“Personal Moral Failings”

Recently, several correspondents on this blog were taken to task by a certain individual. This fellow was particularly exercized because two former Primates were accused of homosexuality. Now Monomakhos has no way of knowing whether these allegations are true, and given the fact that these men are no longer active Primates, we really don’t care. Those are the two main reasons why your humble correspondent has not made these accusations. Others however have stated them openly, both on this blog as well as others.

The main reason that some correspondents feel free to level these accusations is because they are part of the historical record. They are not insinuation, innuendo, hearsay or gossip. You can read it for yourself in the 2008 SIC report which was signed by then-Bishop Benjamin Petersen, Archpriest John Reeves, Faith Skordinski, et al. The offending passage which states that sexual immorality is at the heart of the case is located at the bottom of page 29. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what “moral failings” the Investigative Committee was talking about. (Hat-tip to the perspicacious Christina Fevronia.)

Download the file (pdf).

The threat meted out by the outraged correspondent is one of legal action. This would be most unwise. For one thing, he would be questioning the veracity of the aforementioned authors –essentially calling them liars. Moreover, the authors of this report (and like-minded individuals) are now firmly in control of the OCA. Any legal action against our correspondents will be directed to the legal department in Syosset. If indeed the accusations made by the authors are incorrect (intentionally or not) then they can and should be called to account. Otherwise, the SIC report stands.

As for the blog itself, its purveyor wishes no harm to anyone. Having said that, Monomakhos is beholden to many things, one of them being the First Amendment. We are very careful. That doesn’t mean that we are skittish about relating historical incidents — especially those that are in the public record –however uncomfortable they may be.


  1. That you ascribe credence to the SIC report, Mr. Michalopolos, makes it easy for me to say “Good-bye All!” today, the first day of my 81st year on earth.You elevate that piece of garbage the SIC report to the status of “historical record.” Actually, it’s like the “historical record” that President Obama is a Communist, a Hitler, a Muslim with an Islamic inscription on his ring, as well as a blatant, life-long homosexual with “Gay Code” on his ring, with lots more of the same to come. So, I’m not REALLY surprised that you’d believe that sort of thing.
    The link to that report has been published here for some time.
    I suppose Metropolitan Jonah has a refuge lined up in another Local Church and there’d be no point in the OCA granting him a stipend, he’s too young for a pension. I think he’s more than satisfied with the ‘career” he had in the OCA, and not a little relieved to be out of the spotlight as far as his personal life goes.
    So, Goodbye all, some of this journey was ok, but a LOT of it stank. That’s life.
    And sexual immorality is NOT at the root of what’s happening so publicly in the OCA, but still discreetly elsewhere. The elephant in the room is Unbelief.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Your Grace, I don’t know what was at root. I for one do not know the veracity of the SIC report but the corporation that is the OCA put it out. It could very well be a fraud from start to finish. If so, the two former Primates were defamed and should sue the OCA for compensatory damages or at least to clear the record. My only point is the the SIC report –strictly speaking–is part of the historical record, just like The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (which is a fraud) is in the historical record. As such my correspondents cannot be sued for defamation if their accusations comes from this published, official document.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Mr. Michalopulos,

        Disingenuous expressions are always disingenuous. This report was never intended to be “put out” as a matter of “historical record.” It was very specifically and strictly speaking considered an internal and confidential document. You and others are, in fact, the “publishers,” not the corporation that is the OCA. And in that it is, to this day, considered a confidential document and property of the OCA, it would seem the first order of business would be for you to explain while you personally feel no ethical or moral obligation or restraint in disclosing or distributing its contents.

        I find no humility in this action, but rather casebook passive-aggression; as if you are openly challenging – I’m presuming you are “settling a score” with Mr. Paluch, but can’t seem to be honest enough to verbalize it – “come and get me.” In this sense, Vladyka Tikhon makes an excellent point: is anyone edified by this old news of two elderly men who, ultimately, will answer for themselves?

        • George Michalopulos says

          May I ask why the SIC report wasn’t published? If we are in favor of Transparency and Accountability (T & A), shouldn’t Syosset have put it out? If not, what was the point of it? Is it merely a tissue of lies, only this time reduced to writing as opposed to the normal whispers one heard in the old days of Syosset?

          • Daughters of Deborah says

            Why aren’t more people plugging +TIKHON into the timeline provided in this report? He was Deputy Abbot at STS beginning in 2002, consecrated to the episcopate in Feb. 2004, and became a member of the Synod that year. He is not a brand new face in the crowd.

      • Martin Paluch says

        Dear George,

        I want to thank you most sincerely for the fact that “your humble correspondent has not made these accusations” and I take you at your word.

        As a most God-fearing “Orthodox Christian”, I will defend the truth even to the point of humiliation and if I must, then by what ever is proper.

        In Matthew Chapter 18:15-17, we are instructed to go to the one who has offended us and seek peace and in so doing, we will have won over a friend. St. John Chrysostom in his Homily on “Covering the Sins of the Brethren” instructs us why this is so important.

        I have challenged those who have based their beliefs on the SIC and STIC reports and have accused them of doing works approved by the evil one. Those who have written such reports are going to have to answer on that dread and terrible judgment day for throwing stumbling blocks in front of and leading people astray. On that day our Lord will merely open one’s book of life and the judgment will be swift and precise. I pray that they humble themselves, make the necessary change and refrain from condemning where there is no proof, so that when their time comes, they may hear those precious words by our Lord, “well done my good and faithful servant”.

        On page 29, heading 19. Personal Moral Failings:

        “Several interviewees claim that a significant source of Kondratick’s apparent power over members of the HS and other….” And in the next paragraph one can read: “Interviewees had no first-hand knowledge, other than hearsay….”

        I ask, what kind of proof is there in words such as “claim” or “no first hand information other than hearsay”?

        “At least 3 sources informed the SIC that both +MT and +MH affirmed that Kondratick had blackmailable material of a sexual nature about each of them.”

        At that time did anyone on the SIC committee care to go and ask in a Christian and courteous manner the accused +Metropolitan Theodosius or +Metropolitan Herman or Father Robert Kondratick whether this was true? I did and the answer was, “no this is not true!”

        The writers on your web are talented and many of them are sad and upset that they had not realized this report to be merely conjecture in order to satisfy a group whose movement perhaps is to try and build an American Orthodox Church. These powerful, clever and well-educated people have caused envy, strife and divisions in the church. Did the SIC think of interviewing me? No! What was their reasoning for demanding without proof the termination of so many good workers and why were they unable to build that church? I believe the answer is rather simple. It is to be found in Psalm 127: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain”.

        You lay claim to 1st Amendment Rights that allows us the use of speech without fear of punishment in most cases. Does that permit us to level charges, gossip, innuendo, and untrue stories against an innocent person? What do we expect the innocent person to do? Defend his innocence? It seems to me that the mandates and instructions we should live accordingly as Orthodox Christians are far superior to that of the Constitution. We cannot legally prevent the right of free speech, however you as editor can control what is written on your website.

        George, no one has to fear those of us who have been pushed out and are no longer in an authoritative position. We never asked for that authority, we merely stepped forward and answered God’s call. Our hearts are broken because of the strife, the envy and divisions created. We realize now that we could have all stayed and fought and maybe that would have been a better thing to do. In spite of the injustice, we have moved on and continue to try to build, led by that good Spirit, the house of God. We are not perfect but I am convinced we were and are, to this day, of the right spirit. Luke 9:55

        The issue and question you bring forward of whether or not the SIC publication was defamatory? Both the SIC and STIC publications were defamatory! I cannot say where the right spirit will lead me in this matter. I am sure that the Holy Spirit will measure out the action that is properly needed. We should be on guard and mindful of the action taken by the Holy Spirit recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. See: Ananias and Sapphira (5:1-10), King Herod (12:20-23) and Elymas (13:8-11). We must be very cautious before speaking evil of a coworker in our Lord’s vineyard.

        Yours in Christ,
        Martin Paluch

        • George Michalopulos says

          Martin, you bring up several excellent points. Myself being a relative newcomer to the OCA (post 2003), I was then completely oblivious to the incidents that set in motion the SIC. Since I published the essay (“Personal Moral Failings”) more than a few have come forward to me privately and indicated what a put-up job the SIC report was. Given that it was never meant to be published and that it did not follow legal protocols, I am inclined to agree. Further, given the fact that some of the authors were later judges in the case against Fr Kondratick, leads me even ore to believe that the stench of Mickey-Mousedness permeates it.

          Having said that, the SIC is a published report which –regardless of its veracity–is a historical document of the OCA. Furthermore, the SIC was used to set in motion several subsequent actions which appear in retrospect to be unjust. As for myself, looking at its authorship and provenance, I am disinclined to believe its overall veracity. That’s not my complaint however. If I were named in it and innocent, I would seek to rectify the record. Any help you can give me in this regard would be most appreciated.

