Scandals Must Come

Like many of you, I’ve been perplexed by the grave injustices meted out to His Beatitude by his “brothers” on the Synod. It has not only been painful to watch on a personal level (as in: how could they do this to another human being? Let’s not forget, Jonah is all but being falsely accused of covering up a rape) but more so on a general level. The prescient among us can see the OCA very well imploding because of this unpleasantness. At the very least, who would want to join the OCA at this point?

It saddens me especially in that although I am merely a layman (and not a very spiritually attuned one at that), if it’s so obvious to me, why can’t our leaders see it? Are they really that dense? There has to be something more than mere institutionalism involved here.

Please take the time to read this excellent essay from Fr Stephen Freeman. I think he hit the nail on the head.

Scandals must come (Matt. 18:7).

These are the words of Christ. He tells us that scandals are not only likely to happen – but that they will happen. They are necessary.

Most readers will marvel that this is a quote from Jesus. The reason is simple: the Greek is rarely translated in such a manner. “Stumbling blocks,” or “offenses,” is the more common way to render the word skandala. But the Greek has a very simple cognate in English: scandal.

Why would Christ tell his disciples that scandals must come? It is a description of the nature of things in this world. The entrance of the Kingdom of God and its dwelling among men is not such that men will cease to be broken or evil. Christ warned His disciples that he himself would be betrayed – not by strangers – but by one of them!

And this has ever been the case. From the earliest days of the faith, disciples have been betrayed, misled, robbed, deceived, cheated, taught falsely, raped and abused. There has never been an idyllic season of the Church when such scandals have been absent. In Western Europe where various reform movements have remade Christianity repeatedly – circumstances have presented scandals needing attention – but reforms have never succeeded in ending them. Christ’s words remain true regardless.

Of course, no religious group is free of scandal – I am not as familiar with those of others as I am of our own – but everybody’s got them. And the non-religious are as scandal-ridden as the religious. Hypocrisy is equal opportunity. The problem does not lie within religion or its absence – it is an inherent part of the human condition.

What of Christ’s words? Are scandals part of some Divine Plan? I think that would take his words in the wrong way. The passage begins with the warning, “Woe to the world because of scandals!” and concludes, “Woe to that man by whom the scandal comes!” Of course, the great scandal, is the “falling away,” warned of by Christ and the apostles.

[Christ, speaking of the time of great troubles] And then many will be scandalized, and will betray one another, and will hate one another (Matt. 24:10).

And St. Paul:

[speaking of the coming of Christ] Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first… (2 Thess. 2:3)

We can speculate about the internal nature of the great scandal or the falling away. But there is no New Testament version of the Christian faith that does not contain this aspect. It is part of the most primitive layer of Apostolic Tradition. It is part of Christ’s own teaching.

My experience as a Christian has been that everything “rhymes” with the larger picture of the faith. We can speak about the “last days,” and waste time speculating about such things. But Christian history has been replete with days that fit the pattern offered for those times. There is no Christian journey that is without scandal and a falling away. If we do not fall away, it is not because it never crossed our mind. Everyman in the course of a lifetime has the chance to be Peter or Judas.

If there is an inner necessity to the scandal, it is not within the scandal itself. The inner necessity is within us. The temptation that accompanies scandal is something that must be faced and overcome. Apparently, we cannot enter the kingdom of God without it.

Scandal (a “cause of stumbling”) comes in many forms. It can be as bold as corruption in the hierarchy, or moral turpitude within a priest. It can also be a prayer that we perceive to have been unanswered or God’s strange absence when we thought we could count on him. Anything that causes us to lose heart, to quit, to abandon the journey qualifies as scandal.

We admire the great martyrs and the courage of their suffering. But in most lives, suffering has a very banal quality: it offers us little chance to play the hero. I am very fond of the books on the life and work of Father Arseny. His stories are those of a saint in the Soviet Gulag. Some of the stories are quite miraculous, but most are born of the grace-filled ability to bear the innumerable indignities of a single hour, day after day. Such martyrdom over a period of decades is frightfully boring and tedious. And it is the boredom and tedium that become the scandal that he endured.

Scandal tests and proves the life of the heart. A life lived in the mind (thoughts and emotions) will endure scandal only with the greatest difficulty. Whatever the insult created by an actual scandal, the mind and the emotions will magnify it, rehearse it, argue with it, judge it, replay it repeatedly, become angry and despondent. The work of the mind is much harder to bear than the scandal itself. We are scandalized by our own passions.

The heart does not seek to judge. It understands the nature of righteousness and is not surprised by the presence of sin.

However, I take heart that Christ’s warning concerning the scandal that must come offers no condemnation for those who fall. His truly serious warning is for the one through whom the scandal comes. We all fall (at least everyone I know falls). I pray that when I stumble, I take no one with me. God give us grace.

I find these two prayers (from Orthodox Daily Prayers) to be of great help:

Save, Lord, and have mercy on those whom I have caused to stumble, turning them away from the path of salvation and leading them to evil and unseemly deeds. Return them to the path of salvation by Thy Divine Providence.

Save, Lord, and have mercy on those who hate and offend me, and do me harm. Do not let them perish because of me.



  1. The best article about our scandals I have yet read. Lord have mercy!

    • the strife for the nuns at Union Bridge Maryland has ended. They are with the Patriarchate of Georgia. Nice website
      now they sit back and watch thr rest destroy each other. many years to Patriarch Ilya and the sisters now of Saint Nina’s Monastery. Union Bridge,Md.

      • do you have a link?

        • Dear Koala,

          I am happy that the monastery, once named for the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, newly renamed for Saint Nina, Equal to the Apostles, is still functioning and sad that the dream of Metropolitan Jonah to have an OCA monastery in the Washington, D.C. area for all jurisdictions was not fulfilled. Still, as the OCA has an excellent relationship with the Georgian Orthodox Church, having hosted the Georgian Orthodox community and dear Father Michael of Georgia for many wonderful years at St. Nicholas Cathedral, perhaps we will have a close by monastery after all.

          Is all litigiousness past us? No, for our dear Metropolitan Jonah, Archbishop of Washington, still is not serving at his own cathedral.

          Hieromonk Searpheim came up from North Carolina and, at the direction of Metropolitan Dimitri of the Patriarchate of Georgia, performed a cleansing from desecration on the Leavetaking of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, October 4, 2012 old calendar, 21 September new calendar. This is the same Hieromonk Serapheim who was sent by Gerontas Dionysios of Thebes Greece to help Metropolitan Jonah seed monasteries and help mission parishes, as he had once helped the Antiochian Archdiocese seed monasteries in Mexico.

          I went eagerly to the website you offered and perhaps that is not the correct website because there is nothing there about the monastery’s prior history, no explanation of why Abbess Aemiliane had to be consecrated Igumena of the monastery when she already had been consecrated to that rank in the Church of Greece and recognized as abbess by the Church of Greece, the OCA and the ROCOR. But I probably don’t know how any of this is done. Maybe having had her antimens taken from her by the ROCOR, she had to have everything done fro scratch?

          The only monastery in Burnsville, North Carolina that I could find is an Orthodox monastery with a different name

          Uh, wait a minute. I’m in their archived news and here is Vladika Herman blessing their monastery after their “conversion” (from which religion?)

          Here, in case you forgot our Metropolitan Jonah, Archbishop of Washington, are these OCA monks at his enthronement

          But it seems that Burnsville, NC is now graced with a new Georgian monastery consisting of two monks from the Patriarchate of Georgia and Hieromonk Serapheim from Greece (who originally was going to help dear Metropolitan Jonah with parishes as monasteries but was called back to Greece for military duty). Abbess Aemiliane states that all the releases from the OCA and the ROCOR are in order. Do we know about the releases of Bishop Melchisidek yet?

          The Monastery of Saint Nina still retains a connection with Archimandrite Dionysios of Karditsa, Greece, and yet is under another jurisdiction, the Georgian Patriarchate. It was this combination of loyalties to an elder in one jurisdiction and a monastery in another that was difficult for both the OCA and the ROCOR. This seems to have been solved by Hieromonk Serapheim becoming the abbot of a Georgian monastery in N.C. As everybody seems to concelebrate and ignore jurisdictions down there in Burnsville, N.C., hopefully they’ll get on just fine. The OCA monks went to the local Greek church last Holy Week for some services, for example.

          We southerners are known for our hospitality and getting along.

    • John Darnall says

      Nicely put in terms of presenting the one verse regarding our inherent ability to foster scandal within the Church.

      However, it seems that the verse cannot stand alone but must be taken within the context of the overall set of directive warnings our Lord was providing for the leaders He was equipping.

      This chapter begins with a warning against not being humble in leadership and continues with the warning of being the cause of scandal, then a warning against despising the least over the greater. Following those stern words the Lord warns against not dealing with a sinning brother. That critical warning is followed by one of necessity against unforgivingness regardless of ones station in life.

      All in all it seems there is no room for tolerance of our inherent propensity to scandal, as the Lord noted. But neither is there room for tolerance for being too proud to deal with it, favoring those in positions of power, and not being willing to extend genuine forgiveness as Christ has commanded.

      No easy path as usual.

      • My dear brother, John. How I appreciate your comments on the context of the Lord’s sorrow over the fact that scandals must come and implicity urging us to be ready to deal with them and warning those leaders who cause or fail to remove them. Thank you.

        Yes, the context of Matt 18 is a call to humilty and innocence, followed by a warning to those who would cause a little one to stumble, followed by instructions onseeking to correct and win back (to humility, innocence and love) the one who is going astray into injustice–personally and then with others and then with the assistance of the Church. All this is followed by the command to be ready and willing to forgive 70 x 7 with a the parable of the unjust steward to illustrate the case of how to treat the debtor who admits his debt and begs for patience and mercy.

        While I always appreciate Fr. Stephen’s pieces and distribute them widely among family and friends–with great salutory effect–I have worred that this one might be heard by many as a stoic call to accept scandals when they come since that they come is not surprising. However, I do not believe St. Matthew’s context is intended so much to console as to encourage us to prepare for scandal when it comes to gird up our loins and remove it and its perpetrators not by tolerance but by confronting it, speaking the truth in love and expecting ourselves and others to live like Christ in all godliness and holiness. To Him be all honor and glory forever and ever.


