Pathetic Power Plays

His Grace Melchisedek Pleska, OCA Bishop of Pittsburgh is at it again. In a reprint on the OCA website of a interview published in a small Russian-American newspaper*, +Melchizedek was asked about the recent problems in the OCA and responded with a bureaucratic answer: keep all control of the national Church in the Chancery; squelch all creativity that threatens the status-quo inherited from +Theodosios and +Herman. (I wonder, was this interview cleared by the Lesser Synod?)

Leaving aside the problem of “conciliarity,” His Grace seems to a man of little vision.

The interview has that same dry, perfunctory and relentlessly consistent tone that you hear from Stokoe. It’s the same tone you hear from some “customer service agent” or other representative of faceless policy makers. They are the people who read you the rules of compliance and then charge you the fee when you are a day late with your payment. No mercy, no humanity, no imagination — just slavish obedience to policy.

“Don’t you see?” they ask pointing to the rules while ignoring that they change them to their favor whenever the circumstances warrant. It’s another case of “Memo from Syosset: The Beatings will Continue until Morale Improves.”

Just take a look at Stoke’s recent missive on OCANews. Our Fearless-Agent-of-Accountability-and-Transparency reports that Bp. Mark Maymon asked to be “relieved of his duties as Administrator of the Diocese of the South.” Ah, yes. Such a moderate, perfunctory, eminently reasonable report! Such order! Such progress! Don’t you see? And isn’t it interesting that for once Stokoe played the story straight, without infusing his usual editorial spin — ‘+Jonah Tonsures Nun: How DARE He!’.

As usual the truth is something far different. Stokoe collaborated with +Mark to steal Fr. Joseph Fester’s email. +Maymon got caught and was effectively fired as Bishop of the South before he even got the job. Fr. Fester lost his job because of their malfeasance. Meanwhile, Stokoe continues on churning out his Pravdaesque spin.

So what occasioned this hastily-cobbled interview? Why now? The answer lies in a lack of imagination and the threat of +Jonah preaching the Gospel.

Yesterday, His Beatitude Met. Jonah gave a speech at the Acton Institute that was received with an extended standing ovation by over six hundred attendees. Early reports are that it was one the the best presentations Acton participants have ever heard — a grand-slam home run as one organizer put it. Monomakhos will post the video as soon as it is available.

Success of this kind doesn’t sit well with the compliance officers of Syosset or with their their public mouthpieces. It takes too much imagination to comprehend it, too much courage to throw off the constraints of the status-quo. Don’t you see?! It’s better to maintain the mediocrity of the +Theodosios and +Herman years! It’s order! It’s progress! We know where we are going!

So what to do about +Jonah? Let’s make him comply with our demands! How dare he go into the highways and byways! He’s a rogue! He’s defiant! Make him get our permission to preach! Stokoe, go after him!

+Melchizedek’s interview is a game of one-upsmanship, a power play. It’s rather sad as I’ve actually met him and think he has potential. Regardless, these are the words of a man who lacks the vision of a man like +Jonah. If he continues down this path, he will will never rise to demands of the Gospel in the way that +Jonah has and will continue to do.

This is the story of the OCA of the last two decades, perhaps longer. It’s the same story being played out in the GOA. “Where there is no vision the people perish” says the scripture (Proverbs 29:18) and these men can offer no vision because they have no imagination.

We’ve seen this play out too many times in American Orthodoxy. The last true visionary was +Iakovos. After he organized Ligonier, his overlords removed him from office. Now it’s +Jonah’s turn and the minions of Syosset are reacting just as the Phanariots did. It worked in the GOA because Istanbul rules it. Whether a play like this can succeed in an autocephalous Church only time will tell.

This does not mean that the coup attempt against +Jonah orchestrated by Stokoe and his cohorts can’t and won’t succeed. My best guess is that since they can’t fire him (like the Phanar did to +Iakovos) and will engage a war of attrition — like a Chinese water-torture. If they do in fact succeed, the plodding, dull, and compliant time-servers will cast the OCA back into the slough of mediocrity that it was mired in for decades. We will end up becoming like the Episcopalians (with an Eastern Rite flavor) that they secretly admire.

I, for one, won’t tolerate it.

