and the calling of assemblies — I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.” Isaiah 1:11-15

          This passage suggests that even the prayers you mentioned, “Come let us worship God,” and “The grace of the Holy Spirit,” would not diminish an affront to God, but even make it worse. This is the same reason we cannot worthily partake of Holy Communion without repentance for our sins.

          Fortunately, the following verses offer instructions on what to do:

          Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.

          “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 1:16-20

      • M. Stankovich says

        Mr. Michalopulos,

        You are like a sideshow to a Fellini circus. “Conventicle and not a legal council.” Where in heaven’s name do you come up with such things?

        You have railed against Fr. Hopko for suggesting the Holy Spirit was not of the Council that elected Met. Jonah, and you replicate the error unilaterally. The “legality” of a Council is determined how, Mr. Michalopulos? By the sanctity of its participants? “Illegal” because the Bishops were, in fact, “sinners?” “If You, O Lord, would remember iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? (Ps. 129:3) “For there is no who lives and does not sin, for only You are without sin. And Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your Word is the Truth” (from the Service of the Burial of a Layman) Secondly, our Father Andrew of Crete, among many, tells us repeatedly in his penitential canon of the foolishness of those who would presume to limit the Spirit, “for He goes wherever He wishes.”

        And what was your expectation? That men have “blank minds” for weeks, even months, never contemplating who would best serve the church, who was the best candidate among their brothers, who it was they felt most worthy and qualified? According to you such contemplations are “scandal” and precluded a “real” election. That the real “election” is left to the laity and “by rights,” Bishop Michael – like Bishop Dmitri in years past – won the election, only to be undermined by the dastardly, subversive Synod? I said this to you regarding your “interpretation” of “rights” to Archbishop Nataniel’s reasoning, and I will repeat myself: all things being equal, your lack of knowledge of the ecclesiology and Tradition of the Orthodox Church is as shameful as it is embarrassing. You could have saved yourself some embarrassment simply by reading the Service of the Election of a Bishop – which proceeds the choosing of a candidate, neither of which involve a popular, binding vote – which is widely available.

        Whatever you want to say about Mark Stokoe, he does posses a fully accredited M.Div. from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, by the authority of the University of the State of New York, and would certainly not be pulling our theology from his derrière. You, again, are moving a step further to the fringe.

  27. Fr. George Washburn says

    Well thanks to you George things weren’t equal, were they?

  28. William Honors says

    You’re still at it with this + Jonah thing. IT’S OVER! A Primate isn’t replaced willy-nilly for no reason. All the synod of the OCA agreed + Jonah had to be replaced; done. + Michael wasn’t a better choice. You are unaware of his character and dogmatic mindset. He would have been another disaster. Compound this with his ignorance (so he says) of + Herman’s misappropriation of monies at STS and the choice was simple. + Tikhon was and is the best choice and he is doing very well. Not a dynamic fund raiser, but a very humble and respected, wise bishop. Definitely the right choice. Now, give the + Jonah thing a rest. Move on.

    • George Michalopulos says

      There may have been reasons to remove Jonah. However the ones that were given were trumped up, hastily put together and published and just as hastily taken down. Having said that, you do make a case against Bp Michael which if true, would disqualify him as well. Unfortunately for you, this same case can be made against Bp Tikhon Mollard. Wasn’t he at STOTS as well during this time? Wasn’t he aware of that Met Herman was mortgaging STOS over and over again? And why did he let that priest/professor ply his massage skills over and over again on seminarians?

    • William Honors (February 20, 2014 at 7:37 am) says:

      You’re still at it with this + Jonah thing. IT’S OVER! A Primate isn’t replaced willy-nilly for no reason. All the synod of the OCA agreed + Jonah had to be replaced; done. + Michael wasn’t a better choice. You are unaware of his character and dogmatic mindset. He would have been another disaster. Compound this with his ignorance (so he says) of + Herman’s misappropriation of monies at STS and the choice was simple. + Tikhon was and is the best choice and he is doing very well. Not a dynamic fund raiser, but a very humble and respected, wise bishop. Definitely the right choice. Now, give the + Jonah thing a rest. Move on.


      While I disagree with the assertions and even the tone of this post, there’s one glaring error which needs correction, and that is our correspondent’s statement: ‘All the synod of the OCA agreed + Jonah had to be replaced; done.’

      The bishops were FAR from unanimous in this move, although it’s a matter of record that Fr John Jillions told Met. Jonah that they were. He was either deliberately misinformed by the manipulative bishop who sent him to MetJ, or else FrJJ himself lied to MetJ.

