St Vladimir’s Reacts to Amsterdam Conference, OCA Bishops Remain Silent

Undermining Church


By Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

The meeting in Amsterdam held several months ago to discuss Orthodoxy and sexuality raised serious questions, some of which have been answered. Thankfully, several attendees withdrew their support of the conference once the questions were raised. Also contributing to their withdrawal was the publication of an essay on the Public Orthodoxy Blog by Peter J. (Giacomo) SanFilippo that argued that a renowned theologian of the Russian Orthodox Church was a sodomite (read the refutation here). The conference was poorly conceived and should have never been held.

One troubling question raised was that many of the attendees cited their affiliation with St. Vladimir’s Seminary (SVS), presumably to give the conference a patina of authority it obviously did not have. This fact was not lost on SVS leadership, including the President and the Board of Trustees. Does the seminary want to be associated with a group that by all appearances considers the moral tradition up for grabs, subject to the deconstruction of Orthodox culture of the kind we see in the SanFilippo essay? Clearly not it turns out.

Several weeks ago St. Vladimir’s Seminary leadership, evidently troubled by the promiscuous use of the seminary’s name and reputation, reaffirmed its fidelity to Orthodox tradition. They wrote:

At their meeting on July 24, 2017, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir’s Seminary affirmed that the Seminary, in its teaching of theology on the issues of marriage and human sexuality, is guided by the document titled, “Synodal Affirmations on Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and the Sanctity of Life,” originally issued by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) in 1992.

Additionally, during their Semi-Annual meeting on May 19, 2017, the full Board of the Seminary unanimously adopted another statement titled, “Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs Regarding Marriage,” which was also adopted by the Holy Synod in June 2016. The first paragraph of that document states that “The Orthodox Church in America teaches and maintains as a sincerely held religious belief that God has established marriage as a lifelong, exclusive relationship between one man and one woman, and that all intimate sexual activity outside the marriage relationship, whether heterosexual, homosexual, or otherwise, is immoral, and therefore sin,” and then goes on to cite several scriptural passages upholding that stated belief.

“These two statements, originally issued and adopted by the Holy Synod, provide the public with a clear articulation of the fundamental Orthodox Christian teaching regarding marriage and human sexuality, as well as a recognizable moral guideline,” said Archpriest Chad Hatfield, president of the Seminary.

“And our Board’s recent actions regarding them assure that theological education at our school remains in alignment with the teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church,” he continued.

“Moreover,” Fr. Chad concluded, “our Board’s consistent adherence to the Holy Synod’s statements regarding marriage and human sexuality serves as a legal bulwark for the Seminary in matters of religious liberty.”

This is a strong clarification of what might otherwise have resulted in corrosive confusion. Culture arises from faith; religion is the ground of culture. What one believes is how one lives. Cultural deconstruction begins when faith erodes because the weakening of religious faith weakens the foundations of culture. As the erosion increases, cultural forms grow feeble as the traditions that once informed and upheld them fade from consciousness and eventually from memory. Oftentimes this process is aided and abetted through direct attacks on the core teachings that make up the traditions that in turn shape and give content to the cultural forms.

Orthodox culture arises from the Orthodox faith, the teachings that direct us how to live our lives that have been forged in centuries of a human experience guided by men of deep faith and a profound understanding of human nature and the workings of God. They are our teachers. They include the Fathers, Saints, Martyrs, the pantheon of exemplars — a great cloud of witnesses — whom we revere and honor but should also understand and follow.

SanFilippo’s essay is a clumsy but dangerous broadside against Orthodox tradition. Implicitly imputing the sin of sodomy to a preeminent Russian Orthodox theologian weakens the prohibition against sodomy among the Orthodox faithful if his broadside is believed. Change the tradition and eventually you change the culture which is precisely what SanFilippo aims to do. His essay is deadly serious because the sin of sodomy is deadly serious. St. John Chrysostom teaches that sodomy is worse than murder because sodomy kills the soul.

It is not yet clear if the folks at Public Orthodoxy are aggressive deconstructionists of Orthodox culture like SanFilippo. They have not yet clarified why they even published such a sloppy essay (polemics disguised as scholarship) and have yet to comment on the refutation. The most we can conclude at this point is that Public Orthodoxy cannot be considered a serious enterprise.

St. Vladimir’s Seminary is to be commended for their clarification. They understand the cultural implications of the conference and refuse to let the authority of the institution be used in ways that undermine its mission. This is leadership.

Left unanswered however is where the Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) stand on this misuse of ecclesiastical authority. OCA Chancellor Fr. John Jillions participated in the conference and listed SVS seminary as his affiliation where he serves as an adjunct professor, but clearly his position in the OCA bureaucracy is of greater importance. Does he agree with the implicit presupposition of the conference that Orthodox teachings regarding sexuality are malleable? Does he hold to the soft deconstruction of Orthodox culture that Public Orthodoxy’s silence on the SanFilippo essay implicitly advocates?