        • Dear Lex, if I may be so familiar,

          This piece of Father Stephen’s is neither the best on the travails that this world bring nor the worst, but it failed in one obviously elephantine way – It mentioned none of the scandals or the possible loss of Metropolitan Jonah. Our Church has been assailed by much – financial scandals in the Serbian, Greek and OCA, sex scandals of various inds, all jurisdictions infighting worldwide for the same little peices of sometimes imaginary turf, the mixing of political, social and, worst of all nationalistic goals with sermons, denigration of what is true martyrdom, and pettiness and lack of loving kindness toward one another. Along with this is not taking advantage of the gifts and resources of each one of us as individuals.

          How we prayed for someone like Metropolitan Jonah, clean, pious, humble, intelligent, even brilliant in a refreshing homey way, inspiring, just, loving. We got him, and then we gave him no support for all the things we needed in the OCA.

          Shame on anyone who parrots things I’ve heard from too many individuals to make these a coincidence like “I personally like him but he just couldn’t work with his fellow bishops”,(my opinion, they really wouldn’t work with him and fought him every step of the way) “He was vetted too soon”, (He had tons of experience even in other jurisdictions, tons of amiable worldwide supporters, my opinion, and an unique pportunity no9t only for leadership, accepted by other jurisdictions, and also to galvinize people to action, but, my opinion, others would rather reap the total rewards for his shepherding)) “He just wasn’t an administrator”, (He had no administrative staff but managed sometimes several diocese at once, including tons of visits on schedules incredible to even contemplate, well),”He came from being a monk to handling an archdiocese for the first time” (This, among others, from someone whose full time vocation started during the Metropolitan’s tenure had already begun), and other trite catchalls.

          • What you see as an “elephantine” failure in this case, loh, I see as a function of Fr. Stephen’s single-minded commitment to his calling in that blog, and I would never presume to judge this in the way you have here. Consider that while all of us can glean abundant nourishment from his posts, his primary audience for that blog are seekers/inquirers into the faith and newbies. If he allowed that blog to become embroiled in discussion of the specifics of such scandals, it could not perform the evangelistic and catechizing function that it does. We don’t know what Fr. Stephen says about all this to trusted folks in his parish or among the faithful and clergy he knows well personally, but I don’t doubt he is willing to get into some specifics there. Where he has written with regard to Met. Jonah, he has had only the most complimentary and truthful things to say.

            • Dear Karen,

              What blog? I see no special reason why people cannot speak out on behalf of Metropolitan Jonah. I never heard of Father Freeman before this posting on Monomakhos

              • Oh, now I understand. Here’s a link to it:


                George lifted this post from Fr. Stephen’s blog. I don’t believe Fr. Stephen prepared this reflection having in mind to send it to George to post in this context (though likely he had many of the specific scandals and their discussion on the Internet in mind when he offered that pastoral reflection for those he is called to serve as an Orthodox Priest in the ministry of that blog). George can correct me if I’m mistaken here. If so, I’m expecting that might put its appearance here in a different light for you.

                Fr. Stephen doesn’t often mention specific contemporary hierarchs on his blog, in part since he only writes from his own first-hand experience and has a particular focussed goal (blessed by his Bishop) for what he writes. He has made it quite clear in some comments threads there he considers +Dimitri of blessed memory a Saint (who was also his spiritual father). He has mentioned finding Met. Jonah to be a loving spiritual father and has never said anything negative about him. Those who read his blog can draw their own conclusions about what he likely thinks about a lot of what is going on in the OCA.

                • It would be wonderful if he could speak out on behalf of his spiritual father, Jonah. Until then, it is just another sermon on scandals and maybe even an excuse for cowardice..

                  • I think we will just have to agree to disagree, here, LOH. I don’t think that is appropriate at least in the context of the kind of ministry going on at that blog. Perhaps in some other venue. Also, we don’t know that he is NOT speaking up for Met. Jonah with those he knows personally–only that he does not use the Internet as a venue for that kind of communication.

  2. STL Intercept 2.03

    [Disclaimer: I cannot tell you how I came into possession of this confidential email except to say that it was not leaked to me by His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah. Neither did I steal it from any priest’s private email account. I am no bishop.]

    “My Dear Unholy Synod,

    Morons. I’ve got morons for minions. Ever since the July Ambush, you guys have taken one misstep after another. Not that I have any problem with blundering, misguided, cowardly, sexually confused, morally compromised, ethically challenged, historically ignorant, spiritually bankrupt church leaders. Au contraire, mon bozos! I like you. I really, really like you … after a fashion.

    But you’re supposed to be working for ME. Whose side are you on anyway? And what’s up with the armed guards for the AAC? I thought you hired them to intimidate the delegates. The way you’re going you’ll need them for your own protection.

    And how about your so-called vetting process for the delegates? Why would you reject the application of a non-voting delegate? All that did was tip your hand. Between that and barring Metropolitan Jonah from attending, you’ve exposed our strategy of packing the court. Oh sure, we know that you are going to elect whomever you want regardless of the votes. Been there, done that. Twice.

    But now you have removed even the façade of fairness. It would have been better to encourage the dissent, allowed arguments, then wrung your hands while electing your pre-selected Metropolitan. You could even throw in some crocodile tears for effect. I love that animal. Reminds me of my first-born. But I digress.

    Leaping Lucifer, Miss Agnes! Have you lost your minds? On the one hand, you’re dealing with Americans here. Even if they are sheep without a shepherd. Even if you are wolves in shepherds’ clothing, you should know that Americans are a rebellious people. Always have been.

    And on the other hand, many of the Orthodox faithful who you are so cavalier about dismissing are of Russian extraction. They have real experience of recent tyranny. Did you think they would just roll over and play dead?

    You were supposed to be assembling a parliament of apostates, heretics, and whores. Instead, you have summoned the church triumphant. You really don’t want to eff with them. Really.

    So here’s what you do. Cancel Parma. This has become a no-win scenario for us. Cancel the AAC. Give the church a bogus reason for it. Make something up. That’s what you’re good at. Then go back to your rabbit holes, your rat holes, or your hole of preference, and think about what you’ve done.

    Leave the church to ponder and forget their pain. Time is on our side. Stall.

    Meanwhile, tell ET to phone home … FOR HIS BRAIN. It’s a little obvious suddenly discovering that you have almost exactly twice as many registered delegates as there are signers of a petition. Does anyone there even remember what subtlety looks like?

    Now I’ve got to deal with a legion of demons who want to rip your souls out, and I’m seriously thinking of letting them. And you can bet your sweet [moderator deleted expletive] that all the armed guards in the state of Ohio won’t help you if I do.

    You guys are starting to piss me off.

    Your father below,

    15 weeks and the beat goes on

  3. Fr Stephen Freeman often writes in ways that bring an inner peace, which strengthens forbearance and even fosters compassion toward those who harm us. This essay is another wonderful encouragement. Thank you, George, for posting it.

    Throughout scandal, we must “keep our eyes on the ball,” namely, Christ Jesus. He is the sole reason why we are Orthodox. If He, and He alone, is our Hope, then the sins of men cannot create despair in us. And if we keep our eyes on Him, we will forgive those leaders who sin, and even agree that my sins are greater.

    This does not mean, of course, that the sins of leaders are to be ignored, or excused, or denied. There must be accountability, and this site –while perhaps allowing an overly liberal latitude toward angry folks venting, sometimes slandering– this site is a call to accountability and honesty, in the midst of the opposite from our bishops and national administration.

    Nevertheless, Fr Stephen here has once again pastored we who are scandalized.

    Indeed, scandals have always come, and must come. First Corinthians 11:19 tells us that, unfortunately, “There must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” This doesn’t mean we hate anyone, or condemn anyone. It does mean that we must stand for the truth, and stand against falsehood, including opposing leaders who harm the Body of Christ.

    • IWantToHoldYourHand says

      If we are firm in the Faith, we should be praying all the more for those who scandalize, because the judgment of God is upon them (“Woe to those through whom scandal comes!”). Our response to the now-infamous, discredited letter slandering Metropolitan +JONAH before the world, should then be twofold: one, speaking against its lies and defending our Godly Metropolitan, and two, praying fervently for those who wrote and distributed the letter to the world, not just that they would repent, but that they would be forgiven.

  4. Any one notice the WEBsite of ROCOR? They announce that the Bishops who gathered in London this last week discussed how to receive those who wish to become part of ROCOR/MP? Think that they are getting requests?

    • Money(ThatsWhatIWant) says

      I know of at least one priest, with deacon, with entire congregation, that is planning on leaving the OCA to join ROCOR. I think it’s a mistake, but I know it’s happening. I also know of leaders who are suggesting at least getting to know ROCOR and Serbian hierarchs, in case +Matthias comes back.

      • George Michalopulos says

        There’s more than one I can assure you.

        • Denis Rukobludov says

          We’ll see. There was plenty of this kind of talk during the financial scandal a few years ago. On a clergy/parish level, no one left.

        • Denis Rukobludov says

          George, I do not think it will be such an easy task to be received in ROCOR or the SOC, though it would be interesting to see how both Churches would handle it. Both are on the old calendar (although I am not sure how ROCOR handles the silly little “Western Rite” project). Would an OCA parish be willing to switch to the old caledar? Would ROCOR be able to handle two calendars? What happens if there are 2 Dormition parishes in the diocese? Does the visiting bishop celebrate the Dormition twice? Just throwing it out there as I have not heard anything from either side on this issue.

          • “…not sure how ROCOR handles the silly little “Western Rite” project”

            That is an inexcusably rude, disrespectful, and demeaning comment to the Orthodox Christians who observe the Western Rite. Would you stick your nose out and say the same thing about other smaller rites and observances in the Church, such as the Old Believers of ROCOR? I sure hope not. Furthermore, I would add that in my personal opinion, such a dismissive attitude most likely indicates a woeful ignorance of the subject itself.

            Perhaps you would like to elaborate and/or make a retraction?

            • Chris Jones says

              I too was brought up short by Mr Rukobludov’s seemingly disrespectful remark about the Western Rite. I am not currently Western Rite (though I have been a member of a WR parish in the past) but I am a strong supporter of Western Rite Orthodoxy. But upon reflection I don’t think Mr Rukobludov’s remark was intended to offend, nor do I think it was unfair or inaccurate.

              The remark did not condemn the Western Rite as such, nor those Orthodox who use it. It described ROCOR’s Western Rite as “silly” and “little.” No one could complain about describing the ROCOR Western Rite as “little”; it is indeed very small. And while I would not have chosen to use the word “silly,” it has to be admitted that there are aspects of the ROCOR WR that are highly unusual, and perhaps questionable. Most of the ROCOR WR parishes are very new, and very small. Many of the clergy come from non-canonical Orthodox groups (such as the Milan Synod), and some of the clergy have been ordained from within the laity of the new parishes without a great deal of Orthodox theological education and training.