      Either way, it was just another cowardly deception on the part of the conspirators behind the coup which they’d been planning for over a year.

      We don’t dare ‘move on’ here. MetJ’s mistreatment is only one of the terrible sins committed by our OCA’s fratricidal leadership these last eight years or so, all of which must be acknowledged and repented before our church can even begin to heal.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Monk James,

        Let me propose an analogy. I have a friend who was the Director of Employee Assistance for a major airline in the United States. Say the CEO of this major airline stands before the annual stockholder’s meeting and openly informs them that the previous four years of his tenure have been a “disaster”; that while he thought his working relationship with his other directors was “good,” he has found out this is not the case, and in fact, they have lost their confidence in him. He concludes that he is willing to do whatever is necessary to remedy this situation, and as a token of his sincerity, he is voluntarily entering a professional program of evaluation and will follow their recommendations to facilitate the necessary change out of his love for the company. My friend would say this is a bold, courageous initiative rarely seen, but more importantly, rarely spoken.

        And so, this CEO participates in the evaluation, the results of which are shared with him and the other directors, along with a specific plan of action for facilitating the necessary changes. As is common to their program – and clearly described in their program literature – such plans may last up to six months on an out-patient basis. The directors await the CEO’s decision and hear nothing. He does not initiate contact with the treatment facility on his own, he neither acknowledges nor addresses the issues of his statement to the shareholders, his promise to do “whatever was necessary to facilitate change,” or the recommendations of the treatment facility. For all intents and purposes, it never happened. When my friend attempts to speak with him, he is rebuffed. My friend, then, would initiate a conference of the directors.

        Let’s return to “real time.” Mr. Michalopulos would refer to this “meeting” as “illegal,” “secret conclaves,” “uncanonical gatherings without the Primate,” call it what you will. Put it in the context of my analogy. What would reasonable people do in such a situation? Wait indefinitely? Continue to be guided by the most dysfunctional man in the group? And let me again point out: it is also a matter of record that Met. Jonah was offered a choice of seeking treatment recommended to him based on the evaluation conducted and remaining Metropolitan, or resign. He chose to resign. Why is this detail always omitted from the list of atrocities? Because it doesn’t fit the Star Trek Convention Rules of engagement.

        As we begin the Great Lent, I sincerely direct you to St. John Climacus’ Divine Ladder and the Step The Remembrance of Ills. Living by dwelling on these unprovable grasps at conjecture and innuendo is a lack of trust that God is a Just Judge, a Jealous God, and unwilling to tolerate injustice to the righteous. “We don’t dare ‘move on’ here (sic)?” “He who brings me justice draws near; who will stand against me?” (Isa. 50:8) You seek what belongs to the Lord, not you. Fear that you are left behind.

        • Michael, you have been informed before that Metropolitan Jonah was told to say those words. Your friend was the one who wrote it for him. Met Jonah did it to try to restore the peace, not because he actually believed he was a “disaster”.

          It’s the same reason Met. Jonah let them take him to St Luke’s Institute, not because he actually thought he was nuts, he was just trying to appease your friend. Met. Jonah didn’t realize that the only way to satisfy your friend would be to give him the white hat, either in fact or by proxy.

          • M. Stankovich says

            The friend was TJ Elliott and the airline was American – I did say “major,” didn’t I – so you may drop the implication that I was attempting to be sinister. This is the fourth time I have attempted to employ an “analogy” without success. Piaget would be sorely disappointed.

            After three years, I am unwilling to accept anything as fact that Met. Jonah will not state himself. I have heard arguments, demonstrations, timelines, “proofs,” decrees, testimonies, witnesses, protests, sons, wives, aunts, parties, hangers-on, affiliates, sisters, mothers, canonists, clergy, the outraged, the distraught, the logical, the lunatic, and even from those whom I deem as credible as anyone else but whom Mr. Michalopulos has censored – I believe – because they are more credible (and therefore damaging) than most. You say Met. Jonah was “trying to restore peace and appease?” You fool yourself and would attempt to fool others.

            St. Chrysostom writes:

            Why should any one speak of the injuries that result from grief, the insults, the abuse, the censure from superiors, from inferiors, from the wise, and from fools; for the class who are wanting in right judgment are particularly fond of censuring, and will never readily allow any excuse. But the truly excellent Bishop ought neither to think lightly of these, but to clear himself with all men of the charges which they bring against him, with great forbearance and meekness, pardoning their unreasonable fault-finding, rather than being indignant and angry about it.