Moreover, why are the OCA Bishops silent about some of its priests who openly advocate for the normalization of homosexual activity? Why aren’t those priests reprimanded? Fr. Robert Arida is the most notorious because of his essay written several years back that advocated a retooling of the tradition similar to SanFilippo. It’s disingenuous for Fr. Arida and his cohorts to surreptitiously deconstruct Orthodox culture when they could easily join the Episcopal Church since it already believes and practices what they want the Orthodox Church to become.

The OCA Bishops need to clean house. They need to take their place on the shoulders of the courageous men who shaped Orthodox teaching and forged Orthodox culture. All it takes is a modicum of courage punctuated with manly virtue. The SVS leadership provides an example.


  1. This article clarifies the purpose of the conference was to alter Orthodoxy teachings to suit the fancy of the lbgt agenda. One of those times I hate being right.I expect to experience another one of these hate being right moments comes when the nation of India successfully establish of a fully cashless economic system, which if your not enrolled in makes you unable to buy or sell anything.A precise and exact appearance of what the mark of the beast does.Note that India presently is only 2%

  2. Pardon my miss click, cashless. Note the rapidity in which it is transformed into a 100% cashless economy. The time is short, decades at most, before the fully manifested beast and it’s mark are the evil reality. 9 European nations are already 75– 95% cashless. No doubt India is taking it’s marching orders from the Rothchild Central Bank of England.

  3. Thank you Fr. Jacobse, for making it clear, based on the actual facts of the matter, that the 100 richmen are not satisfied with authentic Christian Orthodox teaching and the truly civilized culture it creates.

  4. There will always be those who try to destroy the Church from within. Next up…..the conference in October where the Greek Church attempts to invent and ordain the modern day deaconess.

  5. Joseph Lipper says

    It seems to me this article could be more aptly titled as: “Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse Reacts Yet Again to Amsterdam Conference”. This “conference” has made no official pronouncements, and yet for some reason this seems to clearly bother Fr. Johannes. It seems he now feels compelled to dig something up.

    So, now we have this article from him suggesting that the OCA Synod of Bishops are being silent on the subject of “sodomy”.

    The OCA Synod of Bishops have been very clear in their various statements on sexuality and marriage. This is not silence.

    St. Vladimir’s seminary is also being very clear on their support of those Bishop’s statements on sexuality and marriage. That’s what we would only expect. No, this is not being reactionary.

    With a journalism style heavy on inference that raises suspicion, casts doubt, sows discord and thereby attempts to dig away at our Church’s foundations, it seems like Fr. Johannes is trying to dig a hole underneath the Church, just like in the illustration at the top of this article.

    • John Johannsen says

      Joseph Lipper you are either stupid or naive. I’m hoping for the latter. Father Johannes brings this up because it is a real threat to the integrity of the Church and the Gospel. Look at the recent history of Protestantism and Catholicism, particularly in this country. They changed doctrine bit by bit. The Amsterdam Conference is how it starts! Wake up!

      • George Michalopulos says

        JJ, if I may piggy-back on your retort to Mr Lipper. A few things come to mind:

        First, Fr Hans did use the appropriate protocol in raising his concerns. Although he is an Antiochian priest, he called on the OCA’s Holy Synod to bring Frs Arida and Winogradov (and others) to account. He didn’t even go to the EAUSA for this.

        Second, the pastoral negligence that informs the startling pro-sodomite pronouncements of the SanFillipo piece as we well as the unsettling teachings of Arida, et al, affect us all, regardless of jurisdiction. They most certainly make the pastorates of ordinary parish priests difficult but also confuse the laity to no end.

        I’m gonna just come out and say it: gone are the days of Orthodox jurisdictional particularism. It served its purpose at one time (and I’m being charitable here) but no longer. Not in the moral abyss that is the modern West. This “protocol” may still exist in the minds of all fifty-five bishops sitting on the Episcopal Assembly but if so, they will go the way of SCOBA.

        Indeed, they won’t even arise to the level of SCOBA because whatever the latter’s faults, it was started in good faith. It’s becoming more and more apparent now that the EA process was not; it was just a ruse to derail actual autonomy and territoriality.

        Regardless, all we are left with is moral negligence as it’s not possible for bishops to stand up for the Faith while they’re busily wondering about seating arrangements.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        John Johannsen,

        Congregationalism has brought many Protestant confessions to where they are now. It is the congregationalist mindset that can eventually lead a parish in any direction, all under the pretense of illusions of moral superiority from the congregation involved.

        Congregationalism doesn’t belong in the Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, many Orthodox parishes in America were founded with a congregationalist mindset and structure. That’s what needs to change, and this is the most disturbing thing. Yes, Congregationalism could lead to a parish council firing a priest because he refuses to bless some type of same-sex union. That could happen.