              It seems as if the typical ROCOR WR parish is a tiny group of people (say 10 to 25 souls) shepherded by a man who is either newly received from a non-canonical Church or newly ordained as a “worker-priest” without conventional seminary training. I am not saying that this can’t or won’t work (indeed, I wish them the very best), but it has to be said that if this were an Eastern-Rite group it would not be regarded as a viable mission by ROCOR or any other canonical jurisdiction.

              And if Mr Rukobludov finds this way of doing business “silly,” well, again, I myself would not choose that word but I can’t really say he is wrong.

              • Over the years, I have read assorted “histories” and justifications for using an Orthodox “Western Rite.” Some of the information seems plausible, some smacks of revisionist history and Anglican nostalgia coupled with a refusal to “let go”. Having spent four years as an Anglican during my undergraduate years, I wanted to give WR a fair chance. I was deeply disappointed in the liturgy text, finding it exceedingly bare and dry compared with the Eastern liturgy. Nothing attracted me, despite the deep love I had for the conservative wing of the Anglican faith while I was an adherent. In addition, I had gathered that the WR was intended as a “half-way house” for Anglican converts on their path toward Eastern Orthodoxy. If WR truly is legitimate — (and I am persuaded that this remains an open question) — then we should not laugh at it.

          • An OCA parish in Canada recently reverted to the “Old” Calendar. As for there being more than one parish in a diocese with the same name…there are three St. Nicholas parishes in the OCA’s Diocese of the West: San Diego, Saratoga, and Portland. It has two Annunciation parishes; Santa Maria and Milwukie, OR. ROCOR has had “New” Calendar parishes for decades and decades .They’ve twice had Bulgarian “New” Calendar bishops: Bishop Kiril and Bishop Nicholas: one Bulgarian and one Rumanian. The reason the Rukobliud hasn’t “heard anything from either side”‘ Is that they are not used to notifying him of anything at all.

            • Fr. Philip says

              To add to what His Grace has already said, it might be well to remember that the OCA Diocese of Alaska is on the Od Calendar, and that the majority of parishes in the Archdiocese of Canada are on the Old Calendar, including my own. The parish to which His Grace refers began on the Old Calendar, switched to the new sometime in the ’80s or ’90s, then switched back in response to a huge influx of immigration from Russia and Ukraine. It is important to note that this parish gets along just fine with the newer parishes in the Vancouver area, all of which are New Calendar.

              As for Western Rite being “silly,” it is important to note that in 1870 the Holy Synod of the Russian Church published a Western Rite Mass (in Latin!!!) for use by converts from Rome to Holy Orthodoxy; the text was published in the 1953 yearbook of the North American parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate (a dust-covered copy of which, much to my surprise, I found in the back of a drawer in our sacristy). The reason for the text was a never-fulfilled hope that with the promulgation of the dogma of papal infallibility and petrine supremacy, there would be a flood of converts whose legitimate liturgical history needed to be accomodated. Note also how St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco not only supported Western Rite but served it more than once. Note further that ROCOR’s “take” on Western Rite has dug deep into pre-schism source material. We cannot re-write history to exclude a Western Rite (more than one, actually, since there were not only the Roman Rite, but also, inter alia, the Mozarabic, Gallican, Sarum, and Ambrosian Rites) from the liturgical tradition of the pre-schism Orthodox Church. Nor can we immediately dismiss the notion that the Western Rite can and should be revived in Holy Orthodoxy. Again, the fact that the Russian Holy Synod and a glorified saint of the Church thought it worthwhile should give us pause, yes?

              Now…can someone tell me why, in the face of so grave a crisis, we’re reduced to squabbling about such “small potatoes”?

              • George Michalopulos says

                I myself take umbrage at the characterization of the Western Rite being “silly.”

                • Denis Rukobludov says

                  I referred to ROCOR’s western rite project of being silly, not the Western Rite itself. It appears to me that there are a lot of strange groups being accepted with dubious history or without proper vetting. Personally, I do not like any descriptions of doing something in the rite of the East or West – you are either Orthodox or not, there is an Orthodox rite or heterodox rite.

            • Of course, vladika, nobody is notifying me. I bring this up because it could be a real issue. I know that there were calendar issues previously in ROCOR that were dealt with, but that was then and this is now. As you likely well know, the bishops then (just as in the OCA) were of a different caliber than bishops of now, so surely there will be a different pastoral (or perhaps not-so-pastoral) viewpoint by the Synod. OR, the bishops can do what it seems like they are doing with the Western Rite people now – each bishop accepts whomever without any kind of Synodal standard of acceptance, it seems. Perhaps the MP already has a model that ROCOR can adopt when it comes to the calendar issue, so perhaps it could be a non-issue. Again, just threw it out there, didn’t intend to ruffle any feathers.

            • BTW, ‘bliud’ would not be the correct transliteration as +BT writes above – here a firm “oo” pronunciation applies. Adding in an ‘i’ gives a softer sound, like the name ‘Liuba’ or the Slavonic term ‘bliad’ – in the case above, it sounds like ‘bliudo’ or dish.

              [NOTE: Dennis, I applaud your insights and commentary, however you will note that I abreviated your name. It came to my knowledge that your nom de plum is an obscentity in another language. Hence you will either change it on your own or it wil be changed for you. If you persist in using it, then you will leave me know choice but to delete all your comments forthwith. Thank you, George.]

              • Whomever brought this to your attention is either a beginner in Russian or is not familiar with the circumstances by which people received their surnames way back in the day, at times quite unfortunately: Belonogov (one who is white-legged), Krivosheyev (one with a crooked-neck), Guboshljopov (one who is big-lipped and difficult to understand). R— here means ‘one who is useless with his hands’ – ruko (hand) and blud, in Slavic which characterizes a profuse or wasteful expenditure. Watch out for whom you might offend from the homeland when labeling someone’s last name – in Russia, no one will blink at the last name Vagin, but if Vagin’s wife decides to post here (being female, she would add an ‘a’ to the end of her surname), then you will end up editing her name because people will be offended.

                • I’m glad Denis addressed this. You can google his last name and find that it is a real surname shared with others. Also, Google Translate suggests that (depending how you divide up the roots, of course) in Slovakian this name could mean “manuscripts delusions” … I think it is safe to assume, Denis is using his real name and means no disrespect.

                  • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

                    Along these lines,Romanians living in France would change the ending of surnames “escu” into “esco”.I’m not that well up on my French as I ought to be,but I believe the former means something vulgar in French.The Finnish word for money “rahaa”,sounds,like something vulgar in Spanish

            • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

              Your Grace forgot St.Nicholas in San Anselmo where my nephew,Fr.Stephan Meholick,is Rector.I know ROCOR made the late Vladyka Kiril a bishop,but who was Bishop Nicholas?The Romanian bishop with ties to ROCOR was Theophil Ionesco,whom Your Grace might remember from Detroit.
              I believe that when Bishop Kiril was made bishop that the Bulgarian Patriarchate still followed the Old Calender.After they changed,he allowed some parishes to switch.One was St.Nicholas,here in Flint.
              Both Bulgarian dioceses were originaly made up mostly of Macedonians.Now,both have convert or all-English parishes as well.Any Macedonians from the FYROM would be Old Calender,since both the legitimate Macedonian church(an autonomous church under the Serbian Patriarchate led by Archbishop Jovan) and the schismatic Macedonian church follow the old style.Those Macedonians from Greece or Bulgaria would of course follow the new.

              • You’re right, Father Andrei! I was wrong. I forgot to list Saint Nicholas of San Anselmo where the excellent Father Stephan is, and, of course, I m\isstated the Romanian Bishop’s name, Theophil ionesco, confusing it with his St. Nicholas Monastery, on John R. street in Detroit, which I often had occasion to pass by, and the sign outside had his name on, it as I recall now, and that may have been the factor in my memory that misfring synapses chose… yes, I believe that the St. Clement Church in Detroit was named St. Clement Macedono-Bulgarian Church of the like…or was it St. Clemen and St. Paul out on..Ford Road? Since we’ve been addressing the pew matter here, I now recall visiting that (brand new back then) that Church on Ford Road…There was a red light on the iconostasis, activated by a button on the side of the Altar table, which the Priest would turn on to indicate we should stand. I wouldn’t have noticed it, had not the Priest forgot to touch it one time, so that we were standing before the Gospel and sat down for it! And so on. I was getting very uncomfortable until I caught sight of the light! I think that church was originally, like the Ukrainian St. Mary’s, on Michigan Avenue. I thought the Bulgarian Patriarchate was already on the “New” Calendar when Bishop Kiril (Yonchev) was still a Priest in Toledo. Was I wrong on that one, too?

                • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

                  Your Grace,
                  St.Clement is indeed the church on Ford Road,I’ve substituted there twice,the red light isn’t there at the present time.The OCA Macedonian Bulgarian St.Paul church is on Beech-Daly in Dearborn Heights,right between Sts.Peter & Paul Romanian OCA parish,and Our Saviour Polish National Catholic Church!

      • Denis Rukobludov says

        Met. Hilarion Alfeyev was originally scheduled to serve with bishop Matthias this coming Sunday at Holy Trinity Cathedral. I have just read that he will now be serving at the ROCOR Holy Protection cathedral instead with archbishop Alypy and bishop Peter.

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      Link, please. Not all of us are familiar with ROCOR websites.

      Edited to add this: I assume this is what you’re talking about:

      In that case . . . English translation, please?

      • Ivan Vasililev says

        I’ve been scrolling through the site (in Russian) and haven’t found anything yet… The link you gave is basically a commemoration of the 5th year anniversary of the union between ROCOR and the MP…. In related documents from the Conference, there is talk of the struggle to live an Orthodox life here in the west, mention of missions, liturgical practice, and norms for receiving people into the Church, but I haven’t found anything specific about receiving parishes from other Orthodox jurisdictions….
        I hate to mention BMD…. but one would think it would be plastered all over “Voices From Russia” by now if there was something on the ROCOR or MP sites

    • I did not see that stated explicitly. Can you post a quote?

      • These?

