Stokoe’s Latest “Report” — Is that all there is?

Christ is Risen!

In one of my last posts about the Stokovite saga, I asked whether OCANews had been muzzled because of the damage Stokoe had inflicted on anti-+Jonah forces. Leaked emails caught Stokoe red-handed manipulating events behind the scenes. Commentators on Monomakhos revealed his pro-gay bias. We know he was fired as an insider but poses as an outsider.

My question was too hasty. Stokoe just posted another “report.” The muzzle is gone but the bark hasn’t changed.

Oh sure, there’s something about a “500 page, heavily annotated report” which supposedly shows how +Jonah “mishandled” the sexual malfeasance of several clergy (and bishops? One can only wonder…). I believe that there is less here than meets the eye. More on that below.

For now let’s take a look at the shenanigans of Bishop Melchizedek, heretofore Stokoe’s beau ideal. In The-Grand-Tradition-of-Leaving-Important-Things-Out-of-the-Narrative (Stokoe’s stock in trade), Stokoe makes no mention of how +Melchizedek ordered Syosset to keep St. Garklavs at his post. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Why would the good bishop do this even though the Holy Synod fired him?

That sure throws a kettle of cold water on Stokoe’s latest reporting. For all the talk about “defiance” and “rogue” you’d think he’d splash some on his guy. Not a word. I wonder why? While I’m at it, what exactly is it about “The DC Nuns” that exercizes His Grace so? And who is paying Garklavs?

Come on, Stokoe! Fill us in! Inquiring minds want to know!

As for the 500 page tome, I have no inside knowledge. It purports to show how +Jonah “mishandled” the reports on clergy sexual malfeasance. But think about this. 500 pages? Any good writer will tell you that a well-crafted document takes weeks. Most of my friends who are authors and bloggers know that a good three page, 1,000-word essay is about all they can manage in one day. And that’s without footnotes. A good, well-researched 300 page doctoral dissertation takes two years to craft.

Let’s not forget, +Jonah has been Metropolitan for a little over two years. There’s no way in tarnation that one man’s inactions or actions can justify such a bleak report. Even in the two years that Obama has been president, a balanced report would make mention of his accomplishments as well as his mistakes.

In due time it will be published but whether anyone except Stokoe and cronies will see it is anyone’s guess. I can’t imagine that it’s going to be as hard-hitting or damaging to +Jonah as his enemies hope it will be. Second, I believe it’s going to be sloppy and have a lot of redundancies. Third, I would bet the farm that no mention will be made of those miscreants who are in the Episcopalian wing of the OCA.

One more thing. Did Stokoe contribute? Did he edit it? Did he even read it? How does he know it was going to be published? Is this another example of our intrepid Jimmy Olsen manipulating events only to report that he is shocked! shocked! at what he discovered?

We know that the Sexual Misconduct Committee Advisory Panel (SMCAP) has been sitting on the shelf for months although its veracity is suspect given Faith Skordinski’s leaked email implicating Garklavs in tampering with it. (Yes, the same Garklavs squatting in Syosset.) If the 500 page tome is anything like the tampered SMCAP report, you can bet it will exclude any mention of the alternative life-style living arrangements of Archdeacon Burke in Miami (among others).

How stupid do they think we are? They tamper with one report and then they scramble to write another one thinking that we should trust that one instead. Why? Because Stokoe reported it? He still hasn’t explained his involvement with the tampering of the first report!

So what does the Episcopalian wing want to accomplish? We already know that +Jonah didn’t always act with the alacrity that I and others wished that he did regarding sexual deviants. I for one think that His Beatitude had way too much on his plate. Having said that, I do hope he comes out swinging but it will require disciplining the Acting Chancellor and the underlings undermining him.

So what about the Bishops who worship at the Altar of Conciliarity? If they believe that this Church is conciliar and that all bishops are equal (which I do by the way), then why haven’t they seen fit to clear out the deviants within their own dioceses? How can they blame +Jonah when they have been so sloppy about the corruption in their own back yards?

My sense it that they hope that HB will overstep his bounds and overreach. But they better be careful. If +Jonah has dropped the ball in the past, then they better support him if he owns up to his mistakes and seeks to rectify them. We’ll see if a clean church is was they really want or if it is merely a pretext.

Stokoe should watch out too. The last thing he needs is a clean up of homosexuals in leadership. That would force Bishop-elect Matthias to remove him from the Metropolitan Council.

The longer and closer we look, we see that these guys aren’t exactly head of the class material. They keep putting out the same thing thinking that if we hear enough of it, maybe we will believe it.


  1. I don’t know what’s in the SMCAP report, but for laughs, I imagined that they just converted the original 9-page document to a 100 point font. 😀

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume the report is true and is as bad for Met. Jonah as they say, and that he truly is incompetent and indifferent to sexual misconduct. In that case, I would still have to take the rest of the administration to task, because it would be outrageous that one single person would have so much authority over the enforcement of the policy that he would be able to unilaterally keep it from being enforced. The idea is, frankly, absurd.

    Either things are not so bad as Met. Jonah’s opponents claim, and Met. Jonah’s opponents are liars., or else things *are* as bad as they are saying, and these people are horrendously incompetent in their own right.

    • lexcaritas says

      Helga, you have again hit the nail on the head and said it like it is.


  2. Nick Katich says


    You said:

    “Most of my friends who are authors and bloggers know that a good three page, 1,000-word essay is about all they can manage in one day. And that’s without footnotes. A good, well-researched 300 page doctoral dissertation takes two years to craft.”

    I have written numerous, 75-100 page extremely scholarly and eloquent legal briefs in 2 or 3 days. Would you like me to send you a copy or two to judge their eloquence?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Good for you Nick. A lot of bloggers I know have day jobs as well. Not all of us are Andrew Sullivans who sit around and get paid to wonder about Sarah Palin’s reproductive system. And the friends and acquaintances I have who have written dissertations assure me that it’s maddening, time-consuming work.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        I had to write up a specification doc that ended up being 50 pages, with screenshots and is at version 2 and it took me days and days to put together. I also have what is called A Life, in terms of keeping the house in reasonable order that doesn’t look like one of those Extreme Hoarding shows and making sure my husband and I are well-fed.

  3. Stokoe’s latest is absolutely ridiculous and you are right, George, that he isn’t “head of the class” material. Look at the loaded language used to describe the situation: “He also sent letters to Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, the OCA External Affairs Officer, and Fr. Eric Tosi, the OCA Secretary,demanding from them, as well as Bishop Melchisedek, “reports” on their activities during his absence, due by Bright Thursday.” Why “demanded”? He could write, “Met. Jonah requested reports on their activities…” Furthermore, I don’t get why that is as outrageous as Stokoe claims? Surely, it is the most reasonable thing in the world to ask for reports on what was done after a major administrative change (even if temporary)…. If he didn’t, it would imply he simply didn’t care… and of course, I would assume Stokoe would sink his fangs into that one… “horrors! There is no transparency or accountability because this reckless man doesn’t even ask for what was accomplished in his absence!”

    Lastly, Stokoe excerpts the Santa Fe minutes which read: “This could include a time of retreat at a monastery…” and follows it by: “Rather than in a monastery, the Metropolitan chose to spend his time in Washington DC.” among a Biden-esque repetitious sequence enumerating all of Jonah’s disobedient transgressions. Of course there is nothing inaccurate in that monastery/DC statement, but the obvious implication is that Jonah is somehow disobedient or “rogue” for not acquiescing to a suggestion to spend time at the monastery. Give me a break.

    I applaud you, George, for giving a forum and leading a discussion about this dangerous man. His writing is awful and betrays his motivation. If it were just his language and tone, he would be regarded with deep suspicion, at best. The problem is, he does that while shouting he is just trying to report the “truth”, and thus I can only conclude that he is a deluded idiot.

    • Ian James says

      ASP, how about this opening line:

      Metropolitan Jonah made it clear on Bright Monday that his no-less-than-sixty days of “Rest” as he styled it, or a “Leave of Absence” as the Synod announced it, was over; but that the pause had done nothing to alter his behavior.

      Alter his behavior? Stokoe just doesn’t quit. He pens three(!) articles trying to convince us +Jonah is unstable (here, here, and here) but refuses to report that a top flight shrink found him rock solid.

      Then we find out Stokoe had this fixed from the beginning.

      Now Stokoe comes back with a pursed lipped tsk, tsk, tsk trying once again to assert that +Jonah’s behavior is still an issue — an idea he put into play, magnified, and is trying to resuscitate.

      George is right. Don’t move these guys to the head of the class. Stokoe recycles the same drivel over and over again. Maybe if he says it often enough, we’ll believe him.

      The behaviour that needs altering is Stokoe’s. We can’t trust him.

      • Agreed. He seems to underline that “no-less-than-sixty days” is somehow an indication of Jonah’s lack of character/trickiness/bad behavior. The poor guy can’t win – if he took any more than 60 days he would be a lazy bum that is unfit to lead. George below makes an important point – Stokoe slams Jonah for not going to a monastery for rest… which monastery, Mark? The one he was banned from, or the one whose spiritual father warmly labeled him as “gravely troubled” in an open letter. Those two sound like great options for warm hospitality!

        Has anyone also noticed the disingenuous nature of recommending Jonah to “rest” at a monastery, when it is quite obvious they just want to exile him away to shut him up? It is sad that there are many healthy monasteries that are truly oases in the desert yet they are seen as a convenient way to “punish” someone.

      • An anonymous blogger citing “my sources” and “a licensed psychologist” is hardly a convincing demonstration of HB being “rock solid.” It is unfortunate and sad that the effort to get at the truth of the incident(s) must rely on such a vague premise.