[*Editor’s Note: Monomakhos was just informed by reliable sources that the newspaper is not a newspaper but a website based in Moscow. “It is one of the most visible and influential Russian websites dealing with religious news of all faiths worldwide. The journalist who conducted the interview is a Russian who lives in the US. She requested the interview with Bishop Melchisedek and he agreed to it.” We regret the error.]


  1. Also Anonymous says

    I’m confused… What exactly do you object to in the interview? He didn’t say anything negative about Met. Jonah or about His Beatitude’s initiatives to engage the culture.

    It seemed rather balanced to me.

  2. George,

    Who cares what an Interim chancellor has to say? What makes this news worthy of posting on the boring oca website? Do they really think that the vast majority of their readership would find this interview worth reading? Then, after you read it, it says nothing of any importance. Filler at best, trying to legitimate bad administrative moves at worst. Another example of folks in Syosset living in the bubble of make believe.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Amos, it was rather inconsquential. I just wanted to bring up several points, the most important one probably being, where is the conciliarity of this? Did the Lesser Synod approve it? If not, why not? Is only +Jonah to be constrained by these new protocols or all bishops?

      Anon, there was nothing inflammatory that HG said. It was just a whole lotta nothing. He “praised” +Jonah but then said “on the other hand…” In the news business this is called “filler time” and usually it’s giving time to some rival to rain on somebody else’s parade. Sarah Palin did this with her Bus-Ride through New Hampshire on the same day that Romney made his announcement there. In Palin’s case, it sucked up all the oxygen. That’s what I think the Syosset Set tried to do here. Only it failed.

  3. I have always been impressed by Bishop Melchizadek. He seems fair and balanced without an agenda. The timing of publishing the interview was odd but it is a Russian periodical….sometimes a cigar is just a cigar..Lets not go seeing boogie men under every bed or we will all get paranoid..

    • George Michalopulos says

      Stephen, I’d go along with this analysis but the obvious coup attempt against +Jonah makes me raise an eyebrow. Plus the fact that Stokoe constantly compares the two men in a contrary light makes me raise the other eyebrow. Look, I’ll be honest with you, Stokoe’s reportage over the years has been so skewed and unfair that I look with askance at those people he praises. It’s probably unfair to them but there you go.

      Having said that, there were several points that the interview raised but perhaps the most interesting one was whether HG got permission to give this interview. Not that I think he should, but at least I want to know what the ground rules are. This constant moving of the goal posts is very obvious and does not speak well to the future.

      I say this because as a life-long member of the GOA, I can’t tell you how such behavior caused ordinary people to lose respect for their hierarchs.

    • I’m impressed! You’ve maanged the almost impossible.

  4. We picked a Metropolitan based on one speech and the noisiest crowd in the room..if you read that speech very closely we could have seen this coming…
    I was a member of the GOA too…it will be interesting to see what happens in that jurisdiction…the Syridon years have yet to be dealt with….as do the Katsinas and Gabriel Barrow scandals……lots of gay clergy and Bishops….its the elephant in the room …..the OCA could have lifted that rock during the RSK/Herman/Theodosius scandal but we did not have the fortitude…..Jesse Cone and Rod Dehrer just didn’t look in their own back yard…thats why I do not respect them…we need to pray for all Bishops and clergy and I hope this foolishness will soon end…Seattle should be interesting but I hope we can all listen and not divide into Syosset versus Met.Jonah camps….that would be unfortuneate ….I remember when the GOA Metropolitan came to my former parish and half the membership stayed away…the Greeks vote with their feet and cash…they just have more members and also members with checkbooks they will open to stave off scandals

    • Heracleides says

      “We picked a Metropolitan based on one speech and the noisiest crowd in the room…”

      We? I thought that was the Holy Spirit… or is the Spirit only active when the ‘Holy’ Synod is politicking behind closed doors?

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        That’s what I’m wondering, too. Especially in light of what is being done to him.

    • We picked a Metropolitan based on one speech and the noisiest crowd in the room..if you read that speech very closely we could have seen this coming…

      He was picked because he was not a bishop who had let down the Church during the Kondratick scandal. He was also kind, and he spoke the truth.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Stephen, I must protest! “We picked a Metropolitan based on one speech and the noisiest crowd in the room…?”