        The opposite could happen also. So one day the parish is fighting “sodomy” when in fact there are no sodomists in the parish, and then the next day the parish is telling their bishop to get lost because he is “silent” about it. With illusions of moral superiority they label themselves as the “Catacomb Church” and then later join some group called something like “The True And Traditionalist Orthodox Church” headed by a “Metropolitan Beelzebub” who lives in New Jersey.

        If Orthodox people would just try to listen to their bishops, seek his blessing, pray for him, and try to do what he says, then they would at least be spiritually protected from Congregationalism.

        • Great post Joseph,
          Mob rule, and witch hunts have no place in Orthodoxy!

        • And coming to the podium

          Ta da!

          The guy with the easiest point to make in six hundred Sunday sermons.

          What pearls!

          Who called the meeting Fr. Hans?

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          Mr. Lipper said:
          ” So one day the parish is fighting “sodomy” when in fact there are no sodomists in the parish, and then the next day the parish is telling their bishop to get lost because he is “silent” about it.”

          I once heard about a parish like that. There were no adulterers or fornicators, either. It was an unusual parish, though, I think.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Tim R. Mortiss,

            How many Orthodox parishes in our short American history have jumped jurisdictions? It’s more than one for sure.

            And why do they jump? There could be different reasons, some could be good reasons, but a common one is that the parish priest and/or parish council is fed up and doesn’t get along with their Church’s hierarchy. A congregationalist mindset takes over. Usually those jumps are also justified somehow with moralist arguments and illusions of moral superiority.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              My point here is only that I expect most sins can be found in all parishes, though a really small parish might skip some.
              It was a reaction to “when in fact there are no sodomists in the parish” in your post.

              It put me in mind of a sweet old “church lady” at my old Presbyterian church, in some group discussion more than 30 years ago. She found it very hard to believe that any members of our church could actually be “sinners”; i.e. adulterers, thieves, whatever, as opposed to being cranky with their spouse or children now and then. Bless her, she was shocked at the contrary suggestion.

              Not to say that there weren’t plenty of sweet old church ladies who knew different!

  6. “If I could turn back tuh-hime . . . If I could find a way . . . I’d take back those words that hurt you, and you’d stay . . . If I could reach the stars, I’d give them a-”

    -Bishop lifts one headphone off an ear . . . “What??!!” . . .

  7. Mark E. Fisus says

    I disagree with your characterization of OCA bishops as silent. The SVS statement cites the OCA bishops to reiterate Church teaching about marriage. In that sense the bishops have already spoken. SVS faculty at Amsterdam identified with SVS and it was appropriate for SVS to respond. An additional response from the bishops would give needless publicity to Amsterdam.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mark, that (OCA statement) was then (1992), not now. Remember back in the the early parts of the Clinton Administration, even globalists like Colin Powell were railing against active homosexuals in the military and Clinton himself signed the Defense of Marriage Act.

      I’m not so sure that the OCA bishops really want to touch this now given the fact that Big Gay, Inc is the cultural order of the day nor are they sure that the EAUSA will offer any support in this matter. Let us also not forget that they depended upon a gay cabal within the OCA and their clerical sympathizers in their quest to get rid of Metropolitan Jonah.

      I could be wrong (actually I hope I am wrong) but I’m just not seeing it.

    • Both Fr. Arida and Fr. Vinagradov doubled-down on their previous soft-peddling of homosexuality and calls for “dialogue” with proud and unrepentant LGBT activists (aka: normalization of homosexual conduct within the Orthodox Church communities) by publishing articles in a militantly pro-homosexual and pro-LGBT book “For I Am Wonderfully Made”: Texts on Eastern Orthodoxy and LGBT Inclusion published on January 2, 2017.

      One could infer that the OCA bishops didn’t do a darn thing about correcting or reprimanding these priests, since both are still at it! Several years have passed since their opinions were made known and here they are spreading the same confusion, continuing to disorient the Orthodox Christian faithful and support the LGBT agenda. They continue to use their sacramental priesthoods and “Father” titles to lend credibility to the twisted arguments and false theology that the homosexual activists have spread within the culture at large and are now fighting to drag inside the Church, as Fr. Jacobse warned back in Nov 2014 (see

      “For I Am Wonderfully Made”: Texts on Eastern Orthodoxy and LGBT Inclusion

      The book includes the following chapters (essays):

      Response to Myself. A Pastor’s Thoughts on Same-Sex Marriage
      Fr Robert Arida

      New Beginnings in Community: Gender Issues and the Church
      Fr Alexis Vinogradov

      What the book is about:

      In the midst of the culture wars of our broader society, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have become the focus of a spiritual battle within the Orthodox Church. The recognition of LGBT rights in the political sphere has triggered negative ecclesial responses. In the struggle to maintain traditional values and teachings, LGBT Orthodox are denied confession, communion or blessings. Many face exclusion from parish life, and some face physical violence. Roughly half of the essays gathered in this book were first presented at a seminar entitled “Orthodox Theological Reflections on LGBT People,” held 20-23 August 2015 in Finland. The other half represent Orthodox theologians, clergy, scholars and activists writing over the past 20 years. Together they offer an affirming message, urging LGBT Orthodox to proclaim with the psalmist: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” (Psalm 139:14)

      How’s that for chutzpah!