          • ChristineFevronia says

            The SIC report WAS published on the OCA website after the presentation to the Synod and MC in September 2008. It was NOT considered a confidential, internal document, and was posted on the OCA website. (http://oca.org/news/archived/special-investigating-committee-presents-report-to-oca-holy-synod-and-metro)

          • Thanks, George! Please, review these two remarks of yours in the header article:
            “The main reason that some correspondents feel free to level these accusations is because they are part of the historical record. They are not insinuation, innuendo, hearsay or gossip.”
            George, that historical record, the S.I.C report, IS insinuation, innuendo, hearsay, and gossip”
            Furthermore, it’s as incompetently composed a document as the STINKBOMB of a “Statement” that was written by an almost identical assortment of people of ill will as the report was.
            I’m afraid there are many Americans who have an almost primitive awe before the printed word. If it’s printed, it must be true…

            it is not ONLY insinuation innuendo, hearsay, and gossip: it’s prima facie evidence of stupidity on its creators and signers! I’m too old to give a detailed rundown or timeline on the whole documen. Just take the following statement, rather, judgment from page six item 7: “The former Chancellor Robert KIondratick: “d”; “Lived rent free in a home owned by the OCA while receiving a housing allowance.” In other words, a Bishop, TWO attorneys (Azrael & Skordinski), two Archpriests (Tkachuk and Reese), an airport cop (Wilson) and a Subdeacon MBA-type (Solodow) OBVIOUSLY don’t know what a housing allowance is!!!!!! They think a housing allowance is a form of compensation which provides a dwelling place, a home to the person getting the allowance. Nothing of the sort! Go down to the local I.R.S. and get all the material you can get on clergy compensation, and you will find that the I.R.S. allows an exemption of housing allowance for those clergy who live in a dwelling provided them by their church in order to maintain a dwelling in which they are required to live by the church. After you review all that, then go to the website of the Diocese of the West and read the excellent, thorough, monthly and yearly financial reports for the diocese, and note that His Eminence, while he lives in the Rectory of Holy Trinity Cathedral, owned by the Holy Trinity Cathedral Corporation, is authorized a generous housing allowance. I, likewise, was granted a housing allowance by the diocese while I lived in the Rectory of the Los Angeles Cathedral. it’s not rocket science: why, even someone who is so limited he has trouble making a sandwich should be able to figure that one out! Now, how can Archbishop Benjamin, who lives in a house owned by the Church, receive a housing allowance, if he thinks it’s a crime? How could he sign that report indicating it is a crime? How is it he has neither withdrawn the charge nor apologized for making it?
            Yet, it’ not only you, George, that seem to have swallowed that whole, but a Holy Synod and a Metropolitan Council, and one or more Diocesan Assemblies, etc. There are no sworn depositions by any of the sources; moreover, the sources for the report are ANONYMOUS: no one has deposed to any matter of fact! Yes, George, all the accusations were of moral failings, but all the accusations are without proof!!!!
            And no matter how cruelly, inhumanely, EVILLY Metropolitan Jonah has been treated, he, too, imbibed all the innuendo, insinuation, hearsay and gossip when he was just a Bishop. In fact, you must remember, he spoke of a “rape of the Church” by those named in the S.I.C. report, BASED on that report! Perhaps if he, too, would review his past actions relative to those unjustly vilified in the S.I.C. report and would publicly acknowledge the injustices done, then the present Holy Synod might be expected to be shamed into doing likewise. Some (but not I, of course) might opine that there is a “karma” at work here.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Your Grace, begging your forgiveness but I did not “swallow the SIC report whole.” I merely republished it. Thanks to you and others, I now come to see its manifold defects. Thank you specifically for pointing out the rank hypocrisy regarding the whole “housing allowance” imbroglio.

    • Disgusted With It says

      Your Grace, please don’t leave! Personally speaking, I can state that I may not always agree with what you say as I’m reading it (as I’m sure others may not either), but your voice and input is respected. Please reconsider.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      “Good-bye All!” today, the first day of my 81st year on earth.”

      Ad multos annos, domine!

    • I think the good bishop is right about Unbelief.
      There’s been too much of the “let’s play church” game in the OCA and not enough of the real thing.
      Perhaps that is Metropolitan Tikhon’s greatest challenge?

    • Nick Katich says

      Широ Вам поље, владико. До виђење.

  2. Tymofiy Hawrysh says

    “Compel yourselves; say the prayer; stop idle talk; close your mouths to
    criticism; place doors and locks against unnecessary words. Time passes and does
    not come back, and woe to us if time goes by without spiritual profit.”

    Elder Ephraim

  3. The defendants in such a legal action would almost certainly want to depose the authors of the report and the witnesses identified in the report for their defense. Maybe, then, the specifics about these “personal moral failings” could be made public!

  4. Michael James Kinsey says

    I just read the pdf file. Classic corruption at the highest clerical level. It is unaddressand and still functions with impunity within the OCA. Homosexuality is still an extortable charge in a Christian group. This is the reality the laity have to face. It is not unreasonable to assume that Met Jonah may well have intended to address this in a Christlike manner. Most certainly, those who are guilty and unrepentant would desire his removal as Primate. You can’t beat a liar is the mantra of those who reject fulfilling the Royal Law. I also believe the shadow US government has a hand in this, as these wil continue to send Christians into battle for the Imperialism. What does an Orthodox say to the Christ when he has to explain why he was bombing Serbian Orthodox people based on the CIA lies about what was really happening in Serbia. These bishop in Parma will not guide Orthodox people to refuse to kill for US imperalism. A can of worms, indeed. I say the Christ forbids us to murder innocent people for the economic gain of a ruling elite. I am a conspiracy realist. The people who died are really dead.

  5. Thomas Paine says

    One would think that if the people in question were “active” homosexuals, their paramours would have come forward. Where are they? Who has admitted to this? None I’ve seen. Can a person have these tendencies and not act on them? Again, another good reason to return to married bishops which a part of our Orthodox tradition.

    • Mr. Paine,

      It would seem that married bishops in the Anglican/Episcopal Church has not stemmed the tide of that Confession going head long into heresy for many decades now. Such an argument is sometimes used to swell the ranks of RC clergy, that they should be married to offset the need for RC priests. However the question comes down to whether such an action by the Orthodox Church is for the right reason, that is, because it is a legitimate and canonical action and not out of expediency because the OCA, as an example, is so weak at the present time with qualified candidates for the office of bishop.

      As to your sideways answer to the reality of homosexuals within the ranks of clergy in the OCA, I can only point you once again to the fact that there is a homosexual deacon serving in the OCA Miami Cathedral, a man who married another man in California and then divorced him and returned to his long-time companion, a retired bishop in the OCA. The OCA did a thorough investigation into the matter and concluded without equivocation that the deacon in question should be deposed. Why he has not is still an open question but it is clear from statements by the current locum tenens of that diocese that he would not move on the case; saying that such discipline should be undertaken when the diocese has a ruling bishop. Nevertheless, that same locum tenens suspended a priest of that diocese when it was learned that he is engaging in an extra-marital affair and has left his wife and is living with his lover. So, as you can see there appears to be a double-standard which, of course, causes confusion which needlessly leads to suspicion and question as to why such a double-standard exists.

      The OCA has turned a blind eye to such same-sex relationships amongst its clergy for decades and it appears that the current administration is not acting on these cases but rather are going into files of closed and settled cases in an effort to do what? If they don’t act on the most obvious cases one wonders what is the criteria in their efforts to revisit these sexual misconduct cases?

      Thus because the spirit of accountability and transparency being two hallmarks of the new OCA, it is fair to ask these and other questions. Of course one must be sure, as in the case of the above deacon, that we not toss wild allegations at people, but rather question based on the facts, not speculation, that the Church has already concluded. Why the delay? Why the ignoring of clear cut cases?

      Why is the OCA appealing a decision of a diocesan court which found a charged cleric with sexual misconduct innocent of the charges? The diocese threw the case out and was quite upset that the OCA would bring such a weak and flimsy case in the first place and then when the court found the cleric innocent that the OCA Chancellor would appeal the decision to the synod.

      These are just questions which should be answered and until they are the flock of the OCA will still live under a cloud of why its Church acts the way it does.

      • Nick Katich says

        Nikos: What action did the ruling bishop in charge of the Diocese of which Miami is a part take with regard to the referrenced homosexual deacon?

        • He was suspended, then the OCA did their investigation. His suspension was lifted without a blessing to serve. That was later changed to allow him to serve only in Miami by the then locum tenens. Nevertheless, the locum tenens of the DOS is fully aware of the issues and the scandal and he has publicly stated he will do nothing. Many bad decisions which do not change any of the facts of the case.

  6. ChristineFevronia says

    This 2008 SIC report ushered into the OCA a golden calf to be worshipped: the pseudo-investigation process conducted by incompetent committees and their resulting shoddy documents.