      As the famous Tonto said to the Lone Ranger when they were surrounded by Indians: “What you mean WE White Man?”

      Seriously, if we’re going to play that game and ignore the reality of the Holy Spirit guiding His Church, I’ll tell you exactly what happened: the natives were restless and looking for blood. Not one bishop had the courage to go face them. Bp Benjamin told +Jonah to go face the mob and get his cassock dirty then he’d ride in on his white horse once they’d drawn blood and save the day.

      Didn’t work out that way. The fact that men of no vision like Hopko are propagating the new meme of “noisiest crowd in the room” shows me that they’re going to try to engineer a coup in Seattle with their own noisiest crowd.

      • Hopko…propagating the new meme of “noisiest crowd in the room”

        Has Fr. Hopko used this phrase?

        they’re going to try to engineer a coup in Seattle with their own noisiest crowd.

        Where have I heard of this before? Oh, right: “But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.” (Luke 23:23) It’s been an effective strategy in the past, but there have been unintended consequences.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Indeed. Regarding Fr Hopko acceding to this meme: I have had heard from two sources that he is of the opinion that the election of +Jonah was not because of the Holy Spirit but happened because of clever political machinations. This would explain of course why he felt emboldened enough to call HB “gravely troubled.” As to why he thinks that Stokoe is infallible in his reporting, I would rather not guess.

          • “Clever political machinations,” eh? Let’s see…a virtually unknown candidate is propelled to stardom on the basis of his leg-tingling rhetoric and subsequently elected to the highest office despite an apparent lack of management skills, a painfully obvious dependence on prepared notes, and a recurrent flirtation with redefining self-governance, all as a result of “clever political machinations.” That’s quite a theory. No, I am assured on a daily basis that such a travesty could not possibly have happened.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              And yet it happened in the political sphere. Unfortunately, the events leading up to The Speech in Pittsburgh which the then-Bishop of Ft Worth gave do not lend themselves to the months of preparation, resources, and skills that are required in a presidential campaign. In fact, he was unprepared and thrown into it by others who were too cowardly to face the mob. so while the appearances are similar, the internal circumstances were very different.

            • Indeed. I find it hard to believe Metropolitan Jonah gave that speech with a view to getting elected Metropolitan. To me, he simply sounded like someone who was a spiritual leader at heart, who felt he had to tend to the injured. And he was obviously flying by the seat of his pants, as evidenced by his sloppy grammar and syntax.

              I think Metropolitan Jonah is a fair bit more shrewd than a lot of people give him credit for, but saying his election was the result of a political machination is a crazy conspiracy theory. And they called OCAT paranoid?

        • DM: “Where have I heard of this before? Oh, right: ‘But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.’ (Luke 23:23) It’s been an effective strategy in the past, but there have been unintended consequences.”

          I’m not interested in entering a debate on OCA politics (it’s only a spectator sport for me), but I loved that last line. Well done.

          • Well we have now a double Joseph…. This Joseph above is not me, Joseph the First, who does NOT live in Cincinnati, but in the Great White North….
            George, please do something before it gets really confusing…..
            Thank you

            • Well, we have at least three Josephs in Holy Writ, and we have a system for distinguishing them. Following biblical precedent, you can be Joseph the First if I can be Joseph the All Comely. Or I can just sign as Joseph A., though sometimes I forget the A.

              As far as being from the Great White North, that wasn’t you holding the hockey stick in angry defiance who was plastered all over the web last week, eh? Because if it was, we can go by whatever names you want . . . I have seen the carnage of an angry Canadian, and I don’t want to get on his bad side!

              • I have seen the carnage of an angry Canadian, and I don’t want to get on his bad side!

                Well this Canadian is interested in carnage only in relation to the re-stocking of his BBQ…. and he doesn’t have a bad side, according to his wife (who, by law, must say only good things about him). In this spirit, I offer a locally brewed delicious Canadian beer and will be satisfied from now on to be just Joseph….


  5. George: There are puppet masters, but they don’t include +B. (He’s only a legend in his own mind.) Now +M, who is a snake-mouth, incites the highly inflammable +B to do the dirty work while he sits back with no one seeing his involvement. Make no mistake, this Phanar puppet has no original thought, but lives on paranoia and his green-eyed desire for HB’s white hat. As you know, +M single-handedly coerced, lobbied, and persuaded the Synod to put the DC nuns out on the street for no reason except his delusional fear they – who know him well from Greece – might show his real colors to others. They don’t need to, if you keep your eyes open and observe…+M is one of the Stokoe cohorts, and is dangerous in his delusion.