      • Mark E. Fisus says

        Chutzpah is the presumption of telling the bishops how to do their jobs.

        Explicit condemnations of wayward priests might draw more attention to them.

        Let the Church’s scholarly minions engage Fr. Arida on the academic battlefield where he is assaulting Church teaching. Our job is to pray.

  8. M. Stankovich says

    For an Orthodox priest who consistently demonstrates his fundamental lack of familiarity with the writings of the Patristic Fathers; who seems to be covering his lack of familiarity with the sacred texts of the Holy Scriptures by mocking those who are familiar as “proof texting”; and whom I never recall referring to the text of the liturgical canon, your arrogance seems incommensurate with your qualification, and your sense of entitlement is undeserved. And is your bishop aware that you have called out the Synod of Bishops in a jurisdiction other than your own demanding they clean house? Here, let me take a stab at this and guess you had a big “cutting-edge-of-culture” meeting during Holy Week and missed the reading about Joseph and the temptation of the wife of Potiphar: Gen. 39:1-12.

    Secondly, in effect, you are serving as surety and warrant that such matters are absent from your own jurisdiction-above-scrutiny, and you have the time and energy to focus your network of “Orthodox Culture” to bear. First selection: Fr. John Jillions, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America. What is your chief accusation pursuant to the Holy Scripture and the direction of the Holy Fathers? Nothing. You are demanding that the Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America exonerate himself… of nothing, hoping against hope he implicates himself. Fr. John Jillions should not dignify this cheap form of common bullying and attempting to intimidate with a response.

    Second selection: Priest Robert Arida. Has priest Robert Arida said anything new, more definitive, more declarative, or more insightful since last we heard from you? Not a word. What is the point? Apparently, you are impressed by the fact that SVS has formally adopted both the 1992 and 2016 statements of the OCA Synod of Bishops regarding the Sanctity of Marriage. Oorah, but both reflect the foundational theology of the Church. Was there a time when SVS did not subscribe to these fundamental, foundational teachings of the Church. Of course not. You seized on this event for self-aggrandizement – nothing more, nothing less.

    And finally, it absolutely sickens me that you have again propped up Peter SanFilipo, someone who struggled to reach the level of mediocrity at SVS to totally decompensate to the detriment of his family, and in effect like a federal appeals court, ordered mandatory medication of a patient in order to execute him, you ascribe to him potency and competency he does not possess. And for what? To make it appear you stand with the saints as a champion and defender of the Faith? It is despicable. He is obscure and unknown to but a limited, obscure number of people and you know it. Fight faggotry with faggotry; wise choice. You should be ashamed of yourself for employing this individual to meet your end.

    • Dr. Stankovich is back and as powerful as ever.

      • Cyprian

        I too am glad Dr. Stankovich is back

        He is the stormtrooper to George’s Star Wars Monomakhos website.

        He looks impressive and has an opposing point of view

        However, like a stormtrooper, whatever he shoots off totally misses everything

        We need him though, because if he’s not around, several of us are all like, “TK421, why aren’t you at your post??!!”

        Star Wars just wouldn’t be Star Wars without the stormtrooper

  9. Trey the Virginian says


    Why publish such vicious and incoherent slander as this from M. Stankovich against a friend and an honorable priest in good standing and representing Christ to us? It is not good for anyone, especially Dr. Stankovich.

  10. Here M. Stankovich, reminds us of our sinful nature, in the spirit of Joseph’s temptation of an other’s wife. In our case quite often, in a house of slander and gossip, it remains blessed because of just one good servant, in our midst.

    In the simple words of Saint Paisios:
    “The entire foundation of spiritual life is for people to think of others and put themselves last, not to think of themselves. When we put ourselves in another’s shoes and understand them, then we are Christ’s kin.”

    “What hinders spiritual progress is that people focus on other things instead of what benefits them spiritually.”

    I am far from the level of spiritual maturity and philotimo shown by M. Stankovich. I can only pray, and struggle, that some day I will reach that level before I meet my maker, redeemer, and judge. We could all learn much from his refusal to cast that first the stone.

    Again in the words and spirit of Saint Paisios, we should take heed of one of his final hand written notes found at Panagouda after his repose. Before obsessing with another person’s sin, reflect on our own, and have Christ like compassion for our brother, and sister in Christ. Seek to heal before we condemn.

    This note from a most pious man and Saint:

    “I, Monk Paisios, as I have examined myself, saw that I have broken all of The Lord’s commandments, I have committed every sin. It does not matter certain sins were committed to a lesser degree than others, since I do not have any excuse at all for any of them, because The Lord has been greatly generous to me. Pray that God may have mercy on me. Forgive me, and may all those who think that they grieved me be forgiven. Thank you very much, and again pray for me, Monk Paisios”

    • Dino

      Did you practice that in the mirror before typing it?