    • lexcaritas says

      Give me a break, indeed, ASP. You have nailed this one.

      Mr. Stokhoe is unfair, sensationalist and disingenuous by design.

      Such a person is not worthy of serious engagement or discussion. His positions are presposterous and he should be removed from the MC, ignored and forgotten until he brings forth the fruits of repentance and manifests love for his self-chosen enemies. Let the masquerade of self-righteousness cease.


  4. Carl Kraeff says

    George-this is the lamest smoke-and-mirrors article you’ve ever written. Take a deep breath and engage brain before you start typing; it’s just pitiful!

    • Mark from the DOS says

      And it is still 10 times more accurate and balanced than anything Stokoe has written since starting his latest campaign. The latest OCASpews “article” is complete overreach and hysteria.

  5. George Michalopulos says

    Carl, was I “lame” to point out that B+M “defied” the Holy Synod? Was I “lame” to point out that Stokoe didn’t mention this in his “report”? Or to point out that the SMCAP report has been manipulated? Or that the bishops bear the responsibility for tidying up their own backyards, because we are a supposedly “conciliar” church in which all bishops are equal?

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Yes, you were lame to “point out that B+M “defied” the Holy Synod.” There is nothing in the minutes regarding the use of Father Garklav’s future time and effort; the Holy Synod merely accepted his resignation. There is no evidence that Father G has been continuing to act as the Chancellor; indeed, the Acting Chancellor has been using Father G as a consultant, something which is laudable rather than in any way objectionable. It is only in the fevered imaginations of contributors to OCA Truth and this site that this situation is viewed with paranoid suspicions.

      Yes, you were also “lame…to point out that the SMCAP report has been manipulated.” As you well know, but has steadfastly refused to acknowledge, Faith Skordinski’s email only expressed concern that Father Garklavs may be editing the report (which he had the right to do by virtue of his duties) TO MAKE +JONAH LOOK BETTER! (Sorry about the shouting but you have not heard me before on this point).

      • George Michalopulos says

        Eh? speak up! you mean it’s ok to doctor confidential documents? And to “volunteer” his time after he was fired? By Jove! that goes on all the time in the real world! I can think of times in which I was fired and continued showing up to work, all for free of course!

        Carl, in which alternate universe do things like that happen?

        • Southern Comfort says

          Sorry to disappoint, Carl, but Garklavs who resigned, did not work on his own time in Syosset. He was being paid by order of Bishop Melchisidec, a decision he has no authority to make as an Interim Chancellor. One day +Mel agrees that Garklavs should go and then he is named Interim Chancellor and all of a sudden, he gives him an office so he can work on the 500 page report against Jonah. He gets free range of all clergy files. And we don’t think they are out to get +Jonah? I swear, I am not making this stuff up. It was confirmed today. Ask Eric Tosi.

          Oh, and btw, such a 500 page report being written or even researched by Garklavs is a total breach of conflict of interest rules by the vaulted MC Ethics Committee. He is writing the report to cover his own errors. Not to ethical is it?

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Well George, I don’t know about you but I have run a number of committees over the years and was usually involved in writing or editing the minutes or reports, as the case may have been. As you know (or should, given your abilities), there are many ways to say one thing. For a crude example, whenever someone says in a meeting, “that’s a screwed up (or worse) idea!”, one would not normally quote that remark. You could ignore it (“the idea was discussed frankly”), reduce it to “objections were noted,” or reword it “George objected to the idea.” So, one is always trying to capture the essence of what has been said or decided by wording (and rewording) to make sure that it is presented as fairly as possible. This is not doctoring a document but preparing it for publication. \

          In the case of Father Garklavs, he was on that committee and he had every right to work on that report and the only reason why we are talking about this is because of faith Skordinski’s email. Remarkably, Dr. Skordinski’s own words do not indicate anything but concern on her part that Father Garklavs may be editing the report to make the Metropolitan look better. Skordinski is concerned that the report will not fully disclose all sexual misconduct issues, and that Father G was trying to soften the report and/or cover up some issues. We do not know from the email what exactly those issues were. It is clear however that this report was critical of the Metropolitan and was sent to the members of the Holy Synod without going through the Metropolitan.

          And from this set of facts, you get the conclusion that Father Garklavs is doctoring the report to hurt the Metropolitan?! Come on George, you are far too smart to parrot the OCA Truth line on this.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Carl, the fact that Garklavs was brought to task by Skordinski on this matter opens up an entire case of worms regarding its veracity. In legal terms, it could be said that the evidence had been tampered with. Now, this may be an unfair characterization, but let’s not forget that the three e-mails that have been leaked have done considerable damage to the Stokovite narrative and at the very least have shed light on tremendous skullduggery. To say nothing of bad faith.

            Truth be told, given what we know about Garklavs as reported in Skordinski’s e-mail, there is no way that the majority of people in the OCA are going to have any confidence at all in the SMCAP report. None whatsoever. Especially now that it’s known that Garklavs was fired both by Metropolitan +Jonah and also by the Holy Synod. The additional fact that he’s still whiling away his time in Syosset is only going to make him look even worse. That would be akin to returning to the scene of the crime.

      • Martin Pendergrass says


        Your argument presupposed Fr Alexander Garkalvs was released from his position for benign or questionable reasons. I don’t know, it is possible that you believe the Stokoe claim that he was removed because of his work on the Sexual Misconduct Report, and thus is a “whistleblower”.

        However, the minutes do not put forth why he was released. It is impossible for you to make the judgement call that it is “laudable” the Bishop Melchisedek is using him as an advisor without knowing the reason for his removal.

        Let us allow for a moment that he was removed for reasons other than his work on the report. This leaves us room for speculation, and it is speculation which we should refrain from lest we not lower ourselves to the level of Ober-Procurator Stokoe.

        He was fired. End of story until we know why he was fired. If Mel needed to be shown where things are a day or two of training would have sufficed. But two months. Excessive.

        If Garklavs was rehired, did it go through the MC Human Resource committee? Oh, wait, why use that? Garklavs employed his own son without asking approval. I guess those pesky protocols or best practices don’t matter when you are the lackey of the Ober-Procurator.


        • Carl Kraeff says

          Martin–Let’s review the facts, if you do not mind.

          1. Father Garklavs was the Chancellor of the Church and was appointed by the Holy Synod upon the recommendation by the Metropolitan Council (OCA Statute, Article II, Section 7m).

          2. Father G. worked closely with persons occupying the national offices: The Metropolitan, the Metropolitan Council, and the other officers, such as the Secretary, and Treasurer and Committee chairs. Indeed, he was the primary interface between Central Administration and the Metropolitan (OCA Statute, various sections).

          3. Father Garklavs was a member of the SMPAC Committee. The Committee produced a report that was critical of +Jonah and was discussed in Santa Fe along with a rebuttal by the Metropolitan. The Holy Synod decided to pursue this matter further, as shown in the Minutes of the Santa Fe Retreat:

          “SMPAC Memo. Metropolitan JONAH presented his response to the February 10, 2011 memorandum of the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee of the Orthodox Church in America. Discussion followed. The Holy Synod will request documentation within the shortest delay from the SMPAC and will review it in conjunction with its review of the above referenced documents from Metropolitan JONAH. His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH will fulfill the final recommendation of the investigative report concerning an on‐going issue.”

          4. Father G was invited to Santa Fe, according to the minutes:

          “Archpriest Alexander Garklavs was invited into the meeting. Metropolitan JONAH asked Archpriest Alexander Garklavs to offer a 30‐minute presentation of his appeal. Archpriest Alexander Garklavs presented his position on the request of Metropolitan JONAH that he resign as Chancellor of the OCA. Discussion followed with questions asked by the members of the Holy Synod. The Holy Synod thanked Archpriest Alexander Garklavs for his presentation. Archpriest Alexander Garklavs left the meeting. A decision was deferred until later in the meeting to allow for further discussion….(Later and in conjunction with the decision to put the Metropolitan’s on a leave of absence) The Holy Synod accepted Archpriest Alexander Garklavs’ resignation as Chancellor effective immediately.”

          So, we see clearly that the Metropolitan had tried to fire the Chancellor, who appealed this to the Holy Synod. We also see that the Holy Synod did not readily agree with the Metropolitan’s action but took its time in deciding to accept Father G’s “resignation” rather than to confirm his firing by the Metropolitan–clearly an action that is in contradiction of the OCA Statute. I think that the Holy Synod chose a wise middle course here because (a) the Metropolitan and the Chancellor are supposed to get along, and (b) the Metropolitan was placed on a leave of absence and not fired, therefore Father G had to go. I would say that the reasons for these appear to have been benign indeed.

          • Martin Pendergrass says

            Yes, the Metropolitan did ask for the resignation of Garklavs. But you don’t know why. This is not in the minutes. Do you know why?

            Things may very well may “appear” to be begign, but little is what is appears to be and again, no reason for the dismissal has been given. Thus, you can do nothing but speculate.

            So I still don’t think you can make a judgement call on Bp Mechisedek’s “laudable” decision based on appearance.

            Of course you failed to comment on the fact that Garklavs broke the OCA’s HR policy in unilaterally hiring his son. Not sure if the HR Policy or the Best Practices says anything about nepotism, but you think one so highly placed as Garklavs would be a bit more careful, especially after all we have been through.

  6. A. Rymlianin says

    Is this monastery to which Met. Jonah was to go to the same one that Bishop Benjamin banned him from last month?

    • George Michalopulos says

      probably. They’re so obvious it ain’t funny anymore.

