Text Messages Reveal Extent of Bp. Matthias’ Misbehavior

OCA Bishops check Monomakhos for news

As many of you know, Bp. Matthias was put on a leave of absence when a complaint was lodged that he acted inappropriately with a young woman.

Monomakhos has obtained the text messages that are currently in the possession of the Synod that reveal the extent of Bp. Matthias’ misbehavior. They are republished below with the full consent and permission of the offended party.

Why are we publishing them? One reason. The letter that was released by the Synod of Bishops to justify their removal of Met. Jonah was full of innuendo and errors of fact. They have yet to correct it and offer an apology. We do not trust them to deal responsibly with the facts.

We also believe that once Monomakhos readers are properly informed of Bp. Matthias’ misbehavior they will agree that he must be retired.

August 21, 2012

To the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations:

Complainant (Victim) Information
[withheld to protect confidentiality]

Respondent: His Grace, The Right Reverend Matthias Moriak

[withheld to protect confidentiality]
——- —-, ——- —

Statement of Facts/Details:

Due to recent interactions between the respondent and me, I have, through prayer and the guidance of my spiritual father, the Reverend [home parish priest], recognized my responsibility to contact the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations. In this report, I will provide a detailed summary of recent and past interactions so that the behavior of the respondent can be brought to light and considered by the appropriate individuals.

The following discussion occurred via text messaging. On Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 8:33 PM, His Grace offered to drive from Chicago, IL to my location in [city of residence] to visit me after discussing an illness I had been fighting for several weeks.

I gladly accepted the offer to receive Holy Unction and the Holy Eucharist since I had been unable to attend Liturgy due to my illness. However, after offering to make accommodations so His Grace would not have to make the nearly four-hour drive back to Chicago in the evening, I was speechless when he replied with “Sure. We can hang out. I can bring an air mattress. Just don’t tell anyone.”

This made me extremely uncomfortable since I am a 22 year-old single female who lives alone, and had intended the word accommodation to mean hotel reservation. Trying to think quickly, without causing offense, I replied, “Well my mom will still be here. Let me book you a room. Please :)” His Grace then agreed saying “No problem. I can do that.”

The next day, Friday, August 3, 2012 at 11:47 AM, the inappropriateness of his suggestion to stay the night at my apartment with me was exemplified. After mentioning that my local parish priest was coming to visit, His Grace communicated, “Ok great. Don’t share with him that I am coming. I would rather keep that between us and not let on what ‘buds’ we are.” The hush-hush attitude of the conversation made me somewhat uncomfortable, but I agreed.

The breaking point in our interactions occurred while text messaging on Sunday, August 5, 2012 between 8:35 PM and 8:48 PM. Beginning with the statement, “Word on the street is that I am visiting this young woman in [city]” a series of messages were exchanged in which His Grace began defining me as his “favorite.” Due to my extreme discomfort with the conversation and fear of being offensive, I continually tried to divert statements by bringing my boyfriend (referred to as the “Bishop’s favorite male”) into the conversation; however I was unsuccessful.

The conversation soon ended after His Grace sent the text message “Not as big a crush as the bishop has on the girl.” The dialogue was as follows (spelling errors in the original):

Bishop Matthias (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:35 PM):
Word on the street is that I am visiting this young woman in [city of Complainant’s residence]

Me (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:36 PM):
Word on the street eh? Which streetj

Bishop Matthias (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:37 PM):

Don’t know but that’s what I heard

Me (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:37 PM):
You heard right.

Bishop Matthias (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:37 PM):
The bishop has a favorite I guess

Me (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:38 PM):
I hear he has a couple

Bishop Matthias (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:39 PM):
Yeah but the woman is his favorite

Me (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:39 PM):

Me (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:40 PM):
That’s okay because I hear the girl has a pretty big crush on the Bishop’s favorite male

Bishop Matthias (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:40 PM):
You know I always have your back

Me (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:41 PM):
Lol. Too bad [Complaintant’s boyfriend] can’t make it until Wednesday

Bishop Matthias (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:41 PM):
Not as big a crush as the bishop has on the girl

Bishop Matthias (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:42 PM):
So I am getting there a day earlierpp

Me (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:43 PM):

Bishop Matthias (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:44 PM):
That’s right and don’t forget it

Bishop Matthias (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:45 PM):
U r so popular

Me (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:47 PM):
Didn’t know

Bishop Matthias (Sun Aug 5, 2012, 8:48 PM):
U r

After speaking with my mother and boyfriend about the inappropriate conversation that had just transpired, I decided to call His Grace to discuss my concerns with the messages he had sent. Expecting to reach a resolution, I was very disappointed when my concerns were met with anger and an accusation that I lacked trust.

His Grace told me that despite my concerns he did not believe anything that had occurred was inappropriate nor did it cross any boundaries. The conversation ended leaving me upset and feeling as though I had acted wrongly; although now I realize that this is not true.

Reflection prior to my phone conversation with His Grace had led me to the realization that several other previous occurrences had foreshadowed the inappropriate conversation that occurred in early August. I will briefly discuss these occurrences to shed light on the pattern I now recognize.

After meeting for the second time at St. Theodosius Cathedral in Cleveland, OH on Sunday September 11, 2011 His Grace and I discussed my upcoming arrival in Chicago, IL for a conference. He kindly offered to meet up while I was in Chicago and I gladly accepted. Thus, on Friday, October 14, 2011, His Grace picked me up from the hotel I was staying at and we had dinner together at The Italian Village.

The next evening, Saturday, October 15, 2011, His Grace offered for us to meet up again and stated that he had something to give me. Due to my conference, I was unavailable until around 10:00 PM. However, His Grace said he was a night owl and offered to still get together. I was somewhat hesitant to meet so late due to my age/gender and the fact that I did not yet know him well, but agreed so that His Grace would not have to go out of his way to give me the item he had. Thus, around 10:00 PM on Saturday, October 15, 2011, His Grace picked me up from my conference center and we spent the next two hours alone in his apartment chatting.

Around 12:00 or 12:30 AM, we decided to call it a night and he drove me back to my hotel. Both then, and looking back, I recognize the inappropriateness of him and I being alone together in his apartment so late at night. I also acknowledge that due to the circumstances, I should have declined his offer to meet.

The second occurrence that I now recognize falls into this pattern occurred on July 17, 2012. His Grace informed me that he would be serving a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in Columbus, OH with his son for the first time. After discussing the possibility of me driving to Columbus for Divine Liturgy, he offered to pay for a hotel room so that I could attend both Great Vespers on Saturday, July 21, 2012 and Divine Liturgy on Sunday July 22, 2012. I found this to be extremely generous, but in the back of my mind questioned the preferential treatment being shown towards me. After the events that occurred in August, I am relieved that I later declined this offer due to my illness.

Although the events recorded in this statement did not include an act of sexual misconduct, I feel as though they certainly identify a continuing pattern of involvement/infatuation, and demonstrate an escalation in the process. I also believe that they clearly exhibit exploitation and abuse of pastoral authority. When His Grace and I first met, I was a catechumen. In a way, I feel as though my naivete and unfamiliarity with how to interact with clergy was taken advantage of by the friendship-style relationship he established with me from the beginning.

I will never know whether or not His Grace’s intentions were pure or ill, and I will not make such assumptions. However, I do know that during our interactions, many boundaries were crossed and not acknowledged by him when identified. For me, use of the reoccur ring phrase “don’t tell anyone,” paired with His Grace’s patronizing and dissenting attitude when confronted about the interaction raise much concern.

Due to my concern, I write this statement in hopes of protecting my fellow communicants from the treatment I received and the church from the hands of someone who twists viewpoints in order to reach self-justification.

I have read this complaint, understand its contents, and swear that the statements made and allegations contained herein are true to the best of my knowledge and belief. Additionally, proof of these allegations can be supplied if requested.

In Christ,


Cc: The Most Reverend Nathaniel, The Very Reverend John A. Jillions, The Very Reverend John E. Zdinak

The above Complaint was received via certified mail on August 24, 2012, by Archbishop Nathaniel, Locum tenens of the Metropolitan See, Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor of the OCA, and Archpriest John Zdinak, Chancellor of the Midwest Diocese of the OCA.

* * * * * * * * * *

The following is a transcript of the text-message and e-mail correspondence between Bishop Matthias and the Complainant (misspellings have not been corrected). The Complainant is simply indicated as Me.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 7:56 PM):
I am with my sister in law on the boat tour of Chicago. Someday we will do this together. I promise

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 7:57 PM):
I hope you enjoy it. I loved it! You two should take a picture together before it gets dark. Great scenery 🙂

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:01 PM):
Are u feeling better

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:01 PM):
A little. Insanely itchy

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:02 PM):
Sorry Hope it gets better

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:08 PM):
Thank you Me too

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:33 PM):
I can visit next week it u r up for it

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:34 PM):
I would love that if you’re up for it

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:37 PM):
I am. I will come on Tuesday and anoint you. I can also commune u of you would like

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:47 PM):
I will be there

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:49 PM):
Awe! You are the absolute best!

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:52 PM):
Of course I must take care of you You r part of my flock One of my favorite sheep

Would you like to stay overnight? I can make accomodations for you 🙂

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:53 PM):
Sure. We can hang out. I cAn bring an air mattress just don’t tell anyone (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:56 PM)

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:57 PM):
Well my mom will still be here Let me book you a room. Please 🙂

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:58 PM):
No problem. I can do that

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 8:59 PM):
I can! I must. And I will cook or take you out to dinner 🙂

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 9:03 PM):
No way. U r sick. We will play it by ear depending on how u feel. I will book a room somewhere

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 9:04 PM):
Let me take care of you

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 9:13 PM):
Vladyka, I must insist on taking care of your room. Please, so I can show you my appreciation

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 9:19 PM):
No. I want to be there for u I feel badly that I haven’t been there for u up til now

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 9:20 PM):
How could you have been? You have so many other obligations. I would never expect that you come

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 9:21 PM):
Now, Fr. [local parish priest], I expected him 😛

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 9:44 PM):
Forget him. I am your bishop.

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 9:47 PM):
Haha. Yes you are. I just finished booking your room. I’ll fwd you the email. You have identification that says Matthias Morial right? Might be a random question, but they said you’ll need ID to check in.

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 9:47 PM):

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 9:48 PM):
Moriak* lol Is that okay? If not, let me know and I’ll switch over the name

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 2, 2012, 9:49 PM):
That’s Fine Thanks

Me (Aug. 2, 2012, 9:50 PM):
No problem Take care and enjoy time with your family. Thank you 🙂

Friday, August 3, 2012

Me (Aug. 3, 2012, 11:25 AM):
Fr. [local parish priest] is coming today 🙂

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 3, 2012, 11:47 AM):
Ok great. Don’t share with him that I am coming. I would rather keep that between us and not let on what “buds” we are.

Me (Aug. 3, 2012, 12:08 PM):
That is fine

I just sent you the info regarding your room for Tuesday

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 3, 2012, 3:31 PM):
How was your visit? (Aug. 3, 2012, 3:49 PM)

Me (Aug. 3, 2012, 3:50 PM):
Good. He blessed my apartment and we had a nice talk

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 3, 2012, 3:50 PM):

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 4, 2012, 9:45 PM):
How r u?

Me (Aug. 4, 2012, 9:46 PM):
Well, I was doing really well Went to vespers, took my mom to dinner, and then came home.
My rash is getting redder though and my feet are very swollen. I’m thinking I over did it standing during vespers..

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 4, 2012, 9:49 PM):
Sit if u must

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 4, 2012, 9:49 PM):
I assume you won’t be going to work soon?

Me (Aug. 4, 2012, 9:51 PM):
I didn’t realize my body wasn’t liking the standing thing :-/

Me (Aug. 4, 2012, 9:51 PM):
I head back to work on Monday. I’ve been feeling well, and since my job is mostly sitting now, I should be okay to return.

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 4, 2012, 9:53 PM):
If u r working on Tuesday, What time should I come? Thank u for the arrangements. I really feel the need to see u

Me (Aug. 4, 2012, 9:54 PM):
I have a doctors appointment at 4:15, so maybe 6ish?

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 4, 2012, 9:59 PM):
Ok. I will come then. I will check into the hotel and if u and your mom are up for dinner I will take u

Me (Aug. 4, 2012, 10:01 PM):
Okay. If I’m not feeling well, we can eat something at my apartment

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 4, 2012, 11:08 PM):

Me (Aug. 4, 2012, 11:34 PM):
My legs and feet are pretty bad so I think I’m going to have to stay home tomorrow…Are you still able to commune me on Tue?

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 4, 2012, 11:54 PM):
Yes. I can

Me (Aug. 4, 2012, 11:55 PM):
That would be amazing

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:35 PM):
Word on the street is that I am visiting this young woman in [city of complainant’s residence]

Me (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:36 PM):
Word on the street eh? Which streetj

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:37 PM):
Don’t know but that’s what I heard

Me (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:37 PM):
You heard right.

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:37 PM):
The bishop has a favorite I guess

Me (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:38 PM):
I hear he has a couple [reference to complainant and her boyfriend who is well known to Bishop Matthias]

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:39 PM):
Yeah but the woman is his favorite

Me (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:39 PM):

Me (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:40 PM):
That’s okay because I hear the girl has a pretty big crush on the bishop’s favorite male

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:40 PM):
You know I always have your back

Me (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:41 PM):
Lol. Too bad [Complaintant’s boyfriend] can’t make it until Wednesday

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:41 PM):
Not as big a crush as the bishop has on the girl

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:42 PM):
So I am getting there a day earlierpp

Me (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:43 PM):

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:44 PM):
That’s right and don’t you forget it

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:45 PM):
U r so popular

Me (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:47 PM):
Didn’t know

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 5, 2012, 8:48 PM):
U r

Me (Aug. 5, 2012, 10:03 PM):
Can I call?

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 5, 2012, 10:10 PM):

[The Complainant then called Bishop Matthias explaining the inappropriateness of, and her discomfort with, the Bishop’s remarks. The Bishop did not acknowledge any inappropriateness in his remarks; rather, he accused the Complainant of misunderstanding and violating his trust. After concluding the phone conversation, Bishop Matthias send the following text:]

Bishop Matthias (Aug. 5, 2012, 11:36 PM):
Do not worry for the future we are done

* * * * * * * * * *

Monday, August 6, 2012

[This is the text of the e-mail sent by Bishop Matthias to the Complainant and her boyfriend the day after the previous text messages and phone call between Bishop Matthias and the Complainant.]