    I am glad that George posted the whole thing because it is the primary document that has allowed for our current church climate, in which unsubstantiated rumors, innuendo, and hearsay have become the unholy trinity we worship. This SIC report singlehandedly set the stage for the subsequent STIC, SMPAC, and SIC reports that have plagued our church for the past four years. It is now official church practice for the Synod to write their “stinkbomb” of a letter, and the clergy and laity do not blink an eye! It all started with the puritanical zeal of this SIC committee (who, four years later, one member of this 2008 SIC–who is no longer even Orthodox–still thinks its her solemn duty to communicate to the Met Council rumors regarding a monastery).

    And it has gone from bad (this 2008 SIC report), to worse (the SMPAC and SIC reports of 2011), to worst (the synodal statement of July 2012).

    Indulge me here for a minute…

    18.Personal Moral Failings. Several interviewees claimed that a significant source of Kondratick’s apparent power over members of the HS and other clergy was his knowledge of their alleged personal moral failings, specifically with chemical addictions and sexual improprieties. The SIC, charged with determining the scope of financial misdeeds, focused its attention on whether OCA funds in any way were involved with such allegations.

    They could have ended it right there with their conclusion: “We found no such proof.”

    Allegations that arise during the investigatory process such as “chemical addictions” and “sexual improprieties” are of such a confidential nature! Even if the SIC believed that the allegations were true and should have been investigated further “for the sake of the church”, they could have easily have written: “During the course of this investigation, allegations were raised that were outside the scope of this investigation. Due to the nature of these allegations, we recommend further investigation.” That would have allowed a further, confidential format for the addressing of these allegations for once and for all.

    So why then did the SIC go on to report hearsay?

    Interviewees also reported that cash from OCA accounts was used by Kondratick to “pay off someone who was allegedly blackmailing +MT. Since reportedly cash was used, there was no way trace the transaction, if it in fact took place. At least three sources informed the SIC that both +MT and +MH affirmed that Kondratick had blackmailable material of a sexual nature about each of them.

    Should that last sentence have been written unless the SIC investigated and substantiated that claim? Can you imagine if we were to arrive before the Judgement Seat of Christ, and he judged us based on the rumors of our schoolmates, our college buddies, our coworkers–who may have spread rumors about us, true or false. Can you imagine if Christ said, “At least three sources have told me that they think you might have had an affair”?

    These documents that have been written and packaged and presented to the church originate from flawed authors who have their own agendas. When reading this SIC report, the reader has to understand that this sentence has an agenda. It could have easily have been left out. But this hearsay has entered into the consciousness of the church, and we are all guilty of letting it feed on our souls, and our shepherds have only continued to perpetuate this manner in which the church conducts its business. And what about the evident bias of which reports get leaked to the public? What about the lack of investigation into certain allegations, but the guns-blazing approach to others? The OCA has become a church in which the Chancellor has admitted on his blog that he spends most of his days reviewing sexual misconduct cases. Four Metropolitans have been forcibly made to retire or resign in the past ten years.

    We must smash this idol we have centered our church on. The SIC report of 2008 has led us down the path to arrive at the synodal statement of July 2012, which is a gross distortion of the truth. Our trust in these committees and their reports is bowing down to a false idol.

    • M. Stankovich says

      You are the epitome of ego run riot, whomever you may be. If these confidential, internal reports generated by and for the investigative purpose of the Synod are “idols,” you rail against them for the expressed purpose of installing your own. What you cannot escape is that the body of the OCA, rightfully gathered together in a conciliar process as ancient and sacred as the very actions of the Patristic Fathers themselves, “by the wisdom of men and the Grace of the Holy Spirit,” rejected your “distortion of the truth.” Massively and overwhelmingly you were rejected in no uncertain terms.

      What is pitiful is that you command authority before everyone, shamelessly and arrogantly, when you proffer conjecture and lies. You have no history and you mock those of us who lived it. Some of us who were there, adolescents and emotionally “children,” can verify the veracity of the content of these reports and much more. We have stories and experiences that would shock you; rich and dramatic “evidence” of our consternation, of our late-night soul-searching, discussions & debates, and our “obediences,” that at least at the time, seemed reasonable. Were we “sockpuppets” in a coverup? When you are 18 years old, “thanked” for your information, and informed that further discussion was sinful gossip, it was no coverup. But I emphasize this: you insult my suffering to my face with your claims because we know what is true and what is not. How we know, and the specifics are irrelevant at this point in time. But suffice it to say you and your moronic timeline and your proofs and arguments are your “opinion,” and nothing more.

      The Council of the OCA has rejected you and your thinking in no uncertain terms. This chapter is closed and it is the time to heal and move on. You need to shut up, submit in obedience to the will of the Church, or move on.

      • All in the Family says

        Good thing St. Mark of Ephesus didn’t listen to you. Anyway, you are not even a member of the OCA so who are you to talk tell anyone to shut up.

      • Alfred Kentigern Siewers says

        Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
        Dear M. Stankovich,
        You seem so irate when you preach peace! But here’s an idea maybe good for both of us.
        How about if each of us takes 10 days off from online posting, following Timofyih’s good quote earlier:
        “Compel yourselves; say the prayer; stop idle talk; close your mouths to criticism; place doors and locks against unnecessary words. Time passes and does not come back, and woe to us if time goes by without spiritual profit.”
        This could follow the spirit of Fr. John Peck’s Nativity Challenge for Bible reading, only we’d just be doing this “e-fast” for 10 days to start. I’m game if you are, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday morning West Coast time (but just don’t say anything particularly bad 5 minutes before the deadline if you accept the challenge :-)).
        Maybe we can convince Mr. Kraeff to join us as well. I am serious here!
        Yours unworthily in Christ,
        Alf Kentigern Siewers

      • ChristineFevronia says

        Dear Michael, I have taken your rebuke to heart. My intention was in no way to gloss over or downplay the suffering that has happened in the past, but based on the documents that are selectively leaked to the public, there seems to be an absence of facts used to make the cases. In this report there are pages regarding the financial scandals, but just this one short section about “personal moral failings”. And these reports are given so much credence… As if we are supposed to believe them and swallow them without question.

        And you are right about my ego. It is huge. In fact, it is far larger than our Metropolitan Jonah’s girth which you seem so intent on exposing as well. All I set about to do was to create a timeline to better understand what had happened, and your acknowledgement of that timeline is more commentary than I have received from the folks I sent it to in the OCA administration (although I did receive wonderful emails of support for Met. Jonah). Is it egotistical to think I could have had a response? You are probably right. Bless you for your chastisement and may God continue to have mercy on us both. My friend Esther always reminds me that it will be so wonderful in heaven, with no divisions or quarrels.

        • Christine, several years ago I was trying to help someone suffering from suicidal ideation and alcoholism. She was much loved by many, and an extensive team of priests, psychologists, friends, extended family and social workers had gathered around her. But at a critical point, there was really nothing more that anyone could do. If she was gonna do it she was gonna do it.

          A counselor at the time told me that you could tell how crazy a situation was by how many people were involved in trying to solve it. The more the people, the higher the level of angst and nuttiness.

          In our present instance, the problem is not what you have been drawn into (in an attempt to clarify it); nor is it Mr. Stankovitch visceral disagreement with your conclusions or your methods.

          It is the CULTURE OF CONDEMNATION that this particular report exemplifies; and really, all the OCA reports that I have read regarding these matters. The merciless attention to detail is so evident.

          At first I blamed Mark Stokoe for being the flame-fanner extraordinaire, but many MANY others have done their bit to keep it going. It eventually devoured Metropolitan Jonah – who was himself outspoken in this regard at the beginning of his tenure. I think the real reason Mark Stokoe quit was not so much from the external pressure he received, but because he could see he was being devoured by it. It had consumed him.

          I know the Metropolitan well, at least I believe I do. I couldn’t understand the awful things written about him because none of it jived with the man I had known all those years. His parents don’t get it either. Doesn’t sound like the boy they know. When you’re a parent, you know your kid.

          But really, if someone wants to judge you, doesn’t want you around, they can say almost anything to support allegations about you in an insinuating matter and thus give those allegations a measure of validity. If they want to get rid of you, you’re gone. This is what happened to the Metropolitan.

          Life is not fair; and often you can’t get to the bottom of the real thing, even if you wanted to. Ever try to resolve the issues of a married couple on the brink of divorce? She said; he said. The facts fit their feelings.

          What you discover is that there are secrets, lies even, known only to those most involved in the fight. These lies, hurts, resentments and remembrance of wrongs are the main thing; not the “facts” on the bullet list.

          Orthodox Christians toss around the concept of “Devil” to the point that I think Evil easily disguises itself as an initiator of tragedy in human affairs. Our failings become the focus. Not Evil. It’s your faults. My faults. Not the force that wants to “devour us and drag us down to hell alive”.