        “Discussed were prospects for bettering coordination between dioceses of the unified Russian Church on a local level, in particular with regard to opening new parishes and in joint pastoral work, external and internal mission work, practice in divine services, as well as the method of receiving persons wishing to join the Orthodox Church.” (link)

        “They also discussed internal and external missionary work, practices in divine services, and methods of receiving those who wish to join the Orthodox Church.” (link)

    • Not sure you are interpreting it correctly … it says

      and methods of receiving those who wish to join the Orthodox Church.

      … not Join ROCOR/MP … at least not in English that I can see.

      • Ivan Vasililev says

        Nor in Russian… says the same thing. It would be quite explosive if they said something publicly about receiving parishes or groups from other canonical Orthodox jurisdictions….and even more so if the MP seemed to be with them on this….maybe behind closed doors, but never in public (not sure that this is exactly the image I want to use at this point….)

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          They probably discussed bringing the ROCOR practice into line with the policies of the Patriarchate of Moscow. Traditionally Moscow receives converts baptized with water “In the Name of the Father and of the Holy Spirit,” through Chrismation. In 1971 the Synod of ROCOR voted to receive all converts by Baptism, although they gave individual Bishops the authority to use economy and receive converts through Chrismation.

    • Denis Rukobludov says

      Steve, there is no such statement anywhere.

  5. George, where did you get that photo of +Mel showing his TRUE colors?

  6. I couldn’t agree withyou more George, that he hit the nail on the head. Including in his comments October 21 at 2:12 p.m.

  7. Sean Richardson says

    Fr. Stephen:
    I very much like your article, but I have to admit that it also pains me greatly. For so long I have seen the Orthodox Church suffer under one scandal after another, some of which may have been self-inflicted, but many of them have been false and so very damaging. I especially like the prayers that you included at the end, and am reminded that we must all move closer to Christ and turn away from anything that would lead others to stray from the path of salvation.
    Thank you for your words and your thoughts. I am encouraged by them.

  8. Michael KInsey says

    I have nothing to add. I only with to express the fact that the soothing right thinking, which expresses good will toward men of this article was most welcome. The Lord will honor this right teaching, and those who publish it. As I do now.

  9. On the topic of scandals, St Nicholas Cathedral is never one to disappoint. This week, at the Parish Council meeting, Fr Dennis (Bradley) pressured the council out of the blue to add a new priest position for Fr George (Kokhno). The council approved this with two abstentions. Almost immediately, Bishop Alexander, the Locum Tenens, appointed Fr George as Associate Pastor.

    So why is this a scandal and why does it represent dirty politics? Consider:

    1. St Nicholas already has a Russian Speaking priest, Fr Valery
    2. Two thirds of the income to St Nicholas comes from the English Liturgy, and St Nicholas has no English Priest – a position that is still open4. Membership at St Nicholas is about half of what it was a year ago
    3. St Nicholas has been running a deficit for years, so funds should be spent judiciously
    4. St Nicholas did not have two paid Russian priests even when it had plenty of money
    5. Fr George is seen as being in league with Fr Dennis, who is the most vocal defender of communing the openly gay members of St Nicholas

    So, what we have is a church that can barely afford one Russian priest now has two Russian priests and still an open position for English-speaking priest. All of this happend in a matter of a couple days, without consulting or informing the parish. It was sprung on the Parish council and they were urged to act immediately. Obviously, Bishop Alexander is in on the scheme since he acted so quickly to appoint Fr George. If I had to guess, within the next couple weeks before Parma, Fr Dennis will be appointed to the Dean position, solidifying St Nicholas as a modernistic church where traditionalists are not welcome. All they need now is a modernist Metropolitan at the Cathedral – oh wait, I think they will get that too!

    • George Michalopulos says

      But will they have the money and the warm bodies to fill the nave?

      Folks, take it from me: I saw this happen to ECUSA. When the first priestesses were ordained, only a few conservatives left, then it started to grow. When the gay thing broke open another wave of conservatives left. Then when Gene Robinson was consecrated as bishop, the last wave left. This process took the better part of 30 years.

      ECUSA though had something that St Nicholas’ (and the OCA for that matter doesn’t): lots of endowment monies. If that little martinet Bradley gets his way St Nicholas’ will be empty in another year.

      • It’s also a much smaller community to begin with than a similarly situated ECUSA parish say 20-30 years ago. The shrinking has been noticeable over the past year or so, and if anything increased over the last few months.

    • Harry Coin says

      George, in sort of a ‘unintended side effect’ you might have hit upon something most powerful here. While it appears to be possible for the folk who spend their waking days worried about ‘taking control’ and ‘personal security’ to manage to do that in some church settings, there is a power beyond theirs: the power of those who don’t feel a connection anymore to depart. Those leading such places are on borrowed time, as not enough will stay to enable them to continue should they ‘win’. Such might ‘win through until they collect a pension’ but institutionally it’s dwindle-city.

      I don’t think you are correct that it is ‘about conservatives’ who leave. No, I don’t think those who ‘gain control’ actually win what it is that motivated them ‘to fight for control’ by gaining it. Yes, some among the ‘conservatives’ as you write leave first, but then in due course so do most others. Actually I don’t think it is really about ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’, it never was. The operative energy there is different than that, I can’t quite put it into words but it isn’t ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’.

      What of those who leave? How to rally them to create something they can believe in? Lots of church buildings going to be for sale at good prices soon.

      We are in the later-middle stages of a huge demographic shift that enabled some to take advantage of a quirk of a change in the rules created centuries after the church began. Rules created in a day none could imagine routine use of the words ‘great grandfather’ or ‘great grandmother’. Created when a woman who lived into her later 20’s was as likely as not to have raised also her dead sister’s children.

      We need to wake up to this and return to what ‘Orthodox’ means or we won’t continue.

      • Defend the Faith says


        You are correct. Although the facade of “liberal” and “conservative” may be an easy way to explain things, the deeper issue here is that St. Nicholas Cathedral has lost 50% of its membership in the past year. Those who have left, or even those who still pay their dues to St. Nicholas so that they can vote at parish meeting actually brings down the number below the 125 who are left. Last Sunday attendance at the first liturgy was less than 50.

        We are talking about people’s souls. They can see that the place they called their spiritual home drifting away from what brought them to the Orthodox Faith. They see a community that is on a course of abandonment to the Faith. To illustrate this, how should people react when Fr. Denis Bradley, who covets the role of dean of the Cathedral, and for all intent and purposes now is the dean, he runs the council meetings, he is the conduit for power at the Cathedral, how should the people at the Cathedral react when this same man stands up at a council meeting and says that the stories in the Bible are “fairy tales!” Fairy tales. When the same man preaches that the Cathedral should be a place where people of alternative lifestyles should not see themselves as missing the mark when it comes to what Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Fathers say otherwise. I am not naive enough to think that the Church has always had people who for whatever reason are not strong enough to fight against sin, but what we now have is an embracing of that sin as normal. It is not normal.

        The souls of those who have left and those who are still there are not being fed enough of the Gospel, which is a Gospel of love but also a Gospel that cannot be compromised by facing the hard choices that clergy must stand up for in teaching not their own gospel but the Gospel of Christ. The people who have left are not mean people who hates gays. These are people who have gay relatives and friends, but they are also people who are not going to simply get along to go along. They have a spiritual conscience and that is being trampled upon. They are being told to get with it and realize that the future of the Church must accept gays without qualification.

        I don’t know Fr George (Kokhno) but I do know that he has been a disciple of Fr. Paul Harilchak of the OCA parish in Reston who has been and continues to be a proponent of the New Skete style of liturgical worship and one who has been soft on those with alternative lifestyles. I don’t know if that means that Fr. George also believes this, but it would not surprise me given that he has passed the Fr. Denis Bradley test for being assigned to St. Nicholas Cathedral.

        All of this is heartbreaking and painful. The Cathedral is hanging on by a shoestring financially which is the easier to deal with than the spiritual shoestring that it is also hanging on by. The drive to have only one liturgy at the Cathedral is not a smart move. Look at St. John the Baptist ROCOR in DC. They have two liturgies, one in English and one in Slavonic. They are not a divided community. They are one community that has two services for the simple reason that there is a justifiable need. It fills the spiritual needs of that community. They are not pitted against each other. Sadly at St. Nicholas the animus between the “english speaking” and “russian speaking” communities has been fed by the fiscal reality that the large majority of income for the Cathedral comes from the “english speaking” liturgy. But it is a self-fulfilling prophesy when those of the “english camp” lord it over the “russian camp” which further divides the parish. It is just so stupid to not do the very hard work to present a unified vision for the Cathedral and to see the faithful as Orthodox believers first and “givers” a distant second.

        I think that St. Nicholas Cathedral had a path forward a year ago, we could sense it, we were starting to embrace that vision of unity in diversity of nationalities, that one was no better than the other, both were equal to God, both had strengths to be cultivated and out of that cultivation to build up the weaknesses of both, however that chance was abruptly crushed. Can Fr. George re-ignite that vision of unity in diversity? God only knows.

        How much more spiritual carnage must one place endure? My prayer is that as St. Nicholas Cathedral goes to its Golgotha that it will be a purifying path in which those who are knowingly or innocently leading it astray will be converted to the Truth of the Gospel and not a path of expediency which will lead to disaster. In many ways what is happening in DC is a microcosm of what the entire OCA is suffering. And for that, my heart is broken but not to the point of giving up. God, who is a loving God seeks our repentance and conversion. May this present path lead to that end.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          Fr. Paul Harilchak has been heard dismissing objections to communing gays as “Protestantism.” Typical of Fr. Paul. He says that of nearly everything he doesn’t like.

          • Fr Paul Harilchak has been on outlier of traditional Orthodox worship and tradition for decades. He does his own thing in Reston and the community has never really grown. He keeps to himself, rarely participates in anything outside his parish and most assuredly considers the unqualified acceptance of alternative lifestyles as a “revealed truth of the Holy Spirit.” Sounds rather Protestant to me!

            • Don’t blame all Protestants. Just the Main Line ones. The Pentecostal Churches have not fallen.

      • Harry, if you are talking about the need for a married episcopate again, I hear your point and understand your pain. What you are saying does make sense. It really does, and there is no reason it can’t be considered.

        On the other hand, there is a very strong argument against your logically coherent argument in the form of the Episcopal Church. They’ve already walked this path, and it really is the same path, but they did it with married bishops (bisexual in the case of key movers and shakers). They don’t care that they have destroyed their church any more than the unmarried OCA bishops do. They’ve proven their point, that it can happen here, and they’ve moved society as a whole one step closer to their ideal. They will coast out their careers on their accumulated liturgical skills and knowledge of church culture. Then they will turn out the lights, close the doors, and collect their pensions. They receive their reward from their illicit lovers and their preferred social circles, and from their egos which tell them they are better than their customers and that they have accomplished great things.