From: Father Matthias Moriak

Date: Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 3:49 PM
Subject: To Let you both know

Dear [Complainant] and [Complainant’s boyfriend],

Christ is in our midst!

I had a terrible night. Could not sleep at all and just kept reading the texts from both of you. I realize that I said a couple of things that [Complainant] took the wrong way. I know I was being a jerk, but I never thought in a million years that she would take it the wrong way or seriously. That combined with other things I think back on, I realize that neither one of you knows me well enough to know when I am kidding or being serious – and especially with texting. Maybe I have been too comfortable and open with both of you.

Staying over was not an issue for me because I trusted [Complainant], but didn’t realize that she probably didn’t trust me. Trust is important to me as well as respect. If you don’t have that, well forget it. It particularly bothers me if I think someone doesn’t trust me. That has always been a tough thing for me. [Complainant], you once asked me if I thought it appropriate to have [Complainant’s boyfriend] stay over when he visits. For any generic couple, I would say no, it is not. Knowing the values and morals that the two of you have allows me to be comfortable to say that for you two it would probably work – although temptation is always there. I guess a generic older man and younger woman, I would also say no, and so I think you see my point. I trust [Complainant] or I wouldn’t be willing to put myself in that position, but it is only one way and that is because you don’t know me well and I have probably caused you to not trust me by the things I have said that caused you concern. I get that now. I was wrong. I sometimes trust people long before they trust me. I trust people until they prove to me that they can’t be trusted. I guess I expect that in return, but it doesn’t always work that way.

My only intention was to bring [Complainant] the Eucharist and Holy Unction for her health. I know this has been the worst month of your life. I was so relieved to know your mother was there and you weren’t alone. I really felt so guilty because I promised you I would look out for you when you moved to [Complainant’s residence] and yet I hadn’t been there to visit you during this terrible time.

I know I have been wrong in many ways so all that I can say to the both of you is that I am sorry and ask your forgiveness for any way, especially [Complainant], that I have offended you, insulted you, spoken wrongly to you. I have come to discover that friendships I have as a bishop don’t seem to work out. I guess I haven’t figured that out yet. I always thought that bishops were sort of cold, frightening, and stand offish. I never wanted to be that way, but now that I have had several experiences with people in the last year and a half, I am beginning to understand why bishops put up walls. Bishops can’t have friends, at least not after he becomes a bishop. My pre-bishop friendships are different because they know me so well and knew me beforehand. I guess I was wrong in even thinking that a bishop can be friends with anyone. I am learning these lessons the hard way. I have been burned before.

It was a blessing that I served Liturgy this morning at the Cathedral for the Transfiguration. I had the opportunity to pray for both of you and remember you in the proskomedia today.

Again, please accept my apologies for whatever misunderstandings have taken place. This was the last thing I ever wanted to happen. I was upset and angered at first, but I am over that now. I just want whatever is best for the both of you. I do hope and pray that your health is getting better [Complainant] and will continue to pray for a speedy and complete recovery. From now on, I will stay clear.

In Christ.

Bishop Matthias


  1. How nice that the “offended” party gave you permission. Did she think to ask His Grace’s permission to share this?! I don’t see it anywhere. This investigation was supposed to be confidential for both parties.

    George, you and your minions are lowest of the low to publish this just because you have your knickers in a twist over the way Met. Jonah’s poor management and leadership skills were handled by the Holy Synod. After all, that is your “one reason” for publishing this – revenge. Your words, not mine.

    Clearly His Grace, Bp. Matthias saw his kindness and trust being received in a way that the “offended” party took as inappropriate and he took the proper action of writing to the woman, apologizing and having no further contact.

    One must ask, what was in her mind and heart that she would receive them that way??!!?? It speaks more to her spiritual immaturity and inappropriate passion that anything else.

    I’m beginning to suspect that you and Stan the Man Drezhlo are in bed together – serving on each others ‘kitchen cabinet’.

    May God have mercy on you for fomenting division in the Holy Church!!

    • It is unfortunate that this is published here. Monomakhos is becoming a bigger garbage dump than OCANews of sorry memory.

      • DontBotherMe says

        Frankly, Philippa and Alex, I don’t know how you can honestly say the bishop’s behavior is “kindness and trust.” For a older pastor –a grandfather– to drive four hours to a college age girl’s private apartment to anoint her? Doing that privately is alone recognized by professionals as inappropriate, and by common sense it is predatory. Why not simply dictate to her priest that he must go pray and anoint her for healing?

        To suggest that he spend the night alone with her (“I can bring an air mattress”) is recognized by all as inappropriate.

        “Forget him (your priest)” is not only a betrayal of his own clergy, and their appropriate duties to care for the woman, but an expression seeking exclusivity with her.

        “Just don’t tell anyone” is the clear indicator that the bishop knew his behavior would be seen as inappropriate by others.

        The repeated, “Don’t share with your priest that I am coming. I would rather keep that between us and not let on what ‘buds’ we are” is more of the same –it is obvious that the bishop knew that his words and treatment of the woman and his plans for being with her were wrong.

        “For the future, we are done” is simply cruel. (Unfortunately, it is the way this bishop has already spoken to several of his own clergy.) How is that an appropriate thing for any bishop to say to any parishioner (let alone his own clergy)?

        Justifying sleeping at the woman’s apartment with “Staying over was not an issue for me because I trusted you,” is a reversal of roles: it is the laywoman who should trust her bishop that he would never even suggest or attempt to spend the night with her. This would be seen in the workplace as sexual harrassment. The greater burden of responsibility, of trust, of proper behavior, is on the bishop, not on the young girl he’s trying to spend the night with. (In secular terms, the bishop has the “power” in the relationship.) Again, the bishop writes, “I trust you or I wouldn’t be willing to put myself in that position” –this is again a reversal of responsibility.

        Going into a long paragraph about “trust,” is just another chapter in the manipulator’s playbook. After justifying his words and actions and plans, he apologizes *for* *”trusting”* *her* –this is pastoral abuse. But the worst as I see it is the bishop bringing up the woman’s relationship with her boyfriend, that she once asked if it was appropriate for her boyfriend stay over (which of course, with or without sex, is *not* appropriate) –using her neophyte naivety in past pastoral questions as a way of justifying his misbehavior.

        At the end of his letter he offers a generic apology, which is no apology at all, and again goes into “trust” under the guise of “friendships.” He ends by eliciting sympathy that he can have no friends –this is Manipulation 101.

        Again, I don’t know how anyone can honestly say this behavior is “kindness and trust.” Assuming Philippa and Alex are being sincere –and given the concrete evidence that is a generous assumption– it might help if we put this same activity into another context. Imagine Priest X meeting an attractive catechumen nearly one third his age. Taking her out to dinner alone. Bringing her to his private apartment. The two of them together privately for hours at night until after midnight. He treatment of her is special, far beyond his other parishioners, personally picking her up from the airport, etc. He repeatedly tells her she is his “favorite” (something specifically forbidden for celibates to think of anyone, let alone say to someone, let alone privately). He promises her he will take her on fun outings together (really dates, r.e., the boat tour of Chicago). He complements her as “so popular.” He tells her he wants “to be there for you,” and, “Let me take care of you,” and, “I really feel the need to see you.” He openly admits to her directly that he has a crush on her. He even says his attraction to her is stronger than her boyfriend’s, and makes remarks that he is in competition with her boyfriend over her. How can anyone think this is okay for any bishop to do?

        I was initially concerned that the woman might have officially complained to ecclesial authorities before giving the bishop a chance to correct himself (Mt 18:15). But she did call him, as is appropriate according to Christ’s commands, and was met with self-justification. The bishop not only defended his words and plans and behavior as okay, but accused the woman of being wrong for taking his texts “seriously,” and manipulated the woman by “apologizing” for trusting her and being “comfortable and open” with her. At best, this is denial, and at worst, this is manipulative deceit. The young woman herself says her reaction was to think she had done wrong by calling her bishop –itself an act of trust on her part– regarding his misbehavior.

        As is so often the case, the cover up is worse than the offense. Clergy are human, and no leader is exempt from having to fight against sinful attractions. If the bishop’s response was honesty and repentance, if he had “come clean” and humbled himself (either with the woman or later with all), perhaps he could be sent to a monastery for a couple of years and then, after his superior verifying his reformation, he could be assigned a see other than the Midwest. Perhaps he could have even become a model for all of repentance. But the bishop’s written response, both to the woman and to his diocese, was one of denying and self-justification, even blaming his accuser. After that, I think he should be at least retired.

        And, lest we forget, Syosset was complicit in the cover up. Not only did they first seek to ignore and not explain the fact that the bishop of the Midwest was no longer active, but the lie was put forward that the sexual misconduct complaint was not against the bishop personally, but was against a priest in his diocese.

        I am deeply sorry this has happened. I have been and will continue to pray fervently and daily for +Matthias. Perhaps it will put the fear of God in us all, that, almost immediately after publicly slandering Metropolitan JONAH before the world based on false assumptions, the bishop is himself exposed with concrete evidence as compromised. God is not mocked.


        • DontBotherMe,

          Thanks for spelling that out for the more naive among us. You are exactly correct, and this is indeed scary and reprehensible behavior in any grown man, especially one in a position of power and responsibility, and most especially a Bishop of Christ’s Church.

          I commend this young woman for being willing to make her own humiliation public and standing up to the Bishop. In so doing, she is setting an example for others, who might otherwise be similarly victimized. It’s a costly learning experience for her as well.

          I would hope, after this humiliating and confusing experience, she might consider contacting Mother Raphaela, Abbess at Holy Myrrhbearers’ Women’s Monastery (OCA) in Otego, New York. Mother Raphaela is experienced in giving spiritual counsel to those who have been subject to various kinds of abuse (and even rape) at the hands of clergy. She addressed this subject in an issue of the monastery’s periodical a couple of years ago (no need to wonder why either–so sad!). Here’s a link to their website:


          • Elderly Convert says

            Extending Karen’s (and Don’tBotherMe’s) thoughts:

            Perhaps Mother Raphaela (or someone) could take it upon themselves to alert the nuns at the orphanage where the bishop maintains a particular interest. It seems to me that under the circumstances they need to be warned – to protect any of their wards who might “interest” the bishop. Not to speak of the nuns themselves.

            It is tragic when something like this happens as the ripples go far and wide, harming some, shocking others. But the young and innocent, in particular, are often prey to manipulation. And the orphans, unlike the courageous young woman who’s come forward, are not free to flee or may fear reporting something.

            Priests and bishops, like counselors and therapists, have a “duty of care” to those they serve. This takes self-control and maturity, character traits the bishop seems to lack. Instead, the bishop’s imprudent behavior has harmed the Body of Christ and he would be well advised to step down, cut his ties with the orphanage, and spend his remaining days in a monastery. Since his egocentricity and immaturity apparently make it difficult for him to control his own behavior, he needs the rules and routine of a monastery as an external check on his unruly “inner child”.

            Based upon his words and deeds, I would not be surprised if this kind of thing has happened before. And it certainly shouldn’t be allowed to happen again! Stepping down is not enough. External (monastic) protections are needed – to protect the innocent.

        • By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them

          Another month, another episode in the OCA (Orthodox Circus of America) soap opera. It almost keeps you on the edge of your seat. Every month someone from the center ring sends George the latest edition.

          This month the bishop of “Don’t ask Don’t tell” asks the young girl to keep “their little secret” and is ticked when she doesn’t. (This is the same guy that drew a comparison between +Jonah of blessed memory and Jerry Sandusky.)

          The previous episode has the bishops beefing up on security in preparation for the upcoming election of the priests of Baal. What if the Holy Spirit doesn’t show up and some wag Elijah suggests that God’s on vacation and they pray louder?

          Then before that, a number #2 auxiliary delegate from Washington is told “You can’t go” to Parma because his kind (the kind that thinks and asks questions) is not wanted at the AAC.

          Now we move back a month and go west to the High Sierras (or is it low) where the Abbot at Manton is practicing New Age magic and casting spells on his monks for their own good; meanwhile the bishop is hiding it from the metropolitan, forbidding him to return to his monastery so he won’t catch a whiff of it.

          Then before that, the beloved metropolitan is removed from office because he did what he was told to do, the offense being he shouldnt have (when he did) and should have (when he didn’t).

          There are bishops marrying deacons, and bishops being arrested for their taste for boys; there are bishops leaking confessions and bishops leaking harddrives, there are bishops being thrown out by their dioceses (a few times too), and bishops being reviled by nuns for lying and abandoning them, and there are bishops blessing boys who want to be girls and there are bishops blessing girls who want to be boys. There are bishops with their hand in the till ($), and there are bishops who…….(wait til next month. There’s always more to come).

        • justagoodoleboy says

          If any one have ears, let him hear.

          Meaning —- DontBotherMe has given a mature and professional explanation, he is right.

          I guess if you are not very pastoral you just don’t see how wrong the bishops behavior is.

        • Superb exegisis, Don’tbotherme.

      • o Hamartolos says

        If you want to be offended and scandalized by a collection of Othodoxy’s fallen bishops, crack open the synaxarion every once in a while. The Church doesn’t hide these things. In fact, it puts it writing for posterity’s sake, lest we grow vain, pompous, arrogant, full of ourselves, puffed, and rely on our own “holiness”.

        • Yes, and isn’t it interesting that for but for being such a small Church we seem to produce such a high percentage of questionable bishops. Both now and in the past. The synaxarion was written over many years of history, not 40ish.

          • Good ole boy,

            My priest trots this excuse out almost monthly. One wonders if the well of excuses for ridiculousness ever runs dry?

            Last year, when the bishop of the west needed an unanimous vote to repudiate the Metropolitan, he got every priest to sign on board. Every priest that had confessed their lives, their families, their destinies to +Jonah for 10 years, including a couple of priests that had begged him to establish his monastery in their deanery, walked away from him.

            One wonders how they would have fared if they had found themselves in the same atmosphere he found himself in. Unrelenting criticism, plotting, and dissembling. Maybe do as good as he did? We’ll never know, will we.

            Amidst all these scandals and revelations of impropriety, I rarely hear (from diocesan priests) about the context the Metropolitan found himself in. As if its normal – and part of church history – for hierarchs to spawn 15 years of endless scandals. The excuse for their behavior is the important thing (I hear), rather than the effect that behavior has on the church.