  6. George,

    What I can’t figure out is why +Mel is so upset with the DC nuns? I have heard that they have known him for many years why they were all in Greece? All being monastics, what could have possibly gone wrong? Why was he so insistent that they leave the USA? It just doesn’t add up?

    • This previous post told me all I know about that situation:

      The allegation is that while in Greece as a monk, Melchizidek participated in some sort of plot against his Elder, who was also the nuns’ Elder (Mel was their chaplain). I don’t know the details, but it supposedly ended badly for Mel, and the nuns are said to know some things that could be very damaging to him, including information that might call the validity of his consecration as bishop into question. This is the rumor … I have no reason to believe or to disbelieve any of it, but it is very strange that he has made getting rid of those nuns such a priority.

      All I can say is that since ROCOR has accepted these nuns, I find it impossible to believe that there was any legitimate reason for them to have been kept out of the OCA.

      • Katherine says

        It seems like His Grace is doing the same thing again–being involved in some plot against the person that is in charge.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Helga, there was none. It was simply a confluence of two different factors: personal and cultural. What do I mean by cultural? In the US, many of the cradle Orthodox simply don’t like monasticism, period. Some don’t like them because they think monastics don’t “do” anything. These critics have accepted Reformist/American views of “practical” religion. Others who don’t like monasticism are simply liberals who don’t like ascetisism.

        • George, I don’t ask the question about the nuns with an expectation of a reasonable answer. I only ask it because the lack of a reasonable answer shows Metropolitan Jonah’s persecutors for what they are.

          I do not know if the opposition to the nuns can be attributed purely to anti-monastic sentiment. Bishop Melchisedek is a schemamonk, after all.

          My guess is that there are a lot of different motivations and influences involved in this whole thing, not just homosexuals hoping for their behavior to be winked at, or a coverup of past possible wrongdoing, or even just plain old jealousy. The desire to punch Metropolitan Jonah’s ticket may be the only thing all of these people have in common.

          But I’d really like to know the specifics of what Bishop Melchisedek’s problem is. It was said that the nuns know stuff about him that could call his consecration as bishop into question. Does that mean he did something that should have resulted in his being defrocked when he was a hieromonk? If so, what was it, and where’s the evidence? Was the diocese of Western Pennsylvania informed? If they were, why were they allowed to nominate then-Fr. Melchisedek anyway? Also, what’s the deal with the alleged plot that Bishop Melchisedek committed against his elder? What was the plot, who else was involved, and why was it undertaken?

          And most of all, if the nuns know something, why don’t they say or do something? They are safe in ROCOR now, while Metropolitan Jonah is still in the hot zone. As the nun St. Kassiani said, “I hate silence when it is time to speak.”

          If the rumors about Bishop Melchisedek turn into credible allegations, let’s see the Synod convene against him as swiftly as they have against people like Fr. Joseph Fester. If it turns out Bishop Melchisedek should never have been consecrated, let’s see the Synod rectify that by defrocking him.

          But I am done with the rumor mill, and people throwing out little tidbits of information here and there about what’s going on, without saying anything of consequence. I have had my suspicions about Bishop Melchisedek from the beginning, as I suspect he may have been involved in sending the leak to Romfea while the Santa Fe meeting was still in progress. I’ve said before that the Romfea leak (with the initial report that Metropolitan Jonah had resigned) shows the real intentions of the plot against Metropolitan Jonah. If Bishop Melchisedek was involved in sending that leak, that is serious indeed.

          However, just hinting at the truth, keeping the knowledge under wraps, is not helping anyone. We’ve said that there are no grounds for the feverish hatred and accusations directed towards Metropolitan Jonah, and I must say the same about Bishop Melchisedek for the time being. So come forward with what you know, people!

          • Heracleides says

            Helga, although you’ve likely already read it, here is what Bp. Melchisedek’s biography has to say about his time in Greece and his contact there with the nuns:

            “In 1998, Fr. Thomas traveled to Greece where he served first at the Monastery of the Holy Cross, an international women’s community in Thebes. In 2003, he was transferred to serve as chaplain at the women’s monastery of St. George the Great Martyr and to serve his own brotherhood at the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Petras.