    • No, they were going to send him to Ellwood City. Never mind that it’s actually a women’s monastery, and I’m pretty sure Met. Jonah is a guy. As a monastic himself, it might have been more appropriate to find a monastery where he could actually live with the monastics, a men’s monastery, like, I don’t know, the one he founded?!

      Ellwood City is also where Fr. Thomas “gravely troubled Metropolitan” Hopko is chaplain.

      If they were so concerned about the Metropolitan’s personal and spiritual health, they should have sent him to Fr. John Breck in South Carolina. Fr. John runs a retreat center and the center specializes in helping clergy, clergy wives, and church workers. Nearby, the city of Charleston is home to the home to the sprawling Medical University of South Carolina, where His Beatitude could have seen world-class doctors and therapists of every specialty. This information is not difficult to find.

      This would have been my course of action if faced with finding appropriate care for a genuinely “gravely troubled” bishop. But then, my motivation would be restoring the bishop’s personal and spiritual health, not making him look crazy so I could have him exiled to Siberia.

  7. Ivan Vasiliev says

    Let’s keep in mind that Mr. Stockoe’s ruminations are the symbolic opening of the next stage in our OCA civil war. The Metropolitan, not the sort of milque-toast that the nachalstvo are used to, is “coming out swinging”. He has not learned the lesson the Metropolitan Soviet intended for him to learn and he is not laying down for the Politburo to finish him off. That means he has both conviction and powerful allies. Whether that is good or bad, I will not judge. It just is. We are, after all, Byzantines and this is how we fight. For those who know their history, are we facing a Manzikert (guess who the “Turks” are in this scenario) or do we have a Basil who will put the unruly aristocrats in their place? Time will tell.

    • OK. I read up on the Battle of Manzikert, but I don’t get the analogy. Please explain. (I love this kind of literary reference stuff.)

      • Ivan Vasiliev says

        The Byzantine nobility betrayed the Emperor Romanus Diogenes to the Turks, losing the battle (which the Byzantine armies were initially winning, big time) and setting the stage for the ultimate decline of the Empire. Just previously the Emperor Basil II had put down the undue power of the nobility and greatly strengthened the Empire (psychologically as well as militarily).
        The comparison is this: we have an entrenched “nobility” (nachalstvo’) who are represented directly and by proxy on the MC (Soviet—OK, they were as much Byzantines as what came before and after–like iconoclasts, if you will) and the Politburo (guess what group that is). The Turks, today, would be the largest Orthodox political group on this continent, who would benefit if HB went under, and who have a grudge against him. We have reason to believe that a Politburo member asked to meet with their sultan at a funeral. Thus, all the analogies (even if I’m mixing 11th century Byzantium with 20th century Russia).
        Sorry, my twisted sense of humor and love of history made me do it.
        On a serious note, the betrayers may come to regret what they are doing…. but by then the Turks will be in the City.

        • Turks = GOAA. Politburo = OCA Synod. Who is “their sultan” and what is the “funeral?”

          • Ivan Vasiliev says

            Maybe not “Sultan” (he’s in Istanbul), but Grand Vizier. The funeral was for the much beloved and ever memorable Archbishop Nicholas.

  8. Chris Plourde says

    Just going to reiterate that we should separate what we actually know from what we think we know.

    For example, we actually know (because the youtube exists) that on the day after the Synod Jonah said he would spend his rest time in DC. But many think they know that he didn’t go to a monastery because Benjamin barred him one. Do they actually know that? No, but despite the fact that they don’t have any evidence of this rumor, it is “proof” that our bishops (except Jonah, of course) are conniving evil men.

    It is “proof” because it supports a narrative of a victimized and besieged Jonah that people want to believe, not because it comports with the other things we actually know. Because, again, all we actually know is what Jonah said in public and what was released as a video, apparently by him. We don’t actually know anything else.

    And so again I recommend that we stick to the facts, not the “I think I knows” that comport with our preconceptions.

    Otherwise the supporters of Jonah today will wind up making the same mistakes the supporters of George W. Bush before Iraq, those supporters “knew” what was in fact false, and therefore supported a course of action that was a costly disaster for this nation.

    • You know, Chris, there are other ways of gathering information besides gleaning it from the Web. For example, one can ask the principals involved.

      When I spoke to the Metropolitan shortly after he began his retreat, he indicated that he was planning a visit to St. John the Wonderworker monastery in California. When I inquired as to those plans later during his retreat, (shortly after the Washington Post article) His Beatitude indicated that Bishop Benjamin had forbidden him to go there. This request/demand was honored by the Metropolitan, although it was likely the most restful monastery for him.

      Of course, he probably could have found some other monastery. But perhaps HB found it more restorative to remain within his diocese, if he could not spend time at St. John’s. As you say, we do not know for sure.

      You can do this too. Why not ask Bishop Benjamin if he, in fact, did forbid access to St John’s to the Metropolitan? And ask him about his motives while you are at it..

      • perhaps HB found it more restorative to remain within his diocese

        My intuition tells me that it was brought about by “divine providence.”

    • George Michalopulos says

      Not to go too far off tangent here, but every major intelligence agency “knew” that Saddam had WMD. We did as well because we sold them to him during the Iran-Iraq war.

      • Chris Plourde says

        That would be my point, George.

        Everyone “knew” what has been proven false. They “knew” it for many good and some not-so-good reasons, but they were wrong.

        But that did not stop the pillorying of UNSCOM as a group, and Hans Blix as an individual, for failing to demonstrate the veracity of what everyone knew.

        What I see in this is the same process, sides chosen up on which everyone knows what doesn’t fit all the facts.

        Process determines outcome. This is why we do well to pay close attention to ensure the process is correct, even if the outcome isn’t what we “know” to be the truth.

  9. Southern Comfort says


    Thanks for offering another point of view in the battle to save the Orthodox Church in America. I am very alarmed about reports coming from the vast majority of faithful at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas that Bishop Mark is destroying our Diocesan Cathedral. People are leaving. He makes little attempt to engage the faithful. He suspended Fr John Anderson during Holy Week for coming back late from an appointment, which Mark never bothered to ask why Fr John took so long. This action was the last straw for many at the Cathedral who left to spend the rest of Holy Week and Pascha at sister parishes. Many are now saying they won’t be back as long as +Mark is there.

    I have heard that he no longer vests in the center of the Cathedral because the subdeacons refuse to vest him. And most telling, His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri has had enough of him over the Fr Anderson episode.

    It is becoming very clear that this man who Metropolitan Jonah rescued from big bad +Philip, and placed in one of the best Cathedrals in the OCA and the Diocese of the South has made a total mess of things. Now we hear that Bishop Nikon is pressing very hard and the mantra is going out that we MUST have an election NOW for bishop. We can’t wait. No one doubts that the South needs a bishop, but it is clear that Nikon is trying to shove Mark as the next bishop of the South.

    But how can this even be considered when he has made such a bloody mess of one parish, the Cathedral parish of the South? How can we expect a man who made a mess of his diocese in Toledo, and of course we were led to believe by Stokoe that is was all +Philip’s fault, and that +Mark was the martyr trying to do the right thing. Well, it looks like Stokoe fed us all another big piece of bull with +Mark. And then to confirm this it is now reported that +Mark himself was the main source of information that Stokoe was being fed during the +Philip vs. +Mark tussle. How revealing about the man. He works in the shadows and is not comfortable in the light.

    Here are the words people are saying to describe +Mark, “arrogant”, “selfish”, “despotic”, “aloof”, “condescending”, and worst of all a “lair.” It is amazing that not one of these descriptions could ever be hung on either Archbishop Dmitri or His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah.

    Now this rush to sneak +Mark in as bishop. Something is not right. I remember when +Jonah was being vetted as the assistant bishop to +Dmitri we were given lots of links and opportunities to read what +Jonah had written. It was a great way to get inside +Jonah’s head and find out what he thought. With +Mark, we get nothing. The man is a mystery. But what is not a mystery to the folks in Dallas is that when he does open up his mouth, there is no love. Rather, dictates, demands, expectations of submission to the bishop. This is not what the South has ever been use to and the folks in Dallas have borne the full brunt of this insecure behavior and they are walking out.

    Another comment heard from parishioners in Dallas is “we feel like we are aliens in our own parish.” One beautiful legacy of Archbishop Dmitri is be trampled on, the legacy of patient love. Anyone who has ever been in his presence feels his unqualified desire to make you feel at home and to get to know you. Not so with this +Mark. It appears he is in it for one thing and one thing only, for Himself. He “wants, wants, wants.”

    It is time for people to start asking questions about +Mark. Who is he? What is his relationship to Mark Stokoe? What does he believe in? Why should he be the Bishop of the South? What does he bring to the Diocese?

    Folks in the South are respectful, but if you mess with them, they will let you know! They don’t like to be conned.

    • There should be a petition signed by as many parishioners as possible that outlines the issues they have with +Mark and providing a truthful witness to what is happening. The rest of the DOS must be informed and warned if indeed things are as terrible as outlined. The OCA has suffered enough at the hands of several despotic, tyrannical, and delusional hierarchs before (I’m not saying that is true of +Mark). Rushing to judgment and convicting someone without objective information is never ok. Until we have objective and solid witness from the community of faithful and due process is followed, we are faced with too much speculation and uncertainty on all fronts.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Chris, you are right in the main. However, we can’t discount the testimony of these correspondents who are parishioners at St Seraphim’s. I fear the worst. It took years for +Dmitri to build that cathedral into the Showcase of Orthodoxy that it is.

        Short of prayer and interceding for the Lord’s mercy, things look dire indeed.