            It’s getting to be like Jane Eyre at Thornfield Hall. I can hear the mad wife screaming in the bedroom upstairs, but when I ask the local Rochesters (the clergy) nobody hears a sound. It’s absolutely zen. They don’t talk about it; and if you do, you have a problem, don’t you, you gossip you?

            Could someone bring a question to the Buddha for me? If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it actually make a sound. Yes or no?

            • justagoodoleboy says

              Maybe we need an organized letter from the clergy like we had from the Diocese of the Midwest under Archbishop Job. Most priests I know are shocked at what happened to Metropolitan Jonah, but the clergy seems to be an unorganized group.

              I think what complicates the support is the OCA Autocephaly vs. Autonomy that was expressed by Metropolitan Jonah. This divides the clergy. I think some clergy see the injustice done to Metropolitan Jonah, but fear Autonomy.

              • I do not know the text of the 2005 Encyclical from the Moscow Patriarchate on homosexuality, but is this eye-witness account a clear expression of the orthodox church’s current acceptance of homosexuality?

                From Link: http://www.orthodoxandgay.com/the-outcast

                “…I’ve felt at a loss lately due to turmoil in the OCA here in California.

                “My question is this: What is “unrepentant transsexual delusion”?

                “First the background….

                “I was chrismated into the Orthodox Church of America in San Francisco on Lazarus Saturday this spring, in Holy Trinity Cathedral, the oldest orthodox parish in the west. I and my legal wife. We had both been catechumens for a full year before christmation, and at the very beginning had discussed with our priest the fact that we are in a loving, yet celebate, relationship, a secular marriage still legal in California (we were married before Proposition 13 passed, so we remain fully legal in marital status).

                “I am 66 years old and my wife, Susanne, and I, together, have three children and four grandchildren. Until I was 51 I lived as a male, but since the age of three I have felt myself to be fully female, except for the wrong physicality. In 1998 I transitioned from male to female, a long, expensive (in many many ways), and difficult journey. I met Susanne in 1999 and we have shared a house ever since, fully accepted by our extended families as loving and caring people.

                “We were so happy to be accepted fully into the orthodox church, and had met so many loving people in Holy Trinity, that we felt truly blessed.

                “Starting in January we drove the four hour trip up to northern California to stay on retreat at St. John’s Monastery in Manton, an OCA monastery, and became friends with some of the monks there. It was so beautiful that we looked for and found a lovely cabin in the forest and took all of our savings to buy the cabin, to be only seven miles from the monastery.

                “Then one Sunday, arriving for liturgy, we were met by a monk named Fr. Martin and denied access to eucharist. Apparently he had been suspicious of our relationship and done a great deal of searching on the internet and discovered my birth name. We were devastated and still are.

                “Back in San Francisco, we spent an entire afternoon with Archbishop Benjamin, at his request, to discuss our past and the problems of being transgender in the orthodox church. He was very kind, intelligent, and asked great questions, and told us that though the orthodox church seemed to ‘move glacially’ at times, that it still is growing in wisdom, love, and understanding.

                “Meanwhile several monks left the monastery, partly, it seems, in condemnation of myself and Susanne’s being accepted into the church. In short we were “judged” and certainly not forgiven, as we find in the injunction in the Lord’s prayer.

                “All I can say is that I pray daily for the church and all those people who mean well but have not yet been able to see past their own ignorance of the condition and hearts of LGBT people.”

                • ChristineFevronia says


                  Lord have mercy.

                • It seems clear from the information above that the gay couple in question received specific preferential treatment from the bishop, that he enjoyed their company and spent an entire afternoon with them at his request, and that he supports inclusion of LGBT couples (in consensual relationships) in the church.

                  There is no other way to interpret their chrismation at Holy Trinity and eucharistic participation. The priest there would not have done that on his own.

                  That is what prompts my question. Does the synod now accept same sex marriage? The bishop would not have done this on his own, or would he? And even if he did, I am assuming the OCA has a position on same sex-marriages and LGBT relationships. Even the Catholic church has that.

                  If the OCA does have a doctrinal position on this matter, is the church’s doctrinal position subordinated to the authority of this local hierarch due to his personal preference or pastoral concerns? If so, that seems an overly-flexible interpretation of “economy”.

                  It also echoes the synod’s specific allegations regarding Metropolitan Jonah – that he acted primarily as an individual rather than a conciliar member. It seems highly irregular. The bigger question is what is the what in this, the pot or the kettle calling it black.

                  • o Hamartolos says

                    For the record, I’m for never changing the Church’s teaching on sexual morality. Period. But I am not for excluding LGBT from the church. On one hand, being LGBT has a very strong biological origin, that is, the tug or attraction towards the same sex. I hope i’m not inferring too much, but I don’t think you are advocating the militant exclusion of people with those “tugs” from the Church, right?

                    On the other hand, there are those who not only have that “tug”, but act on it, and try to justify it using modern psychology and secular reasoning, disregarding the Church’s teaching. While I wouldn’t use the word “exclude”, I would advocate lovingly, but dogmatically standing behind the Church’s teaching so that any possible LGBT seekers can make a choice knowing full well what they are getting into. Obviously, this will put many off, but the teaching of the Church has never been universally accepted by all.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      I reject the notion of LGBT people, and any biological tug. I do not think you even realizing the mistake you are making and how you have bought into the modernist lie on this issue. They is no such thing as a Gay Man only a Man that has Homosexual desires. There is a very big difference conceptually and Spiritually.

                      Further, Christ excludes no one, but does exclude sinful behavior. Again, very big difference. Also until one has the “tug” of Jesus Christ they are excluding themselves from His salvation.


                    • o Hamartolos, he who calls himself “Xenia” is in a state of sinful delusion, according to his own testimony, and has mutilated himself to serve his delusions. It is not clear whether or not “Susanne” is also in this state of delusion and is in fact a man, or if she? is truly a woman but in a pseudo-lesbian relationship with this man.

                      I would hope no one is in favor of excluding them from the Church forever, but they are in a gravely sinful relationship and a travesty of marriage. Before they were chrismated, they should have been counseled to heal from the mutilation as much as possible, and live as God intended. Entering the Church is about repentance and being healed from our diseases. Instead, these two were driven further into the disease.

                      They need prayer. They have been horribly betrayed by people who were appointed by God to help them out of this sick delusion.

                      Thank God for the Manton monks who fled to safety rather than participate in this blasphemy.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      O harmartolos, you are greatly misinformed. Here’s what researchers know:

                      1. Is homosexuality essentially genetically or biologically determined?

                      No. Attempts to demonstrate that homosexuality is simply a matter of genes or biology have been unsuccessful. For example, among identical twins, if one twin identifies as gay, only about one in nine twin siblings will also identify as gay (Bailey, Dunne, & Martin, 2000). Although some in the media have used various studies to attempt to support a simple genetic or biological theory, the authors of these research articles have refuted these overreaching claims. Regarding homosexuality, there are simply no variables that are by themselves exclusively predictive of the development of homosexual feelings. On this point, NARTH agrees with the American Psychological Association (2008) statement that, “…no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors” for a given person.

                      And nobody here is saying that people should be excluded from the Church merely for feeling the tug of sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. What some of us are saying here is that (a) same-sex attraction is part of a complex psychological disorder and cannot be treated like heterosexual attraction as natural and good, and (b) people who give in to same-sex attraction separate themselves from Christ and His Church, in which case they must not be communed, lest they “eat and drink damnation” upon themselves, as the Holy Apostle Paul says (1 Cor. 11:29).

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      It seems to me necessary to admit that our objection to “discussion” of what will only be increasingly frequent dilemmas, not of theology, but of pastoral approaches to human beings is misguided. The obvious question that arises here: how does one repent, for example, of a surgical reassignment of gender post-fact?” Certainly we can rail at human beings who, literally, shake their fist in defiance in the very face of God, but as did the saints, some turn. And some will turn to the Church.

                      St. Chrysostom says “even that Great Moses,” who wandered for 40 years in the desert was forbidden by the Lord from entering the Promised Land with his people because of his disobedience; and King David was never to see the Temple, though he danced before the Ark of the Covenant, because of his sin. Or should we follow the words of St. Paul, that it is always better to “forgive and to comfort” (2 Cor 2:7), calling to mind the words of Met. Anthony (Khrapovitzsky), that “We are far removed from the times of grace,” and we must consider the balance of what may be borne and what will constitute defeat.

                      Likewise, the issues of biology are emergent – and while I am the first to insist they are no defense or mitigation for behaviour – they do offer us insight into some aspects of these questions that we are foolish to ignore. Perhaps they will help us in the future, in diagnosis, in treatment, and prevention; perhaps not. But they cannot be ignored.

                      To conclude that any clergy who engages such individuals is unfaithful to or compromising by listening or dialog is shortsighted. Who should be reaching out? All people capable of repentance should have no obstacle to the process as established by the Church for their and our salvation. Especially the more objectionable they might seem.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Repentance first, then Communion. The prodigal must actually return home before the father kills the fatted calf. Anything else is open communion, which can only be unholy communion because no sins are truly forsaken.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Michael says:

                      It seems to me necessary to admit that our objection to “discussion” of what will only be increasingly frequent dilemmas, not of theology, but of pastoral approaches to human beings is misguided. The obvious question that arises here: how does one repent, for example, of a surgical reassignment of gender post-fact?” Certainly we can rail at human beings who, literally, shake their fist in defiance in the very face of God, but as did the saints, some turn. And some will turn to the Church.

                      St. Chrysostom says “even that Great Moses,” who wandered for 40 years in the desert was forbidden by the Lord from entering the Promised Land with his people because of his disobedience; and King David was never to see the Temple, though he danced before the Ark of the Covenant, because of his sin. Or should we follow the words of St. Paul, that it is always better to “forgive and to comfort” (2 Cor 2:7), calling to mind the words of Met. Anthony (Khrapovitzsky), that “We are far removed from the times of grace,” and we must consider the balance of what may be borne and what will constitute defeat.

                      Likewise, the issues of biology are emergent – and while I am the first to insist they are no defense or mitigation for behaviour – they do offer us insight into some aspects of these questions that we are foolish to ignore. Perhaps they will help us in the future, in diagnosis, in treatment, and prevention; perhaps not. But they cannot be ignored.

                      To conclude that any clergy who engages such individuals is unfaithful to or compromising by listening or dialog is shortsighted. Who should be reaching out? All people capable of repentance should have no obstacle to the process as established by the Church for their and our salvation. Especially the more objectionable they might seem.

                      Michael I agree with you that no one should be turned away from the Church and if real repentance is in one’s heart, even after a sex change operation, then by all means come into the church and work out your salvation with the rest of us with fear and trembling.

                      I also agree with your statement that “Likewise, the issues of biology are emergent – and while I am the first to insist they are no defense or mitigation for behaviour – they do offer us insight into some aspects of these questions that we are foolish to ignore” we have to be careful as The Church of Jesus Christ no to give actual or the appearance of acceptance of sinful behavior.

                      Even if its conceeded that their may be a biological/genetic component to Homosexual behavior I do not believe it is a “direct” or “Immutable” gene or biological condition. This is also true in the cases of drug addition and alcoholism that have a genetic predisposition, but that such behavior is “Mutable” (i.e. Changable) as well as harmful and sinful to the individual involved if left untreated.

                      I also agree with you that our Church needs to develop a very reasonable and clear pastoral approach to the issue of men and women struggling with Homosexual addition with love and understanding, but never acceptance of the behavior.

                      the American Psychological Association (2008) statement that: “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation is a correct statement, but needs further clarification.

                      Briefly, we as Human Beings have no choice over our sexual drive, which inherently is Hetrosexual because of our biological need to procreate. However, when envirnmental, biological and also psychological factors disturbe this behavior then an “altered” sexuality arises. The question then becomes can it be put back or “changed” back to what it originally was intended to be given the biological imperitive for the Human Species to procreate? The answer, IMHO, is yes, but it is still up to the individual to choose or decide to change one’s behavior. If one is never motivated to change then they never will. If one is motivated then they will change.

                      Society can help and/or hinder in this behavior modification that the individual may choose, but once you have the creation of a community (i.e. LGBT) and a separate cultural, even racial identity (i.e. Born Gay) now you have immense societal pressure to not change to NEVER change and so we find ourselves in the current situation.

                      This is why we need not only a committment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to Our Savior Himself, but also to develope and establish a new pastoral approach to being these hurting people into the Church (God’s E.R.) and to start to treat their sinful condition. On that point I am in agreement with you, but we must also stay vigilant in maintaining the Church’s stance against sexual sins, especially Homosexuality that is very political, cohesive as a cultural and political block and very active in our society in drowing out voices of opposition, even in academia that have done or want to do studies that go against their established Homosexual Orthodoxy.


                    • o Hamartolos says

                      @ Peter: I agree and accept your correction. There are no LGBT people, just people. LGBT or even heterosexual is not what an individual “IS”. I think that is what you were saying.
                      @Dn. Brian: I can’t agree with your complete denial of some biological influence on same-sex attraction. It may be hard to identify, but to deny that something is there, I think is to ignore the plain and obvious. But, going back to what Peter said: one’s sexual proclivities are not what we “ARE” and we should avoid making a sexual predeliction the definition of who we are, because ultimately we are God’s children, sinful though we be.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      O Hamartolos, please read more carefully. Nowhere have I issued a “complete denial of some biological influence on same-sex attraction” (your words). I have, though, denied that SSA has a “very strong biological origin” (your words again), because the research shows a very weak influence of biology upon SSA. That’s what NARTH says. That’s also what the APA says.

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      I agree with the majority of your comments, and as you are aware, I have meticulously cited the contemporaneous science in my own writings. But because I have yet to conclude this series, I would offer you several comments.

                      The influence of biogenetic factors in same-sex attraction is, in fact, “moderate,” and that is an important clarification. Likewise, it is important as to where you gather your data to reach such a conclusion, and I have outlined that process on my site. Secondly, in regard to human behaviour – as opposed to physical characteristics, for example – there is not one single “genetic marker” associated with one specific behaviour. Not one. I would further suggest that one will never be found. Yet, we know that disorders such as OCD, major depression, and so on, are familial; meaning that some individuals are born not predetermined, predisposed, or pre-inclined, but with a heritable risk. I believe there are credible explanations for this as well.