      What in the world are you talking about? M. Stankovich only waxes eloquent while talking nonesense. He’s misdirecting you by using inclusive rhetoric and safe spiritual admonishments. Verbal metophorically speaking, I haven’t seen something so blatently hiding in plain site since I was sweatin to the oldies

      His Potiphar reference is more donkey donkey convoluted scripture references that aren’t relevant to the topic at hand

      • Billy,
        A mirror would serve us all well. Father Hans would serve you even better than Han Solo and Star Wars quotes. Better served,yet more, would be M. Stankovich’s quotes from The Bible and our Holy Fathers even more so than your library of Hollywood classics.

        • Dino

          He’s just using all those things as misdirection

          Being distracted by shiny objects keeps the cognitive dissonance going and the agenda concealed – hence the waxing eloquent

          Also, in order to appear within bounds, he will employ double speak from time to time

          So far, Ive found just about everything he’s typed so far to be utter nonsense and pseudo intellectual drivel

          By contrast, I’ve actually agreed with a lot of your posts, and you have, in fact, contributed some good stuff. I havent said so yet, because just about every time I get ready to say something positive your direction, you end up typing something else dweebish and get all _!tchy

          You gotta stop being the “B”

          • M. Stankovich says

            Billy Jack: [surrounded by an angry mob] “If there is absolutely no way you can get out of taking a terrible beating, the only sensible thing to do is, get in the first lick!”
            The Trial of Billy Jack, 1974.

            You are out of your league, son, so you have decided to personalize your running commentary through Dino. This is the punk-assed punk route, and a particularly cowardly form of baiting.

            I have always invited correction as to substance, but I am reasonably convinced this has nothing to do with substance. Why? You and your mind-numbing, relentless, and uninteresting use of sarcasm and the literary convention of “irony” are now set on me? You have turned your half-wit to “critique” and “analyze” me? You who have yet to demonstrate substance are ascribing “concealed agenda” to me? “Utter nonsense and pseudo intellectual drivel,” you say?

            M. Stankovich: You know what I think I’m gonna do then? Just for the hell of it?
            Billy Jack Sunday: Tell me.
            M. Stankovich: I’m gonna take this right foot, and I’m gonna whop you on that side of your face…
            [points to Billy Jack Sunday’s right cheek]
            M. Stankovich: …and you wanna know something? There’s not a damn thing you’re gonna be able to do about it.
            Billy Jack Sunday: Really?
            M. Stankovich: Really.
            [kicks Billy Jack Sunday’s right cheek, sending him to the ground]
            Billy Jack, 1971

            Three empty, foolish, non-sensical opportunities to correct according to substance and you offer Star Wars to me in a very serious discussion. You litter my yard with your trash, put your feet on my table, and leave flies in the joint. Out, bro’. You’re gone. Banned. You waste my time and bore the living hell out of me. You want a “safe spiritual admonishment” in plain site?

            I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all… so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Eph. 4:1-6, 12-16)

            How about you drop the childish, continuous sarcasm and contribute to the building up of the Body of Christ? Peace, bro’.

            • Hi Stankovich

              I attempted to address the issue with you directly several times… but you would not respond

              I typed what I did to Dino purposely because I dont understand your cult following on this page. I find that you are especially harsh with those who disagree with you. If they make a fair argument, then you really apply fluff or egotistical rantings concerning yourself. Then if you get called out on it, you really go off your nut and get abusive. All you are doing at this point is proving my point about you to everyone.

              Your last comment concerning Elder Ephraim was fair. It didnt have all the other antics of a lot of your other comments and was to the point. I am taking it under consideration, as i am still forming my opinion on that particular matter. I think it was a fair comment, but it doesn’t make you worthy of adoration. It just seemed like a normal (finally) comment to me…

              • Now, you have to admit what Dr. Stankovich wrote to you was extremely funny. ” You litter my yard with your trash, put your feet on my table, and leave flies in my joint.” That has to be one of the all-time classics on Monomakhos. That’s one of the many reasons we love the man, Billy. He’s the only reason I read this page. His highly informational, erudite, entertaining posts are must reading. George is extremely lucky to have Dr. Stankovich grace this site.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  We are indeed most fortunate to have Dr S on this site.

                • Cyprian

                  I wouldnt exactly say it was comedy gold – but its a pretty good rant. I liked it, but he also went a bit far, and didnt qualify some statements as metaphor. I’m actually cool with it. Why? First, I got a good sense of humor and can laugh at myself. Some people here need to be able to do the same. Second . . .

                  I posted twice in response to that one. The first was more comedic, but disappeared. I dont know if it was lost in my end, or deleted from the site. The second attempted responds was more even tempered but had a bit of trimming . . .