    • Southern Comfort, I suspect and fear that you have raised crucial questions. Any bishop would have had trouble coming in after Vladika Dimitri; however, there is little doubt that +Mark was Mr. Stokhoe’s principal source for information on the troubles in Toledo and his painting ++PHILIP as the “bad guy.” PHILIP and his suppporters did not help his case by their despotic demeanor and calls for “absolute obedience and submission” and shouting down opposition. However, now we know how sly and untrustworthy Mr. Stokhoe’s reporting can be and how is driven by his own agenda. Furthermore, as they say, “where there is smoke, there is fire,” so that +Mark must bear some (maybe more than we thought) of the blame for the opposition he faced from priests with long and faithful careers in the Midwest which began long before he was enthroned or was even Orthodox.

      It occurred to me at the time, though I was quite troubled by the manner in which PHILIP dealt with the situation, that +Mark very well could lack the charism true leadership and the gift of managing people. His own conduct and manner must have precipitated the opposition that was mounted against him. Surely, another man could have found a way to earn the cooperation of his most senior clergy.

      I had just recently heard from another source of declining participation at St. Seraphim’s and had discounted them. Now, I’m not so sure. If these reports are true, it would seem very unlikely that +Mark could be elected to the See of Dallas and the South. Some of us had high hopes for a differnt outcome.


    • George Michalopulos says

      It appears that I have misjudged Bishop +Mark terribly. I thought he was a stand-up guy who had been railroaded by +Philip. (Hmmm, I wonder where I could have gotten that impression? Oh yeah! OCANews! by cracky!)

      To be more serious, I am profoundly depressed by what you describe. I hope you are wrong but I suspect not.

      Lord have mercy.

      • Rod Dreher says

        For what it’s worth, I used to be a parishioner at St. Seraphim’s, and I have heard many of the same things. I spoke to a number of my old friends from the parish over Pascha weekend, and was shocked and dismayed by how depressed people were over how bad things have gotten. I couldn’t believe when I heard that Father John Anderson had been suspended by Bishop Mark during Holy Week. One of the most steadfast and big-hearted members of the parish, a recently tonsured Reader, left the parish over that move. These aren’t rumors; these are facts. I don’t know what in the world is going on in the parish. When I was down there visiting several months ago, Metropolitan Jonah was in town, and he told the congregation, with lots of emotion in his voice, that theirs was a “model” parish for the whole country. I didn’t get to meet Bishop Mark, because he wasn’t around that weekend, but everybody I talked to viewed him with a lot of promise. It’s unbelievable how things have gone to pieces in such a short time. I think it probably says something about the people of the parish that with a couple of exceptions that I know of, none of them have complained publicly on blogs or anywhere else about it. But I can tell you from the conversations I’ve had over the weekend that some of the most faithful people in that parish have either temporarily left for other parishes, or are very close to doing so. It just about kills me to hear all this, because I love the people of that, my home parish, and I thought that parish was a solid rock of vibrant, vital Orthodoxy.

        • Dear Rod,

          I ask that you please check your facts before posting RUMORS on the web. This kind of milly mouth spreading of falsehoods is not Orthodox at all. I DEMAND that you retract your statement concerning ” A recently tonsured reader” . Please check with people before you write false statements against them, that is VERY shameful. This is bright week and you have darkened mine quite a bit.
          All rumors should stop. If you do not know something TO BE FACT do not write about it.

          Christ is Risen!!!

          • Rod Dreher says

            I do know it to be a fact. Your Bright Week has been darkened not by me but by events at the cathedral, and he who has brought this disaster about. Kindly redirect your ire. You will get no retraction from me.

            • rod,
              how do you know it to fact that the Reader has left the cathedral? Because your freinds told you? This is not a good way to spread false rumors. I suggest you ask the reader himself. I ask to to retract the statement of the Reader this is all. The other information may be true, but please remove the information on the reader.

              • Rod Dreher says

                OK, let me clarify: according to multiple sources, this Reader, who was a very faithful member of the parish, has not been seen at the Cathedral since Father John’s suspension. I do not know if he has returned in the past day or so. I doubt very much he has permanently left the Cathedral, but his absence was much noticed, and grieved by every one I talked to.

                If you are that Reader, “myself,” please take this opportunity to clarify your position.

                • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says


                  Christ is Risen!

                  You brought up the Reader, a private person. (A minor cleric is not a public person in the way Bishops, priests, and deacons are, whose parish attachments are published. And even bishops, priests, and deacons are entitled to some privacy.)

                  The reader has no obligation to explain himself on a public blog because you chose to publicize a rumor about him. Your stubborn pride on this does you no credit.

                  • Rod Dreher says

                    I have just been forwarded an e-mail by someone in touch with the Reader, in which he indicated that he has not left the parish, that he is unhappy with what’s going on at the cathedral, but he is not getting into controversy about it.

                    I apologize to him for raising his example in my note, and for inadvertently misleading you readers. I meant no harm by it, and wrote what I wrote thinking it was true, on the testimony of several others, and thinking it was in fact a defense of this Reader.

                    The fact is, this Reader, who is a member of the parish council, disappeared from participation in the parish on Holy Week, and was seen worshipping at another area parish. That was a public act, and I don’t fault my friends in the parish for drawing the conclusion that they did. But I do regret bringing it up here, and again, I apologize to the Reader.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Rod, I don’t believe you owe anyone an apology. The Reader is perhaps not as public a person as a deacon or priest, but his actions have scandalized the faithful. As pained as he was by the treatment of Fr John Anderson (and I am still shaken by it even though I live 250 miles away, that’s how much I love St Seraphim’s and Fr John), he should have attended Holy Week services at St Seraphim’s. If nothing else for the sake of the people there. Readers are leaders within the congregation, otherwise their ordinations would not be public affairs.

                    • Dear George,

                      Please stick to what you have first-hand knowledge of, and stop trashing “the Reader”, whom I know extremely well, and whom I honor for his integrity and for his deep insights into the local situation. Yes, Rod DID do wrong in posting about the man without first obtaining his permission. I don’t give a floppy-flip about his secular credentials as a journalist. Any individual not a member of the “higher” clergy has the right to attend services at any parish for which he is given a blessing by his confessor and/or, lacking the opportunity of obtaining that blessing, retains the right to follow his conscience. The man sought a spiritually healthy environment in which to worship for the remainder of Holy Week. You and others here should be trashing every single person who has left the Cathedral over the past five years, not hammering on one individual. The Cathedral is a wreck now, but some of the remarks here hurled against the clergy currently there are absurd. Some are truthful, some are ludicrous. I won’t dignify this thread by wasting time analyzing post-by-post.

                    • Jesse Cone says

                      C’mon people, we need each other.

          • This is a very good point. It is very important when you’re saying something that can be traced to the person it concerns, especially so considering that, while it’s not a terribly important office, the office of the reader is minor clergy and subject to the discipline of the bishop. A journalist should know better…

            • Rod Dreher says

              The local bishop and the Metropolitan had both already been informed that the man in question had disappeared from the parish abruptly after the announcement of Fr. John’s suspension. I said nothing that Bishop Mark didn’t already know for a week, as did most people in St. Seraphim Parish, who were very worried about him. The Reader said in an e-mail sent out on the parish e-mail list that he did leave during Holy Week because of the controversy because, as he put it, he “decided it was best for my family to try to end the Great lent and Bright week on a more spiritual note and to stay out of the mess.”

              This is what I meant by him having “left the parish” — not that he had withdrawn permanently from the parish (which I have never believed he did), but that he had withdrawn for at least the time being because of the turmoil. This is exactly what he says he did. I have not reported anything untrue — though I ought to have been more clear in my initial remarks that I didn’t believe, or have reason to believe, that he had abandoned the cathedral permanently. I kept his name out of it because nearly everybody at the Cathedral knows this man’s name anyway — his absence was widely noted, because he is such a steadfast presence there — and there was no need to identify him by name for an audience outside the cathedral.

              Having said all that, I wish I hadn’t brought his situation up, because it was my intention actually to defend the interests of the Reader in question, not to cause him distress.

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                The reader did what he had to do for himself and his family, but none of us can claim immunity from public notice when we do such things. The words “left the parish” do suggest a permanent departure, but otherwise there was nothing wrong with Rod’s mention of the reader.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Deacon Brian, you are correct. Even though I’m not an ordained official within my parish, I take my participation in the divine services very seriously. About a year ago, we had a division over a building plan. Things didn’t go to my liking, shall we say. For a while, the joy of the Liturgy eluded me. But because of my relatively high profile, and for the sake of others who were hurt as well, I never once missed Sunday services (unless I was out of town) because I didn’t want to scandalize my weaker breathren. They would have been terrified that I had abandoned them.

                  I understand the pain of the Reader in question. However he has been given an Office within the Church and, unless heresy is being preached from the pulpit, he owes it to the Congregation to remain steadfast with them.

        • Rod, This is terribly sad. Those folks need to share their plight with the rest of the church and the DOS. The truth must be known and they have every right to ask the Synod to act and prevent further damage. My family, friends, and fellow Orthodox suffered through a similar disaster at our church caused by the now retired Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) of the West who allowed a mediocre and incompetent priest to destroy (over several years) one of the most vibrant and spiritually health OCA church in the LA area. Parish went from 128 pledging members/families to 39 in about 7-8 years.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Chris, I heard about your parish. And how with the Lord’s help, it was able to turn itself around. I pray this will happen at St Seraphim’s. Lord have mercy.