                      I am not attempting to be “dogmatic” in that to say this information is emergent is to say that, for any practical intention, it serves no clinical purpose whatsoever. And Fr. Hopko made this abundantly clear in his talk broadcast on the Anceint Faith Network: “What would the Fathers say differently about homosexuality if they had the scientific information available to us now? Absolutely nothing.” Pastorally, however, it provides a context of compassion.

                      I fail to see how this discussion can be termed “supportive” of behaviours or “lifestyle” contrary to the theology of the Church, nor do I see or predict a diminishing need for this ongoing discussion. Such is the state of our world.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Hi Michael

                      I agree with what you have stated, and definitely agree that we need a pastoral response and so-called plan of action in regards to showing and actually providing the love of Christ to those struggling with Homosexual desires. So in this we are in total agreement.

                      I simply worry that whatever pastoral response we give and shape as the Church must not be used as an opportunity to water down the Church’s moral teachings or as a vehicle of acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle and thus abandoning the Faith and Tradition of the Fathers of the Church.

                      In other words we should open the window to let in the fresh air, but to remember to leave the screen on at the same time.


                  • Amen to all that, Helga!

                • Perplexed Stepan says

                  I am somewhat sympathetic to this person’s issues, but this man (or woman) should not believe that the monks left only because of him/her. Let me assure the readers that this was a small eyesoar in the list of reasons to leave. Although, I have been told that hundreds have come and gone through that monastery over the past 2-3 years as a result of tonsuring a woman who became a man. However, there were plenty more serious reasons for why they left. I felt uncomfortable including it in my public statement because they really weren’t my accusations to make and now because Fr. Meletios has finally been removed as abbot, bringing them up here and now in any further detail in a public forum would probably be inappropriate.

            • This is an excellent post.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                One problem with our secular society is that it has become dogma that chastity is unnatural and that it is unhealthy for a person not to fulfill their sexual urges. The concept of self-control is anathema to popular American culture. However, our Church must not surrender to American secular culture. We must uphold the teachings of our Faith that sex is created by God for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which by definition involves one man and one woman.
                A person may not be able to control their sexual urges, but they can control how they respond to them. Most 18 year old men are filled with hormones that led them to want to have sex with girls, but they do not have to give into those urges. A person with homosexual or lesbian urges must exercise the same self-control. A person can live a happy and productive life without sexual fulfillment. The Menaion is filled with commemorations of monastic Saints who were chaste. Even those who fall into sexual sin, can repent, be forgiven and be given a new start in life like St. Mary of Egypt.

                • fr. ambrose says

                  I agree wholeheartedly, Fr. John. We live today in a hyper-sexualized culture that is constantly bombarding anyone with eyes and ears. The media is suffused with it and the entertainment industry is (from all I read and hear; as a monastic of course we don’t watch TV or go to movies) a virtual cess pool. All the more reason why future bishops must be drawn from the ranks of rigorously traditional monasteries. Which begs the question: where are these to be found?

                  Also, seminarians, our future priests, must be thoroughly well educated in these matters (at present they are not), and then, after ordination, they must begin to re-teach and re-educate the faithful. Would you believe that in a parish (which shall not be named) recently, when some lay Sunday school teachers wanted to teach the youth about sexual morality, parents pulled their kids out of the classes? Yes. Would you believe that even some years ago I was told by a high ranking archpriest (who shall also be nameless) that it is incorrect to teach that masturbation is wrong? That’s how low the spirituality and morality of our clergy and faithful is sinking today. The very limited practice of Confession and genuine spiritual direction is greatly at fault here, too. And since bishops are drawn from the same population pool that the rest of us come from, is it any wonder that they are weak and given to indulging themselves inappropriately and wrongly? –Fr. Ambrose

                  • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                    When I went to Holy Cross in 1978, every new student had to undergo psychological testing to get rid of the homosexuals and of people who wanted to be a priest for the wrong reasons. In addition to the testing by the school, the Archdiocese sent a clinical psychologists to give each of its seminarians a complete battery of psychological tests including ink blots and the The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). This process should be reinstated, we need to weed out the homosexuals and mentally unbalanced persons who want to become priests for the wrong reasons. If a person gets through the tests and is ordained and then found to be immoral whether homo or hetero sexual, they should be removed from the priesthood. The screening process should be so good that a homosexual is removed before they are even considered for election to the episcopate. A Bishop who is involved in immorality, must be removed immediately. Every monastery must be under strict control of its Bishop who should send a team to investigate the situation at the monastery at least once a year, if not more often. We have had enough scandals involving gay monastics.

                    • Harry Coin says

                      Fr. John: As the years passed by from your day, what happened was ‘the rules’ became something mentioned when it ‘helped appearances’, generally being publicly and noisily ‘processed’ — generally when they weren’t going to make any difference. If one had ‘friends’ then ‘a way would be found’ to ‘approve’ those who didn’t get the recommendation of the seminary staff.

                      The reason the problem got worse as the years passed by is very plain if you take a ‘decade by decade’ view. It wasn’t because of big agendas or clever political manipulations (although we see many discussed even here who exploit the opportunities for prestige and power and money this turn of demographics has created). Priest’s wives stopped dying while the priest was still in working age range owing to medical advances. Fewer and fewer candidates for higher office, owing to old rules made centuries after the church started– when there were lots of working age widowers.

                      So very few of us remember that surgery before 80-100 years ago involved the patient biting on a stick while someone who probably was a barber the rest of the week tried to cut out the problem. If the patient survived that, they probably died of infection owing to no antibiotics. Women who bled in childbirth died, women who needed cesarian operations generally lost the baby and usually died. Men lived longer than women.

                      Now, it’s all changed — except the rules that we observe that protect those in high office but will if continued will be the end of us. Demography is destiny, the old rules, the ones in the Gospel about who should be a bishop — those are the rules we should follow if we want our kids and grandkids to not leave. Proven monastic bishops (ones who lived in a monastery not confused with a gay brothel), and proven senior empty nester clergy whose wives weren’t abused neglected persons who didn’t know at the time of marriage their spouse preferred men.

                      All this without cruelty toward those burdened with overwhelming unwelcome attractions.

                    • fr. ambrose says

                      Historically, Fr. John, there has been a tension between monasteries and bishops, and some good studies have been written about this over the years. In general, it’s best for other monastics/monasteries to keep an eye on a monastery, with the bishop intervening only when there is a grave crisis that actually calls for his attention, or when invited to come and give an ordination. I believe this is the practice on the Holy Mountain and in many Orthodox countries. A pan-Orthodox monastic assembly, parceling the episcopal assembly (only hopefully more relevant and efficient), might help to address this issue. –Fr. Ambrose

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      To Fr. Ambrose:

                      We are not on the Holy Mountain. We are in America where monasteries are within the diocese of a Bishop, who should have the authority to see to it that all is going well in the monasteries and parishes under his omophorion.On Mt.Athos the monasteries watch each other. Here in America we have had too many monasteries that have scandalized the faithful by their corruption and immorality. That means that the monasteries need oversight to be sure they are authentic and healthy monasteries. They should not be allowed to shop around for a Bishop who will let them do whatever they want and will not provide the pastoral guidance they need. They should not be allowed to change Bishops every time their Bishop tries to provide pastoral guidance or tells the monks something that they do not want to hear. Monastics are not an authority independent of the Church. They not above the Church. Monasteries are not a separate entity in the Church, but are part of the Church. The Church is led by Bishops in Apostolic Succession. We are not Protestants where everyone does their own thing.
                      You my think that when it comes to monastics that I am cynical. You would be right. I am cynical about monasticism. There is an old saying, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. After Nicholas Hughes, I am very skeptical about monks and monasticism. I could also mention the monasteries like Holy Transfiguration, St. Herman’s, Christ of the Hills, and St. John of San Francisco as examples that have caused my cynicism about monasticism. That is not to say that there are not good monasteries, but to insure that they are good they need guidance from a good Bishop. Spiritual self reliance is very dangerous for an individual. It is also dangerous for a group of laymen or monastics. We all need to check ourselves to be sure that we are following correct Orthodox practices.

                    • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says

                      Ink blot and the MMPI?
                      The field of psychology and behavior analysis and modification has significantly advanced since then.

                      “I could also mention the monasteries like Holy Transfiguration, St. Herman’s, Christ of the Hills, and St. John of San Francisco as examples that have caused my cynicism about monasticism.”

                      Of the FOUR you mention, THREE are, how would you say? Oh yes,”non-canonical.” So, by your own previous canonical standards, Blanco, Boston and Platina, don’t count.

                      Arch-priest John, you bemoan the scandals of gay monastics, but a quick glance through the Pokrov website as well as general statistics of sexual abuse, and misconduct, will demonstrate some simple truths concerning the sexual orientation of predatory personalities.

                      Might I, a poor, ignorant ,simple layman, (and licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor) suggest that instead of psychological batteries that the seminaries and monasteries return to actual spiritual formation and discipline.

                      I’ve met a few genuine monastics who have successfully struggled through their various temptations, a few of them sexual in nature, who attest that this was due to a real formation based on Orthodox Christian monastics teachings and traditions.

                      Every passion has a spiritual remedy no matter if it is a lust for women, men, alcohol, drugs, or even food. There are plenty of FAT priests running around. Psychological and Spiritual “traditions” says the the appetite is the gateway to other passions (or disorders as the case may be.) Should we toss out all the obese arch-priests because they have a passion for food?

                      Just with any passion, a spiritual remedy should be applied.

                      But when the state of monasticism is rotten, it effects the state of not only the episcopacy, but of the white clergy as well.


                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      To OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover)

                      You are right being married is no guarantee that a man is living a moral life. It goes without saying that a married Priest who is guilty of sexual immorality must be disciplined. I have been married for over 40 years and cannot imagine being unfaithful to my wife.
                      Do not be so critical of a fat Priest. Some of us struggle with weight problems as I do. I also have hypoglycemia, which means that I have to eat every few hours or my blood sugar gets dangerously low. I was actually hospitalized a few months ago because of dangerously low blood sugar. Some of us cannot help being fat because we have low metabolisms. Believe me my wife and I have tried all sorts of diets without success. We spent 6 months on a diet a few years ago where they send you the food, basically flavored cardboard, and lost nothing.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Amen to that. Nor should we forget that most processed foods and drinks today possess what I call “fat accelerants” like High Fructose Corn Syrup. Ground meats are likewise packed full of carbohydrates like dried crackers.

            • ChristineFevronia says

              Last year, when the bishop of the west needed an unanimous vote to repudiate the Metropolitan, he got every priest to sign on board. Every priest that had confessed their lives, their families, their destinies to +Jonah for 10 years, including a couple of priests that had begged him to establish his monastery in their deanery, walked away from him.

              Jmical, I had never heard of this incident. Specifics, please? When, what, where, why?

              • http://www.dowoca.org/news_110329_1.html

                Italicized words are for emphasis. Parenthetical comments are my own.

                Unanimous Resolution
                of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the West
                Adopted March 29, 2011

                Whereas, the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the West affirms the conciliar nature and polity of the Orthodox Church as expressed in the Holy Canons and the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America; and

                Whereas, the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the West understands the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America to be bound by the Holy Canons to act in concert with his synod of bishops, rather than being a sovereign authority who acts independently and without reference to his peers, the diocesan bishops; and

                Whereas, the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the West recognizes a significant disruption in this critical relationship and urges the Holy Synod to exercise its pastoral care for the entire Church by calling its Primate to accountability and compliance with decisions agreed upon by the Holy Synod; and

                Whereas, the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the West recognizes the Metropolitan to be the presiding officer and chairman of both the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council;

                Be it resolved: the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the West reminds these two bodies of their fiduciary and legal responsibilities and urges the Holy Synod, with the support and consent of the Metropolitan Council, to:

                1) establish a committee within the Holy Synod to control disbursement of the Primate’s compensation based upon his compliance with the decisions and policies agreed upon by the Holy Synod; (Cut his purse strings)

                2) establish a committee under the authority of the Holy Synod to control the distribution of funds in the line item for the Metropolitan’s travel; (Prevent him from traveling and creating contacts)

                3) establish a committee under the authority of the Holy Synod to screen and vet significant decisions and pronouncements that relate to external affairs and the OCA’s relations with other Churches; (Prevent his speaking and consulting with other church leaders. He becomes primate in name only).

                4) understand the oversight of the chancery, its officers and staff to be the joint responsibility of the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council, and; (They are the executors at the Chancery; not the metropolitan, who, it is implied, cannot and will not be trusted)

                5) understand the departments and offices of the Orthodox Church in America to be under the oversight of both the Metropolitan Council and the Holy Synod. (Since power is shared between these two bodies, the metropolitan is under them, and not vice versa)


                Does this clarify it for you? It was the rubric of thinking, the creative document, which was later to frame the policy of estrangement, shunning, and isolation applied to the Metropolitan whenever he tried to work with administrative peers, the chancery, or the synod. It is the “script”., the terms of engagement.

                This careful plotting is reminiscent of the first set of plans to depose the Metropolitan put together by Dr. Dmitri Solodow (Metropolitan Council rep from the Diocese of the West) in a set of emails with Mark Stokoe. What got this ball rolling was the text of those letters were somehow leaked and +Tikhon Fitzgerald (retired) copied them onto an Indiana listserv. The rest is history.

                • ChristineFevronia says

                  Thank you, Jmical. This is awful. But you know what is even more awful? The fact that good-hearted people in the OCA are still not understanding that there was indeed a conspiracy to remove Met. Jonah. How can people not connect the dots? Is it that they don’t care?

                  • Christine, I think a lot of people just don’t want to acknowledge that there is a problem. And it’s a HUGE problem. It’s a lot easier to just scapegoat the guy who’s already been identified as “The Problem”, right?

                  • Christine,

                    Have you ever considered putting a document together that connects the dots? Even gathering the emails in one place would go a long way in illustrating that those very people who were in theory there to support the Metropolitan were instead actively working toward his demise.

                    • It seems that this attitude of hyper-conciliarity (my word), the provenance of which seems to come from the OCA’s postsecondary strata, has not been balanced by a robust hierarchical principle and practice. I mean the term both generically – as in authority from above, from the source – and ecclesiastically – as in authority from the bishop(s).

                      I wonder if the advanced Americanization in attitudes has infected some jurisdictions with this hyperconciliarity.

    • I think it is real clear here, that the woman is a 22 year old, newbie, impressed with herself and the Bishop, and that the Bishop has the hots for her.