        Perhaps one thing you don’t understand is that many of these people are not Christians or theists in the traditional sense. At best, they are Gnostics, at worst materialists and hedonists. They may tell you the church won’t fail, but they would rather see it fail than succeed with traditional beliefs and practices. BB (as Stokoe affectionately calls him) seems to be of the mind that change is inevitable and the Church is a dinosaur in resisting it. This is a common view that you still hear expressed in the Episcopal Church — they are willfully blind to how radical and unstable the institution has become, because it doesn’t matter to them so long as it is not one of the largest remaining obstacles to their personal, political, and social agenda.

        • I recently posted re: the difficulties in the OCA. In thinking back, and looking forward, I feel that my remarks were spoken out of anger, a sanctimonious spirit, a failure of humility and prayerfulness. I cannot take back what was said, but do now ask forgiveness of any and all I may have offended or encouraged in a path that is reactionary and contrary to the Gospel. I pray God’s forgiveness preeminently and as well, and that we might have the grace to find blessedness in peacemaking and prayer to Almighty God for intervention, healing, discipline and His Peace and governance to reign through worthy and repentant under-shepherds in the OCA… mindful of my own wretchedness and vainglory.

          Forgive me.


        • Indeed, this is the problem.

          It’s fine to contemplate resurrecting the married episcopate, but in my opinion, based on what we have seen elsewhere in American Christianity (because, let’s be clear, this would be an *American* Orthodox thing, not something that arises from the majority Orthodox countries which have significant monasteries), when this is put in place it doesn’t really “fix” the problem — it just changes the dynamics of the situation and shifts the debate to a new place.

          That is, you might think that one way to fix the problem of the gay issue at the leadership level is to have married priests made bishops, but this really just shifts the debate more directly towards the legitimacy of the policy of not marrying gay people. It does this by (1) opening the door to changes in this area based on “the contemporary situation”, which is a door that, once opened, is very hard to close and which will have a not small number of clergy straining hard to keep it open once it is opened and (2) conceding the need for changes to adapt to contemporary realities, which itself begs the elephantine question of gay marriage full stop.

          Once you start down the path of making structural changes to adapt to contemporary cultural realities, the process is very hard to stop. That isn’t negative-thought based speculation — it’s simply observation of how this process has worked in every other American Christian body that has walked down that path — every single one.

      • Harry Coin says

        There’s a great deal to contemplate here. Why have these issues to do with sexual pressures felt by fewer than perhaps one to five per one hundred people twisting our whole church, that lasted so long, beyond all recognition?

        Only due to the combination of a change in demographics never before seen in human history prior to the last 100 years, and a rule limiting the Gospel’s guidance as to who might be a bishop.

        Some worry there are risks in tampering with any rule change as we are so very fragile those who spend their whole days working out how to ‘game the rules to suit’ will explode forth with all manner of growth killing gonzo-isms. And, we see there are reasons they point to, precedents and examples.

        Plainly, this business has to be done in a uniquely Orthodox manner, as obsessive focus on the letters and the legalisms here, the willingness to engage in ‘narrative that omits the relevant and highlights the useful’, isn’t working out so hot.

        I also don’t think, contrary to what many here appear to think, that this was at first some manner of grand agenda conceived of by power mad ‘alternative is good’ folk. Clearly none living chose those old rules and certainly none then foresaw the advances in women’s health and health in general that led to this pass. There were severe problems back in those days and the rule change they adopted seemed like a good idea at the time, for those times.

        The reason I mention this is that for all the misdoing of a certain sort we see in high places, some of the problem has to be that we do love doing things the old ways very much and declined to recognize how this matter could affect our house, is affecting our house.

        We need a path forward that does not create further victims, does not blame those who need a way forward, a way to make a life, a way that includes local bishops with the capacity to connect in an authentic way to the dynamics of Orthodox parish life.

        One thing seems clear, it can’t be about shooting the folk making mistakes and so forth. It has to be a plan for growth that includes decency and generosity. I do think that many who make dubious personal choices while in leadership world really would like to see all this grow, at least when the better angels of their natures have the upper hand. I think much of what we’re seeing is driven by a quite understandable need for personal futures.

    • I know no impediment for Father George Kohnio moving from the long-term attached status at St. Nicholas to priest at any parish in the OCA in full time priest status. During the many years he has been attached to St. Nicholas Cathedral, serving many of the during the week services, old calendar services, podobni / needs services in both English and Slavonic, always giving a reasoned sermon, increasingly in English as his English improved over the years, he has also given many services in many other churches in the OCA and GOA, and he is well respected for his piety and service. He spent several years as the priest of this parish in Stafford, VA, even when there was no indoor plumbing available

      He served with or in place of Father Milorad at St. Luke’s in Langley, VA when Father Milorad of blessed memory had failing health. Here is a link to an old bulletin showing who was serving with Father Milorad:

      He regularly serves the Challenge Liturgy at St. George (GOA) and learned Greek chant in order to do so effectively.

      He volunteers an incredible lot of time to AA. There is a kind of inter-parish Presanctified Liturgy with Father Paul Harilchak of Reston, VA and Father Milorad where Father George has taken on Father Milorad’s role assisting.

      Here is a nice circular of Father Paul’s featuring Father Patrick Henry Reardon from last March:

      Here are a few videos by Father George:

      Here are some more:

      On the above website, you can see a ten part series on the Divine Liturgy where Father George questions Father Paul:

      I can’t find the brochure or whatever that showed Father George and Father Maximus (maybe even before he was ordained?) in the Ukraine or Russia but Father George has helped and accompanied Father Maximus. Here is one of Father Maximus’s brochures:

      Here is Father Maximus’ consecration. I don’t know where he is presently attached, but most of the time, he, too, has been without a parish and attached to St. Nicholas Cathedral. He serves well although a tad slowly, is fervent, has a great family

      How has Father George Kokhno supported himself without a parish? He lives light. You see him, year after year in his cassock with the same black leather jacket and a rather large backpack. For years, he used one of the local parishes for a mailing address. He is part of a sometimes on sometimes off consultant adoption service for orphans in the Ukraine.

      Now, as to the method of his elevation, I don’t know the procedure. There used to be an English services priest and a Slavonic services priest at the cathedral. Additionally, major feasts of any kind on the old calendar are handled by priests. As there is insufficient money for two priests there, especially as I have noticed that the parish family has declined, who will be serving the English liturgies?

      As for New Skete liturgies and Father Paul Harilchak, I am totally unfamiliar with the New Skete Monastery and their typikon. I am familiar with Father Paul’s music for the Presanctified which is a variation of Galician chant and meant for congregational singing. Other than that, his Presanctified liturgy is the one we are all used to in the OCA.

    • Ken, I wonder, do you consider the ability to speak Russian a disqualification from priesthood? Or does one have to be a natural-born American to qualify as a priest in an OCA parish? Speaking of “ethnic parishes” and phyletism… To the best of my knowledge, Fr. George’s English is very good, he is quite eloquent, well educated, and respected by those who know him.

      4. St Nicholas did not have two paid Russian priests even when it had plenty of money
      5. Fr George is seen as being in league with Fr Dennis, who is the most vocal defender of communing the openly gay members of St Nicholas

      Actually, St. Nicholas Cathedral had only Russian priests until Fr. Constantine White was appointed Dean in 1998 or around that time. It were these Russian priests who brought a lot of English speaking Americans to the Orthodox faith, so that regular English Liturgies became a necessity. Fr. Dmitry Grigorieff (a Russian, if that still matters) had to fight an uphill battle to introduce English services. As an old parishioner remembered, at that time the majority was against it. They were saying:”They (the English speakers) will put us out.”

      As for Fr. George being seen (by whom?) as being in league with Fr. Dennis, well, I don’t know. I thought that the principle of innocent unless proven guilty should apply. After all, we all saw a lot of slander piled on our Metropolitan quite recently. Should not this teach us to be careful when accusing someone without sufficient grounds?

      I am certainly not defending Fr. Dennis’s peculiar views and actions but I do not want to accuse Fr. George of something unpalatable without seeing a proof first.

      And, Ken, I apologize if my reply seems too harsh. I usually agree with what you write here, but here I saw something that I feel is subject to debate.

      • “Ken, I wonder, do you consider the ability to speak Russian a disqualification from priesthood? Or does one have to be a natural-born American to qualify as a priest in an OCA parish?”

        Why in the world would you even say this? We have Russian priests at St. Nicholas-who speak Russian . .??!!

        The point is, it seems there maybe an attempt to move everything to one service, so you would need a priest to speak both languages. Why we need another priest who speaks Russian and English-I don’t know- there is one there already . . . This is why this all makes no sense.

        • Dear Colette,

          I wonder how our Metropolitan is doing? Is everyone still praying for him in his time of troubles? Is he even allowed to walk two doors away from his house and attend services in his own cathedral?

          I could see barring a bishop from his own cathedral if his sermons were to be feared, but the Metropolitan has never given anything but an inspiring sermon. I could see barring a Metropolitan who was known for being drunk and losing his temper. We had one of those and he was never barred from his own cathedral while our dear temperate Metropolitan is barred. I could see a Metropolitan being barred for known active homosexuality. There have been Metropolitans like that, but our Metropolitan lives a clean life. I could see barring a Metropolitan complicit in the disappearance of vast amounts of church sums and cooking the books. There has been such malfeasance by Metropolitans, but not our dear Metropolitan. I could see barring a Metropolitan from a church for that. All those things mentioned would show that a Metropolitan does not care for the Church he shepherds, but our dear Metropolitan does care.

          Tomorrow morning at 9 AM is the first liturgy for the Orthodox Christian Laity 25th Anniversary Celebration in Washington. May our dear Metropolitan walk two doors away in about six hours and attend the liturgy even without the eis polla he deserves? For our dear Metropolitan is blameless.

          What if one day you were barred from attending church when you were capable of attending, just because you were hated or disliked by someone? From chanting when you had always gifted your voice? From giving a sermon when your sermons were appreciated and anticipated? From even standing and watching a service because church was now in a privately owned chapel holding only five elect of the rich when a parish church had once beckoned all?