        • Anonymoustoprotecttheguilty says

          Yikes! This is what precisely what happened under a new priest appointed by Bp. Mark in the first parish I belonged to as a new convert. The new priest behaved in much the same way Southern Comfort describes Bp. Mark’s M.O. It was the most excruciatingly painful introduction into the realities of life in an Orthodox parish imaginable to live through all that confusion as a newbie and watch good people suffering with what appeared more and more each week to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing at the helm of our small parish. I was completely prepared to exculpate Bp. Mark despite his responsibility for this disastrous appointment, thinking he just didn’t realize being in the position he was as the priest’s superior and getting a very slanted story from this priest, what he had done to us–I suppose I was inclined this way in part because we tend to want to justify those in authority over us. (That was all the more true after the reporting on the AOC scandal at OCAnews.) Also the couple of times Bp. Mark visited and spoke formally to our congregation while I was there, he always seemed unassuming and humble. (It also didn’t help that the former priest of our parish as well as the priest of a close sister parish thought and spoke highly of him to us.) I do have to admit that the one time I chanced a glance into the bishop’s eyes–it was when he was giving me Communion, I was startled to find that they were cold as ice, extremely distant and aloof. I have had so many lessons in “things are often not as they appear or as people say they are” (my gut has often given me better wisdom, though I wasn’t willing enough to listen to it) since becoming Orthodox, my head is spinning. Lord, have mercy!

          • Anonymoustoprotecttheguilty says

            George, given, the full story behind this spin on Bp. Mark’s difficulties in Dallas, I am going to retract my entire comment above. It’s not at all clear to me that Bp. Mark is how he is being painted by Fr. Joseph (Fester, aka Southern Comfort). Despite the horrible experience I had in my first parish, my inclination is to give Bp. Mark the benefit of the doubt. Our situation was very messy and there were problems on all sides. It would have been difficult for anyone to discern fully what was happening, and, obviously, Bp. Mark had his hands full with the business in Troy going on (and dubious guidance/support from his own pastor/superior, IMHO)–I think the Bp. would have had to have been a clairvoyant elder, actually, to figure out what was really happening with us and figure out what to do. There were some definite pastoral deficits from my perspective, but they could certainly be spread around among Met. Philip, Bp. Mark, and my former priest, and I only have first-hand experience with my former priest. Please delete all my posts in this thread, George, if you would. I really don’t think they are relevant now, and I wouldn’t even have posted what I did (even anonymously) about my former priest, if I hadn’t thought there might be a real problem with Bp. Mark based on my mistaking Fr. Joseph’s post for the honest perception of a St. Seraphim parishioner and not having the full context! 🙁

            • George Michalopulos says

              Too bad. Because of your slavish devotion to +Jonah/Fester-hatred, your foolishness regarding Bishop +Mark will soon be exposed for all the world to see. Let’s just say this for now: it takes real talent to take a glittering jewel of a parish and run it into the ground in less than three months. Thank you, Mark Stokoe!

              • Anonymoustoprotecttheguilty says

                George, sadly you mistake my motives. I am reserving judgment about both Fr. Joseph (whom I have never met) and Mark Stokoe (whom I also have never met), and Bp. Mark, and merely acknowledging that I do not have the full story on any of them. I have liked Met. Jonah from the little I know of him and would like to see him succeed. I could easily sign the Manhattan Declaration (actually, might have already done so–I don’t now remember!) and do not have a problem with the Church taking these stands, though as I have said before under my own name at your site, I think by far the most important thing for influencing our culture is that our clergy and laity actually live the gospel! However, I think the mode of HOW people communicate says as much about them as what they communicate and, in that respect, I am uncomfortable with many of my own posts, Mark Stokoe’s, and those at OCATruth. I sincerely feel that the events in my parish were not attributable to the Bishop in the way I feared (especially with another member of St. Seraphim’s giving another perspective on his difficulties at other of your posts, and which I find quite plausible). Given your response here, though, I realize that I have been foolish to post anything at all on this issue (probably anywhere). I simply do not know enough. I will never again post anything on an issue like this. I pray for all in this whole sorry mess! May the Lord have mercy on us all with our propensity to rush to judgment on everyone (and on the Lord’s day, too)!

                I appeal to you to reconsider your uncharitable decision not to delete this unedifying and irrelevant (when all is said and done because of our ignorance) thread from me.

      • FWIW, I did hear from other sources that Bishop Mark really was fighting against some pretty pervasive abuses in the Antiochian Midwest. For me, it was easy to see Bishop Mark in a positive light against people who were doing some really wacko stuff.

        It appears Bishop Mark received a wholly-undeserved makeover from Mark Stokoe. For me, it’s a relief to see that people who support Met. Jonah don’t ignore his flaws.

      • George, speaking as a parishioner in the Diocese of Toledo, I can say there were very real problems there, not of Bishop MARK’s creation. Unfortunately, though, I suppose there is no reason that he could not be both a stand up guy who was trying to do the right thing in the face of corruption, and an arrogant, imperious, unloving man.

        I know that at the beginning of his episcopate several of his communications with our parish council (of which I was a member) were, shall we say, less than diplomatic. When I began to hear reports of animus against him in the diocese, it was not at all difficult for me to understand how his attitude could have generated hard feelings in many places. Over time though, at least at our parish things improved and our interactions with him became much more pleasant and constructive. I never felt loads of personal warmth from him, but then he was my Bishop, not my drinking buddy. As time went by I attributed the early difficulties to his being new to the job. What I have read here, however, makes me wonder if those problems were not reflective of the stress of being new to a very demanding position, but of an enduring part of the man’s character. If that’s the case it is very disappointing. I had hoped that the move to the OCA and Dallas would be a fresh start for him, and a chance for his best qualities, which I have seen on display many times, to come to the fore. I still pray that this might happen, somehow.

    • George Michalopulos says

      SC, perhaps we should raise the standard of the Army of Northern Virginia again!

    • Dallas Texas says

      I am a long-time member of St. Seraphim Cathedral who had the highest hopes for Bishop Mark. As a community, we welcomed him with open arms, but he did not return the sentiment. I wanted to believe the narrative of the conservative, stand-up bishop being persecuted by a wicked despot because he threatened the cash flow going to Englewood from a corrupt ethnic social club of a diocese. Alas, life is messier than that. Those things could all be true, but I can tell you that Bishop Mark’s personality traits that we now see here had to have contributed to his ouster there.

      Bishop Mark has preached edifying sermons at the cathedral and elsewhere, but he has also preached with obvious and offensive subtexts. As the discontent and hurt in the parish began to appear, I encouraged others for more time and understanding for this bishop to get comfortable and secure. I no longer call for that. Instead, we need him to go elsewhere both for the sake of this suffering cathedral parish and his own wellbeing. I do not wish him ill, but I do think that his failure (inability?) to look much beyond himself makes him ill-suited for parish or diocesan ministry.

      To see so many people sad and some even teary at Pascha is a telling sign of just how bad things have gotten. An able shepherd would have reached out to diagnose the problems, clear the air, and make amends long ago. Those things haven’t happened, and they are now impossible because trust has been completely shattered and the countless wounds are just too deep.

      • Everyone at St. Seraphim’s needs to start writing to Metropolitan Jonah immediately. Tell him the facts of what’s been going on, and present whatever proof you can collect. Write as individuals without consulting one another, so Metropolitan Jonah will see this is not a conspiracy but simply a bunch of hurting people, and Bishop Mark will not be able to portray it as a ‘cabal’ working against him.

        Regardless of whether Metropolitan Jonah is allowed to exert his authority as locum tenens over the DOS, Bishop Mark is his auxiliary and Met. Jonah can send him wherever he likes. And if Metropolitan Jonah is anything resembling the man I think he is, he will listen. I only wish there were some way to call it to his immediate attention.

    • George Michalopulos says

      SC, the picture you paint is very dire indeed and it breaks my heart. Would you be so kind as to confirm the issue of the subdeacons refusing to vest +Mark? I’ve heard from another source that this may not be the case and I don’t want a misstatement to discredit the general narrative of recent events at St Seraphim’s (which has been confirmed to me by other sources).

      • FromDallas says

        I cannot speak for the Cathedral’s subdeacons or their motives, but I was surprised that I had to help with Bishop Mark’s vesting in the altar during a Holy Week service because no subdeacons were around.

    • Displaced Lemming says

      Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

      Speaking as a man deeply, personally, and directly wounded to the core of my soul by Bishop Mark’s current actions here in Dallas, and having spent many hours weeping for Fr. John Anderson, his family, and the parish that I must now leave for the safety of my immortal soul, I say to you all this:

      Please, dear brothers and sisters, please stop discussing this!

      I appreciate the concern you and the readers of this blog feel for Dallas and the South, but by discussing, debating, and arguing here of all places, amidst comments on a blog, you inadvertently serve only to foster misinterpretation of one another. You unwillingly and unwittingly beget fodder for rumor and gossip. You may, God forbid, harden hearts and allow Satan to sow hatred amongst us. Bishop Mark is a consecrated cleric of God’s Holy Orthodox Church. I cannot and will not accept that he does anything he does here from malice. He does what he believes best serves God and His Church. The misfortune is that he cannot see his course is errant. Please, brothers and sisters, if you wish to help us, then pray more and talk less. Your prayers will help us solve this disaster, your words cannot.


      Displaced Lemming

      • I strongly disagree. While I don’t care to comment here on the specifics of the Bishop Mark situation, and though I agree that things can get out of hand on blogs and websites, we are all much better off having these forums than not. As much as many of us despise how Stokoe is abusing his privilege, think about how much wrong would have gone unaddressed if not for Stokoe making the public aware? And think about how damaging it would be today if Stokoe’s spin were going unchallenged by this blog and OCATruth!