            In 2004, he was tonsured to the Great Schema, taking the name Melchisedek, and raised to the rank of Archimandrite.

            On April 2, 2009, Archimandrite Melchisedek was elected Bishop of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America. He returned to the US.”

            Not a lot to go on, but it’s a start. For one thing, it does clearly show a definite (and recent) connection between Bp. Melchisedek and the nuns – something not found with any of the other bishops. As the nun’s former chaplain, one would at the very least have expected him to come to their aid before the Synod; this clearly has not happened. Why? Well, that was your question and I too would like to know the answer.

            P.S. Stokoe’s spin on the matter is as follows – take it with a grain of salt, but it does raise several questions:

            “…the newly established Orthodox Community in Washington DC, The Entrance of the Holy Theotokos into the Temple.” +Jonah’s continuing involvement with the nuns is sure to be a topic at the next Synod meeting, as is his continuing support. (The “community” is presently housed in buildings belonging to Jonah’s Washington Cathedral.) Based on a recent investigation and report by Bishop Michael of New York in a related matter, the Synod had already agreed not to accept the nuns into the OCA. ( They are presently canonically dependent on a monastery in Greece, from which their local Bishop has refused to release them .) Moreover, the Synod had already explicitly refused to bless the establishment of a new convent in DC for them.”

            Questions: What investigation? Is the “report” resulting from this “investigation” publicly available? If not (the most likely response) – how and why is Stokoe privy to the results of this supposed investigation? (Don’t give me the “he’s on the MC” nonsense – I have no doubt that the report was not released to the MC.) What is the nature of the “related matter” that is mentioned? Why is it that ROCOR obtained the release of these nuns from their bishop in Greece in such short order and yet Stokoe presents it as a major impediment as to their reception into the OCA? Did the bishop in Greece grant their release and the OCA Synod simply refuse it accept it? Lots of questions surrounding the last (perhaps the Greek bishop simply has more respect for ROCOR than the OCA – I know I do at this point). Moreover, why the explicit refusal of establishing these nun’s in Met. Jonah’s own diocese? What was the objection? Why did not Bp. Melchisedek offer to make a home for them in his own diocese? (He was after all their former chaplain and one would expect at least a modicum of concern on his part for their welfare.) Like I said, lots of questions but I doubt any answers will be forthcoming.

            • Ted Logan says

              How do you know ROCOR obtained a release fro these nuns?

              Of course, ROCOR had great success with accepting other OCA monastic rejects. Jut look at Christ of the Hills Monastery in Blanco, TX. You can get the details at Pokrov.

              I also heard romfea was connected to the abbot in Greece. That would explain much.

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                What is Romfea?

                • Romfea is a Greek website that covers church news. Their relevance to the current discussion is that they broke a story in February, citing multiple anonymous sources, that Metropolitan Jonah had resigned from office. This was posted while the OCA Synod was still in its meetings in Santa Fe. Of course, it turned out that Metropolitan Jonah had *not* resigned, although some of the extraneous details in the original article did turn out to be accurate (naming Archbishop Nathaniel as temporary administrator, etc.).

                  I could be wrong, but to me, this said that Romfea really did have well-placed sources, and that this, getting Met. Jonah to resign, was the unfulfilled plan.

                  • Ian James says

                    Mark Stokoe broke the Romfea story just a few hours after it was posted too. This smells like the stolen emails scam. Stokoe and Bp Mark were in bed together while Stokoe made it look like the emails came over the transom. Was Stokoe in bed with the person who leaked to Romfea?

                    We know Stokoe’s story was pre-written and ready to go even though he made it seem he whipped it up in a couple of hours. He scammed his readers. We also know that he collaborated with others in a plot as the email leaked to Bp. Tikhon shows.

                    How come Stokoe keeps popping up? First Stokoe and the plotters, then +Mayman, and now the Santa Fe leaker. Who is it? Who else is Stokoe in bed with?

                    The leaker better be worried. The first two were revealed. He will be too. Divine justice at work.