          And I think that’s what’s happening here.

          The OCA – under direct inspiration from the Devil – is trapped in a suicidal death spiral that is devouring its children no less than Saturn devoured his. The endless list of everyone’s faults. Thousands upon thousands of documented mistakes, errors and sins buzzing around the heads of bishops, priests and laity perpetuating perpetuating perpetuating until they break under the presence of those faults and accusations and/or leave.

          It’s a form of spiritual judo in which man’s inability to forgive and forget is used against him to destroy the church. Our adversary is made of three: you, me, and the devil. What if all the thoughts of all the people who ever had a beef with us were placed around our heads like buzzing bees telling us to “leave…leave…leave this infernal church.”

          Would you go?

          The climate in the OCA is the direct result of Christian struggle with Evil. I guess it starts at the top, with the Episcopacy. They seem attracted to bushwhacking. (After all, they commission these lengthy reports, don’t they?) And once you let the wolf in to feed on the sheep, it’s very hard to get him to leave.

          The devil wants to destroy our church – from within and with out. It would be very good for those in leadership to recuse their place on this spiritual chessboard and no longer participate. To put it another way, understand what the Grand Inquisitor was shown by Christ.

          – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

          It took me a long time to get this, but I have come full circle now from that first day in March, 2011 when I learned of the synod’s desire to rid themselves of Metropolitan Jonah. If you know that your enemy is not your brother, but Evil itself, the epiphany is entirely different. Maybe it will be so for you too.

          • Actually Jmical, there is nothing wrong with the OCA rejecting its leaders. Rejection of a leader is done by healthy organizations, or rather organizations trying to get healthy, all the time.

            If your theory were true, then you have fully discounted the will of man, and the new leader of the OCA would be Satan himself and he would rise up and bring all.

            No. We must reject this thinking and recognize your confirmation bias.

            As for Jonah, the OCA does owe him a chance to return to a similar role. Leaving him a homeless man will say much about the Synod’s hearts.

            Sadly, even a kind hearted argument like mine is rejected in this place. I think it might be better if I spend less energy trying to talk in Anonymouseville.

            • Fr. George Washburn says

              Hello friends:

              Thanks to jmical for that thoughtful post, and for Mr. Fall for adding his comment about spending less time around those shooting anonymous rockets out of this figurative Gaza into the land of the seeming enemy.

              One of the most fundamental fallacies of this site is that its denizens and sportsmen do not bring their own sins and blind spots – to say nothing of strengths and weaknesses – to the contest with any sense of consciousness of how they spoil their contributions. Bring them we do, all right, but with seemingly so little insight into the most hidden and potentially distorting of our own thoughts. And so we write, read, react as if each anony-mouser, and even those of us who use real names, were mentally and verbally gifted and well informed enough, AND spiritually healed enough, to see, perceive, recall, evaluate, think and comment with a small enough level of distortion to make dialogue even possible, let alone beneficial or non-destructive.

              That is a set of assumptions we should not make, let alone so lightly. When I read the ambush editorials against the Synod as well as the anonymous and tendentious claims against Met. Jonah or anyone else I am reminded of those Psalms (11:2 and 64:4) that refer to the sneaky shooting of arrows at good people from hiding and darkness. I think about some of the more vociferous and anonymous here might want to take a closer look at that imagery.

              And as long as I am bumbling around the poetical books, how about Proverbs 26:18-19 comparing slander to randomly shooting fire arrows around the neighborhood and then excusing one’s self, or Prov. 18:21 – “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” correlated w/ Gal.5:15 – if you bite and devour one another watch out or you’ll all get gobbled up!

              Following on from jmical’s comments do we dare to ask ourselves, or even solicit a non-anonymous guest editorial, about how blogs full of anonymous arrow shooters do or do not foster cannibalism within an institution such as the OCA that is clearly suffering from self-inflicted wounds?


              Fr. George

              • Father, the only issue I have found with your erudite comments is that you consistently line up your ducks with the winner and then justify your choice.

                It’s self-preservation – and those of us with families must never lose sight of the obvious (you have to eat) – but it does not necessarily make your position “right”. Often our young and our saints sacrifice their lives for us, even when we beg them not to.

                I read a story once; not sure if it’s true, but I’ll pass it on anyway.

                Just before Henry David Thoreau (author of Walden Pond) died, the local ministers gathered about him and asked him if he was finally ready to make his peace with God. They assumed he was a rebel at heart, a prodigal far from the Father.

                He replied ” I never had a quarrel with Him” and expired.

                Thoreau also once said, “In a world full of cowards, the one who turns away appears to be a deserter.”

                Never be too sure you are right. You may just be talking your book. That is why speech is merely silver. It is easy to talk the bible; hard to live it.

                Jesus’ mother has only a few spoken words in print, but when she said to the saints who accompanied her on a visit to St. Seraphim Sarovsky, “He’s one of us“, she was speaking about an inner quality that “pondered these things in her heart”. That’s where rightness is found.

                • Son of Job #2 says

                  Jmical, you pegged Washburn perfectly. He lines up his ducks with the winner, and then justifies his choice.

                  • Fr. George Washburn says

                    Good Monday morning:

                    I continue to highly value the spirit and content of jmical’s contributions, even if, as here, I think s/he is somewhat wide of the mark in seeing me as figuring out who the “winner” will be and then assembling evidence to support that preferred conclusion – in part at least because my family and I “have to eat.” (Given my weight it was charitable not to say “choose” or “so much!”)

                    On the money point, I am 65, no longer paid by any church source except the very occasional honorarium. To the extent that grocery dollars are needed, I do fine billing at moderate rates for a CA legal specialist with 33 years experience, and my opinions about OCA affairs don’t seem to affect prospective clients and payers of bills one way or the other.

                    Money or any other firm of self-interest aside, the idea of liking to be seen in support of a winner is worth watching out for. Seems like everything I learned in pop-culture 1950s and 60s childhood Schenectady revolved around activities (tests, elections, popularity contests, hit records, and especially sports) in which winners and losers were clearly declared. The inner self shaped by that all-encompassing score-keeper mentality no doubt still naturally inclines a man to see contests everywhere …and prefer to be counted among winners.

                    But I hope and believe what I have written here has proceeded from the old man’s belief that imagining, then setting up and pursuing a win/lose equation, and especially when doing so according to the world’s political model of unfairly vilifying those one identifies as the other side, is always off base and destructive in Church matters. Whether by Met. Jonah’s critics or his supporters, or anyone else.

                    As to jmical’s other main points (fewer words, more living of the Gospel) I couldn’t agree more, whether in the abstract or as applied to me and many of the other participants here. I do not see a whole lot of benefit from continuing a public dialogue in which I repeat myself more, and others who claim they understand me and disagree, do the same. jmical and Mr. Bauman and Um and Mr. Stankovich and Christine Fevronia, thanks – I would be so pleased if you get in touch at kentgwashburn@cs.com I have been blessed by you.


                    Fr. George

                    • Done With It says

                      Four paragraphs to argue you are not partisan. Figure out the winner, line up your ducks, and start shooting. That described you perfectly. Enjoy your exit.

                • It’s easy to publish one’s name, be recognized, and hold forth magnanimously from the safety and company of the winner’s circle. It only enhances the glory – a win win for you and the next Seabiscuit too. We all like to think our choices are wise. Not traveling the road less traveled does not mean those who did (or do) were wrong to do so.

            • Dan,

              While you are correct that leaders can be rejected in a healthy organization, that statement does not obtain here. If the objective was changing leaders, then the CA/MC/Synod could have thanked +Jonah for his service (they did not), given him a gold watch or equivalent, and elected someone new. The letter published on the 16th (10 days after the resignation) had no purpose other than to destroy the reputation of a man who had already given them what they purportedly wanted, the white hat.

              The most secular profit driven corporation does its infighting with more Christian charity than the OCA has shown.

              Sorry, but Jmical November 17, 2012 at 6:59 am seems to have the right of it. There is nothing healthy about what has been on display here.

          • ChristineFevronia says


            I am profoundly grateful for your comment, above. Profoundly grateful. Reading your words was exactly what I have needed on so many levels, and I feel like for the first time in a long time, my soul actually understands. Every word of your message got through to me. I thank you with all of my heart!

            • Yes, I wrote it for you. And if you were the only one who read it, it would have been enough.