        We do run risks by having these Internet forums, but the good they can do is worth the potential harm. People need to know what is happening in St Seraphim parish. They need the full story. I don’t understand the mentality that says it is more godly to be quiet about abusive behavior by clerics than to speak out against it, respectfully and in truth. Priests, including bishops, are our spiritual leaders, but they are also men, and they are accountable to us. We ought to have learned from the HERMAN disaster how flawed our bishops are. One way we are different from our Roman brothers is we don’t have a monarch whose actions we cannot question presiding over us. This is a strength! Let us avoid the errors of clericalism and anti-clericalism. Let us read this and other Orthodox websites critically, and comment responsibly. But let us give thanks that because of the Internet, we can talk to each other about real problems in the life of the church, and hopefully reach solutions.

      • Anonymoustoprotecttheguilty says

        Displaced Lemming, I am so sad to hear of your distress. It is all too familiar for me. But I agree absolutely with your perspective. It’s quite believable to me that Bp. Mark is making mistakes. It is just as believable to me that he is without malice. I know from experience that many who read and comment on these blogs threads are not without malice, however, and whose malice is fueled by the kind of hot-headed speculation George seems to specialize in and in the reactionary speculation and/or highly slanted and loaded language and reporting at both OCAnews and OCAtruth. Those of us aiming our bullets into the dark, risk injuring each other, while the only real enemy goes laughing with us in chains dragging us all down again with him to hell. My attempt at retraction above, in view of the larger context that came to light, and George’s hot-headed refusal delete it at my request should serve as a warning to all.

        Oliver, I respect your concerns and they have been mine, too, but after a couple of years of trying to sort out the lay of the Orthodox land, so to speak, by reading blogs after the scandals in the AOC came to light (and my own bad experience), I find that very little good has come of it for me. From here on out, I will stick to talking with my priests and other mature Orthodox I may come to know personally about these kinds of concerns, and I will pray. I hope more will do the same.

        Forgive me, all.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I forgive you. As far as removing yours (or anybody’s) post, I won’t do so because I simply don’t have the time. If I did it for you, I’d have to do it for everybody else.

          • Anonymoustoprotecttheguilty says

            Thanks, George, but I’m not sure I buy your excuse. I don’t see others asking to have their posts deleted, and you’re finding plenty of time to read, research and blog about all this stuff!

  10. ohamartolos says

    Mark Stokoe can’t claim that it is because of +Mark’s position on Met. Jonah. As he said +Mark was wise enough to keep his head down. Bishop has proven himself unfit for the DOS. You can’t expect a bride to cold, unfeeling, and unloving suitor. Such is bishop Mark, tragically.

    • Ivan Vasiliev says

      Christ is Risen! Khristos Voskrese!

      Priests, bishops, even Metropolitans and laypeople are sometimes rather blind to the effect they are having on those around them–especially when they are new and trying to figure things out. They can sometimes be abrasive and (seemingly) unfeeling when they feel they don’t know everything they should–especially if they feel hostility from what appears to be the old guard.

      When our priest first came to our parish ( nearly 25 years ago now!), we went through a lot of difficulties. The parish was difficult to begin with and there were a couple of factions (majority and always dissenting minority). Our new priest had his own ideas on how to do things, too. We had a rough first five years or so (an understatement of considerable magnitude). I remember the first Pascha, when he sang the Greek melodies (and even started in Greek), much to the consternation of our “Russian” congregation (actually, very mixed).

      This year, he began by singing the Resurrection proclamation very sweetly in Slavonic, then English, then Greek, transitioning through several melodies. Our choir responded in kind–along with the whole congregation. But the obvious emotion with which he sang that first melody (in Slavonic) brought a lot of folks who remembered the first years to tears. It turned out that he simply needed time…. we all simply needed time….

      Is there a message in all this? I don’t know…. I suspect in the current crisis we may not have all that much time… It is just a memory of something that actually worked out. We are now one of the most at peace parishes in our diocese.

      • I have been contemplating ways of “fixing” Bishop Mark. My hope is that he is not too far gone. The last thing the OCA needs is yet another retired bishop, and it’s not like he can be sent back to Toledo and Walid Khalife.

        I have never seen a single bad thing said about Metropolitan Jonah in parish life, whether as primate in the cathedral or doing pastoral visits. So, I wonder if Bishop Mark might do well to follow the Metropolitan around for a while on parish visits, and otherwise not speaking or doing anything in public. He can help look after the Metropolitan, and, perhaps, learn what a good archpastor looks like in action. I hope that he, like your priest, will eventually learn the maxim “Don’t bring your typikon to somebody else’s monastery” and can learn to love the Slavic music, too.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Helga, we need to pray for +Mark. So far what is being described are rookie mistakes. With repentance on his part (especially to Fr John Anderson) he can learn from these mistakes and become a great hierarch for the South.

          Even though what Southern Comfort and others from Dallas have written about is distressing, I don’t think he’s too far gone.

          In the meantime, Lord have mercy.

      • Anonymoustoprotecttheguilty says

        Thank you, Ivan. Your words give me hope for my former parish, its priest, and for Bp. Mark. May God make it so. I thank God that I was given the option to join the healthier parish I am now in. To put it mildly, it has been a breath of fresh air (and that does not mean that I think it is a perfect parish, by any means). I don’t need perfect priests, but I do need ones that are accepting, in the love and mercy of God, of their own broken humanity and that of their parishioners. I need a priest who is more interested in living the reality at the heart of Orthodoxy, however imperfectly, than one who is bound and determined to look and sound like he is (and anyone who sullies that image of him or his parish better get out of the way!). My situation was too vulnerable and my relationships with others in the parish too new and untried for me to have survived intact in my former parish for as long as it took at the parish you are in.

        • Ivan Vasiliev says

          Russians tend to be patient (when they can’t get their way) and our priest is from another ethnic background known for stubbornness, too—(yes, that really DOES include everyone, doesn’t it!). Once we all realized that no one was going anywhere fast, we decided it might just be better if we did the Christian thing and forgive each other and get on with worshiping God in an Orthodox way. To credit Father, he went to some of his harshest critics and asked for forgiveness for some very real hurts he had inflicted. They, to their credit, were quick to forgive. And now, through God’s grace we are truly a happy family. We are small and struggling, but God is giving us growth.

  11. Be very careful, my friends, not to be too hasty in judging +MARK (whatever his failings) with the same impatient “this isn’t what we’re accustomed to” attitude with which some on the ‘other side’ judge +JONAH. There seem to be rather obvious parallels in terms of the attitudes and snap judgments being expressed. Anyone with eyes to see can easily discern the tactics of the enemy of our souls being employed to smear the character what few faithful men are left in this world.

    It is not my intention to justify any poor decisions he may have made, but the man is human. Let him be human just as we allow +JONAH to be human.

    I know +MARK. My current priest knows him even better. My former priest (also obviously a reader of this blog) is a long-time intimate acquaintance and personal friend of his. All of us can vouch for the fact that he is in NO WAY sympathetic to corruption, be it the moral corruption of what is described here as the “Lavender Mafia” or the financial corruption that is so pervasive. Call him a poor administrator if you like. Call him gullible if you like. Call him unsuited to the DOS if you like. But do not smear him with innuendo that he is somehow allied with any such corrupt persons.

    He may not be an extroverted, touchy-feely sort of arch-pastor. He may not even be the right man for the DOS. But please, PLEASE do not allow your first impressions of him to color your opinion of the kind of man he is. Remember that what can be perceived as a vacant look may well be little more than the the exhaustion of standing and serving during every aspect of Holy Week. Remember also that for some people being with crowds all the time is invigorating, For others, such as myself, it is simply exhausting.

    It is the general theme of this blog to expose the tactics of those who would smear a good man’s reputation. In your zeal, do not succumb to those same tactics when they are employed against you in order to shape a destructive opinion of a godly man.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Good points all, Brian. Let’s cut +Mark some slack and chalk things up to rookie mistakes. Let us be slow to judge but quick to forgive. And let us also pray that +Mark warms up to the DOS and look to +Dmitri for some guidance.

      • Dizzi-n-Dallas says

        Well I’m sure this post isn’t going to win any friends, but here it goes anyone.

        +Mark strangled himself on all the slack he’s been cut at SSOC. You and Brian are acting as if +Mark came to Dallas and he was rode hard and put up wet from day one. NOT so! I pity +Mark and I feel very sorry for Fr. David. We do not want him and if he understands anything in his self centered mind at all, he would not want to be where he is not wanted. But he’s just enough full of himself to not care what we want in the least.

        Dizzi-n-Dallas (My friends just call me Dizzi)

    • FromDallas says

      This was a difficult situation for everyone–a few weeks before Pascha having a new unknown bishop arrive. Mistakes were made, but I have not seen any fault of morals, ethics or lack of love for Christ from Bishop Mark. I think he can be a good bishop given time and opportunity, but unfortunately he has rubbed many the wrong way and most likely will not be given a chance. I have not heard anyone say anything here in Dallas that states or implies that there is any problem or shortcoming in Bishop Mark’s faith or ethics.

      I was gone for the last two weeks of the Fast and may have missed some things, but I have never seen a vain, self-centered Bp. Mark. Perhaps, having grown up in a Protestant denomination that seemed to have almost weekly clergy scandals and crises from ethics and outright heresy, I am a bit numb and immune to what seems to me to be a few administrative missteps.

  12. Dizzi-n-Dallas says

    First to Brian. no one at St Seraphim’s Orthodox Cathedral (SSOC) never rushed to judgment of +Mark. He was afforded every possibility of fostering a healthy relationship with some of the most loving and caring people in the OCA. Whatever +Mark’s problems were in the past, they were set aside by the faithful in Dallas. Then small things led to slightly bigger things, that led to greater things, that led to a total meltdown due to lack of care, love and respect.