              • Heracleides says

                Just like how do we know the Greek bishop didn’t release these nuns to the OCA? We don’t know – we only have Mrs. Stokoe-Brown’s word for it. Like I said above – lots of questions surrounding this particular issue with no hard facts in evidence.

                Are you comparing these nuns to the Blanco bunch? I certainly hope not, but then nothing Team Stokoe does at this point would suprise me.

                • Ted Logan says

                  You said “Why is it that ROCOR obtained the release of these nuns from their bishop in Greece in such short order and yet Stokoe presents it as a major impediment as to their reception into the OCA?” not me.

                  Maybe ROCOR didn’t get them released? Or maybe ROCOR doesn’t care.

                  ROCOR has had its share of jurisdiction-hopping monks. Some have worked out better than others.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Ted, that’s completely gratuitous. ROCOR has kicked out way more compromised monastics than they’ve ever let in. As far as I know, the Blanco fiasco was their only mistake and I’m not even sure that they ever really accepted them. If memory serves, Blanco was in some kind of limbo.

                Helga, Heracleides, your insights and ability to connect the dots increase the suspicions. I think you both are onto something. I simply doesn’t make sense otherwise why a monastic would be on the warpath against these nuns.

                As for the original leak, I thought it was somebody in Syosset directly but given that only the bishops were present and meeting at Santa Fe, and given +Mel’s connections to Greece, it certainly makes more sense that he was behind the leak. The original rumor I heard was the +Benj was behind it and in turn for getting rid of +Jonah, then he would get the white hat and the EP would relent and place him on the presidium of the Episcopal Assembly. Though plausible, your scenario makes more sense.

                Also, as I understand it, taking the Great Schema means never, ever leaving the monastery until your last breath. Hence, I don’t know how HG could have left the monastery where he received this singular honor. I have heard of bishops taking the Great Schema but only if they are retired and living in a monastery. I believe once they do so, they are to confine themselves to their cell and celebrate the Liturgy every day, with only the angelic host as their congregation.

                Please correct me if I’m wrong.

                • Ted Logan says

                  George, this is just bullsh*t. Anon sounds suspiciosly like Joe Fester. You accept this conspiracy theory of some anonymous-to-us-but-not-you (but posibly fronts for Dreher and Coen) posters, even though it means Bishop Melchisedek has magical jedi powers to control the Holy Synod. I expect polyjuice potion will be suggested as a possible method soon. That, or maybe Mystique. Gads.

                  Why don’t one of you guys call Bishop Melchisedek and ask him? Theres a phone no at, or maybe try Syosset.

                  I think Bishop George of ROCOR is of the great schema, too.

                  • Heracleides says

                    Aside from Monomakhos you have also posted on Stokoe’s OCAN rag. Interestingly enough (according to Google) – the only other ‘Ted Logan’ posting on public fora was back in 2009 over at – would that also happen to have been you by any chance? (Yes, I am seeking to connect lavender colored dots…)

                  • Heracleides says

                    Of course, since all those who don’t drink from Stokoe’s poisoned well are raving conspiracy theorists, let me speculate that your name may have a deeper hidden meaning: Ted Logan = Theodore Logan = Theo Logan = Theologian… Who exactly are you anyway??? (I’m jesting Ted, so don’t start carping about conspiracy theories, my fronting for others, jedi powers, etc.)

                    • Ted Logan says

                      I don’t think your a raving conspiracy theorist. I think you are a tool, if not an accomplice, of Kondratik, Fester, and their allies. Either that, or your a stoner on a bad trip.

                      Who am I? Who are YOU? Maybe I am this guy. If I am, at least I am not throwing around obnoxious theories and libelous accusations. If you are a true philosopher, admit that these theories make as much sense as the universe revolving around the earth.

                    • …and I am not named ‘Joe’ or any other mans name, for that matter. Did it occur to you that some people have been closer to this, some are relatives of those closer to this, some are neighbors of those closer to this…? There are many possibilities of why some have this puzzle piece, and some have another. Together we are all, it seems to me, trying to connect the story to the things we see happening – trying to make sense of a senseless looking situation. For the record: I do not hold either the first or last name of any name I have seen anywhere on this web blog. My only goal is to try to add any puzzle pieces I have, and to do so without embellishment. Please forgive me if I fail in this.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Ted, whoever you are or Heracleides, or Helga, or Anon, or me for that matter, we’re not drinking the Koolaid that Stokoe brews. We’re not tools for anybody either. None of the accusations have been libelous (as most have panned out to be true) and some may be obnoxious but my writing at least doesn’t even approach the smarmy sanctimoniousness of Stokoe. More importantly, neither have we destroyed anybody’s lives like Stokoe has.