            Emphasis mine. He could have spoken out and corrected all the “mistatements,” inaccuracies, false accusations, false witness against him, but instead, he was, and remains silent. And I will continue to refer to the marvellous confrontation between Sir Thomas More and Lord Cromwell in A Man for All Seasons:

            Sir Thomas More: The maxim is “Qui tacet consentire“: the maxim of the law is “Silence gives consent”. If therefore you wish to construe what my silence betokened, you must construe that I consented, not that I denied.

            Cromwell: Is that in fact what the world construes from it? Do you pretend that is what you wish the world to construe from it?

            Sir Thomas More: The world must construe according to its wits; this court must construe according to the law.

            “Silence is consent” and he makes no answer because to do so would be deceit. He resigned. Three wasted years he has allowed this fighting to go on, and for what? To what end? St. Paul and the Fathers obliged him to end this matter for the good of the Church, and he chose to protect himself. You are the unwavering shill for this lame story, “Helga.”

            • Louise Paffhausen says

              Met Jonah did respond to the synods accusations. The Synod would not accept or print them.
              madam’s mother.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Anonymous by Necessity,

              I am not “Mike” to you or anyone on this earth, and I am long past the “need” to answer to you or anyone else about anything. Do you have any sense at all that I do anything covertly? Seriously?

              Secondly, for as many times as I have dutifully & faithfully brought to the attention of this forum the writings and teachings of the fathers and teachers of our generation, beholden to the Patristic Tradition of “joining with those Fathers before us…” do you sense the least bit of regret or embarrassment in me, that I and those with me claim that we are their legacy? Seriously?

              The day soon comes when those who were obedient and listened to the voices of this first generation of American Orthodox fathers will pass, and you will be left with memoirs. And of course endless pages of website-generated λογομαχία, trivial and empty disputes of words. And thank you for your continuous contributions.

              • Blah, blah, blah. Talk about shoveling the horse excrement. Seriously.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Oh, Hercules, buddy, please re-post your pages of compiled inspiring and edifying posts suitable for Great Lent. I keep meaning to ask you and I’m sure there are plenty of newcomers who would enjoy them every bit as much as I have enjoyed it over the years!

          • Dan Fall says

            Okay Helga, do you have enough vision to see and appreciate the concept of taking out the apparatik? It seems the goal here. As a person of great wisdom Helga, why don’t you tell George to give it a rest.

            There were some real problems. The Garklavs thing stunk of conflict of interest. Take a subordinate and assign him the task of investigating his superior and then rebuke, no, fire him when the investigation isn’t reported favorably for the superior. Here is your forum, what am I missing? And if I’m wrong, why is this the appearance? The Garklavs thing was a real mess for you.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              Dan, is an “apparatik” something like an apparatchik or something to do with the Opera?

            • Disgusted With It says

              Isn’t it dumb to have a subordinate investigate his superior in the fist place? Just sayin.

    • Martin Paluch says

      Mr. William Honors,

      ” of + Herman’s misappropriation of monies at STS and the choice was simple.”

      You have accused a former Metropolitan of a serious matter; and now I call on you to “provide the evidence” to your claim.

      Martin Paluch

      • Dan Fall says

        Take it like a man Martin.

        • Martin Paluch says

          Dan Fall,

          I asked not of you but of William Honors to provide some evidence to his claim; that same question that any God abiding christian should ask, and you respond with a snarling comment that I take justifies the thoughts in your heart. Do you really think that our Lord respected your comment?

          With love in Christ,
          Martin Paluch

          • Dan Fall says

            I used the words reportedly to have been said by Swaiko to Wheeler.

            Noone knows how Kondratick managed Swaiko into the schemes; we are forced to make assumptions.

            Maybe you can report the facts as to the leverage Kondratick had instead of rebuking folks forced to guess on the removal of the hat.

            To this day, I don’t know if the secret lives of men with white hats has been the root cause of the problems or if they were all just fools. Care to share? I’d like to know.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              Downfall or Dan Fall, why don’t you tell us who you think are the good guys? You reported on what you heard that someone else heard Metropolitan Herman say to Protodeacon Wheeler. Then you said that when one knows nothing one is forced assume things….Not only is one forced to assume things, you testify, one also is “forced to guess on the removal of the hat.” It seems to me you unfortunately have no will or brain of your own but are just FORCED to assume and guess….Martin Paluch, however, shows himself to be guilty ONLY of friendship and loyalty to his long-time mentor.
              When you gain any real knowledge, rather than assumptions and guesses, please, be sure and let us all know!

            • Martin Paluch says


              Now this becomes a very serious matter because it should touch the heart of every human creature of God!