    The issues between +Phillip and +Mark each had a side. We only really heard about the oh so terrible man of +Phillip, but in understanding that there are two sides to every coin…it certainly would appear now that there are still some ghost of Christmas pasts still walking +Mark’s halls.

    +Mark came into SSOC proclaiming trust and transparency. Looking back now and remembering my father’s words to me many years ago…beware of people who proclaim how trusting and clear they are, most likely that are not what they say. All these years later and my father is still right.

    +Mark is completely lacking. He trusts no one. He believes that everyone is against him. He is ungrateful. He is self-centered. He is blameless in everything he does, according to him; it’s always someone else’s fault. He pushes his own agenda. He focuses totally on money, or better said, his salary and how terrible it is. (How’s the salary of an unemployed Bishop these days).

    This parish cannot survive another day with +Mark and his sidekick. The ONLY thing they had to do was to come here and do NOTHING. Just leave things alone, be humble and be grateful and the job of DOS Bishop would have been his. Now looking back on it, as bad as it has been; thank you God that you allowed him to destroy himself now, before we had a chance to make him our Bishop.

    To everyone who reads this and has heard about how bad it is at SSOC, take what you hear and then multiply that by 10. It’s bad, real bad. There is now talk of people pulling their tithes. And Helga, people are writing the Metropolitan. It’s almost a daily battering of emails. Every day there’s something new at SSOC that rips another thread from the fabric.

    About +Mark’s sidekick Fr. David. I think David is generally speaking a good man, but he has ruined himself through his blindness and beholding of +Mark. TOO Too too much Atiochian in this Slavonic parish for most people. If I had a mind to, I would and could rip +Mark into with all he has done, but it’s all been said or being said, I’ll not repeat it.

    I pray that Met. Jonah will do the right thing and remove him from Dallas and this DOS so that we too can finally experience our Pascha that the hell of what we’ve been going through has taken from us. And while he’s at it, take Fr. David too.

    We’ve been 2 years without a Bishop and I would rather go the rest of my life without one, than one more day with +Mark!

    Dizzi-n-Dallas (my friends just call me Dizzi)

    PS, to all the parishes of the DOS. Everything, and I mean everything you’re hearing about +Mark and what he is doing here is fact. Everything I’ve read here and even of Rod’s posting and everything it contained is factual; Rod did not mislead anyone and has no reason to say I’m sorry to anyone for anything, he did no wrong. The DOS does not, let me repeat, the DOS does NOT want +Mark as it’s Bishop. Not in this life or in any other life, ever, never!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Dizzi, please pray unceasingly.

    • Dizzi,

      I respect your opinion as it relates to his fitness for that particular job, although I must say that he was a good bishop for us – nothing like what you are describing. Concerning his relations with +PHILLIP (or more precisely +PHILLIP’s thoroughly corrupt cronies), I didn’t need to read it on the internet. I experienced it first-hand.

      The point of my comment was to counter the irresponsible innuendo put forth by some (and I don’t believe you were among them) that their personal dislike of the man equates to his being allied with the ‘Lavender Mafia’, the insane assumption that “because I don’t like what he’s doing, he must be one of ‘them.’ Stokoe followed his story, therefore he must be on Stokoe’s side.” These assumptions and speculations are simply not true. We are free to dislike personalities, but we ought not descend into calumny in order to justify our opinions.

    • O Hamartolos says

      Let us remember that bishop Mark is not the enemy. As one priest recently told me, if what we get out of this is the ruination of bishop Mark, the enemy wins and we loose. If what we get out of this is 200 instead of 2 people hating bishop Mark, then the enemy has won. Or to put it more starkly, if people have not love towards bishop Mark, then the enemy has won. As a spiritual son of the humilated priest, I must admit I was ready to hit the streets in protest when I first heard of his suspension. I am still very upset at the situation and extremely saddened by the turn of events at the cathedral. Yet, if we succeed in running Bishop Mark out of our diocese out of anger and hatred, then that will say volumes of the kind of Christians we are: Vengefull, uncharitable, and vindictive.

      The humiliated priest has given everyone a model for true Christian long-suffering. He has not opened his mouth, either to defend himself or defame bishop Mark. I know people are hurt. I have spent hours on the phone listening to the heartrending stories of children crying, people leaving, confusion, turmoil, and frustration. Those are facts.

      As George has said, the best outcome would be that bishop Mark would recognize his errors, ask the cathedral community for forgiveness, and then give himself a year or two to, in humility, divest himself of his own typicon and learn and embrace the liturgical tradition of the South. He should also spend time with Vladyko Jonah and Dmitri and learn how to best communicate with the faithful of the diocese. I think that if Bishop Mark would do those three things: apologize, complete embrace the South’s liturgical practices, carry on the South’s tradition of open and frank communication, and learn to be more visibly loving and hospitable. It would also helped if he wasn’t afraid to ask us about us, who we are, where we’ve been, our hopes, our dreams, our misfortunes, in short our lives. Heartfelt hugs, smiles, and just showing a genuine interest in the clergy and laity he meets would be great as well. For most of us, Archbishop Dmitri is the only heirarch we have known, and he embodied all the above mentioned qualities. Who has not been embraced by Vladyko Dmitri and not felt that that man genuinely loved you? The same could be said of the humiliated priest. Maybe that is why it is so hard to adjust to Bishop Mark. Bishop Mark, please take some time and learn from Archbishop Dmitri and even the humiliated priest.

      Brothers and sisters, let us not harbor hate and anger for Bishop Mark. Let us pray for him that he will change. Let us pray for each other so that we can forgive. If things do not change, and I’m afraid the hole is getting bigger, then with love and sadness in our hearts, we should ask the Metropolitan and the Synod to reconsider bishop Mark’s suitability for our diocese. If it comes to that, let us not rejoice at this, rather, let us weep that one of God’s consecrated servants has not lived up to his calling.

      • Dizzi-n-Dallas says

        Dear O Hamartolos,

        These are very nice words you’ve written, however, too little too late. Again, +Mark has been given every possible opportunity to make amends. He has known of these problems for quite some time, they have continued to grow and he has offered nothing to put them down other than “I’m the Bishop.”

        I for one find nothing pleasing about this situation and most certainly find nothing to rejoice over. This isn’t a “win”, NO ONE is winning! I do hope he is removed, but I find no joy in that request and no joy will be found when it happens.

        Do not imply here or any where that we at SSOC will be happy and dancing in the streets. Simply said, this situation is TERRIBLE and the damage has been done! He needs to go.

        Dizzi-n-Dallas (My friends just call me Dizzi)

        • O Hamartolos says

          Indeed, I am afraid you are right. I know the subdeacons and parish counsel members have tried to reason with him, but to no avail. Nevertheless, quixotic as it may seem, we must not let anger, bitternes, and despondency get the better of us, but instead out of love for bishop Mark, pray for him and for a peacefull resolution to the crisis. As it seems to me now, the best alternative to the above mentioned resolution, would be for him to leave quitely and peacefully without creating factions and more bitterness.

          The situation is probably, as you say, too far gone to remedy. Let us pray the Synod will listen to the voice of the people and not go against our wishes that Vladyko Jonah once again be the Locum Tenens of our diocese. This is, by far, the will of the people, let me assure you. I say this especially to those of you who tend to believe and susbscribe to Mark Stokoe’s point of view. If Jonah is striving to “take back” the DOS, it is at the request of the faithful. This is no power grab, but rather the striving of a shepherd to gather his scattered and frightened flock.

        • Michael Bauman says

          I’m not in the OCA. I’m Antiochian but:

          Like it or not, +Mark is the bishop. Like it or not congregationalism is not Orthodox ecclesiology. Like it or not, no bishop is required to be overtly loving or caring in the manner youj describe. As with Met. Jonah, unless +Mark has done something that is uncanonical or with the intent against the statutes of the OCA, he is the bishop.

          You don’t have to vote for him to continue as your bishop and you can appeal to Met. Jonah but all the emotion and angst are destructive of you and those around you whom you love.

          I know how upsetting a change in typikon can be–even a relatively minor one. I know how difficult it is to love an imperious bishop and obey him–even respect him (especially when one’s experience has been with an overtly loving, caring bishop).

          I have failed miserably in responding to such things in a Christian manner. That is why I know how destructive anger, condemnation and all the rest are. I also know the desstructive effects of a bad pastor. Unfortunately, some folks never recover. The only way to weather the strom is to forgive. Every day you will slip, and every day one must forgive and repent. Even to the point of asking +Mark’s forgiveness.

          That does not mean that you are condoning abuse (if that is what is happening). That does not mean that any one is getting away with anything, it means that you are following Christ. One can still work for a different bishop, a different approach all of that.

          When the mess in the AOA was at its height, my diocesan bishop instructed me not to loose my peace. It has been and continues to be a tough struggle and one I fail at repeatedly. But the struggle to regain and hold on to that peace is worth the effort. That is where God is.

          • O Hamartolos says

            Those of you who are more versed in church politics and canons and statutes than I, please correct me if I am wrong, but bishop Mark is not our bishop. He is not even commemorated at the liturgy, at least he isn’t outside the cathedral. He is an administrator. And as one comentator explained, as the bishop of Baltimore he is beholden to his immediate superior, Metropolitan Jonah. Secondly, I believe he was brought to the South so that we could have a look at him so that at a later date we could decide if we wanted him as our bishop.