                  He is definitely able to get away with saying things others apparently can’t. Perhaps he’s earned it. Perhaps you guys owe him money . . . Either way, I too like that he’s a contributor. Maybe not in the same way as you, but regardless, I’m glad he’s here

                  If you guys like him so much, that’s totally fine by me. I’d love to see more of his “Get off my lawn ya stupid kids” thing. I fail to see the relevance of much of what he says, but a few of his comments are fair – and I love seeing a good melt down whenever possible. For that reason, I too, can’t look away

                  • Billy Jack Sunday,
                    For what it’s worth, I think you’re pretty funny as well, certainly not in Dr. Stankovich’s league, but funny, nonetheless.
                    Do I like and respect the man? Absolutely! By the way, Dr Stankovich really needs his own website, or, better yet, his own radio show. Call In Radio with Dr. Stankovich. Can you imagine how interesting and entertaining that would be?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Rather than a radio call-in show, I’d recommend a YouTube station (or whatever winds up replacing YouTube since it’s going to go the way of all flesh if they keep up their great demonetization scheme).

                • Bet you all didn’t know we belong to Cult Stankovich. Mission Statement: Tough love never felt so good!

          • Billy,
            Not that M. Stankovich, needs, or most likely wants me to come to his defense, or praise. You could learn a lot from him. Of course I disagree with him at times, and have been rude to him as well. Over time, I have come to believe he truly understands, the Bible, our canons, philotimo, and our Holy Fathers, better than most here, not to mention he has known many influential fathers, bishops, and theologians of our time. This I respect of the man, and try to sponge off as much info as I can from him, and of course others here in my never ending growth in our faith. Otherwise what’s the point in frequenting Monomakhos, unless all one seeks is slander and gossip. You may find his posts pseudo intellectual drivel, and hard to follow,(OK sometimes hard) but I don’t. In fact striving to learn and understand a man such as M. Stankovich, or, our canons, our Holy Fathers, and our church is not easy. At least for me, great achievements are never easy, especially the most important achievement, Theosis. Easy has been you telling me to STFU, and calling me a dweebish bitch, which has never in my life, been said to my face, for many reasons. Easy would be for me to return the insults in kind, but I won’t. Until Christ will, “transform our lowly body that it will be conformed to his glorious body”-Philippians 3:21, I bid you farewell. Hope not too bitchy, anyway, God bless you Billy.

  11. Tim R. Mortiss says

    I remember that “sincerely held religious belief” from the OCA 2016 statement about marriage. Lawyerese at its best/worst….. (the language is from US legal caselaw).

    I can just visualize St. Paul coming to town, after crossing a few swollen rivers and spending some cold and sleepless nights. Not to mention fending off robbers and wild animals. He spreads his tools and works on a bit of awning. Then he begins to preach: “I have a sincerely held religious belief……”

    Fortunately, it didn’t happen that way.

    • Chris Banescu says

      I think many of us are discerning the same (worsening) pattern in the OCA and GOAA. I’m reminded of this timeless wisdom from C.S. Lewis: “The sources of unbelief among young people today do not lie in those young people. … This very obvious fact – that each generation is taught by an earlier generation – must be kept very firmly in mind. …Nothing which was not in the teachers can flow from them into the pupils” (On the Transmission of Christianity, in God In The Dock).

      When Orthodox Bishops Spoke Boldly: Clear Teaching on Marriage and Family

      These bishops [older Orthodox bishops in the OCA] showed no apathy, timidity, or confusion in speaking publicly on key moral issues. They were not silent or complacent in the face of danger. They denounced evil and challenged the growing corruption in the culture. They genuinely loved and cared not only for the welfare and salvation of their flocks, but of all men. They taught and preached about the importance of the family and the full meaning of marriage from an Orthodox Christian understanding. They bore witness to these timeless truths before the entire Church and the whole world.

      “We find it imperative to address you on an issue of crucial importance for the Christian life. An increasingly secularized world tends more and more to neglect the traditional biblical understanding of marriage and family. Misunderstanding freedom and proclaiming the progress of a humanity supposedly too mature, sophisticated and scientific to follow Christ’s Gospel, many have abandoned its moral demands. The consequences are plain for all to see: the family is disintegrating, legalized abortion is killing millions of unborn children, corrupt sexual behavior is rampant. The moral foundations of society are collapsing.” (OCA Bishops in the 1970s)

      They’re no longer voices crying in the wilderness and shouting from the mountaintops, but whispering in a hurricane.

    • With regard to “sincerely held religious belief.”

      If this were the only thing our bishops had ever spoken on these subjects I would agree that it would be somewhat pathetic. But it isn’t the only thing they have said – far from it. Over and over again in the face of cultural and legal events they have reaffirmed the teaching of the Church. If you care to make a case that there seems to be a curious lack of censure on the part of some bishops of certain priests whose public works and dubious academic associations continue to fly in the face of their statements, have at it. But don’t pretend or imply that they haven’t consistently reaffirmed Church teaching in their statements or that their statement about “sincerely held religious belief” is all they have spoken on these subjects. After the SCOTUS marriage ruling my own bishop didn’t even wait for the synod to weigh in. He issued clear and unequivocal instruction that the SCOTUS decision had no bearing whatsoever on his parishes and that no parish or priest was allowed to do anything contrary to the Faith as a result of the change in civil law.