              A day in the courts of our God are worth a thousand in the courts of men.” Psalm 84:10.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            As everyone knows, I am a staunch defender of the Antiochian Archdiocese and Metropolitan Philip. So, I am not a party to the conflicts within the OCA. I do not want to believe all the accusations that have been made about corruption within the OCA, because the clergy and faithful of the OCA are fellow Orthodox. I must comment on the following statement above, “The OCA – under direct inspiration from the Devil.” The OCA is not under any inspiration from the Devil. The OCA is made up of sinful men and women, just like my beloved Antiochian Archdiocese, but despite our personal faults, no Orthodox Church is under the inspiration of the Devil. The Holy Spirit is fully and completely present in the OCA. God will not let the OCA or any other Orthodox Church fall under the inspiration of the Devil.
            Jmical you went too far. it is right to be concerned about the welfare of the Church including the OCA, but you should repent of making such statements and pray for forgiveness for attacking Christ’s Holy Church one part of which is the OCA and then work on your own salvation and let God take care of His Holy Church. Even if you believe that the Bishop is a terrible sinner. He is still the Bishop and regardless of his personal faults is still a successor to the Apostles and thus a vehicle of the Holy Spirit. God will judge the Bishop. As long as he is not preaching heresy, you must show him the respect due his sacred office. Thus far, despite all the accusations and rumors, I have yet to see any evidence that any OCA Bishop is openly preaching heresy. If you have definite proof of any wrong doing by any Deacon, Priest or Bishop, bring it to the proper authorities and trust that God will give them the judgment to do the right thing for Christ and His Holy Church, one branch of which is the OCA. Once the proper authorities have made a judgement you should have the humility to accept that judgment.
            Remember that it is the heresy of Donatism to teach that the validity of the Sacraments depend on the worthiness of the Priest or Bishop.

            • Fr. John,

              I think you give me more credit than is due. One of the advantages of being a fallen person is I see the world from the ground up, not from the top down.

              If you read my comments of Nov. 17th carefully – and put yourself aside, or at least put aside any presumption about who I am or what my intention is – you will see the truth in what I am saying. I have a deep respect for spiritual forces, and especially for the Church. The big picture is what I am addressing.

              The far too numerous compilation of official OCA reports – detailing the myriad faults of its leaders by its leaders – is easily available on the web. Who commissioned them? Who signed off on them? Which dead buried their dead?

              A pervasive spirit of condemnation reiterates itself in those reports and at the end of every one of them there is a list of clergy signing their names. This is also the culture that destroyed the Metropolitan. It is astonishing, actually, that men who do such things act as if there will be no consequence, as if the Law will merely pass them by.

              Let me re-phrase my comments from a different perspective. What are the sentiments of those who know the Lord? What does the human spirit instinctively do when it contacts the Divine? What does our hard-wiring predispose us to do when the Lord draws near?

              Anyone who can answer those questions knows the inspiration behind those reports. Don’t assume you sit in Moses’ seat just because you are there. Jesus addressed the Pharisees as devils – whited sepulchers even – and Matthew 23: 23-35 is a very clear description of behaviors the Lord does not approve of in clergymen.

              • Archpeiest John Morris says

                I do not think that you understand my point. First of all every Bishop and every Priest is a sinner. I am a sinner. However, God even works through sinful clergy. I am not saying for a moment that any Bishop or Priest guilty of a serious moral offense should not be suspended. I am only saying that despite their personal faults God still works through the OCA. A Bishop or Priest may be under the influence of the Devil, but the Church as the Body of Christ cannot be. The OCA is pat of the Church and thus itself cannot be under the influence of the Devil despite the sins of its leaders. I do not know how much of what has been written is true because I have only met three OCA Bishops, Mark, Michael and Melchisedek. I want to believe that most of it is not true for what should be obvious reasons. I do not know what really happened with Met. Jonah. I just know that whatever happened it does not look good for the OCA to go through so many Metropolitans in such a short period of time.

                • Your reasoning just doesn’t hold up, Fr. John. If a “part of the Church … cannot be under the influence of the Devil,” and if each bishop and priest is a “part of the Church,” then no bishop or priest can ever be under the influence of the Devil. Get it?

                  You need to go back to the drawing board on this one.

                  Plus, if you do not know what is going on in the OCA, and can’t be bothered to investigate and figure it out, then stop declaring it spiritually healthy. I’m sure your heart is pure, but wishful thinking is just that!

                  Tell me, was the Bishop of Rome once part of the Church? What happened to the Holy Spirit there? Was it an instantaneous thing? Did it happen the moment a paper was signed, or did the recognition come after the fact? Or is the Western Church still an infallible part of the Church?

                  • Archpeiest John Morris says

                    Yes, a Preist or even a Bishop may be under the influence of the Devil, but the Church cannot. They can even lead a group of people out of the Church into schism. When a body goes into schism it ceases to be part of the Church. As you very well know the Western Church went into schism and then began to teach doctrines that are contrary to the Faith of the Holy Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils. The OCA is not in schism. Therefore the OCA is part of the Church. As part of the Church the OCA cannot be under the influence of the Devil.

                • Father, I hope I am not saying what you think I am saying, but please do not assume what I am not saying, as in “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” (Paul Simon). I’ve tried to keep it simple. Harm is harm. Too, I understand that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and hope I am not walking on that one. Your heart is in the right place. I just think the context is wrong

                  I remember a story a metropolitan once told me. I had spent the weekend with him and he shared many stories with me. A priest had a grievous sin and he could not relieve his conscience. It haunted him. But when he walked into the church before services, an angel of the Lord lifted it from him and held it like a cloak in abeyance. It would wait for him there at the narthex of the church, and it did not affect his performance of Divine services. As he left the church, the cloak was placed upon him again and he departed with his sin.

                  I didn’t realize at the time that he was speaking about himself (he was later deposed), but there is strong support for this tradition in the church (you spoke about the efficacy of the sacrament), otherwise we would continually be disappointed by the men who lead us.

                  What I am questioning is the practice of churchianity as a substitute for Christianity, and then implying its the same thing.

          • Jmical quote: “The OCA – under direct inspiration from the Devil – is trapped in a suicidal death spiral that is devouring its children no less than Saturn devoured his. The endless list of everyone’s faults. Thousands upon thousands of documented mistakes, errors and sins buzzing around the heads of bishops, priests and laity perpetuating perpetuating perpetuating until they break under the presence of those faults and accusations and/or leave.”

            I think this is profound. In the book, Unseen Warfare, I learnt that Satan and the demons desire, more than anything else, to destroy me from the inside out. And one of the best ways to do this is through my thoughts: he said/she said; what did it mean? what could it mean? what are the deeper implications? how should I take this? what is the long-term ramifications of this? oh my!

            I also learnt, from Scripture and my Spiritual Father, that the demons would most pursue me as my pursuit of God became more intense. When I’ve had a “hard” or “bad” Lent, it’s actually been a very good one, because the demons have been trying to distract me from the work at hand.

            So too the OCA. What is it about American Orthodoxy, and the pursuit of American Orthodoxy that the demons might want to destroy? Might it be the righting of a long-stanind canonical mess? Might it be the humble recognition and confession of too many years in the pursuit of spiritual pride? Might it be the uniting of The Church under a single omophorion…finally? Might it be “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, upon the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life for evermore.”

            We are small, and weak, and poor, and fraught with difficulties. We’ve not just feet of clay, but calves and knees and hips of clay! Yet if God wills for a single, American Orthodox Church, what better reason for Satan to try to destroy us and get us running off in every direction like a headless vector? Why are we persecuting each other? Why are we killing ourselves? God save us.

            • Dear AG,

              I have had similar thoughts. I find it odd that it’s not talked about much from that viewpoint. There are so many things about my OCA church that are so right; the theology, the exposition of the fathers’ traditions, the appeal to Americans in a free society; and I have often wondered if this decade-long episcopal fray was more about preventing the formation of an authentic American Orthodox Church, and less about the faults of the participants.

              This fascination with the faults of church leaders by church leaders has become the tar baby that sticks to those who touch it and drags them down to hell alive. Your allusion to Unseen Warfare is apt.

              Remember Rome? The Roman church was tiny in Paul’s time, but it eventually matched the economic greatness of the Roman empire with its spiritual greatness and future martyrs. I was hoping the OCA could have been that kind of light in America.

              The United States is the dominant political force in the globe today, and say what you will about our capitalism, on a bad day – yes, even on a very bad day – we still treat our citizens better than 90% of the world’s nations.

              What is the American dream? Come here with nothing and ten years later you are giving back to the world. I see this all the time because I work so much with young people, and right now they are writing their essays for college, hoping for acceptance.

              A young man from Mongolia comes to mind who I was helping today. The first time he walked into a Buddhist temple in his native country at age 8 with his grandmother – he was awestruck by the sound of the mantras, the chanting, the monks milling about in red and gold and the smell of incense filling his nostrils. It transported him he said into a realm of serenity, peace and safety. His grandparents took him to the temple because they wanted him to know where he came from, who he was, and what his community was all about.

              After his mother and older sister decided to strike out on their own and take their chances in the New World, they sent for him at age 10. He left behind his tight-knit community. But before he left he watched his beloved uncle die of a heart attack in a cold Mongolian hospital ward. Now he wants to become a doctor. He made a vow to spend the rest of his life helping others. As he said, the world is suffering and he wants to relieve it.