            Divorce is an ugly and tragic thing. But, usually, long before the legal divorce, the divorce of the heart has taken place. I think I remember reading that somewhere in Fr. John Meyendorf’s book on marriage when I was getting ready for marriage myself. I think the same thing can hold true for a diocese and it’s bishop. This is what happened in Alaska. As a person who has worked with battered women, I know that no amount of theology can convice an abused woman that the right thing to do is to stay with her abusive husband. I’m afraid that you are wrong. A bishop IS required to overtly love, not so much by the canons (though I would think they say something about love) but the the Gospel and Epistles clearly state that shepherd must lay down his life for his flock. Not just as a martyr, but in the day to day life of the diocese. If that is not overt love, I’m afraid we have no common ground. The example of Peter, Paul, Ignatius, Polycarp, Chrysostom, Basil, and Gregory show us the true nature of a bishop. The have set forth by their example that love IS the rule, not the exception and it definetly isn’t optional for the bishop.

            Furthermore, what kind of love is it that is not visible? The love of even the most austere of monks on Athos is visible. I remembering being on Athos during Lent many years ago and meeting what many other pilgrims and even Geronta Ephraim from Arizona called a modern day St. Anthony, in the person of the lowly cook and monk Chrysostom of Xiropotamou. Yet, for all his elevated spirituality, everytime he saw me, with eyes beeming and a great big smile, he would embrace me and greet me with the words, “ella paidei mou”..”come,my son”. No, Michael, I’m afraid you are wrong. A bishop without visible love towards his priests and people is…a fish out of water. This is not said out of hate or anger. It is simply fact.

            But, I am getting ahead of myself. Bishop Mark has never been formally installed as our bishop. This has been for all intents and purposes, a time of courtship. We have had time enough for him to get to know us and us him. Unless something drastic changes immediately, it looks like the DOS will reject it’s present suitor.

            Lastly, I dissagree with your usage of the world congregational. Let me just ask you a simple question: Would you arrange the marriages of your children? I don’t suspect you would. You would allow them to search and decide on their own, with your guidance, no doubt. It is not congregationalism for a diocese to choose and vote on it’s own heirarch. It all boils down to a matter of love. A bishop must love his diocese and diocese her bishop. If there is not love there to begin with, it is better to wait for another.

      • FromDallas says

        Knowing Fr. John, he likely took his suspension to heart, deserved or not, and repented of any sin he found and perhaps a few sins that aren’t even his, and never bothered to worry about whether the suspension was justified or not.

  13. I apologize for my snippy remark about Mr. Dreher’s journalistic credentials. Somewhere they were cited as if they were relevant. They are not relevant, but I was wrong to make that slap. The rest of my post I do stand by.

    • Rod Dreher says

      I apologized because my remark brought distress to the Reader, whose cause I wanted to defend, not because i transgressed over any “right” he or anybody has not to have their public actions reported publicly. I don’t blame him one bit for stepping away from the parish temporarily during Holy Week, considering how close his family is to Father John, who was treated so unjustly by Bishop Mark. His absence at the parish was a public act, though, and it was so widely noticed and commented on that I heard about it from three or four people the next day, even though I live halfway across the country. I also heard it from one person who notified Bishop Mark and Metropolitan Jonah that it appeared this Reader, who is one of the most faithful members of the parish in terms of going to services, had decided to bail on the parish, at least temporarily. This was reported to +Mark and +Jonah as a red flag about how serious the situation in the parish had gotten (e.g., “If even this man and his family have stopped coming to Holy Week services, it is getting really bad.”).

      I wish in my initial posting that I had pointed out that we had no reason to believe that this man had abandoned the Cathedral permanently; I have never believed that, personally, but I can see how the wording I chose may have misled people into thinking that. But I do not agree that people — certainly not a member of the lower clergy, who has accepted a leadership role in the parish (aside from the fact that this Reader is a member of the parish council), have any kind of “right” to make a tremendous public statement as this man did by absenting himself from the Cathedral during Holy Week as a response to the injustice done to his spiritual father — have any kind of right to expect others not to notice, and to comment on it.

      If any of us are going to do things in public, we have to be prepared for the consequences, including public commentary on our actions. We don’t own our public actions. Nobody is under a moral obligation to ask permission before writing about whether or not someone was seen in a public place. From the Reader’s own words in the e-mail he sent on the parish list, we know that nothing I reported was untrue — except that I should have been more clear that I did not know whether or not his absence from the cathedral parish was temporary or permanent. In short, I reject your statement, Antonia, that I “DID do wrong in posting about the man without first obtaining his permission.” In understand your desire to protect the feelings of the Reader, and that’s why I wish I hadn’t brought up his example, but you err in deriving from that sentiment a general moral principle about what one can and cannot say in public about public actions.

      • O Hamartolos says

        I understand your desire to defend yourself, but can we try to stay on track and focus on the real issue here. I think we, or I at least, get your point: Public figures should expect, or at least not be surprised, that their public actions will eventually be brought into public discourse. Shall we move on?

  14. Dizzi-n-Dallas says

    Good Afternoon!

    Christ is Risen!

    Metropolitan Jonah was commemorated as the locum tenens of the Diocese of the South today at St Seraphim’s. Anyone with any information as to anything official? I mean I guess there’s obviously something out there, otherwise Fr. David Moretti wouldn’t have done that; he never does anything without having been told.

    Just wondering.

    Dizzi-n-Dallas (My friends just call me Dizzi)

  15. Anonymoustoprotecttheguilty says

    O Hamartolos, thank you so much for saying all that–especially the parts about the Bishop’s obligation to demonstrate real love to his flock, the analogy of the abused wife, and your experience on Mt. Athos. In my experience as well, that is the spiritual reality that accords with the fullness of truth, and which brings about truly good fruit. On the other hand, I have seen some really insidious and grievous abuses perpetrated and enabled as a result of the mindset that Micheal expresses. In fact, I believe this mistaken belief is probably responsible for some of the worst abuses of spiritual authority run amok we have seen in Orthodoxy or elsewhere and actually perpetuates the worst, most demonic relational and spiritual blight amongst God’s people.

    I have much closer experience of this phenomenon than is comfortable–with family members and friends in Fundamentalist/Pentecostal contexts and now, alas, in my Orthodox context (not in my present OCA parish, thankfully)! In my experience, wherever that mentality predominates, and especially if it is encouraged by clergy, cult-like abuse and dynamics follow . . . always. And it bears ugly fruit of factions, division, alienation, suspicion, judgment, shame, confusion, despair, resentments, anger, fear, and a servile and unhealthy fear of, or dependence upon, an authority that supplants the healthy fear of the Lord and the possibility of guileless openness, love, forgiveness, understanding toward others with whom we have differences. “We love because He first loved us” as the Apostle said, and everything in my experience tells me our Bishops and Priests must be our leading examples of this before we can expect a healthy, spiritually vital diocese or parish Church culture.

    • Anonymoustoprotecttheguilty says

      Since it didn’t appear directly below it, just to clarify, my comment #95 refers to O Hamartolos’ comment #88.

    • Michael Bauman says

      You utterly mistake my ‘mindset’. I was too verbose as normal. I am not advocating some sort of passive quietism. Abuse is not to be tolerated or condoned, but reacting with anger, hurt feelings, condemnation, etc. only deepens the abuse. I know that because I have too often responded in that manner.

      I have been suject to abusive authority in the Church and outside the Church. I have also made the mistake of opposing legitimate authority that I characterized as abusive because I didn’t like the decisions. The anger and hurt feelings only ties one to the abuser and continues the abuse. It also makes you ineffective in stopping the abuse or correcting wrong decisions. The few times that I have been able to hold my peace, I was able to find a way clear of the abuse and experienced spiritual blessings I had never known before.

      Forgiveness and genuine obedience gives one the freedom to stand against the abuse and by God’s grace overcome.

      Holding onto one’s peace allows one to speak with authority and act with discernment, courage and decision even in confrontational situations.

      However, the image of people leaving in droves from St. Seraphim’s wringing their hands and crying because of an imperious, wrong-headed bishop–well, that doesn’t give me a picture of a strong, vibrant Christian community, especially a Texas one. If one (explative deleted) bishop can destroy a community so easily, how can one expect to stand against Islam or communism or even the nihilism of our prevailing culture.

      If +Mark is a bad dude, or a bad fit stand up to him with love and forgiveness and humility, but stand up to him together. Better a babble of voices raised in joyful praise of the risen Christ than a sullen silence because the bishop is singing unfamiliar melodies. I mean, what could he really have said–don’t praise God? (Yeah, I know it was a lot more than that, it always is a lot more than that).

      The seemingly capricious suspension of Fr. John Anderson — apparently +Mark learned more from Met. Philip than one might expect. If he exceeded his authority as temporary bishop, that needs to be addressed, but not with guns blazing (even though it is Texas).

      If you don’t want +Mark as your shepard-reject him, but not with animosity, fear or emotionalism. Also know that the shepard, good or bad, liked or unliked has genuine authority.

      • Anonymoustoprotecttheguilty says

        Thanks for the clarification, Michael. I agree that reactionary emotionalism is not helpful in such situations (whether real abuse is present or just some glaring inadequacy). It is quietism that is my concern. However, I think your analogy is off regarding how will we then stand up to Islam, Nihilism, Communism, etc.? There’s a real difference in the kind of threat presented between having an abusive parent within the one place that is supposed to be safe (the family) and having a real enemy attacking from the outside. There is a type of vulnerability that God designed us to have and which is necessary for the kind of genuine Communion for which He designed us that, istm, is not impacted in the same way by outside forces attacking. Survivors of incest, where the betrayers are those who should have been the victims’ most ardent protectors, are damaged in their spiritual and relational core and capacity for trust in a much more devastating way than someone who is raped by a stranger, but has family support to fall back on!

        • Anonymoustoprotecttheguilty says

          P.S. I agree the bishop has real authority, but istm this does not translate into legitimizing authoritarianism. I think that distinction is lost on many people.