          • LOH,

            You brought us back to the core of what we need to focus on. Thank you. I don’t know how he is but we all need to be in prayer this week as it is crucial. I can’t expect our Bishops to be reasonable, but I can expect that God will not abandon his servant.

            I lift up in prayer to you your servant +Jonah. Most Holy Theotokos, have mercy on us all and save us.

            • Absolutely, praying for Met. Jonah is especially important right now. Providentially, October 26th is the feast of St. Demetrius the Myrrh-streamer of Thessalonica, who I understand has been known to intercede for our Met. Jonah. Not only is St. Demetrius a great martyr and wonderworker, he is a great intercessor in battle.

              Apolytikion in the Third Tone
              The world has found in you a great champion in time of peril, as you emerged the victor in routing the barbarians. For as you brought to naught the boasts of Lyaios, imparting courage to Nestor in the stadium, in like manner, holy one, great Martyr Dimitrios, invoke Christ God for us, that He may grant us His great mercy.

              Kontakion in the Second Tone
              God, who gave you invincible power and with care kept your city invulnerable, royally clothed the Church in purple with the streams of your blood, for you are her strength, O Dimitrios.

              Holy Great-Martyr Demetrius, intercede for our Metropolitan Jonah and his family!

        • We were told many times that we need an American priest/dean for the first Sunday liturgy and for the English-speaking community. Now “they” need pro-gay, modernist priest so much, that their previous motives forgotten completely.

          • All in the Family says

            Veronica you had an American priest/dean for the first Sunday liturgy and the English-speaking community. Have things gotten better since he was fired?

            • We had most wonderful Father Joseph Fester. He was great for everybody. I have never seen such a talented priest in my whole life. He was taken from us for no reason, against all canons both church and civil, as well as Metropolitan Jonah.

              • lexcaritas says

                I agree, Veronica. Not having been blinded by the disdain and some seem to have for Fr. Joseph, my impression is the same as yours.

                I only wish that ++JONAH had stood by him come hell or high water. Had he removed +MARK from Dallas to Baltimore immediately Fr. Joe’s piflered emails were published. had he stood by Fr. Joseph and not suffered his dismissal, and had he unequivocally supported Fr. Dcn Patrick in his efforts to protect the santity of the Chalice and dismissed Fr. Denis to Georgetown where he has his true tenure, our dear ++JONAH might not have found himself in the position of thinking he had to resign to restore peace.

                I say this not so much to criticize as in hopes of encouraging future diligence, patience and unwavering conviction in the future.

                As I was reading Fr. Dcn Patrick’s excellent piece on The Problem with Hierarchy, in which he quotes some of what ++JONAH said about authority in 2008, it occurs to me that he was never the one to act unilaterally as he is accused. Rather was not this accusation projected on him by those who, in fact, have an agenda to act in just that manner? In all levels of politics it is a well-worn, but sometime effective ploy, to accuse one’s adversary of the very schemes one has in mind. It makes the opponent look like the wrong-doer and distracts attention from the true perpetrator.

                Nonetheless, may we not lose heart but heed our Lord’s command to overcome evil–i.e. overwhelm it–with good since He is good and the lover of man. To Him be all honor and glory, world without end.


                • “his efforts to protect the santity [sic] of the Chalice”

                  This is a very problematic statement. Does the sanctity of the Chalice really need our protection? I’d think that it would continue undiminished no matter what, since it depends not on the holiness of communicants – what an idea! – but rather on the infinite holiness of the One whose life-giving Blood the Chalice contains. Furthermore, it was my understanding that spiritual fathers exclude unrepentant sinners from the sacrament for their own good, in order to protect them from the Chalice, not vice versa.

                • Dear lexcaritas,
                  After Santa Fe, Metropolitan Jonah was on leave of absence for the entire Great Lent. Before he had a very busy schedule, and we didn’t see him much. Suddenly (it was like a freeze-frame in a movie), everything stopped: no more traveling, no more appointments, no more plans…only services at St. Nicholas Cathedral and a life in the Holy Spirit. It was clear, that Metropolitan Jonah and Father Joseph didn’t have much time to serve together. But it was not clear how exactly it would happen. I conducted all of the services at the Cathedral. We tried to turn the Great Lent into eternity, by being present in each moment. I will never forget how the words of the Gospel resonated in my heart; they were full of new meaning in the context of the present situation in the OCA. “But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves: “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.” So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers? He will destroy those men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”
                  After Pascha we had liturgies on Bright Monday, Bright Tuesday, and Bright Wednesday. I don’t remember exactly what dates they were, but after Bright Wednesday Vladyko Jonah went to the Synod. In a couple days, we got news about Father Joseph’s emails, and I can describe the situation like “no minute to lose”. They can defrock him any second. You wrote in your post: “I only wish that ++JONAH had stood by him come hell or high water…” After leave of absence, Metropolitan Jonah was like “Mister Nobody” for the Synod: they mocked him, they said all kinds of offensive things to him, they occused him of being insane. There was no way to protect Father Joseph, and even if +Jonah would try, the Synod immediately will defrock Father Fester from the priesthood. Father Joseph requested a canonical release, which was given (thank God), and applied to another jurisdiction.

                • Speaking my mind says

                  lexcaritas, Unfortunately, you do not know the problems that exist in the OCA statutes with regard to the Metropolitan… he has no authority nor power. He is “first among equals” with the Synod of Bishops. He cannot move Bishops anywhere – the Metropolitan Council and the Chancellor and the Synod of Bishops collectively have the power for such action. The Metropolitan has none! He could not even protect his priest of the Cathedral nor the nuns living next door. He barely got them away from the clutches of the Synod before defrocking and deportation…and I mean within hours!!! The Synod, and especially B. Benjamin and B. Melchezidek, went ballistic on this, but it was done behind their backs as the only “power” that His Beatitude had. No, +Jonah couldn’t even move Fr. Dennis because the church council was opposed to any movement after the rearrangement of Fr. Joe and Fr. Constantine. +Jonah tries, always tried, to act with conciliation.

                  If this sounds incredible, join the party. Here is what I discovered: Fr’s Meyendorf and Schmemman set up the OCA statutes in the mid-50’s, and were acting on the pressures of the time – read McCarthyism. Before their deaths both are reported to have said this was a huge error. The OCA does not have a place where the buck stops on one desk – thus you get chaos by committee and no accountability, which will not end until the people (“We the people”!!!) demand to replace this travesty by revisiting the statutes and demanding that Orthodox accountability and canonicity be inserted. The Metropolitan Council will not give up this power! The Chancellor will not give up this power! The Synod will not cede any power to the Metropolitan, you have witnessed what happened when +Jonah tried to do ANYTHING. Catch phrase: He acted unilaterally. Hogwash! +Jonah is very conservative, and very Orthodox. He simply said he could not agree to abortion. He asked us to join him in this. He said he could not agree to Homosexuality. He asked us to join him in this. He tried to unify the Orthodox in America – not to gather power for himself, but to make us all turn to Christ and not to “leaders”. In +Jonah’s inaugural speech he said: “Isn’t this what God wants?” From that very second the guns came out against him!!!

                  Go ahead and pass that white hat around – nothing will change…well, except you will have a do-nothing wearing it who enjoys the perks without any challenge at all to the lack of Orthodoxy in the _CA.

                  It’s sad! It’s troubling. It’s broken and doesn’t look like it’s getting fixed.

                  So long, and thanks for all the fish.

            • Was the church better after Fr. Joe left??!! I’ll answer this, the church cracked and fell apart. Attached priests waited in the lark with their agenda and ran people off. I mean literally ran people off. I keep hearing of yet another person run off by Fr. D and how that parishioner is no longer at St. Nick’s. Which is why I am a gaff as to why anyone would call this priest pious-wow, I’ve never known such an un-pious priest. Yelling, screaming, calling people names, trying to manipulate the conversations so he can hurt and have power over a person- I call that abusive, not pious. And this he did to many, many too many people. Anyone he perceived to be conservative in fact. This priest, aside from steering the Church away from Orthodox teachings and practices -like how we understand communion, sin and confession, along with what is the job of the priest (he likes saying he’s not a communion cop) is abusive and his teaching is Liberal Protestant. I’m rather curious to know who let him become an Orthodox Priest? He never went to an Orthodox Seminary.. . and did he leave on good terms from his former Jesuit bishops?
              Fr. Joseph would never have let any of this happen. He was making slow but consistent changes in how the church communicated with itself-which was terrible and he was getting ready to take on the real stuff, but oh right at that time they went to defrock him! How nice. +Jonah got him out so he would not be defrocked. Fr. Joe was one of the few who could handle this parish-and Fr. Denis.

              • Doesn't matter says

                You mean, the Archpriest Dennis Bradley who Metropolitan Jonah chose as his Father Confessor? That one?

                • Metropolitan Jonah has had the same spiritual father for 20 years or so, Bishop Pankratiy of Troitsk.

                • Are you absolutely sure about that, “Doesn’t matter”? Last I heard, His Beatitude’s Father Confessor is a bishop at the Valaam Monastery.

      • Even before Father Dimitri, Fathers Paul and Arkady, embraced serving in English and adding English to the liturgy at St. Nicholas. The reason was obvious – for the first and second generations! This was quite radical at that time. To say that the addition of another priest is a scandal is going a bit far. It’s tiring to serve 2 liturgies and having priests who can serve in more than one language is a good thing. I remember when Father Denis first came to St. Nicholas. He has always been pious and kind as have been all the priests since St. Nicholas came to be.

        • All in the Family says


          Fr Denis pious? Do you think the stories in the Bible are fairy tales? He does. Do you think that living with another man as he has for decades is no problem? He does. Do you think working with Bishop Benjamin and Bishop Mark (Maymon) to remove your former dean was a good thing? He does. Do you think that giving Holy Communion to open and unrepentant gays is a revealed truth of the Holy Spirit? He does.

          Rasputin was very pious too when he needed to be. I am sorry to be so blunt but Fr. Denis is not doing St. Nicholas Cathedral any good.

          • AitF wrote: “Fr Denis pious? Do you think the stories in the Bible are fairy tales? He does.”

            Which stories? Adam and Eve? Noah? Abraham? Moses? David? The Incarnation? The Resurrection?

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              The Old Testament stories. He said it at a parish council meeting, and it was entered into the draft minutes. I myself deleted the impiety from the approved minutes to keep the peace.