      It is astounding that even a NEW bishop would ask a young woman, out to dinner alone, suggest staying in her apt. alone. and meeting up with her alone late at night.. He should not have done this as a priest either,and it is impossible to believe that he didn’t know that.

      This is beyond foolish. It is arrogant and scary.

      What should they do? Retire him. or send him to a class in ethics at St. Vlad’s or both.

      • You are correct, face-it. In this relationship there was not equality in age, rank, experience – in anything. There was no level playing field. So while the young woman appears to have made some foolish statements and did not ask him to stop, she explains in her cover note that she didn’t want to offend him. A victim doesn’t always respond “appropriately.” The bishop had the power in this relationship, and he shouldn’t have done what he did. And he shouldn’t have publicly denied the allegations, when just as in the past with previous scandals, the hidden secrets come out sooner or later.

      • Monk James says

        face-it says (October 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm):

        I think it is real clear here, that the woman is a 22 year old, newbie, impressed with herself and the Bishop, and that the Bishop has the hots for her.

        It is astounding that even a NEW bishop would ask a young woman, out to dinner alone, suggest staying in her apt. alone. and meeting up with her alone late at night.. He should not have done this as a priest either,and it is impossible to believe that he didn’t know that.

        This is beyond foolish. It is arrogant and scary.

        What should they do? Retire him. or send him to a class in ethics at St. Vlad’s or both.
        It’s notoriously well known in professional circles that ‘I was just kidding’ is one of the lamest excuses offered by men accused of sexual harassment. If Bp Matthias is quoted correctly, I think he’s pretty well blown any attempt at self defense.

        If this report is true, and the conversations between Bp Matthias and the young lady are presented accurately, there is no alternative to retiring BpM and reducing him to the status of an unordained monk.

        This isn’t a bad thing, since it would at least keep him within The Church and allow him the opportunity to repent and ‘work out his salvation’ as a Christian. I’m an unordained monk, and that’s what I strive to do, and it’s not so bad.

        But if the report is NOT true, we should all expect him to publicly and explicitly resist these accusations with all his might, especially now that this correspondence has been made public.

        • Monk James, I would disagree that the bishop should “publicly and explicitly resist these accusations with all his might.” These words imply that he can or should be expected to do anything to defend his own honor, and further damage the woman involved. He can and should explain to his fellow bishops what his side of the story is, but should always acknowledge that because she PERCEIVED him as crossing a line, because she PERCEIVED his words as inappropriate, then he DID cross a line and he WAS inappropriate, in that situation, for that person, at that time. Too many leaders worry too much about their own reputation, their honor. Instead they should accept the humiliation, ask for forgiveness and be a model of repentance. It’s OK for leaders to say that they never wanted their misdeeds to become public, that they are embarrassed, etc. but then they should be a man and demonstrate the correct behavior and try to emulate our Savior and carry out his commandment to turn the other cheek. To NOT do that is arrogance.

          • Gailina Sheppard says

            I find it incredibly painful every time one of our bishops, regardless of jurisdiction, comes under this kind of scrutiny. – With respect to the young woman, Kurt is absolutely right: it comes down to her perception, but even if you take her perception out of it, and just look at the content of their exchanges, his behavior is unacceptable. It doesn’t matter if his motives were pure and he just wanted to be “friends, he crossed a line. – Veronica, when a man becomes a bishop, he becomes accountable and because he approached this woman as her bishop, as evidenced by his offer to anoint and commune her, his sins were not “personal,” they were againt his office. His personal sins do not concern us; sins against his office, do.

      • anon from DOW says

        I know a certain monastery that needs more monks right about now. Perhhaps he could help build coffins there, or something.

      • Lol

    • o Hamartolos says

      note: take thy head out of the sand. Wake up and join the rest of us: BISHOPS ARE FALLEN SINFUL MEN. It will only get worse, but we already knew that. Jesus prophesied that the love of many would grow cold in the end times. Wake up, accept that reality, and pray like you’v never prayed before. But for the grace of God….

      • o Hamartolos says

        I just reread this whole thing again….and man does BM not get it. A bishop can’t have friends? What a petty thing to complain about, what a huge pity party. Did he not learn anything by being at Vladyko Dmitri’s funeral? who needs friends when you have hundreds of loving spiritual daughters, sons, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Othodoxy 101: Being at the top means being at the bottom; being first means being last; leading means serving; receiving means self-emptying; communion with all means being alone with God.

        • fr. ambrose says

          O Harmartolos:

          A bishop who is a real monk–and not just one who’s gone through the formality of receiving tonsure, but has actually been monastically formed–would understand what you have written here automatically. He would have already fully experienced the reality of being “alone” (which is what “monk” means in the old languages). He would know that he cannot have favorites, particularly people of the opposite sex, and that he must continue to die to himself. Supposedly he would have learned this in monasticism.

          Unhealthy bishops don’t need classes in ethics. They need genuine monastic life. But where is healthy monastic life to be experienced these days in this country? They are few and far between. –Fr. Ambrose

          • Well put, o Hamartolos and Fr Ambrose

            It seems self-evident to me, and correct me if I’m wrong, but, since the Canon was implemented back in the 600s(?) that limited the episcopate to celibate (Virgins / monks?) men, shouldn’t we be nominating and consecrating men to the episcopate only from the monastic ranks?

            In other words, no lay- or priest- or other nominations for any man that hasn’t been a monk for at least 3 years (3 years of novitiate + 3 years in the habit), so 6 years total.

            Fr Ambrose, and anyone familiar with Church history and Canons, could you please comment?

            (And, this may keep the American episcopate non-American for some time to come, per Fr Ambrose, if monasticism, as is likely, not strong enough here in America yet.)

            • Disgusted With It says

              The synod doesn’t want monks. Bishops actually acting like Christians would just get in the way of their activities.

            • fr. ambrose says

              Michael C.: Yes, there are the canons, and there is also a very clear tradition in Orthodoxy about drawing bishops from the ranks of monastics, and there were very good reasons for that. There are even better reasons for it here in the American Church, as we see from the low quality of some recent hierarchs, some of whom weren’t even tonsured in a monastery at all, but elsewhere. I hasten to add, however, that there are some exceptions, some bishops who had no monastic formation but were tonsured, and some who were never even tonsured, who turned out to be sterling men of the Gospel. We mustn’t forget them. But their existence in the American Church should be seen as exceptional and not the norm. The norm is what is followed in the old world Orthodox countries and cultures. –Fr. A

            • John Christopher says

              George: There are no late antique or Byzantine canons that require a bishop to be a monk or to come from a monastery. There are Russian decrees and canons from as early as the 14th century that do require this, but they are based on a wholly different and strict system of “white” and “black” clergy, in which only a married priest with a living wife can serve a parish. Monastic priests were barred from doing so, and if a married priest’s wife died, he had two choices: leave the parish for “black” ranks or lose his blessing to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Widowed priests in Russia had a tough time, especially financially, since they did not fit properly into either the “white” or “black” category.

              At any rate, the canons which you mentioned, those of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council (691), say nothing about bishops being monks. Rather, they require that a bishop-elect, if married, divorce his wife by mutual consent and send her to a nunnery (and otherwise provide for her material needs). In other words, a bishop is required to be *celibate* after assuming his office, i.e. not have sex with anyone, even his wife if he has one. Most didn’t by that time. And, furthermore, a bishop cannot cohabitate with his wife, even if they maintain strict continency, as was still acceptable in same areas (e.g. North Africa and Illyricum) as late as the 7th century. This brought canon law into line with most points of Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis (circa 530). Monastic tonsure or time in a monastery was not required. In fact, Justinian’s Novella 6.1 specifies that episcopal candidates must have (a) taken monastic vows, or (b) been a member of the clergy for at least six months. Prosopographical studies in this period are weak on this point, but there were certainly regions and times when the percentage of bishops who *had been* monks was as low as 10%. One is not really a monk after elevation to the episcopacy, even if formerly so, as St. Athanasius the Great and St. John Chrysostom wrote.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                If I may offer a small correction. The Council in Trullo (Canons 12 and 48) did not require a bishop or a bishop candidate to divorce his wife. They required them to live separately. There are no other ecumenical canons on the subject.

              • Pauline Costianes says

                Interesting, since the Scriptures (Timothy? which somebody quoted on another post) talked about
                candidiates for Bishop being “Married only to one wife”. So why did this change? The yukaloons we currently have are not fit candidates just because they’re “Male, Orthodox, Breathing, and Single”. The Orthodox Church as a whole needs to look back at the early church for its example, not something that happened in Byzantine times for who knows what reasons!!!!

            • This is not a time to press hot topics, like reinstituting married bishops or deaconesses, customs gone out of practice, in a time when we are down. Those type of reinstitutions need to come out of health, prayer, and in right order, (not to mention a great and holy council,) not out of frantic politicing.

              Celibate bishops developed out of the organic, wholistic quality of the church. Married men have a call and tendency to serve their families, rightly so. We already know the great burden that married priest put on their children. PKs are fraught with difficulties simply because dad is everyone else’s dad, not the PKs. It may be that there are some PKs out there who have not been effected by their father serving the church, but most of those I know struggle. Unless the PK becomes a priest himself that is. How much more would it screw up the children for their father to be a bishop? Traveling almost all the year, etc. Crazy. Then their is the fact that in the time of married bishops, the phenomenon of bishoprics becoming family property, and bishops leaving their episcopacy to their son.

              Not sure this is the time.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                If there are 30 babies in the Church and a baby makes too much noise, the people assume that it is the Priest’s kid.

                • If there are 30 babies in the Church, call KING HEROD………..

                  (sorry, I am a mean, grumpy, miserable, old man with a bad sense of humor………….)

                  • Pauline Costianes says

                    heehee – I first heard that in Greece. I was visiting the theater in Epidavros, and there were schoolkids swarming all over, noisy, in the way. Our tour guide said the Greeks have a saying at times like these “where is King Herod?”.. LMBO

            • fr. ambrose says

              Basically what I think is needed is a real “revival” of traditional Orthodoxy across the board in this country, particularly in the area of monastic life and traditional Orthodox Christian morality.

              Importing bishops from abroad is only a stop-gap measure and doesn’t solve the bottom-line problem (although Metropolitan Hilarion of the ROCOR is a very traditional, but American–Canadian–born bishop who is keeping the reins of his jurisdiction wisely in his hands and without scandal.). It does help, however, to have a vigorous, living, and meaningful relationship with the old world Orthodox Churches–which I don’t see a lot of here. I have heard many Orthodox laity and clergy who have gone on pilgrimage to Greece or Russia or elsewhere come back in amazement: “Boy, is Orthodoxy different in the old countries!” But they have learned, from our clergy and bishops, apparently, to dismiss what they’ve experienced as being “for peasants” because “we know better” in the West. What kind of Orthodoxy is this, i wonder?

              Though I am a monk (having been a parish priest for decades and then widowed), I am hearing many confessions still, and I am alarmed and appalled at the overall ignorance and lack of spiritual formation on the part of most lay people who have come to me. (I have even heard confessions of some who were married outside the Church–never having been told that this was a grave sin growing up in Sunday School–and yet continued to receive Holy Communion in their parish!) And I hear the same thing from other confessors. It worries me very much for the long term survival of real Orthodoxy in this country other than as an exotic phenomenon of smells and bells, often attractive to exactly the wrong people.

              The fact that bishops have traditionally and historically, for many, many long centuries been drawn from the ranks of monastics is the result of the deep wisdom and profound experience of the Church. But for reasons I’ve never been able to grasp, Orthodox in America are apparently in casual ignorance–or, sometimes, even in disdain–of this rather sound Orthodox practice. It is not a dogma, but most traditions are not; yet they are wise, and they are of God, a clear result of the Holy Spirit guiding the Church. How can we, here, think that we know better? –Fr. Ambrose

              • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says

                Father Ambrose, bless!

                Thank you for your comments throughout this blog. I have spent some of the afternoon reading them.

                As a young boy I attended a Ukrainian parish. I was too young to remember though I believe the bishop was from South Bound Brook. Later, after a family relocation, we attended an OCA parish, which I remember as the move determined our observation of the Nativity Feast. Funny things we remember sometimes eh?

                As a result, I “grew up” as a communicant of the OCA and it’s more contemporary expression of Orthodoxy. It was not until I a few years ago I met a neighbor who attends a Western Rite community of ROCOR. At the Baptism of their daughter, my wife and I attended and were awestruck at the depth of spiritual life in this little community. As a result we visit as frequently as possible as it is a rather long drive for us to make on a regular basis.

                It is through this traditionally minded Western Rite priest that we (my wife and I) have experienced a real renewal of our own spiritual lives, and at his urging that we visited the Ukraine for a week of vacation and during the second week made an actual pilgrimage to several holy places and monastic communities. I must confess what you say is true. Very different and very refreshing. My graduate school educated wife, very much a “modern woman” has of her own choice begun to wear skirts to church (and elsewhere) in addition to covering he head at church and is planning a short stay at a women’s monastery for the second year in a row just before Great Lent. Five years ago, church was what we did on Sunday’s whereas now we pray together daily, attend Vespers, and fast as our health allows– under the guidance of a priest.

                Sorry to post this here publicly, but what you wrote resonated with my own experiences.

                Guy Westover

              • Catherine 9 says

                Absolutely true about the need for Bishops who are SINCERE and EARNEST
                MONASTICS ONLY.

                That was a good comment, Fr Ambrose [and Guido below too]

                I am sorry to ask, but I noticed the post about being ordained by Bishop Nektary of Seattle,
                and adding this up with what you wrote above sounds like Fr Ambrose [Young] ?

                If so, just mentioning that I would be fascinated to hear more about Bishop Nektary, if
                there are further stories than were recounted in the Orthodox Word series on his pre-monastic life ?

                I was just reading the episode where his mother goes to Optina and is arrested by Bolsheviks
                who believe she is there to recapture her gold left in the Elder’s cell – pathetic how that mentality was of the materialists/Communists who closed Optina.