              Kids like him are not rare. They are out there. They are here in the states.

              Orthodoxy has SO MUCH to offer to Americans – an authentic religion, the faith of our fathers, the root from where it all begun. Instead – at the head – or rather, in the mind – a different maxim seems to be pursued, similar to what the nobleman Cassius spoke to his friend “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141).

              This smallness of soul was never more evident than in the now-defunct OCANews site. The exquisite viciousness that Mark Stokoe applied to Metropolitan Jonah, the incisive journalistic skills; the attention to minute detail so that no particle of criticism might be left unexpressed; the almost sieve-like leak of confidences and inside information which only those in administration or the synod could have given him; the unification of the synod around the idea of deposing the Metropolitan; and finally, the way in which the Metropolitan’s every move and mood seemed to be recorded and purveyed to those who could do his reputation the most harm.

              It all seemed demonic to me – the consistency, the devotion to purpose, the histrionics that didn’t go away, the destructive effect on the fabric of the church. And because the two previous primates were also deposed under a cloud, it makes me wonder who is actually moving the pawns on this chess board.

              I am saying many things here, but I am speaking the unspoken too. Fire is fanned by every wind of thought. You think you are in control, and then it consumes you. Supposedly now there is a peace to come over our church because no fight is left to fight. But it is a paradox that peace goes hand in hand with combat. A paradox, but true.

              At a recent lecture an image of the church came to me. You know those huge rocks off the California and Oregon coasts, the million-pounders that the winds and the waves smash against interminably? They are like the church, and yet the sea is filled with schisms and heresies innumerable, personal and public lies innumerable, and every wind of doctrine and political intrigue imaginable – including today’s ever-popular gay rights movements with its legions of adherents. And the waters beat against those rocks and they roll off, they roll off, they roll off.

              The big decision for our church is whether we want the rock or whether we want the wet. And it’s a special responsibility of our episcopacy to assure that choice is true.

      • People who think for for themselves can cause such trouble!

        Depends on what they’re thinking about, doesn’t it?

      • “It seems, then, that, like transparency and accountability, discussion should be demanded and not restricted.” Michael Stankovich, Aug. 2011, OCA News, “Should We Fear the ‘Werther Effect?’

        “You need to shut up, submit in obedience to the will of God, or move on.” Michael Stankovich, Nov 2012, Monomakhos comment

      • AFTERWORD:
        Let’s not forget that before being elected Metropolitan, Jonah, before the entire All-American Council
        at which he was elevated, “smeared” people on the basis of allegations in essence those of the SIC report. No one can deny this. Remember ‘raping the Church?” Anyone?
        George decided to print the SIC report NOW. Where is the Statement of the Holy Synod, as long as we are bringing “the historical record” up to date? And Eric Wheeler’s original letter to each member of the Holy Synod?
        Five Metropolitans have been replaced in the last 43 years of my life: Leonty, Ireney, Theodosius, Herman, and Jonah, and, since I’m only 80, who knows HOW many more will be replaced before I’m finished? Only one of them died “in the saddle.”
        At least they looked after Ireney after he was replaced by an Administrator. Jonah is just chopped liver.
        Finally, i believe it’s time this new Bishops’ Assembly, whatever they call it, should be nagged into proclaiming that the Patriarch of Moscow holds “The Primacy of Importance,” while, of course, leaving the “Primacy of Honor” to Istanbul’s diocesan bishop, who knows how to treasure it.
        IMHO. Just sayin’.
        PS Question: Is that woman Lily Tomlin’s character, Ernestine? She’s aged a little.
        PPS I couldn’t help noticing that the eunuch, Drezhlo, is beginning to show the same sort of “interest” in me as Heracleides. Lifted a photo off my Facebook page! I’m WAY to old for either of them.

      • Tom Jeffrey says

        The will of the Church needs to submit itself to the will of God!

    • This opens with one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve ever read and results in Ms. F’s total loss of credibility.

      None of this was too complex really. Unfortunately, the same people that refuse to accept those grim realities in that report will perish from this earth unmoved that the person they respected greatly did wrong.

      They will try to suggest that a vengeful deacon and a gay guy led the charge to form a committee to unseat an honest man.

      Some people just don’t have much common sense. They find themselves overwhelmed by adjectives, not objectives.

      I admire your play on words, but that is all it was…

  7. Sean Richardson says

    As uncomfortable as it may seem to people within an Orthodox cultural context, we live in the United States and there is a First Amendment and, as always in such cases, truth is a defense. This is not the case in any predominant Orthodox country (definitely not in Russia, for example). Perhaps this is one reason why the United States makes for a differing cultural context for Orthodoxy, one that it is still struggling to embrace (or reject).

  8. Here you go, guys. The main “foreign” bishop speaks into the American-born VACUUM:
    His Beatitude, Tikhon
    Archbishop of Washington
    Metropolitan of All America and Canada
    Your Beatitude, Dear Brother in the Lord:
    I congratulate you on your election to the primatial throne of the Archbishops of Washington, Metropolitans
    of All America and Canada.
    By the will of the plenitude of the Orthodox Church in America, a high responsibility has been placed on you
    for the future of the youngest Local Orthodox Church, which has experienced a difficult time in her history
    in recent years. I hope that through the efforts of Your Beatitude the American Church will restore fullfledged
    relations with other Local Orthodox Churches, restore peace and harmony within herself and make
    comfortable the further life of your predecessor at the Metropolitan See of Washington.
    I prayerfully wish that through the intercession of the great apostle of America, St. Tikhon the Patriarch of
    All Russia, the Lord Pantocrator will give you strength and wisdom as you will work in the difficult field of
    Primatial ministry.
    With brotherly love in the Lord,
    + KIRILL
    Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

    • Charles Demetrios Blanchard says

      Master, bless!

      It’s going to be VERY INTERESTING to see how his Beatitude deals with +JONAH. Especially since Moscow is going to be watching closely, very closely.

      Please pray for me, a sinner.

    • Your Grace,

      The key paragraph is the second one in which Moscow gives her congratulations tied to a very important condition:

      I hope that through the efforts of Your Beatitude the American Church will restore fullfledged
      relations with other Local Orthodox Churches, restore peace and harmony within herself and make comfortable the further life of your predecessor at the Metropolitan See of Washington.

      If it is true that Moscow has sent these same feelings to the OCA through back channels on at least three occasions in recent weeks, it would appear that this letter going public puts the OCA on the defensive and Moscow is expecting +Jonah to be treated with respect and released by the OCA to ROCOR. Anything less puts the OCA in a tough spot with the only Church that is currently willing to support the real life of the OCA in the world-wide Orthodox front.

      Note to OCA synod – release +Jonah to ROCOR and treat him with respect as he rebuilds his life after your serious mistreatment of him. Honestly, will you finally do the right thing or will you still try and humiliate him by making him subservient to +Benjamin?

      Move on and get your own house in order. That is what Moscow is telling you and she is your Mother Church. Listen to your Mother.

      • ProPravoslavie says

        Stan Drezhlo is now claiming that the letter is not on Patriarchia.RU!


        Yet once again, Stan shows himself up to be the ignoramus that he really is!

        Here is the letter on Patriarchia.Ru as of November 16, 2012 at 2200H Eastern time, although I saw it as early as 1600H.


        Take note that the copy of the document on patriarchia.ru has nothing on it that says that it comes from the DECR. If patriarchia.ru itself says that the letter came from the Patriarch, then it surely did.

        • All in the Family says

          Stan Drezhlo is so wickedly twisted that unless a person falls within the most narrow parameters of his/her approvals, like being pro-Slavic, except for Met. Hilarion of the MP, anti-OCA, except for his/her fav, Bp. Mel of Pittsburgh and +Job, anti-convert konvert, pro-Obama, anti-Repulican, pro-Soviet, he/she is always trying to soften the edges around Lenin and her hero Stalin, pro-Communist, and then his/her wierd delusion that RSK is behind the scenes pulling the strings in the OCA. Must be doing a pretty bad job since he is still deposed! You get the idea, this nutter is a man, turned into a woman, taking mass doses of hormones to trick his body into thinking it is something that it is not and who will always hate the OCA because it did not bless his self-multilation.

          Now Stan says the letter of congratulations is a fake because it wasn’t from pat.ru? Sure, Hilarion just decided to forge a letter and put it up on his website. Maybe it was by design not to have it on the MP official website, at least at first, and put it only on the external affairs website of the MP? Maybe, like the letter they wished to send a message? Sure this is speculation on my part, but it is just as speculative and maybe not quite a wacky as Stan saying the letter from +Kirill is suspect.

          But he does have neat pictures and graphics. Just don’t read the other stuff, unless of course you enjoy The Onion. It’s almost as funny.