                    • Another impartial observer says

                      I grieve that +Melchizedek turned against his Greek spiritual family. BUT, if I were to
                      sift all this out – as an impartial observer, let’s say for argument’s sake that I was a member of the OCA who never left the States and belonged to some parish here and never knew another- I would say that I see a person who came over from Europe after over a decade’s absence. A person who has no spiritual children here as he has not been here to really have a relationship with any parish or faithful.

                      The moment he returned he sank into politicking. Melchizedek has not even issued some pious statement about any matter of the faith. No attempt to teach the faithful. Nothing. How could he perform on any real level? What will he accomplish that is of worth? Folks will go along passively but then…nothing. Why is there the expectation that people will automatically follow someone just because they are “in charge”?

                  • JDWatton says

                    Speaking of Fr. Fester, Stokoe reports on 6-22-2011:

                    It has been reported to that Metropolitan Jonah has released Fr. Joseph Fester, the former Dean of the Cathedral in Washington DC to the Greek Archdiocese. Archbishop Demetrios has placed Fr. Fester in the Carpatho-Russian Diocese for assignment.

                • Monk James says

                  The great skhema is the natural condition of monastics. It’s the so-called ‘small skhema’ which is an anomaly, as well described by St Nikodemos of Mt Athos nearly two centuries ago.

                  In terms of honor, the skhema could be seen as analogous to the crowns of marriage. These are given only after a period of preparation. In fact, when novices are first tonsured and given the rason, it is described as an arrabOn or ‘pledge’ of the skhema, and that same word is used to describe a betrothal for marriage. So, while it is certainly an honor to be married or to receive the skhema, it’s the normal outcome of an intended process.

                  No priest or bishop is permitted to serve the Divine Liturgy by himself, in spite of there being some stories to the contrary, and without regard to latin and uniat abuses. Think about it: the people cannot offer the Eucharist unless at least one of them is a priest, and the priest cannot offer the Eucharist without the people. BTW: There’s no reason for angels to attend the DL since they can’t receive Holy Communion, the pious imagination of some people notwithstanding.

                  In russian practice, at least, if a skhemamonk is ordained as a priest or bishop, it’s obvious that he must officiate at liturgical services. OTOH, if a priest or bishop becomes a skhemamonk, he (usually, but not always) ceases serving.

                  But there are exceptions. All the ordained skhemamonks of my acquaintance continue to serve, some as bishops and some as priests. The majority of nuns and unordained monks tonsured in Athos or under athonite supervision and customs have received the great skhema only, after a period as novices and another period as rasophors.

                  Hope this helps a little.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Monk James, thank you for elaborating. I still don’t see how one who has taken the Great Schema can not be confined to his monastery, or am I missinng something? As for serving the Divine Liturgy alone, I believe that St Theophan the Recluse did this (although I could be mistaken). Please clarify.

                • George, I think the Great Schema basically means the monastic now has a more advanced prayer rule. Beyond that, it’s really up to that person’s spiritual elder, their church’s traditions, and their personal calling. Some might be called to a hermitage at that point, and others might not.

                  I don’t think the Liturgy is supposed to be celebrated alone, and not all schemamonks are hieromonks.

                  Also, the vow of stability is just as binding for a Stavrophore like Metropolitan Jonah. All monastics may be given an obedience to leave the monastery. Metropolitan Jonah was given such an obedience, as was St. Zosima (who encountered St. Mary of Egypt) and Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol.

              • The nuns themselves said their paper work was in order some time ago-if they weren’t properly released, they didn’t seem to know it. And I know they are now set up in the ROCOR Church.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Yes, praise the Lord! I think we can all understand persecution when it comes from without the Church but when it comes from within the Church, it’s downright hurtfull. Anyway, they are safe now within the embrace of ROCOR.