              He also preached from the ambo that the genealogies in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were made up.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says


                You need to report these incidents to the Bishop in charge of the Cathedral. I cannot believe that an Orthodox Bishop would tolerate such serious departures from the teaching of the Orthodox Church. Are you sure that you did not misunderstand him? We all say things that can be misinterpreted. I know that I sometimes stick my foot in my mouth.
                If what you say about the situation at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington is true, you should spend your time helping clean up that mess instead of worrying about the presence of pews in Antiochian Temples.
                Our Antiochian Bishops are very clear on this issue. They vocally condemn the acceptance of homosexuality and lesbianism. Metropoltian Philip has told his clergy that we must preach against these things even if it makes us unpopular with some of our people. Actually, I have never been in a parish where the people would not revolt if I did not condemn such immoral behavior.

                • The OCA tolerated Fr. Paul Tarazi saying similar things about the Old Testament in his classes at SVS for many years, where he dished out leftover German higher criticism of the 1930s with the thinnest of ‘Orthodox’ veneers. Metropolitan Philip never straightened him out, either, though he was under his omophor and represented his Archdiocese. We can thank him and his teaching for much of our muddled thinking about the Scriptures to this day. Given that, I’m not sure reporting it to a bishop will do much good, it should be worth a try–but remember the fate of Fr. Vasile Susan.

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                For once, I’m glad there wasn’t an ASL interpreter present when he made that comment about the genealogy.

          • Now, this is interesting:

            Do you think working with Bishop Benjamin and Bishop Mark (Maymon) to remove your former dean was a good thing? He does.

            Can you elaborate on this? Was he involved?

            • I think Fr. D.- if he was in contact with anyone would be Kishkovsky, who very much was working to oust +Jonah. It would be speculation on my part to say Fr. D.

              • I think Fr. D.- if he was in contact with anyone would be Kishkovsky, who very much was working to oust +Jonah. It would be speculation on my part to say Fr. D. relayed info about things happening around the parish surrounding say the Fr. Symeon story for example- to such said person. . . . .

          • All In The Family,
            You are not coming from a good place.

            • All in the Family says

              I am sorry if you think so Anna, but the truth is the truth and if it seems rough to you, I apologize but there is nothing that I said that is untrue. Fr. Denis has been pulling the strings behind the scenes and his is not an honorable person. Your Cathedral is emptying out. I am sure you can see that. I will leave it at that with respect to your sensitivities. But if you wish to know more, talk to those who have left the Cathedral.

            • But coming from a place of truth. Too much for you?

          • Dear Anna,

            Your post listing some of the former priests at St. Nicholas got me thinking about the bravery of Father Dmitry Grigorieff:


            Parishioners in favor of accountability and transparency used to print that letter and put it up on the bulletin board in the trapeza. Then it would get taken down! Then it would get put up again! And then the process repeated. Someone even made sure a copy of the letter was up up during Vladika Herman’s Town Hall Meeting and someone mentioned the letter and passed one over to Vladika Herman right at the meeting. See a report without a lot of details of that town hall here:


            In memory of the very transparent Father Dmitry of blessed memory, not only should all clergy assignments at the cathedral be ultra transparent but Father Dmitry should be put up as an example of the bravery and integrity required of a cathedral priest.

            • Oh-This was interesting . . . .taken from loh first link . . .

              “It would be highly advisable to conduct audit from the time when Fr. Eric Wheeler was Treasurer of
              the Church and not just for the last years. If the allegations of Protodeacon Wheeler are confirmed
              the perpetrators of these wrongdoings have to be punished and removed from their positions.
              Attempts to cover them up for whatever reason will have a very harmful effect on you and on all of us
              priests and laymen loyal to our Church.”

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            You can’t be serious. How can the OCA tolerate a Priest who lives in an open homosexual relationship and who claims that the Holy Spirit has revealed to him that he should give Communion to unrepentant gays? Especially at its Metropolitan’s Cathedral? If people want that sort of thing all they have to do is go down the street to the Episcopal cathedral. There you can have everything you want except traditional Christianity.

            • I think he is quite serious, Fr John.
              If he is right, it would seem that the OCA really is on the way to becoming the ECUSA in Orthodox garb.
              Have complaints been made?
              Has the locum tenens investigated?
              One would like to know these things.

              • “Have complaints been made?” Yes on many levels, by many people.

                • Sigh! But thank you anyway colette.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    That’s the problem really. We are people and we make mistakes. Unfortunately in the OCA there is no accountability mechanism.

                    Personally, as a Christian, I’d rather that the internet did not exist and that we did not air our problems and disagreements electronically where all the world can see. But the illegal and immoral actions combined with no transparency or accountability (this side of the Dread Judgment Seat) leave us no choice.

                    Collette and her brethren have done yeoman-like work in trying to right several wrongs at the Cathedral, all to no avail.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                If I did taught that the stories in the Bible are fairy Tales or that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality and lesbianism the Bishop would not have time to suspend me, the people of my parish would drive me out. The position of the Orthodox Church on homosexuality and lesbianism is crystal clear. If this is true, I am shocked that the people of the Cathedral would tolerate a priest openly teaching heresy. I assure you that would not happen in the Antiochian Archdiocese and find it very difficult to believe that it is tolerated in the OCA, especially in the Metropolitan Cathedral.

                • Father —

                  With respect, you underestimate (rather understandably, being removed from it) the gravity, in spiritual and moral terms, of the problems we face in the top echelons of the OCA.

                  St. Nicholas Cathedral is inevitably sucked into this, by virtue of what it is, and frankly the entire Diocese of Washington has been a kind of orphan with absentee bishops for most of its existence (prior to HB Jonah), which allowed all kinds of moral heresies to sprout and take deep root. It’s a quite terrible situation, to be very honest as someone who has had box seats for this entire escapade.

                  There is a culture of moral heresy that has grown up over time and that is very hard to root out. HB tried to do so slowly, and once it was “caught on” that this was what he was trying to do (not just at SNC, but also in Syosset and so on), he was marched inexorably out of the active episcopate by snakes, traitors, and moral heretics who were threatened by him.

                  That’s the honest truth, and the contra views you see expressed here by certain posters simply represent the views of the snakes, traitors and moral heretics who had a vested interest in seeing HB gone. SNC, and HB Jonah himself, are each a “casualty of war”, really.

                  And, to be very frank, for the rest of the OCA folks here who do not live in the Diocese of Washington: if you think that SNC, or HB Metropolitan Jonah, are outliers and special cases and that either is going to be the last “casualty of war” in this, you’re sorely mistaken. It may take a while for the rot to reach your local parish or diocese, but the rot is in a consolidation phase currently in the top echelons of the OCA, and it *will* eventually reach you if some fundamental changes to the OCA are not made to prevent this from occurring. What has happened, and is happening, at SNC is relevant for every single parish in the OCA, and if you choose to ignore this reality, you’re really just denying yourselves any opportunity to head some of this off properly and defend the faith appropriately as the laos tou theou.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    KB, I very much agree with you. Regrettably so. Now that the fix is in and HG Arb Tikhon Mollard is the Metropolitan-to-be, the continued ecumenist/modernist rot will proceed apace. Although HG is in many ways a fine fellow and one who is not compromised in the same fashion as other bishops, the fact that his mother is a priestess in a heretical cult points the way forward for the OCA and most all East Coast-dominated jurisdictions.

                    • George —

                      I think that ROCOR, also an East Coast jurisdiction, may escape that fate.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      KB, I pray that you are correct. Generalizations are always tricky but there is a lot of rot in churches that are dominated by the East Coast.

                    • What does HG Arb stand for?

                      You may a good point about the absentee bishops having a deleterious effect on the cathedral. Certainly, the cathedral was characterized as gay friendly during Metropoitan Theodosius and Metropolitan Herman’s time already, for example, but I think one factor in the liberalization is that the “don’t ask don’t tell” phase has ended for more than just the military.

                      The Metropolitan inherited a very entrenched culture. Additionally, I think that the attached priest system over there has not helped create a family friendly parish. Many of the clergy who served occasionally would not be seen, nor their families, until they were literally called to serve again. You could call them semi-attached. That left the laity, particularly those with children, not feeling really part of a parish family but rather more like visitors in a place where a lot of the clergy just visited.

                  • Gregg Gerasimon says


                    If what you write is true — and I don’t know if it is, though what I do know is that over the past few years, once I thought the bad times were over, something else springs up — why maintain anonymity in posting here?

                    I’m not singling you out, or trying to be rude. But it seems that the majority of posters on here are anonymous. Why? I can understand the occasional priest or deacon or bishop who may need to maintain anonymity for a variety of concerns. But occasional anonymity, meaning less than 5-10%.

                    If what is at stake is our Church which we all love, and her health and mission and vibrancy here in North America, our thoughts/comments/postings carry so much more weight if we sign our real names. After all, in “real world” conversations, we can’t hide our comments behind a mask, and people know who we are. Why should things be different in cyberspace? Comments and thoughts carry so much more weight when signed by a true name, whom people in our small Orthodox world in North America may know and respect and value.

                    As I get older, I remember what my grandfather of blessed memory told me when I was a kid: “one of the benefits of aging is that you can speak your mind and not care what people think.”

                    It’s not an understatement to say that the OCA is in a crisis now, but to get at the root of the problems and address things truthfully, we have to be honest about who we are and stand behind our comments. Otherwise, sites like this will *always* be dismissed by some as a bunch of loons who anonymously have an axe to grind.

                    Again, KB, I’m not trying to be rude. But if we cannot be honest about who we are online, how could we ever publicly ask a question at the AAC or in any parish or diocesan meeting? How can we demand truth and openness and accountability from our hierarchs and from Syosset when we are not even truthful about who we are when asking questions or pointing out problems?

                    George, have you given any thought as to how to minimize anonymity here?

                    • Defend the Faith says


                      If I may jump in to your comment to KB, you make some excellent points about anonymity on Monomahkos, but whether a person identifies themselves like you have or not, one must look to the truth of what they are writing.

                      It is pretty easy to spot crank anonymous posters vs. those who must for their own safety avail themselves of this option. One thing for sure, those who attend the Parma Council will not be anonymous. Everyone will know who they are and one would hope that those who attend and are sick to death of the current situation in the OCA will make every respectful effort to stand up and ask question and get real answers from our leadership.

                      I don’t want there to be a blood bath at Parma but that will largely be up to the Synod and their willingness to allow time for questions that people justifiably have a right to bring up. I appreciate your even-toned and respectful manner of writing. I will try to take a good cue from you.