          UPDATE – Well now +Kirill’s letter has been posted on Stan’s approved website for the MP, so now it really was his letter. But watch how Stan justifies his bad reporting……..

          The “patriarchal” letter showed up on patriarchia.ru in the Recent Publications section (that is, items with an official letter not important enough for the news section), backdated to yesterday. Indeed, I was told by a source close to the affair that HH just scribbled his signature on this, he’s been more concerned with his trip to the Holy Land and the STPGU anniversary (he spent all day at the shindig, unlike Mollard & Co, the Vorobyov mafia IS powerful and must be attended to). Again, a low-res image, no photo-album, and no coverage in the “Latest News” section… all add up to ho-hum. What else isn’t new? It’s boilerplate… he writes more for a local ruling bishop in the rodina…


          Poor Stan. Hates to admit he is wrong. Hates to get scooped and never misses a chance to dis those terrible low-res pictures.

          Comments Off in good soviet style. He talks we listen.

          • ProPravoslavie says

            “Stan Drezhlo is so wickedly twisted that unless a person falls within the most narrow parameters of his/her approvals, like being pro-Slavic, except for Met. Hilarion of the MP, anti-OCA, except for his/her fav, Bp. Mel of Pittsburgh and +Job, anti-convert konvert, pro-Obama, anti-Repulican, pro-Soviet, he/she is always trying to soften the edges around Lenin and her hero Stalin, pro-Communist, and then his/her wierd delusion that RSK is behind the scenes pulling the strings in the OCA.”

            It is only a matter of time before Stan attacks the Patriarch himself. In the past few weeks he has added even his former “hero” Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) to his hate list. Stan calls Met. Hilarion of ROCOR an instrument of the Vlasovtsy for supporting the idea of having Lenin denounced by the Russian state as an extremist but forgets to mention that the idea came from Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, who is supposed to be a Communist (according to Stan the twisted).

            As for those “low-res” pictures allegedly showing that the articles they accompany are not important — in patriarchia.ru, ANYONE who is NOT a Patriarch does NOT get a photo gallery. The only exception I’ve seen, and that was just once, was for Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna, understandable given that he is the Patriarch’s vicar for most of the Moscow diocese.

            Are we sure that Stan himself is not a plant of anti-MP forces? His blog can do more to damage the MP than anything else out there on the Net.

            (Would love to make a “Voices from Russia” parody article entitled: Stan Drezhlo is a CIA agent!)

            • Come on now, we are all “twisted” if we were not so, there would be no need of a Church. I just wish there was a way to contact this Stan through her blog, as it stands, there is no way to offer comment to her or offer correction

              • George Michalopulos says

                Certain commentators directed me to a certain atrocious, vile website because its purveyor was speaking about Laurie and telling people to pray for her. Speaking for myself, I am very offended that that sick, twisted, miserable excuse of a human being is now asking people to pray for Laurie. Almost more than anybody, Stan the Tran did more damage to the Paffhausen family and thus contributed to Laurie’s untimely demise, than anybody else. If he had a conscience, he would hang his head in shame.

                There, I’ve said it and I feel much better for doing so.

                • Comments Off Drezlo throws out a bone as her brand of compassion which does nothing to offset her evil brand of hatred. She fools no one but herself. People look at his/her website for the same reasons they slow down to see a car wreck.

                  Living in a dreamworld populated by Mother Soviet Russia and Cossacks harkening back to a make beleive yesteryear while hating anyone who doesn’t accept what he did to himself must be a miserable life and the crude stuff he spews is ample proof of it.

                  And yes, she bears a sin in how ugly she treated + Jonah.

                  • Nikos says (November 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm)

                    Comments Off Drezlo throws out a bone as her brand of compassion which does nothing to offset her evil brand of hatred. She fools no one but herself. People look at his/her website for the same reasons they slow down to see a car wreck.

                    Living in a dreamworld populated by Mother Soviet Russia and Cossacks harkening back to a make beleive yesteryear while hating anyone who doesn’t accept what he did to himself must be a miserable life and the crude stuff he spews is ample proof of it.

                    And yes, she bears a sin in how ugly she treated + Jonah.

                    Please remember that — like all ‘transsexuals’ — Stan/Barbara Drezhlo is suffering under an oppressive and heavy demonic delusion. We are not EVER born into the wrong sex. The medical and psychiatric communities are just wrong in thinking that surgery might correct God’s ‘mistakes’.

                    The medicine men are merely admitting their insufficiency, telling us that it’s easier to modify physical characteristics via plastic surgery than to correct the psychosis which informs transsexualism.

                    Stan/Barbara’s public thoughts are ample evidence of that problem.

                    Let us all pray for the salvation of Stan/Barbara Drezhlo and everyone who suffers from this delusion, and be as forgiving as we can be.

    • Michael Bauman says

      So, the OCA does not have ‘fulfledged relations’ with other local Orthodox Churches?

      Seems to me I’d want to know what was broken and how to fix it. Also seems that one step they can take is in properly providing for Met. Jonah, no?

    • [quote] By the will of the plenitude of the Orthodox Church in America, a high responsibility has been placed on you [/quote]

      Is it significant that he does not characterize the election as being by the will of the Holy Spirit” as a complement…at the very least….to the will of the plenitude?

      • Seraphim98.

        Interesting insight. The use of the word “plentitude” is common when the Patriarch of Constantinople speaks. But then again, maybe His All-Holiness, Patriarch Kirill didn’t check with Fr. Hopko to see if the Holy Spirit was present in Parma. Apparently, according to Hopko he was not there in Pittsburgh when +Jonah was elected. It is all so confusing isn’t it.

        One thing is for sure, the “plentitude” felt the Holy Spirit in Pittsburgh (sans Hopko) but the feeling in Parma was more like, “whatever.”

        I am sure that the press from DC this coming weekend as Met. Tikhon makes his first visit to his primatial cathedral will be reported to us with dutiful exactitude that it was a glorious welcome. The fact that 50% of the DC membership has left will not be mentioned. Those present will constitute the plentitude.

        And the beat goes on.

        • Decompression

          All-righty then! Back from Parma and had a few days to relax, assess my experiences there, report to my Parish Council, and generally try to understand WHAT THE HECK JUST HAPPENED!

          Sorry for the ALL CAPS. It’s not like I felt like SHOUTING AT SOMEONE.

          Anyway, here are some observations.

          One: an extraordinary council that purports to be electing a metropolitan is only extraordinary in its obfuscation. The council does not elect the metropolitan; the synod does. The council barely even elects a slate of candidates. The synod can (and did) ignore the will of the delegates. I guess this is extraordinary because it pretends to be democratic but only holds the form thereof.

          A local parishioner rightly took me to task for expecting a protestant form of electing our leaders. Orthodoxy, on the other hand, is a hierarchical church – not a democracy. Okay. I’m good with that. Don’t want to return to my protestant roots. So WHY DID WE ALL NEED TO GO TO PARMA IN NOVEMBER TO SIMPLY SUBMIT A SLATE OF CANDIDATES TO BE IGNORED OR NOT? We could have done that by email with a lot less expenditure. (But then email is so insecure, right Mark?)

          Two: the balloting process places nearly no restrictions on who may be nominated. If any candidate got 2/3 vote on the first ballot, THAT would be extraordinary. Ditto for the second ballot.

          Three: the materials we were given stated that the council is “the highest legislative and administrative authority within the church.” What’s extraordinary is that the synod is apparently higher yet. Or maybe by ‘council’ they actually meant ‘synod.’ Or perhaps postmodernism has won and words finally do not have a fixed coherent meaning. ‘Council’ may mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean.

          Well, enough about all that. I would like to see some rules changed, not to make it more democratic. That would truly be a disaster. Just to make it more workable and straightforward.

          1. Balloting could be done by teleconference like online interactive studies are done. A good $30 headset with USB connector is a lot cheaper than air fare and hotel.
          2. Have one ballot with two submissions. Synod takes the top three and elects from those. This would streamline the process.
          3. Candidates’ qualifications and experiences could be submitted to the delegates along with their nomination for previewing before balloting. This might give the synod a cleaner slate from which to choose. Sort of a quasi-vetting process.
          4. Parishes could do a better job of educating their delegates on what to expect, that is, that you are part of a nominating process for an election, not voting for a metropolitan. (I was not the only delegate there who misunderstood my role. Mea culpa, and somebody else’s culpa, too.)

          Final note: I ended up sitting next to a parishioner from the Diocese of the Midwest who had come directly to Parma from his diocesan meeting where they are fighting this synod over the proposed reinstatement of a bishop who is guilty, at best of sexual harassment, and possibly of predation. This delegate’s parish is so small that he paid his own way to both meetings in addition to taking off work. If you think I am in high dudgeon about the meeting in Parma, imagine how he felt.


          [Requiescat in pace, Laurie Paffhausen. Memory eternal.]