              We learned in the writings of St. Paul to Timothy not to receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses and then from the testimony in Deuteronomy, to thoroughly investigate the witnesses. You mentioned Fr. Deacon Eric Wheeler, of whom I spoke to when he phoned me on 3/25/10. I said to him; there are only five individuals who really know the full account and those are: Archbishop Job, Fr. Zaccheus, Fr. Kondratick, Metropolitan Theodosius and you, Fr. Eric, and each one of those may not have known what was fully in the mind or heart of the other.

              So many intellectuals, the “wise and prudent” within and outside of the Orthodox Church have made false accusations in writing, so called “truth documents” that provided us with no real evidence to support their claim and those documents were redacted and put on the internet. This has severely divided Christians within the OCA. Had they been mindful of the words written on and spoken by Metropolitan Herman during that crucial time we would not have such massive divisions and turmoil within the Church.

              Go back and see who were the players that caused this division and you will see it was not borne of the Holy Spirit. In the “Pentecostal Hymns”, we proclaim that the Holy Spirit enlightens, comforts and unites. St. Paul tells the Corinthians what it means to be Spiritual and says, “Where there are envy, strife and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”

              Metropolitan Herman, others, and I have been persecuted, we were exiled for a time, our characters were assassinated and yet we are still required to prove that we are innocent. Let me assure you that we are filled with joy to have suffered for Christ and his Church in this little way. Our hope is the forgiveness from the Father for our failings, our refuge is in the Son and our prayer is for the love and guidance of the Holy Spirit, which teaches us how to forgive our brothers and sisters and even those who hate us.

              I can assure you that I have asked over and over only one question from those who do not know us, of those who have never worked side by side with us, and that is: What have we done wrong? Please show us the evidence so we can repent and make the proper corrections.

              Is it so hard to believe that in this day and age there are some who have overcome desires and passions and live only for the Lord? I do not know what is in your heart or your mind but I can tell you that in spite of my wants and desires, this place at St. Tikhon’s, its people from the very beginning have for ever changed my life and increased my love for my God and my Lord.

              Today legalism is strangling our OCA, we are burdened with wanting an American Orthodox Church immediately, now, and so many think they are theologians because of their academics and professional fields of advanced studies and we reward them with an applause and award for their eloquence.

              In answer to your question, may I ask you a question? Which is better, to be a fool for Christ or to speculate that one is/was perhaps a fool? (See Matthew 5:22) contrast that to “I have become …(2 Corinthians 12:11).

              Who is it that has forced you to make an assumption? Did not God reprimand a few of the Apostles for making assumptions about him? Did not the Scribes and Pharisees assume that Christ was not God? I leave you with this instruction from the writings of St. Gregory of Nyssa: “Where there is no proof, refrain from condemning and where there is doubt, let charity prevail.”

              Yours in Christ,
              Martin Paluch

              • Disgusted With It says

                Mr Paluch,

                Remember, many of these are the same people who sunk so low as to accuse a metropolitan of knowingly aiding a rapist – among other things – out of resentment, lack of Christian morals and lust of power. All we can do is pray for their sickness.

  29. If, as alleged, the Holy Spirit was not present/operative at the council that elected Jonah, doesn’t that say as much – or more – about the electors than about their choice?

    • William Honors says


      Who was so “holy” as to know that the Holy Spirit was not present? That is a ridiculous comment. As for M. James (a monk can only be a monk if attached to a monastery), you apparently wish to perpetuate this “terrible mistreatment” accusation of + Jonah. I’m sure you must feel the same about RSK. The fact is clear, the Synod of the OCA decided. No conspiracy; no behind doors secrets, but the Synod decided that + Jonah could no longer lead the OCA; done.

      • William Honors, you ask “who was so ‘holy’ as to know that the Holy Spirit was not present” at the council that elected Metropolitan Jonah, as Matthew said? It’s funny you should ask, because it was none other than Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko who said that.

        I agree that it’s a ridiculous comment. It is almost as ridiculous as your claim that Metropolitan Jonah hasn’t been mistreated.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        William Honors! Here’s a ridiculous and untrue statement: “a monk can only be a monk if attached to a monastery.” Of course, you are right to feel that the Holy Spirit is everywhere present. But even the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters, Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko’s problematic and even false and overweening declaration that the Holy Spirit was not present at the election of Metropolitan Jonah was more foolish and uninformed than sinful. I mean, as a vaunted expert in dogmatic theology, one would think he MUST know (and confess) that the Spirit is everywhere present and never absent. What he should have said, if he would have calmed down and been motivated by reason, was, “I don’t think that “seemed good to the Holy Spirit.” But you know, it was good enough for the writer of the Rainbow Books.
        It was the Holy Synod of the OCA that elected Bishop Jonah to be First Hierarch (RC-talk: Primate), and it was the Holy Synod that accepted his resignation and then proceeded to slander him in the Church and in the media (the world), in a failed attempt to excuse their own mistake. They forgot that it was the Holy Spirit that elevated him to the episcopate in their haste to malign him and his words and deeds. They and the Protopresbyter were of one sort. The sort of Bishops that malign other Bishops and the sort of Priest that maligns other Priests.