  7. Because I have to protect myself and my children says

    My wife and I were commenting on the recent issues with the OCA and, along with my Godfather, were wondering whether this all has to do more-so with the fact that our autocephalacy was set up by the Soviets. It is no secret that the OCA seems to operate on a don’t ask-don’t tell philosophy where if a priest questions (even rightly so) anything that bishops do or say (or, in this case, what the Metropolitan Council does) they are swept under the rug as “schismatic” (I.E. Sent to the proverbial Gulag for disobeying their superiors.) and defrocked or debarred.

    This seems to me to be one reason why I have not seen ONE OCA Priest say anything about the current scandal. They’re afraid of what will happen to their families and careers. How many of us know of an outspoken priest who was either disbarred from serving or altogether defrocked because of some less than canonical charge (which ultimately meant that they didn’t play nice.) Our church often resembles Soviet Union more than it does the United States of America, where you are presumed guilty until declared innocent! (or dead, whichever comes first).

    Honestly this is why, though I belong to the OCA, if I go forth with what I feel is my calling to ministry in the Church I will probably go to ROCOR or to Serbia, even though I am not entirely comfortable with the Old Calendar. At least they are stable. . . Plus, I hear ROCOR’s WR is turning out to be something pretty nice.

    Ironically, Stokoe’s much touted openness and accountability do not exist under the OCA model of government, unless it is for things that warrant his outrage. Metropolitans (I.E. Primates) being barred from serving in their home diocese, and priests being debarred from serving does not apparently warrant such outrage. Nor, apparently does a man who is openly a homosexual serving on the Metropolitan Council, while also acting as an advocate for “accountability,” nor a openly homosexual deacon. No, only a Metropolitan that speaks out against such things as sexual promiscuity (and that includes not only homosexuality, but also pre-marital sex, the thought that all forms of birth control are acceptable just because the couple wants to space children under the principle that the Orthodox view sex is somehow different from the Roman Catholic understanding (sans the application of oeconomia in certain (but not most circumstances), ultra-conservatism, ultra-liberalism, secularism, and politicalism.

    The reason Orthodox Christians do not accept homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle is not just because the Bible says so, but because we have noticed in our time here on earth that when someone lies to them self about one area of their experience and says that it is a legitimate part of their experience (i.e. defining themselves by their sin) then everything is up for grabs. Sin, regardless of what kind, ravishes the soul and leaves it decimated, not able to discern right from wrong. It corrupts. Plain and simple.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Amen. This is why homosexual activity is satanic, and must be opposed at every turn.


      • Jane Rachel says


        Homosexuality is broken human behavior, and not as “satanic” as the “creed of greed,” which is far more insidious, and more evil. When you put words like “satanic” on the shoulders of my family and friends, I feel the hair standing up on the back of my neck.

        – Jane

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Jane Rachel, if I may come to Peter’s defense here, my understanding of homosexual behavior being innately satanic is because it does lend itself to ritual abuse, which prostitution doesn’t anymore because we don’t have temple prostitutes. According to the former Jesuit Malachi Martin, the nexus for homosexual abuse within the Roman priesthood did involve ritual practices. This is surprising but quite true. In fact, in the recent case of the GOA’s pederast scandal, one of the miscreant priests sodomized his victims in the vicinity of the altar of his church. This also happened in some Episcopal churches in NYC as well, where the abuse took place actually in the altar areas.

          Please understand, I don’t excuse fornicators, adulterers, usurers, drunkards, etc. It just seems that at present homosexuality will be used as the cudgel to silence (hence persecute) the Church. it will do so via “hate crimes” legislation. Presenly, there is no “prostitute-rights” or “drunkard-rights” lobby to change the way we think about these sins.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Jane Rachel declares, “Homosexuality is broken human behavior.”

          Respectfully, the first chapter of Romans suggests that it is far worse. Homosexuality, as a social phenomenon—that is to say, a behavior socially accepted—is portrayed as the most compelling evidence of a society given over to the darkness of idolatry. Paul calls it nothing less than the revelation of the divine wrath.

          Jane Rachel is right; This is truly tough stuff.

          Yet, Paul wrote that assessment to the Romans, people who undoubtedly had homosexual friends and relatives. It must have been hard for them to hear.

  8. That’s 2 celver by half and 2×2 clever 4 me. Thanks!

  9. They are probably not Muslims, just Dhimmis.