              • I basically agree with what you are saying, but I’d like to comment on your statement: It may be true that
                the externals of Orthodoxy, chanting, Icons, vestments, candles and incense may attract certain
                people(fruits and nuts, LOL), BUT, that in it self is NOT wrong, because the Church is for the
                sinners to call them to repentance and the sick and the crazy to heal them. The Church never rejects
                the sinner, as you know, ” I DID NOT COME TO SAVE THE RIGHTEOUS BUT TO CALL SINNERS
                TO REPENTANCE”. Even if initially someone joins the Church just because they like “the smells, bells
                and holy hardware”, it still is good, because it may bring them to repentance and salvation.
                After all, Prince Vladimir chose the Byzantine Church after his emissaries told him
                that it was the most beautiful and impressive: ” We did not know, whether we were in Heaven
                or on earth”. And, then, Prince Vladimir ordered that His People be baptized. The big mistake
                being made is to prematurely ordain recent converts, All converts should
                be at least for ten years in a parish before even being excepted into a seminary. And new converts
                also should be put to the test by working at the Church. Scrub those floors, iron out the wax,
                polish the candle stands and make them shine, clean the potatoes and pinch the varenniki
                (pirogies, as they are called in the OCA) or roll up the grape leaves, if you are in a Greek parish,
                under the strict supervision of the old ladies. This may sound funny, and it is, but I am not
                joking. It is this kind of activities that also may help someone to become part of a parish and
                practice humility and simplicity, the most important ingredients in spiritual life.

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  To taso above

                  10 years might be a bit too long, but I completely agree no one should go to seminary to become a Priest until they have spent several years as a layman in a parish. I also think that no Priest should be given a parish of his own until he has spent a few years as an assistant to an older experienced Pastor. There is a big difference between what they teach in seminary and the reality of life in a parish.

                  • Pauline Costianes says

                    That’s a fabulous idea, that the junior priest “intern” at another parish. The problem is that most Orthodox churches tend to be small, and couldn’t afford the second or third priest’s salaries and living expenses. In fact, by Roman Catholic standards, most of our parishes would be closed and made to merge with another.

          • Tom Jeffrey says

            And +Jonah is one of the few…

            • anna_of_Boston says

              In fact,
              +Tikhon (Mollard) became a novice in 1980, tonsured in 1993, consecrated in 2004.
              +Benjamin was tonsured by +Tikhon (Fitzgerald) in 1988, consecrated in 2004.
              +Melchizedek was tonsured in 1986, Great Schema in 2004, consecrated in 2009.
              +Matthias was tonsured in 2003, consecrated in 2011.
              +Alexander was tonsured in 1986, consecrated in 2012.
              +Irineu: novice in 1980, tonsured 1983, consecrated 2002.
              +Irenee: novice 1971, tonsured 1974, consecrated 2009.

              All of these but +Benjamin and +Matthias seem to have spent lengthy periods of formation in monastic communities.

              <Michael C says:
              <"In other words, no lay- or priest- or other nominations for any man that hasn’t been a
              <monk for at least 3 years (3 years of novitiate + 3 years in the habit), so 6 years total."
              <Tom Jeffrey says:
              <"And +Jonah is one of the few…"

              • George Michalopulos says

                How many actually spent times in monasteries?

                • +Tikhon, +Melchizedek. and I think +Irenee. But +Melchizedek started a revolt against his Elder, left his monastery without a blessing then came back to the USA under the false pretense that he was a member of another monastic community which he never stepped foot in nor was ever a member. The fact that + Melchizedek was told by +Jonah to go back to Greece and straighten out his abnormal status with the Greek Church indicates his status was (and is) cloudy, but in fact +Melchizedek did go back to Greece but never took the appropriate steps to rectify his status. And it should be noted that once +Jonah insisted that +Melchizedek take care of this, the synod shifted into high gear to get rid of +Jonah.

                  Just another tidbit of how the OCA synod works in brotherly concern.


                    THANK YOU, MONOMAKHOS

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Lordsave, I have never met Elder Dioynysios, hence I cannot adjudge his sanity. I know people who have and they assure me that he is not “coo-coo.” Regardless, if Bp Melchisedek had a legitimate gripe against his elder then he should have brought it forward. I have no problem with spiritual courts in which due process is observed. The more the merrier I say. Instead, he created a situation in which a chronology has been presented that raises canonical questions.

                    • Nun Eisodia Asquith says


                      I cannot fault you for your lack of understanding about monastic life. Few lay people understand and most only have vague or limited information of the reality, which is all too often skewed. I can and do, however take exception to your derisive words and tone when referring to an elder in the church in Greece, who you have obviously not met. I was very sorry to read this slander of a Holy Man.

                      Do you ever wonder how you would have responded if you met Christ, or one of the disciples in their day? Would you have been one who, like Herod, asked Him to perform for you in order for you to ‘believe’? Would you have let Him walk right by you without even noticing Him? (Many did.) Would you have followed the crowds to Him to obtain healing? Would you have dropped and left everything dear to you in your life and followed Him? Would your only interaction have been to scream out, “Crucify Him!”?

                      I ask you to wonder…….

                      As Elder Dionysios said to me personally, a word of caution said with deep and abiding love for me, (love typifies this Holy Elder, though many in the world do not know him) : “Don’t ever think you are RIGHT. They thought they were RIGHT when they killed Christ.”

                      I will pray for you and those like you who judge this Holy Elder without knowing him…who judge from slanderous gossip and half-truths, mostly based on their own and others self-needs and insecurities.

                    • Nun Eisodia Asquith says

                      The Lord bless you ‘Lordsave’ for your apparent change of heart.

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    I cannot understand why this is repeated after Abbess Aemiliane provided the background and relevant documents. No matter what had happened earlier (a rift between +Melchisedek and Elder Dionysios or the EP threatening to make trouble if Bishop Melchisedek did not distance himself from the Elder), it is clear that the Elder blessed +Melchisedek’s return to the United States. If the Elder gave his formal blessing and released Bishop Melchisedek, why are we still talking as if anything else matters?

                • Thomas Paine says

                  You don’t understand as many Orthodox do not. Monasticism is not a prerequisite to be an Orthodox hierarch; according to Orthodox tradition. The bishop of a local church community was chosen from both married and celibate men. The key factor was a man who was respected in the community for integrity, spiritual depth, understanding the scriptures, etc. Many, many bishops were married men. The problem arose that since the bishop owned the church property (Roman/Byzantine law), his progeny could take the church property and sell it, etc. Choosing a monastic solved this issue and since the libraries were in the monasteries, monastic were better educated and knew the church services well. Also, monastics could live for less, did not have their focus split between church issues and his family issues. The Roman Church went with celibates due to expediency and the East went with celibates for bishops for the same reason. History has taught us that both celibates and married men make good bishops. In America the answer is not to just look for manufactured, false monastics for bishops, but good, spiritual, wise men to lead the Church. Time to go back to the early church practice and forget the phony facade we have created to choose bishops. Please consider, monasteries flourished in foreign countries due to wars. Young men who were orphaned were placed in monasteries to clean, cook and grow up in an institution where there was mutual benefit. As they became older monastics, wars created more young recruits to take care of the elders and the monastery. In the U.S., this was not the case and many of our created monasteries end up with celibates who don’t belong there.

                • Disgusted With It says

                  That’s an excellent point. I’d also like to see a list of how much time each OCA bishop actually spent living and working as part of an established monastery (and a personal “skete” or house with a monk or two doesn’t count as a monastery either).

                • anna_of_Boston says

                  Looks like +Irineu was in a monastery in Romania for 21 years before coming to Detroit with a small group of monks to found a monastery there. +Tikhon was a monk at St. Tikhon’s for 14 years before his consecration. +Irenee was a monk at Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville for 7 years, then served in France and then Quebec, in what seem to have been monastic settings. +Melchisedek spent at least 6 years in a monastery in Greece. +Alexander spent a year on Mt. Athos, although that was before he was tonsured.

              • fr. ambrose says

                Anna: Not being in the OCA, I don’t know any of these bishops other than that some of them are only “token” monastics, not actually having received authentic monastic training or formation, either in this country or abroad. And if they have spent years in a monastic setting, yet have turned out to be the kind of bishops we are witnessing today, what does this say about the quality of monasticism here? This is my point.

                I personally know of monasteries where novices are plunged into the routine of services and obedience, but receive no teaching, no formation whatsoever, other than what little they get in confession or what they manage to find to read on their own (and many monastics are not readers, or are worked so hard that they are too exhausted to read on their own). Many monasteries are noisy and social and worldly; the main thing that separates them from regular lay life is that they wear black, don’t eat meat, and aren’t married. That’s it. I’m not joking. This is a fact. The “spiritual father” (or mother) of many monasteries is that in name only. When I read about the monastics of the old world, and not just the lives of the saints, the contrast is unbearably sad. Please note, however, that I said “some” and “many”, not all monasteries. –Fr. Ambrose

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  In addition to monastic formation, a Bishop also needs experience in a real parish. Without a doubt he needs spiritual formation, but he also needs to understand the lives of the laity and married clergy he is called to lead. A parish is not a monastery and married priests are not monks. A good Bishop must be able to relate to his flock and understand the difference between monastic spirituality and the kind of spirituality that can be followed by a person who lives in the secular world.

          • Fr. Ambrose, I agree whole heartedly, But it seems too be to late for him to get a life, “a monastic life”,
            I really appreciated Don’t Bother Me’s clarity on the texts. They really sound “practiced” when I read them over, now. I too, like one other poster, would love to see his file. I bet………..
            I was shocked George put this up when I first read it. But after a deep breath, decided, given the currant crop of Bishops, it is safer for the flock of young people out there that at least humiliation(AND A WARNING) should come of this, since it is unlikely anything else will.
            THEY are too busy throwing +Met Jonah under the bus, and discarding traditional Orthodoxy.

            • fr. ambrose says

              I think that a bishop who has behaved inappropriately should be sent to a monastery for a period of formation and penance. It’s not as if there are NO suitable monasteries here, just very few. In ROCOR there was a bishop who behaved very badly (not in a sexual way, however) and was disobedient to his Synod. This was about 11 years ago. He was sent to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville to live simply and penitentially as a monk, for a suitable length of time before being reassigned to a diocese. It’s not as if the OCA has to invent or even reinvent the wheel; there’s really nothing to “figger out” here, since Church history is laden with all kinds of examples and precedents for how to deal with naughty bishops or priests… –Fr. Ambrose

            • fr. ambrose says

              Yes, it may be too late. But between counseling and monastic life he might still be rescued. –Fr. Ambrose

          • –Fr. Ambrose writes:

            Unhealthy bishops don’t need classes in ethics. They need genuine monastic life. But where is healthy monastic life to be experienced these days in this country? They are few and far between.

            Dear Father Ambrose,

            That used to be Metropolitan Jonah’s monastery, whose bishop has forbidden the Metropolitan to visit. Since the Metropolitan’s time as abbot, the monastery has had many hard times including a wildfire and a scandal caused by and a loss of its new abbot. There may be another good monastery, the monastery to which ten monks from Saint John of Shanghai (Maximovitch) fled under the Serbian archdiocese, but I have no first hand experience or friend hearsay from it.

            I would suggest the ROCOR monastery Holy Trinity in Herkimer, NY has no stain.

            There are other small monasteries of which i am aware as good, but I do not know if they have room for visitors at present. Perhaps others have visited wonderful monasteries near to them? My criterion would be simple, as an Orthodox mother, would I want a young, vulnerable family member to stay at this monastery?

            • Dmitri Ivanovich says

              Hermitage of the Holy Cross (ROCOR) in Wayne, WV is, IMVHO, an excellent monastery with a bishop in residence (+George) and a wonderful Deputy Abbot (Fr. Seraphim,) who happens to be the father-confessor for almost all the parish priests in the area. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good monastery to go to on retreat in the Eastern U.S.

            • Dmitri Ivanovich says

              Hermitage of the Holy Cross (ROCOR) in Wayne, WV is, IMVHO, an excellent monastery with a bishop in residence (+GEORGE) and a wonderful Deputy Abbot (Fr. Seraphim,) who happens to be the father-confessor for almost all the parish priests in the area. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good monastery to go to on retreat in the Eastern U.S.

          • Several Fathers said “monasticism is the barometer of the church.” In other words the state of monasticism in the country indicates the overall health of the church. If this is true then our state is not bright.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says

              Monastic formation is well and good, but a before a man becomes a Bishop, I believe that he must have real pastoral experience in a parish. A good Bishop must be able to distinguish between monasticism and life in the world. Parish Priests and laity cannot be expected to embrace monastic spirituality. A good Bishop must understand the day to day struggles of a parish Priest, how an effective parish operates, and how a Parish Council should function. Let me put it this way. If my wife died, it would be a terrible mistake to make me Abbot of a monastery, because I am not qualified to lead a monastery because I lack monastic experience. The same would be true of a Bishop who only knows the monastic life and not the parish life. A Bishop is responsible for the salvation of the clergy and laity of his diocese. In order to do that he has to have an understanding of what parish life is like. He must also understand the struggles of the families of his clergy. On the other hand, I also think, that it might be a good idea for a Bishop to establish his chancellery in a monastery so that he can have the spiritual support of the monastic community as he supervises his Diocese. To take a celibate out of a monastery and put him alone in the world would be very hard on the poor man himself.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says

              Monasticism may well be the barometer of the Church. Here in America, we do need healthy monasticism, but we cannot close our eyes and ignore the problems caused by the haphazard way that monasticism has developed in this country. The monasteries need supervision to make sure that they are healthy and work with the rest of the Church and its clergy. Monasteries need to cooperate with the parish clergy and work with them, not against them. Monasteries also must be shining examples of true Orthodox spirituality, not collections of immoral men hiding their homosexuality beneath their monastic robes.

        • All that is true. But this is not a genuine appeal for friendship, but rather a classic case, as others have pointed out, of guilt manipulation. If what Bp. Matthias had wanted was truly friendship, he has plenty of same-sex peers, or peer couples, to choose from.

          Go look up any description of “sexual grooming” behaviors of sexual predators. You ought not to be surprised to see that the account in this post follows fairly typically in that pattern.