    • Matthew, the Holy Spirit was most definitely at the Parma Council. What was quite evident was the Bishops ignoring the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Philippa! What exactly was ‘the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and how did you learn of it?

        • Your grace, Bp. Tikhon- Master bless!

          Is this a rhetorical question? You as a bishop would be better to answer the question than I. I can only report what I saw with my eyes and experienced within my heart at the Parma Council.

          Forgive me, I mean no disrespect, Your Grace.

          Your Grace and all here: May I ask for your prayers as I leave in the wee hours of Saturday morning to spend the first week of Lent on the mission field in the Dominican Republic. We will be ministering to those who suffered from leprosy and now live in a medical care facility, as well as spending time teaching children and working on construction of a building.

          A blessed Lent to all here.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            Wonderful work, Philippa. God be with you.
            Coming back to what we were discussing, I just suspected that you thought that a popular vote or mass feelings was “guidance by the Holy Spirit,” And if you feel that the feelings in your heart (as opposed to the feelings in the hearts of those who did not vote for Metropolitan Tikhon) are proof of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, who am I to complain. Now you’ve explained that what you saw with your own eyes and experienced in your heart at the Parma Council was guidance by the Holy Spirit.

  30. To my knowledge, Bp Michael was the only one who was against the removal of Jonah.

    Bishop Michael signed the smear letter against Jonah and published it on the Diocese on NY/NJ web page as a PDF file in the summer of 2012. It has since been removed from the web page. To my knowledge, Bishop Michael has not retracted the allegations made in the letter bearing his signature.

  31. Other Matthew says

    Same people doing the same song and dance…Vladyka +JONAH will receive justice in this life or the next..and so will all who perpetuate the lies. God is not mocked and you’re only heaping more coals on your own heads.

  32. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Conservatives! Do you think that the conservative idol, Ted Nugent would be a good spiritual guide for the people of Saint Innocent Church, Tarzana? Here are some lyrics from his conservative hit tune: “JAILBAIT.”

    “Jailbait you look so good to me
    Jailbait wonґt you set me free
    Jailbait you look fine fine fine
    I know Iґve got to have you in a matter of time

    Well I donґt care if youґre just thirteen
    You look too good to be true
    I just know that youґre probably clean
    Thereґs one lil’ thing I got do to you

    Jailbait you look so good to me
    Jailbait wonґt you set me free
    Jailbait you look fine fine fine
    I know Iґve got to have you in a matter of time

    • Heracleides says

      Trust an OCA bishop to know the lyrics to such a song.

    • Vladyka,

      What was the point you were trying to make, that conservatives are blindly endorsing idiots like Ted Nugent?
      It seems that your logic is: if you are conservative, you support Ted Nugent, who sees himself as a conservative. And if you are conservative you must approve of the lyrics of one conservative. Did I get it right?

      Okay, I’ll try to apply your logic. Bishops are the overseers of their respective diocese, churches and clergy are part of their diocese, Bishops approve of the actions of the clergy in their diocese So if a clergyman such as John Soucek commits an alleged heinous act of child molestation in a church dedicated to St. Innocent in a certain diocese of the West, the bishop at the time the events took place approved of the actions.

      Thanks for connecting the dots for us. There is another song you might consider learning the lyrics to, it’s called “Open to me the doors of repentance.” It’s got a good beat but it’s not much to dance to.

  33. Thomas Barker says

    His Grace would be well-advised to seek a different oldies station.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Oh, Thomas, is that, then, an ‘Oldie?” I first read the lyrics on Facebook. Interesting that some people will say anything to divert attention from the conduct of a conservative pervert.

      • Thomas Barker says

        Your Grace, I ran a Google search for “Ted Nugent” with the song title, and read that Jailbait was released in 1981. Since that was over 30 years ago, I assume it would be considered an oldie. Peaking at number 56, it would probably not be considered a “golden” oldie. Among the titles listed for the same album are “My Love Is Like a Tire Iron” and “I Am a Predator.”