      It is apparent to anyone with half a brain that the statement in which the phrase “sincerely held religious belief” was used was, in fact, ‘legalese’ and was specifically intended as such for the purpose of protecting the their flocks from exposure to legal harassment. Would we have preferred that they didn’t protect us from the lawsuits that surely would have been filed against faithful priests and parishes for their refusal to cater to the culture? Or would we have criticized them for failing to protect us by failing explicitly to use the phrase the law requires in order to ensure exemption from such harassment?

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        The “phrase” is neither necessary nor sufficient, and its use or non-use has no bearing on the issues that it obviously was meant to address. Certainly it is not a “phrase the law requires in order to ensure exemption”. This is simply a confusion of substance with form.

        In short, you have a sincerely held religious believe by having and practicing one, not by saying you have one.

        As to your larger point, you may well be right; I don’t know for sure. But 44 years of practicing law have not inured me to the hollowness of these legalistic “phrases”. There are certain types of lawyers who seem to think along such lines, though.

        • Tim,

          Doubtless you are correct. My choice of words was poor because (as far as I know) there is not yet any well-defined “law” as such. It would be more precise to describe it as legal “guidance” in that it mirrors the language of Justice Alito in his majority opinion in the Hobby Lobby case.

          It is the case, however, that government agencies charged with law enforcement consider, among other things, the stated beliefs of the religions of the accused when religion is cited as a reason for discrimination. Whatever their other faults, the bishops made certain that the belief was expressly and ‘officially’ stated, leaving no room for ambiguity should a question arise.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            Indeed, the “sincerely held religious belief” rubric is part of the case law discussion on constitutional issues in the US when evaluating certain questions related to religious freedom. But the lawyers made a mistake when they got this phraseology into the bishops’ language. Not that it will make any difference one way or another.

            But what’s the first thing you think when somebody refers to himself as sincere? That he is not, of course!

            Anyway, a peeve and crochet of mine, this lawyerese. Different than legalese, really.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Agreed. I myself was rather chagrined when our priest read the encyclical from HB Tikhon sometime last year. I wanted to cringe when I heard the words “sincerely held beliefs” but given that I’m in the OCA and the homosexual juggernaut has overwhelmed our nation, I decided that this was a “half-a-loaf” victory. I also recognized that it was written with the assistance of our legal department and as such protects OCA parishes and parish properties from the inevitable lawsuits that will arise from gay couples who “only want to rent” our parish halls for a “reception”.

              Since then, I spoke with a GOA priest who’s a member of my extended family and he told me that there is no stomach within the GOA hierarchy to even go to this length. Indeed, in the Chicago diocese of the GOA there is an unwritten but definite order to “stand down” whenever an unrepentant, gay-married couple comes to approach the Chalice.

              Regardless, the economic situation is so dire in many of the GOA parishes that they are forced to turn a blind eye to whoever wants to rent the parish hall.

              In light of this, the OCA’s tepid emotive pronouncement seems strong in comparison.

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Personally, I felt that the 2016 statement was a home run. It’s short, concise, to the point (unlike the 1992 statement which to me reads like the authors are floundering) and yes, it’s preceded with “lawyerese”, but that just makes the point that this is a legally-minded statement, and also yes, it communicates that the OCA has lawyers. This statement says that if you go against this “sincerely held religious belief” then you are entering into the realm of a battle about religious freedom.

  12. Sean Richardson says

    There are two things that trouble me about this article: First, in the statement: “several attendees withdrew their support of the conference once the questions were raised”. I admit that I am humble and ignorant in such areas, but I have always thought that asking a question was the best way to learn something. To have someone walk out, just because a question is asked, is quite appalling to me. I have asked many questions, of many priests and bishops, and I have learned a great deal, and have been blessed, because they had the patience to answer my question. I shudder to think what would have happened if they had “walked out” when I asked a question.
    The second area is, I wonder what ‘standing’ Fr. Johannes has to speak on this case, and again, I admit my ignorance and lack of knowledge. Just because he is Orthodox is not sufficient. If he is a member of the OCA, a member of the faculty of SVS, then fine, let him speak. But if he is neither, he should let those who are part of the appropriate jurisdiction speak. If they are outraged, so be it. But I have found that I am best served by keeping my mouth shut about organizations I don’t belong to.

  13. M. Stankovich says

    Any accusation that I have slandered Fr. Hans is absolutely baseless and unfounded. If you need “evidence,” go to his website and see that I have been making the same statements to him directly regarding his lack of familiarity with the writings of the Holy Fathers, classic Greek moral philosophy, New Testament Greek, and calling on him to set aside his dedication to secularist writings and writings of the christian right since 2011 because they are true. He has never once told me I was incorrect in making such statements, and I am not. Then, as now, I stand by my statements.