    • Son of Spartacus says

      I hope that through the efforts of Your Beatitude the American Church will restore fullfledged relations with other Local Orthodox Churches, restore peace and harmony within herself and make comfortable the further life of your predecessor at the Metropolitan See of Washington.

      The part in bold jumped out at me from this letter.

    • More bad Russian a la Barbara Marie. What exactly is a “konvertsky”?

      • People who support centuries of Church Tradition on sacraments and moral theology. You don’t have to be a convert.

      • Denis….A ‘konvertsky” must be envelope-o-phile.

        • My guess is that this person is probably Barbara-Marie. I’m not sure why I read her blog sometimes (I think for entertainment purpose only), but her russianisms are usually off the mark. “Vladiki [insert name]” is not correct. ‘Vladiki’ is plural. ‘Vladika’ would be correct. Additionally, the term ‘konvertsy’ doesn’t mean anything – a convert in Russian is a ‘konvert’, so plural would be ‘konverty’ without the ‘s’. Finally, ‘Lyonyo’ is not the correct diminutive for Leonid – it should be ‘Lyonya’. I’m sure there is more.

          • Yes, here is my personal favorite, Denis R—, which is how Stan-BM translates (or used to translate?–haven’t looked at that blog for a very long time) the Patriarch’s title “and All Russia” and calls it “and All the Russias”. Apparently, he/she doesn’t know that “Vseja Rusi” is not plural.

          • I offer you all my strongest possible advice: Stop reading and discussing Stan-BM’s blog.

            First of all, you are wasting brain cells on it. It is like junk food for your minds, keeping you from thinking more constructively about more fruitful things.

            Second of all, you are promoting the blog every single time you mention it. Your reference drives traffic there and you obvious account for a good deal of traffic on your own.

            I would never have found George’s blog here if Mark Stokoe’s hatred of the ocatruth.com folks had not compelled him to keep referencing their website. Because of Mark, whose blog I found through a google search, I found the ocatruth.com website (now defunct) and there I found references to monomakhos.com … So I would not mention or discuss Stan’s blog unless some poor ignorant soul brings it up and it is really necessary to discuss it. I found Stan’s blog once, could tell that it was a waste of my time, and have not returned since. Let it go, and the world will be better because you did.

            • Lola J. Lee Beno says

              The best way to starve a troll is, not to give the troll any shred of attention at all. Because really, that is what a troll is after – attention. I refuse to even google for the URL of that blog so as to not push it up further in Google SEO.

            • Um,

              You are so right. I confess to my father confessor every time I look at that website. Thanks for reminding me. By the way did you see that Mark Stokoe, with the blessing of the OCA Chancellor Jillions, now says that the OCA Time of Troubles are over? Maybe I need to stop reading the OCA website for the same reasons as not looking at VOR. Check it out.

              • In the interview linked by Jillions, Svetlana Vais identified Mark Stokoe as “an orthodox activist in the OCA”. I was a little surprised by that for several reasons that I am too weary to get into. But that and the unabashed triumphalism of Stokoe with regard to the election of Tikhon tells me the “activists” are supremely confident the battle for the OCA is over — game, set, match in their favor. They have consolidated power in the OCA to such an extent that nothing is likely to threaten it in the next several decades. By that time, there will be hundreds if not thousands of Roman Catholic parishes in the US larger than the entire OCA — which is to say: nobody will care anymore.

              • Nikos and Um, look at the picture from Parma council that Fr. Jillions thinks shows Christ “embracing” them.

                Christ Pantokrator depicts our Lord as All-Powerful: the Lover of Mankind, but also the Righteous Judge.

                God is not mocked.

                • Helga,

                  Those in charge of the OCA now believe that they are right, the OCA is THE model for all Orthodox to follow, that they are in an advanced stage of development which include a more “democratic” approach to church governance in which, for example the synod and the mc are co-equal leaders.

                  I could go on, but you get the idea. Christ is for the OCA because Jillions says so. The quicker we get with the program the better. Right?

                  • Nikos, I hear you. It’s like a disease – Syosset Syndrome, or Autocephalitis.

                    They really think God blesses their evil and treacherous behavior. Please, someone put the OCA out of everyone else’s misery.

                  • Helga coins the term “Autocephalitis”. Brilliant!

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    All this bitter, self-reinforcing talk reminds me of a circular firing squad. I had a more apt comparison but I cannot say it in polite company.

                  • Oh no, Carl! It is shocking to hear you report of bitterness, intellectual violence, and dissension in the OCA. We had been informed by Mark Stokoe (with your vigorous approval) that the Time of Trials was now over for the OCA — that Jonah being primate had been the ex post facto cause of the troubles, and that his removal had solved these problems once and for all.

                    It must be terribly disheartening for you and Mark Stokoe to realize your diagnosis of the OCA’s pathology was incorrect afterall.

                    My sympathies and best wishes to you as you try to figure out where you went wrong. I hope you and Mark can figure out how to address your real problems this time. Will it complicate your work at all if reports that Mark has left the church turn out to be true?

          • Is it Vladyka or Vladyko for the singular?

            • Sue, “Vladiko” is English transliteration for a form no longer (or rarely?) used in English — the vocative, or direct address. If you were speaking directly to a bishop, you would use this form. If, on the other hand, you were speaking about a bishop to somebody else, you would speak of him as “Vladika”. . . . If you have Greek friends, you will find this same idea come up with proper names. If calling out to someone named, say, Vasilios, you would hail him as “Vasili”. If speaking about him, you would refer to him as “Vasilios.”


            • Both are singular, but Vladyka is nominative (talking about a bishop) and Vladyko is vocative (talking to a bishop). In spoken Russian the end syllable is virtually indistinguishable in either form but if you are addressing a bishop in writing it should be Vladyko.

            • Dear Sue,
              It depends on whether you want to use Slavonic or Russian. “Vladyko” is the vocative form in Slavonic. Russian no longer has the vocative case, so one addresses a bishop as “Vladyka”.

  9. This is not the first time, so I thought I’d point out something:

    I see an item that says “-x (from y votes)”
    I click thumbs up. The item then says “-x+1 (from y+1 votes)”
    My “thumbs up” was counted as a “thumbs down.”

    The Rating counter has a bug…

    • Or it could be that you are not the only reader who clicks in that increment of time. Your thumbs up + 2 others voting thumbs down = thumbs down by an increment of one.

  10. The “rumors” and “innuendos” of homosexuality that are only slightly veiled in the SIC are true. People can get on the “it’s a fraud” bandwagon if they like but I know for a fact that it’s true because I worked there. Sorry, I will not be giving my real name any time soon. Hmmm… could I be Fr. X? Fr. Y? Fr. Z? I could be a layman or woman. I could even be one of the children of one of these people.

    My name and relationship to Syosset is really not relevant because even if I did list my real name, I’m sure someone would say it’s a fraud. One has only to look at the long list of people that have passed through the doors of the place to know that there are a lot of people who know or knew something. Believe me, I’m not the only one.

    As some people have suggested, given the age of the former metropolitans, whatever their proclivities were, it’s time to give it up. At this point in my life, I’m inclined to agree. Getting angry over it isn’t going to help me, them or the Church. God will judge them and us. I can’t change them or the damage they inflicted on the Church, but I can still work on myself. I for one would like to see the new metropolitan succeed, so I will just remain silent about this issue. God help him cleaning up the messes left behind by his predecessors.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      If you want to be inspired go to Byzantine Texas and look at the video about the conversion of 500,000 Mayans to Orthodoxy in Guatemala and southern Mexico. God is at work through His Church despite our human limitations.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        Quite a large church in Guatemala and southern Mexico, isn’t it? Now, 500,000 divided by 20,000 equals how many “OCA” jurisdictions?

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Awesome! Simply Awesome! The real working of the Holy Spirit.


  11. Michael James Kinsey says

    On Pentecost, all present were of one mind under the supervision of the Holy Spirit , which they accepted gladly as the True Godly Authority.The disobedience of those 2 who lied to the Holy Spirit, was swift and deadly, and the Holy Spirit has every right to do it. I beleive this is the time written about in the Holy Scriptures concerning a great falling way. But, the Faithful are not without recourse or guidance, The Christ overcome the world, and so shall the Faithful. Where 2 or more are gahtered in MY Name, there shall I be also. Where the eagles are gathered togethe ,there also will the Body( His Mystical Body )be. The Holy Spirit goes whereever IT wills. God is no respecter of persons( clerical ranks and political positions). Those who love God and desire to serve HIM alone will not be hindered, especially those who know and recognize each others as Christian by thier fruits and works. The Christ is not defeated, He is Victorious.

  12. Lydia Paraskevas says

    Metropolitan Jonah’s sister, Laura, reposed this morning. May God grant her eternal rest. Please keep Vladika Jonah and his family in your prayers.