                    • Sometimes one posts with a pseudonym because, although one is relatively “safe” from unknown Internet people, one may be at risk for very ugly repercussions from local people. I can dismiss, with comparative ease, the occasional insult from an Internet person who does not even know me. I fare less well with downright snotty remarks — (even false accusations) — made to my face, or behind my back (in the hearing of friends). Each one of us here does have genuine feelings which should be respected. There is an inordinate amount of ugly talk aimed directly at each other at this website which, I posit, would be a degree muted were those sparring actually face-to-face — at least, I pray such would be less unkind.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      I have, but the culture of fear in the OCA (especially among priests and their families) is pervasive.

                    • With respect, while this is a common sentiment expressed, to be honest, there are quite salient reasons for some of us to remain anonymous. It is my normal modus operandi, given the nature of the internet, and the way that things are replicated and redistributed. It’s true that this means I am not standing with my public self behind what is written here in terms of having what I have written critiqued against the context of my person — but from my perspective the internet is not, and never has been, about that kind of expression, but rather about a more “blind” expression, where the ideas and words are taken at their own face value rather than evaluated, as is customary in non-internet space, in the context of one’s non-internet space evaluation of the speaker.

                      So — don’t evaluate internet writings, or try to do, on the same basis as you would do in non-internet arenas. For some people who cannot possibly evaluate statements without the personal context of the speaker, this means that internet anonymity will be frustrating. For others, who are comfortable with a discussion of ideas, and even an exchange of impressions, on an anonymous basis in the context of the internet, there remains value in these kinds of expressions.

                      It really does depend on which type of person you are. I completely and utterly disagree that internet observations are unhelpful if done in an anonymous way, but I also understand the reasons for you feeling as you do. For myself, anonymity on the internet is something that is critical and non-negotiable, for a huge number of reasons, and I will not be backing away from it.

                  • M. Stankovich says


                    Help me understand here: I am a “snake, traitor, and moral heretic” for begging the question of St. Paul, “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1 Tim. 3:5) As I recall one apocryphal tale of magnanimous heroism, the Champion of the Holy Grail and Defender of Orthodoxy, Dn. Mitchell, took the bull (well, more accurately the cow) by the horns, only to be rewarded with the $5 smackdown from… the BigFish himself! Holy cow! Do you think he was “coerced” – in his own cathedral – by the velveteen rabbit lavender mafia to forsake his morality & order the communing of homosexuals? And for heaven’s sake, KB, did Commissioner Gordon forget to turn on the “Julie Dreher Signal?” Apparently she is the only person capable of eliciting a semblance of leadership from your former Metropolitan!

                    What happened and what is happening at the SNC is irrelevant ten blocks in any direction you walk, and you are neither a prophet nor a keen observer. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Heb. 13:8) The former Metropolitan is just that, former, and the Church will continue “by the wisdom of men and the Grace of the Holy Spirit,” with him as a footnote.

                    Yours is an empty-headed, self righteous insult to the vast & overwhelming number of pious, obedient, “faithful over a few things,” longsuffering, underpaid, under-appreciated and disrespected clergy who, with their families, must suffer the moronic accusations you offer. It is as if to say they are all too compromised, too impious, or simply too stupid to prevent being swept by the tsunami of “a culture of moral heresy.” Perhaps you could gather together a team of “morality specialists” such as yourself to conduct – I don’t know what – PowerPoint presentations and “workshops” for the clergy: “The Dummies Guide to Being an Orthodox Pastor.” And perhaps you can also pay their student loans.

                    And the corollary, of course, is to give thanks to Almighty God, the Just and Merciful Judge, that the overwhelming number of the simpleton, ignorant faithful are totally and completely unaware that their salvation is dependent upon what they think/believe/say/feel about Jonah Paufhausen. And apart from those “lusting” for a false justice that is not theirs, twisting and misleading by the very purposeful and shameless misrepresentation of the Patristic Fathers and the Canons themselves, it will be finished soon, along with your shallow prophecy & empty projections of your own sad state of affairs.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Michael, your picayune insistence on details shows just how far the contamination of the OCA is. Your incessant clinging to trivial instances of mistakes reminds me of the dictum, “other than that Mrs Lincoln, how did you like the play?” True, the recently widowed First Lady could have given a review of Our American Cousin and talked about the refreshments served at Ford’s Theater, but there were other things going on at the time.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      P.S. as for the gracelessness of your comments and your quite apparent hatred for another human being, that requires a clinical assessment. I trust your pharisaic adherence to clerical shibboleths will salve your conscience. With the removal of His Beatitude, will you grace the OCA with your presence once again?

                • I am writing this as one who has been a member of parishes in four different U.S. Orthodox jurisdictions. (Which one depends on where we have been living at the time.) There is NO nearly perfect jurisdiction. It is fairy tale dreaming to present any one of our jurisdictions as some haven for “it never would happen here.” Although the Church is a divine institution, it is run by, and populated by, sinful human beings. Complacency (e.g. “It never would happen in the ____ . . . ,”) is a very dangerous frame of mind. I love my Church and my Orthodox faith. I just don’t forget that people manage the day-to-day details. Seek out and cherish whatever is good and holy, because it is there, and ultimately it shall prevail. At the same time, nonetheless, stand watchful and wary.

            • Basil Takach says

              You all make the contentious old timers who roiled things up across the ‘Rusnak’ world of the Metropolia and ACROD back in the day look like they were holding hands and singing Kumbaya. They did have a way to deal with such things though, every ‘Russian’ Club had a back door and an alley where disputes where often settled.( Yes, the infamous wedding reception of the Deer Hunter movie was not far removed from reality….) I even recall one priest pulling off his cassock at a meeting once and throwing down the gauntlet to a particularly offensive moke. I used to think our parish meetings were contentious……

            • Indeed, Father, but this is frankly the state of the rot at the higher echelons of the OCA currently.

              The people who have been a part of St. Nicholas over the last several years have simply had “front row seats” for the entire spectacle of dysfunction. In many respects it has veered towards a kind of Orthodox episcopalianism — very nice liturgically on the surface, but if you pay close enough attention, and actually know the players and see what is going on and who is pulling what strings where or intimating about something else elsewhere, you begin to see that beneath that surface lies a very conflicted situation between modernists/gay-activists, on the one hand, and mainstream Orthodox on the other, with the former holding more of the reins of power due to the fact that this is the “faction” that also controls the other church organs — the MC, the CA and the Synod.

              The whole sad tale of what happened with Metropolitan Jonah can really only be understood in this light, and, again, people at St. Nicholas again had front row seats for this “show” as well, because unlike prior occupants of that office, he actually lived right next to the Cathedral (and still does). What has happened at St. Nicholas — all of it, from the trashing of Fr. Joseph Fester to the communing of openly gay couples and on and on — was intimately tied into what happened with Metropolitan Jonah, and was in fact a core “theatre” in which this sad and sordid tale played itself out. That continues today, with the most recent events.

              The audience for the show hasn’t been giving it good reviews, however, and has been streaming out of the theatre. I suspect that the main actors in the play don’t care much, as long as they get to finish the script the way they like it. This has been much to the demographic benefit, I might add, of St. John the Baptist, the ROCOR cathedral that is about a 10 minute drive from St. Nicholas.

            • One wonders . . . .

            • The Washington, D.C. area has a very active Orthodox Gay Community that has been quietly tolerated for a long time. The area is very transient. So, as a parish, there is less likelihood than more of nurturing a person from childhood to adult.

              Consider this blog, which I think I shared before


              Previous to this online journal, I thought that Pan Orthodoxy was an extremely healthy effort toward getting different jurisdictional Orthodox to pray together and share much of their family lives together.


        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          How can a Priest serve two Liturgies on the same day? You cannot even serve two Liturgies on the same Holy Table. I suppose that one fudge a little bit and use two different Antimensia.

          • Seraphim98 says

            Fr. Bless.

            I can’t speak for the practice of any particular priest, but I have seen Orthodox cathedrals with 3 altars, the main one and two in side chapels. So if there is a need for a second liturgy for some reason it is conducted in one of the side chapels, not the main. That is how they avoid offending against the no two liturgies in the same place on the same day prohibition.

            • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

              I did serve a second liturgy at Holy Ghost Church in Sterling Heights,MI,during the 2 1/2 years that Assumption Russian Orthodox Cathedral had no church building.HOWEVER,I served on a separate table,with a seperate antimins,which was placed in front of the Altar,after the Rector of Holy Ghost finished HIS Liturgy at About 11:00 AM.So there were two seperate priests,two seperate antimins,and two seperate tables,which is correct as Fr.John stated.
              On Pascha,Christmas,and of course,Hierarchal visits,we would do only the one liturgy concelebrated.
              I’ve heard of some Ukrainian Orthodox churches in this country,where the priest would do two liturgies,but nowadays,with the Ukrainian Church having joined “mainstream” Orthodoxy vis-a-vis Constantinople,I’m not sure that continues.It might have been part of the Uniate heritage of western Ukraine;Uniate priests,like their Latin counterparts,may do mulitple liturgies.
              On the other hand,nothing prevents a priest from doing Vespers and Matins more than once.I believe the custom of doing Paschal Matins and Liturgy beginning at 4 or 5 AM among some Serbs,Romanians,and Western Ukrainians originated from when a priest had to serve two or more villages.He might do Paschal Matins at Midnight in one place and then head out to the next village,finishing up with Paschal Matins followed by Liturgy at the last stop..

    • Moving from attached status to parish priest allows one a voting position at the AAC, no? Very convenient.

  10. Just Guessing says

    File this one under “fixing the air conditioning on a car that’s hurling off a cliff.”

    Pastoral Letter on the Emancipation Proclamation: One Hundred and Fifty Years Later

  11. lexcaritas says

    It would be better to preach the Gospel–the Incarnation of the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ–and our response to it in grateful repentance–than to produce unobjectionable, but not particularly inspiring position statements like this. Who wrote this? A committee? A Syosset bureacrat? Fr. Chancellor Jillions? An academic?

    To me this smacks of the kind of document the mainline Protestant churches and the NCC and WCC periodicaly churn out. Perhaps the fault is mine in that my disappointment with our leadership prejuedices the way I read it? If so, forgive me. But where is the closing doxology so frequent in the Fathers? What is the purpose of this document? What good fruit will it bear? Is this effort truly well spent? I wonder . . .

    One thing is sure: I miss ++JONAH. The focus, substance and rhetoric with which he writes and speaks is far more powerful–inspired and inspiring–at least to me, if not to all.