    Apparently Mr Banescu missed the lesson of the manner by which the Lord chose to speak to the Prophet Elijah:

    And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice to him… (1 Kings 19:11-13)

    It would seem quite apparent that the Lord of heaven, Who is quite capable of renting the mountains and quaking the earth, found it sufficient to “whisper.” To draw the conclusion He was apathetic, timid, confused, complacent, unloving, blah, blah, blah would be a startling rush to judgment. Now, I grant that the members of the Holy Synod of the OCA are not the Lord of heaven, but they are certainly due more respect than Fr. Hans and Mr. Banescu are giving them (and let me again refer to the quotation of St. Ignatius Branchianinov: “If you could actually see the holiness bestowed upon bishops by our God, you would fall down.”) and to presume that because you are not reading intermittent rewordings of the fundamental teachings of the Orthodox Faith posted to for the enjoyment of a few, the bishops are lazy, apathetic, timid, confused, complacent, unloving, blah, blah, blah is shortsighted. No it’s mean-spirited. No, it’s just plain dumb. No, in fact, it is bullying and judgmental and I, for one, am sick of these unfounded accusations based on nothing. We, as Orthodox Christians, are all responsible in this world for “crying in the wilderness,” for personally confronting the immorality of our time and to be “witness to these timeless truths before the entire Church and the whole world.” I have said here openly, I fear no one and I lost my job rather than caving to “transgender” foolishness. Most of the loudest “champions of Orthodoxy” here will not even identify themselves. Moral cowards attempting to bully bishops as cowards. This place absolutely reeks of testosterone. It smells like fear…

    • Chris Banescu says

      Warnings and prophecies from St. Ignatius Branchianinov for all Orthodox to heed and remember:

      “Apostasy is permitted by God-do not attempt to stop it with your powerless hand. Flee from it yourself, protect yourself from it; that is enough for you to do. Learn to know the spirit of the age, study it, so whenever possible you will be able to avoid its influence…Only God’s special mercy is able to stop this all-destroying moral epidemic, to stop it for a while, because it is necessary that everything foretold by the Scriptures happen.

      Judging by the spirit of the times and the intellectual ferment one must suppose that the structure of the Church, which has been shaking for some time, will fall quickly and horribly. There is no one to stop and oppose it. The measures undertaken to support it are borrowed and hasten its fall, rather than stopping it. There is no one who can be expected to restore Christianity!

      The vessels of the Holy Spirit have finally dried up everywhere, even in the monasteries, those treasures of piety and grace…The salt has lost its savor.

      In the chief pastors of the Church there remains only a weak, dim, inconsistent and incorrect understanding according to the “letter” which kills the spiritual life in Christian society and destroys Christianity, which is an action, not a letter. It is distressing to see to whom the sheep of Christ have been entrusted, to whom their direction and salvation have been committed. But this has been permitted by God…

      God’s merciful patience delays and postpones the decisive disintegration for the small remnant of those being saved, while those who are decaying or have decayed attain the fullness of their corruption.

      Those who are being saved must understand this and make use of the time given them for salvation. May the merciful Lord shield the remnant of those who believe in Him! But, this remnant is meager and is becoming more and more so…Let him who is being saved save his soul” ~ St. Ignatius Branchianinov [Vol. IV and the Patericon]

      • Michael Bauman says

        The spirit of the age is simply this: the Will to Power. It shows itself in our desire to have bishops behave “well” and appropriately as in the actions of the “misbehaving” bishops. It is the whole substance of our politics including both the attempt to re-create ourselves in enless gender types and in the souless arrogance of many who oppose.

        It is in every aspect of most of what each of us does for “work”.

        The constant dicotomy of fear and control. Apocalypse or progressive salvation, i.e. the perfectibility of man and the destruction of all in the past as evil. Equally in the desire to retain the status quo at any cost.

        It is madness. It is madness to participate, yet we do. None of us are free of it.

        Come Lord Jesus!

  14. Dino

    He’s just using all those things as misdirection

    Being distracted by shiny objects keeps the cognitive dissonance going and the agenda concealed – hence the waxing eloquent

  15. Joseph Lipper says

    This Hurricane Irma is deadly serious. Let’s keep the Orthodox parishes in Southern Florida in our prayers this weekend and Fr. Johannes’ parish of St. Peter’s in Bonita Springs especially.

  16. Joseph Lipper says

    This Hurricane Irma is deadly serious. Let’s keep the Orthodox parishes in Southern Florida in our prayers this weekend and Fr. Johannes’ parish of St. Peter’s in Bonita Springs especially.

  17. I think that all of these responses — especially those which expect replies from our bishops — are inappropriate and premature.

    Unless and until the meetings in Amsterdam issue a position paper or some other sort of statement, there is nothing to which the bishops might respond.

    The position of The Church is as clear as it’s ever been. What more do people want in the absence of a putatively theological statement to the contrary?

    All we have here is idle speculation.