          • fr. ambrose says

            Educated people know that “friends” can only be drawn from “equals”. That is, those of equal rank, age, eduction, etc. This ought to be self evident. Thus, a parish priest is at risk if he forms friendships with any of the laity. Bishops must look to other bishops for friendship. Monks and nuns are to look to Christ and the Theotokos to fill these otherwise normal emotional needs (no “special” or “particular friends” are permitted in traditional monastic life). For a 60 year old man (or however old he is) to “befriend” and then become quite casual and familiar with a 22 year old female would be questioned even in our very depraved secular culture. But for a BISHOP!! –Fr. Ambrose

            • I understand, V.Rev. Father what you are saying, but in life we cannot be that rigid.
              People of very different rank and education can become friends and even get married.
              Education and rank are not the most important thing; mutual understanding, shared interests
              and respect are. In most cases your criteria are valid; rich hang out with other rich, doctors
              with other doctors etc. but not always. In CHRIST we all are ONE. Remember the funeral service!
              There also are different types of friendship. Each type of friendship requires a specific behavior.
              Of course, clergy must be sensitive of what is appropriate and careful. There are no set rules,
              but only common sense. A priest must be a friend to every one and no one, he must treat all
              the same. Monks must be brothers to each other, but never should have favorite friends.
              Essentially, you are correct in what you are saying, but you just struck a note when you mentioned
              rank. In my youth my best friend was the son of the local sugar baker.( very wealthy, in fact we were poor in comparison to them) Yet, my mother was against our friendship because he had no ancestry, as she explained to me and that I had certain obligations to my family. I didn’t listen
              to my good mother and we remained friends. Rank means nothing.

              • I can be, like to be, and in all cases try to be, friendly and respectful with anyone I happen to bump into in my everyday life. And I find that 9 times out of 10 that friendliness is appreciated and returned.
                But I can have true friendships only with those who share my deep rooted personal values, which are those of traditional Orthodox Christianity.

              • fr. ambrose says

                From my conversations with good (i.e., actually “Orthodox” not not wacky) Orthodox priest and lay Orthodox psychologists, they confirm all that I said about friends be drawing from equals. So I have to disagree with you. This is not being rigid, but “healthy,” “normal,” you see. But such subtle nuances and distinctions in this culture have been largely blurred or even erased in our mass media, and everyone is pretty much influence by this.

                And being “friendly” to and with everyone we meet is not the same thing as making a serious friend of someone who is not an equal. All of this is particularly important and relevant for clergy to understand and live out. Do we not see the consequences of ignoring this and being too careless and casual in our relationships? (I regret to tell you that I’ve even seen such inappropriate familiarity in a monastery between a superior and a novice.) We should spend more time reading the recent (i.e., the last 200 years) lives of righteous priests and bishops in Russia and Greece and elsewhere. There’s a great deal out there in English, if only we will pay attention and look. THEY are our models, our teachers! For example, a very traditional priest, In my seminary training, taught that a priest, in talking to a layman or woman, should always speak and converse with that person in a quiet and gentle tone and style that he would use in confession. Doing this is not “unfriendly” but a real act of Christian love, drawing the laity into a more sober and spiritually sound way of interacting with others. We don’t see this much any more though, do we, except among traditional priests and bishops? –Fr. Ambrose

                • fr. ambrose says

                  By the way, a lot of this inappropriate “friendliness” comes from not having healthy boundaries, something parents and teachers no longer teach children, nor do priests teach their flocks. –Fr. Ambrose

    • JJ Unbelievable says

      Know the Score, you do not need to be unmarried to be offended by Bp. Matthias. He repeatedly makes off color jokes and rather inappropriate jokes to married women such as myself. I never took offense because of my type of sense of humor but I believe some may find him offensive especially within his spiritual and leadership position.

      His text message of “Someday we will do this together,” was rather inappropriate and crosses a line that no one has mentioned on here yet. That is quite bothersome to me and my husband along with “Don’t tell anyone.” Perhaps you can explain these comments off but its a little far fetched that this would be ‘joking’ and not inappropriate.

      • Elderly Convert says

        Well said, JJ Unbelievable.

        Here the bishop was, sightseeing with a family member – but THINKING of a young woman… And texting her!

        Notice, everyone, that with the exception of the young woman notifying the bishop that her priest was coming to see her, EVERY instance of texting was initiated by the bishop!

        Your comments about the bishop’s off color and inappropriate jokes to married women (God protect us!) only underscore that this man lacks maturity and sensitivity to those he is supposed to SERVE. Thank you for this information.

        Worse and worse say I! (What else may come out?)

      • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says

        Off color jokes to women? Or men for that matter! So sad.

        I KNOW our clergy are only human. I am human too, but I know enough that I am not supposed to be “buds” with the clients in my professional care, nor should I tell off color jokes to ANY of them. Period.
        Our clergy are professionals in addition to being icons of our Lord.

        As earthy and bawdy as I can be among friends and family, I would never dare do so as a professional. Not only is it in bad taste, it is unprofessional, and if off color enough could cause me to lose my professional license.

        At the VERY LEAST, His Grace Matthias needs to resign as a diocesan bishop to seek some additional monastic and spiritual formation as well as some counseling and training in professional ethics. Then MAYBE he could serve in some capacity. After all, the Church is a hospital for the sick and all about second chances. While a very grave situation, he is not accused of molesting or assaulting someone.

        As Orthodox we often shun the concept of auxiliary bishops as being foreign to our ethos, but perhaps this is what we need. This would serve as a proving ground for future ruling hierarchs, otherwise they remain as auxiliary bishops, or vicar bishops or whatever you want to call them, subject to the authority of the diocesan bishop.


        • The misbehavior we see here cannot be remedied by ethics classes or professional development. It’s basic spiritual formation and common sense, and it’s a little too late to let the bishop try to acquire that and still remain a member of the clergy while doing so. Let him be returned to the laity to work out his salvation. Who knows, a wife might do him some good if he can get his head on straight first.

        • Well, for once I have to disagree with Guido. From the very first time I met Father Dimitri Royster in 1962 until the last time I saw Vladyka Dmitri before I retired, I don’t recall one such occasion when he did not have a great joke to tell, and his jokes often fell into the “off-color” category.—even VERY off-color!! His sister, Dimitra, liked a good one, too.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        I learned when I was a graduate student 40 years ago that a man must be very careful when dealing with a female student to see that nothing is said or done that could be misinterpreted. It is a matter of common sense. Even the most innocent comment can be misinterpreted. In this day of law suits and false accusations of sexual harassment, you cannot be to careful.

  2. I dunno, George. If you think Bishop Matthias should be retired over that, then there is not likely a bishop living today who could pass muster. Yes, he wasn’t sober and vigilant and gave himself to joking with her, but seriously, unless something else is discovered he should be put back on active duty. I’m sure he’s learned his lesson and will be a good standoff-ish, remote and unfeeling bishop from now on.

    • Disgusted With It says

      Perhaps George’s retirement statement is more sarcastic in the sense that Metropolitan Jonah was forced out based on lies and no evidence, whereas this accusation has some kind of evidence. Therefore, using the same standard they used with +Jonah, this is much more “evidence” and therefore worthy of +Matthias being forced out too. Just a thought.

    • Friendly Catholic says

      I agree that very few bishops and priests would pass muster if lifelong blamelessness is to be sought. However, there is a big difference between doing crazy things BEFORE one enters seminary, or is ordained to the diaconate, in a state of repentance; and doing crazy things AFTER one has already been ordained.

    • fr. ambrose says

      I was fortunate to have known several of the last great old world bishops of ROCOR in the ’60’s and 70’s and was, in fact, ordained by one of them, Bishop Nektary Kontzevitch, who had been cell attendant to the last elder of Optina. The level of familiarity, casualness, and complete lack of sobriety shown by Bishop Matthias and others today simply appalls me and would never have been found in those old world spiritual giants. They realized that they must be icons of Christ to their flock, but modern bishops apparently think they are supposed to be everyone’s “bud”?! How very Anglican/Episcopalian! Yes, bishops are fallen men, just like the rest of us. But if they are real monastics they know that they are supposed to be on the cutting edge of spiritual life, leading the rest of us by example as well as word. –Fr. Ambrose

      • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

        Dear Fr.Ambrose;Christ is in our midst! Then you ARE the former Fr.Alexy,whom I met on at least two occasions during Diocesan conventions in the 80’s.It was the latter one,I believe, at which Fr.Kallistos(Pazalos) recieved his tonsure.Are you still in Ohio?I should like to visit you before God calls one or the other of us.
        I’m sure you’ll agree with me that Fr.Seraphim would have much to say about the present situation.I regret never having met him because at the time I was brainwashed by those who would later become HOCNA.I ask your holy prayers.

        • fr. ambrose says

          Yes, Fr. Andrei, I am the Fr. Alexey you knew back in the 80’s and I’d be very glad to have contact with you again. I don’t want to post my personal email here publically, so how can we get in touch? –Fr. Ambrose

    • Upon further review, the play on the field is reversed. Laicize him. No bishop should tell a young woman that he has a crush on her.

  3. Thank you for posting these items. If they are true (really written by the bishop) it leads me to wonder WHY can’t people in these positions just tell the truth? In his letter to his flock, the bishop denies the allegations,but in his letter to the woman he takes responsibility, apologizes, asks for forgiveness, etc. It would be so powerful if ANY leader (in the Church or our society) would just come out and take responsibility, explain that they made a mistake, crossed a line, whatever, and that they hoped it would never come to the light of day, but since it did they apologize to the broader community for their mistake. People would be ready to forgive, I think. But when they get all defensive and deny it, can they be surprised when the people become jaded and hard-hearted toward them?

    • Gailina Sheppard says

      Please don’t say there isn’t “a bishop who would pass the muster!” If this is truly the case, i.e. that we are being TOO stingent expecting better behavior, then there is something severely wrong with our Church. This woman was being “hit on,” and on some level she knew it, which is why she felt it necessary to keep mentioning her boyfriend. When you’re in a situation like this, part of you just can’t believe it. You don’t WANT to believe it! So you try to tell yourself it’s not what you think. (Poor girl. She was sick, too, and Bishop Matthias took avantage of that.) I don’t know what upsets me more: the actions of Bishop Matthias or the people who defend him. His behavior was atrocious and don’t any of you DARE say anything negative about this young woman! The fact that she found the courage to speak with him directly speaks volumes about her character. If he were NOT trying to hit on her, and she truly DID misunderstand, he would not have gotten angry with her. One has to wonder, what in the world made him think that she would be interested. Is it because he has been successful in the past in similiar situations or is he really THAT deluded? – He needs to spend the rest of his days in a monastery. He can pray for her there!

      • fr. ambrose says

        Galina: There ARE indeed bishops who would “pass muster” in America today. Unfortunately, tragically, it seems that there aren’t many of them in the OCA these days however. One should ask why that is, and how it came to be? –Fr. Ambrose

    • Elderly Convert says

      Kurt Posz writes: “If they are true (really written by the bishop)…” But he’s already admitted so! In his letter to the young woman and her boyfriend.

      There may be many reasons why some people want to protect or excuse the bishop’s words and behavior. But a man of his age, who appears to lack the necessary self-control to keep his desires in check, seems unsuited (to put it mildly) for a pastoral office of any type. People who enter their 60’s lacking discernment, self-awareness, and self-control are unlikely to change much. No doubt, the Holy Spirit can work miracles. But it would be unwise to place anyone at future risk while waiting on the Holy Spirit.

  4. Hello, Phillippa and Alec?! Get real! This young woman was ONLY 22 years old and barely Orthodox. I see *very little life experience* here compared to His Grace. Some of her texts and choices were inappropriate, too, but much more understandable given her position.

    How old is Bp. Matthias (I believe he is a grandfather)? And how long has he had to (supposedly) develop an Orthodox phronema?! I don’t see much of that here. He was texting like a smitten teenager. All kinds of boundaries were crossed inappropriately in this situation. I personally can’t believe a man of his age and stature didn’t know better and wouldn’t conduct a relationship with a young woman like this with more professionalism and dignity. I’m mortified for this young woman by His Grace’s words and conduct–she should never have had to deal with that!

    Apparently, the OCA Bishops could learn a thing or two from that wonderful Christian gentleman, the Rev. Billy Graham. He may not be Orthodox, but he is one of the most gracious public Christians in our culture, and the wisdom with which he has handled this sort of issue in his ministry is exemplary. He and all men in his ministry are required to never meet alone with a woman who is not their spouse.

    I’m sorry, but if this is typical of the discernment (or lack thereof) we’re dealing with in our Bishops (and I suspect some are capable of far worse than this), it’s little wonder the OCA is in the moral and spiritual disorder that it is.

    • fr. ambrose says

      Future bishops, “bishops-in-waiting”, should be required to read and study the lives of righteous bishops from the past, both those who have been canonized and other holy ones. There are many of them, and one doesn’t have to go back Byzantium to find them. Some of them have even been in America! And many of these lives have been printed in English in the publications of various jurisdictions over the years. There were far more holy bishops than unholy, and they and their lives and writings are quite capable of teaching us today. –Fr. Ambrose

      • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says

        Father Ambrose, bless!

        In a previous post, I suggested the possibility of auxiliary bishops prior to serving as ruling bishops. Is there genuine precedent or anything in the canons that you know of that supports, or completely discounts this?

        If it is not appropriate to respond here, you may write me privately if you have the time and the inclination. If you do not, I understand.

        I ask your prayers and your blessing.

        Guy Westover

        • fr. ambrose says

          Occidental: There is nothing at all to prevent having auxiliary bishops and I have seen this done in a few cases in this country. I remember when the now-Archbishop Kyril of S.F. (ROCOR) was consecrated to assist the late Archbishop Anthony, which he did for a number of years. In particularl, Vladika Kyril, who is American born and bi-lingual, worked with the several English language missions and parishes in that rather large diocese, as well as in other assignments. As Archbishop Anthony’s health began to fail he took on more responsibility, ultimately succeeding to the see in, if I remember correctly, 2001. There are a few other auxiliaries in this country. It works rather well as it is a way of “breaking in” or mentoring the new bishop slowly and surely and carefully. It’s not at all uncommon in the old countries. Why it isn’t done more often in this country may be related to the poverty of potential candidates, which is a further commentary on the few and feeble monasteries in this country, isn’t it? There’s nothing wrong with drawing bishops from the small ranks of widowed priests, but if they have no monastic formation this is still an iffy solution, in my view. Having the pastoral experience of being a parish priest is invaluable, but it takes much more to be a bishop. I recall that Archbishop Kyril was a monastic parish priest for quite a number of years before his elevation. –Fr. Ambrose

      • Perplexed Stepan says

        I think it could help… but with the way things are going it might just make them better at keeping secrets.

  5. Philippa,

    One question – do you think that Bishop Matthias misbehaved?

    • This was a horrible mistake to put this information on monomakhos.
      We are all sinners.
      We all go to confession.
      Nobody should release private information to the public.

      • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says


        This effects the potential safety of other young women.
        Had George not received the permission of the offended, I might tend to agree with you. This is not the case.
        I have a twenty-four year old daughter. Had he done this to her, I would be livid.
        A sixty year old man in a position of authority (bishop or lets say a teacher) tells a student she is cute and that he “has a crush” on her!

        They Synod and Central Administration does not have a very good track record on transparency and accountability, so I think George made the right call for the good of the Church and safety of Her young women.



        • I am not here on monomakhos to argue.
          When people try to teach me that homosexuality in the context of the Orthodox church is OK,
          I feel like I don’t understand them.
          When people try to convince me that to publish/to read someone’s private text messages is OK,
          I don’t believe.
          Even if all monomakhos correspondents will tell me that their judgement on Bishop Matthias is righteous,
          I know this is not true, because our Lord didn’t teach us to judge.
          I had a hope that Metropolitan Jonah supporters have better understanding about Orthodoxy.
          Now I see, that this is only church politics on both sides, and this is sad.

          • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says

            I’m not here to argue either.
            You expressed an opinion. I disagreed with it. I thought I did so with respect and kindness.
            In return you first assume I am a supporter of Metropolitan Jonah. I’m undecided but leaning in that direction due to the twisting of facts, misinformation and outright lies of the Synod and Syosset. Remember what that old saying about “assuming”?
            You also question my (as well as others here) understanding of Orthodoxy. This is just plain rude and disrespectful.

            It is is true that our Lord said “Judge not, lest you be judged.” (Mt 7)
            Being judgmental and using good judgement are TWO different things.

            Good day madam.


          • This equivocation betrays some serious misunderstanding of the moral tradition of the Church, Veronica. You should check out Fr. Josiah Trenham’s The Arena podcast, his most recent sermon has some insights that you may find very valuable.

            We must “judge” in some instances, in the sense of diagnosis, and we must “judge” when the flock is threatened by wolves who would take such advantage.

            So many people in America make Orthodoxy out to be some kind of new-age ambiguous hip thing for white middle-class folks with lots of playing doormat in the guise of humility, meekness, and love. Two words for that, and the first one is “bull.”

            Love for God (for His own sake) and love for neighbor and ourselves (for God’s sake) sometimes necessitates the opposite of being “nice.” I once had to deck someone with all my might to protect an 8-year-old little girl. I had to put down my favorite dog when he turned vicious and was no longer safe around my small children.

            Being good and being nice are, sometimes, opposites. Americans don’t get that, just like they don’t get fasting or the moral teaching of the Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church. We have so few real spiritual guides, so little familiarity with the saints (even modern ones like St. John of San Francisco and St. Nikolai of Zhica), that we let frauds (not all are frauds, mind you) run around on speaking tours, chuckling over the depth of their theological insights, which in any other saner place would be met with the scorn it deserves.

            Sorry for soap-boxing.

    • Nikos, thank you for your question. I think I already answered it in my original comment.

      One additional thought, In this one instance onlymuchtomy chagrin I agree with Stan the Man. George, I think you and the 22 year old have opened a door that has lawsuit for defamation of character written all over it. Buckle up.

      God help us all.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Philippa, I said nothing slanderous about the bishop. I merely documented facts. I think I’m protected by the First Amendment. The young lady in question is protected against defamation by the facts as well. I would be surprised if the Synod wants to act against individuals in the OCA who are merely relaying facts.

        • This is exactly why a priest has cuffs and epitrachelion during confession: not to get a spiritual damage by other people sins. What happened after George Michalopulos’ publication? We began to judge Bishop Matthias and the girl. It’s clear even from the name of the article: “Extent of Bishop Matthias Misbehavior”. Do we have a blessing to judge? Absolutely not.
          Now we are not better than Mark Stokoe and Mark Maymon. We fall into same trap spiritually, and we have no rights to defend the Orthodox church until we repent. We need to admit that we followed the bad people example, and we became 100% politicians and forgot the important Christian’s virtue: mercy and honor. Forget about Orthodoxy, it’s not a religious level yet, it’s just a bad taste. Like in one of George’s early articles: “You Can’t Fix Stupid.” This is it, we appear on the same level as our opponents: it’s distasteful, disgraceful, and disgusting. I suggest to delete this post, and to confess a sin of reading it, of judging a sinner, and to have a sinful pleasure in it.

          • When I first read the text exchange and subsequent email, I questioned momentarily the decision to post them here. Then I remembered why George felt the necessity to do so. Under normal circumstances the faithful would trust their bishops to take care of such a situation appropriately and would be less concerned with a “lack of transparency” than with discretion on the part of the bishops. Sadly, these are not “normal circumstances” The hierarchy has caused us to question their judgment and motivations and so trust in them has been lost. The result is this need to post details of this situation in order to increase the probability that the bishops will act properly.

            Don’tBotherMe did an excellent job of analyzing and explaining the texts and email. The attempts to manipulate evident therein are shocking,

            • LittleChild says

              Thank you, Marie. Word was that Syosset was working to bring +Matthias back, and soon. Of course, there were opposite rumors, too. But if it was true that Syosset was trying to find a way to bring Matthias back, then perhaps this post of George’s has singlehandedly stopped that attempt. Keep in mind, George posted no commentary, no false assumptions as Matthias did in slandering Jonah before the world, just the very things Matthias texted to a young girl. Ephesians says to “take no part in the works of darkness, but instead, expose them.”

          • Clare Voyant says

            Is this not the same attitude that got Penn St, in trouble? Yes, by all means do not judge Jerry Sandusky. Holding people accountable is not the same as judging…..

          • Gailina Sheppard says

            Spiritual damage usually comes from keeping things hidden. Light is a powerful disinfectant.

          • Lance Hogben says

            I took no pleasure whatsoever reading the correspondence above, and I don’t think I want to judge anyone. I feel the horrible embarrassment of both parties and can only say, “LHM” many times. It’s not the end of the world but a slip up like this could cause a man to literally die of shame – which I would not wish. It’s unfortunate to have to know such things but I have to say it’s better than living in a fog of (official) innuendo. Now we are all on a more level playing field. Oy Vey! LHM (40x)

        • Mark from the DOS says

          The threat of a lawsuit is the last resort of the scoundrels, I am afraid.

          While these texts are disturbing to read, George’s decision to publish them is neither shocking, nor inappropriate to me. And respectfully, this is very different than Stokoe or Maymon. First, George has legitimately obtained them. They were given to him by the recipient who is free to do with them as she wishes. Second, George, unlike Stokoe, permits people to comment favorably or disfavorably on the subject and even on his editorial decisions. The fundamental precept of free speech is that bad speech should be countered by good speech, not suppression. If publishing this is bad, disinfect it with good speech – do not complain that something bad has been said.

          In light of reports that Bishop Matthias will be returned to active duty, and given the HS’s predilection to only explain itself when it sees a political benefit to it (castigating Met. Jonah for SMPAC improprieties just days before a confidential report somehow finds its ways into Pokrov’s hands — still waiting on the investigation into THAT leak), I support George’s decision to let us know, however distasteful the answer may be, exactly what was behind the suspension and subsequent investigation.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Thank you Mark. Given that I view myself as a Traditionalist/Conservative, and that Bp Matthias is definately in that camp, publishing them was not easy for me.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Seriously, I believe you need to admit the elements of “exclusive scoop” and “salacious prank” as well. Is there anyone here who would not have accepted Mr. Michalopulos at his word as to the serious and incriminating nature nature of what was sent to him without him actually putting them on display? But it certainly would not have been bear as satisfying, would it?

            I stand by what I indicated this morning – the Bishop has provided the appearance of misconducted, regardless of his intent and must retire – but we cannot lose site of the fact that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) That anyone would feel “justified,” or gloat, or mock a man in his error “digs a hole and shovels it out, and falls into it himself.” (Ps. 7:15) “Aha! J’accuse!” worked as a shock once, and has only been a source of remarkable saddness ever since.

            • Harry Coin says

              Mike so according to you this one must retire based on this appearance of misconduct, what is your theory about another in SF who declines to retire an abbot promoting gay sex via the theology of mental mirrors, and takes in to his home a young person amid allegations of two working weeks of porn stored there a computer (what kind of porn needs storing on a disk? Crosses a line it can’t be downloaded by a ‘legitimate porn’ (sic) company)? While we’re discussing appearances, after all.

              What of the bishop that releases to limbo two married priests on the basis they complained about another retained after years of having gay sex while married to a woman, who also complains of same?

              Should these two retire owing to appearances of misconduct as well by your lights, or not?

              • George Michalopulos says

                Speaking for myself Harry, I’d definately ask these bishops to retire.

                • Harry Coin says

                  George, what’s your take on the Greek archimandrite suspended but then later returned to service after his stint with a gay masseur, subsequent payoff and then exposure?

                  • Disgusted With It says

                    “The rule is that if you get caught before you are elevated, you don’t get elevated.”

                    Gee, I wish the OCA would follow that rule too.

              • Disgusted With It says

                Harry Coin,

                Which bishops are you talking about? Who should retire?

            • Mr. Stankovich, if warning young women or their parents about Bp. Matthias were the only thing that needed to be accomplished, then indeed George could have simply stated that he’d seen the texts and email and considered them serious and incriminating. But that would still have allowed the bishops to claim that the evidence was, in their judgment, not too serious so they were going to reinstate Bp. Matthias. Only by posting the evidence for the faithful to see could George have hoped to force the bishops to act appropriately.

              Yes, it is sad that there was a need for such salacious material to be posted– an unfortunate result of the faithful having (with good reason) lost confidence in their hierarchs.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Thank you Marie. If I had only opined about the contents then it would have been my word against the “better judgment” of the Synod. The texts speak for themselves. Nor can anybody say that they were fabrications as Syosset admitted that they possessed documentation and placed His Grace on immediate adminstrative leave.

                Again, I think this is all most unfortunate as Bp Matthias was in the process of straightening up the DOMW and was a forceful advocate for the Orthodox moral tradition.

                I pray he returns.

              • M. Stankovich says

                [Mr. Coin, we’ve been through this: it’s Michael. No rant. It’s Baptismal]

                I offered my opinion in regard to the specific situation at hand, for what it was worth.

                I have on many occasions expressed my objection to statements posed to me in the form of questions. If you are suggesting I am being hypocritical – and I draw that inference – than say as much. If you wish to draw an inference regarding others based on “my” criteria, you certainly need no permission from me. In the end, Mr. Coin, I have arrived at the conclusion that 1) there is no justice in this world, and 2) justice is not mine to have: “He who brings me justice is near. Who will bring charges against me now?” (Isa. 50:8) And on that day, Mr. Coin, I believe many of us will be embarrassed at the recollection of the promise: “I am with you, and no one can be against you.”

              • Perplexed Stepan says

                Thank you for your comment, Marie. I completely agree. In fact, if it weren’t for Bishop Maxim of the SerbianChurch, no investigation would have been made. However, it was not until the happenings in Manton were brought to light with the help of George that action was finally taken in the form of an internal vote by the remaining brethren a couple of weeks ago. It renewed my hope in Orthodoxy, but not in American Orthodoxy or its leadership. LHM

            • Mark from the DOS says

              I concur with your analysis of Bp. Matthias’s situation. Like George, I have supported many of the things he has done, but the lack of judgment shown in those e-mails is appalling, and the appearance alone requires his retirement. How can he possibly function as a bishop when any contact with a younger female laywoman will draw stares, whispers and suspicions. There is nothing here to gloat about or rejoice in. My demeanor on this is profound sadness.

              Unfortunately, based on the widespread opinions, even with these messages posted verbatim, I fear that many people would not have accepted George at his word, minimized or even dismissed his reporting of them.

              • So my question is, what do we do with him if he is deposed? Or anyone for that matter? In this instance should he get help on the Church’s dime? Do we cut him loose and say -sorry dude, you blew it, bye? It seems to me the OCA throws people away without any recourse to forgiveness and restoration. I’m not advocating he be a bishop again-but how does he become part of the body of Christ again, without simply transferring to another Jurisdiction (another thing we like to do here-not acceptible)?

                • This may seem harsh Colette, but what happens to me if I get fired for inappropriate behavior on the job? . I look for another job. I cry at night. I apologise to my family, and to those I have wronged, I go to confession, and I pray morning, noon, and night for a chance to redeem myself.
                  The folks who let me go, are not obligated to support me.
                  But because we are put on this earth to love one an other, perhaps some good christians will assist him in getting on his feet.
                  But honestly, on this blog there is are so many voices calling for removal of the Bishops and the evil ones on Long island, but once again I say WHO is going to remove them? This business of what do WE do……. is confusing.

                  • I know of a priest who confessed to an unfortunate sexual act with a person not his wife. He was put on hold, then suspended. He got a job as a fry cook. His wife kept him (and the kids) and she has a good paying job. but he is not a priest anymore. Sad, because he was a real good one in every respect and was and is loved by those he served.

                    I won’t say from where so that all can be protected.

                • St Mary of Egypt.

              • M. Stankovich says

                Mark from the DOS & Marie,

                I don’t disagree with you in principle, but the difference is between how this story would have been reported by the NY Times as opposed to the National Enquirer, and I believe you know that. I did, after all, say “elements.” Though there is no way to prove this, I believe it is much more likely that the “clamor” would have been to “GIMMEE” rather than challenge Mr. Michalopulos’ voracity. It’s moot.

          • Bishop Mark did nothing wrong.

            • Disgusted With It says

              Ha ha ha ha … good one George!

            • All in the Family says


              Would you like to expand on your opinion that Bishop Mark did nothing wrong? We would love to hear it.

              • DC Indexman says

                George M. Since Bishop Mark’s name has come up here — I would like to speculate exactly what might be his agenda at this point. Now being in New York gives him a different platform to operate from as compared to Ft. Lauderdale or Dallas. He is there with the big boys and the big Cathedrals among other prestigious items. Plus, even though he is an auxiliary, he is still a bishop, so everyone must acknowledge him. At least he now has the potential opportunity for self aggrandizement. What do you?

            • Mark from the DOS says

              If you are referring to the accessing and forwarding of e-mails from Fr. Fester’s account, I think many people would disagree with that. On the one hand, I have heard people analyze the Stored Communications Act, review relevant case law, and argue that the action of accessing the account and assuming control over the e-mails was a violation of federal law. I have asked for people to cite any case holding that an employer has the right to access cloud based e-mail accounts on the basis of a stored password and have received only resounding silence in return. On the other hand, people could argue that assuming access was legal, the proper action would be to confront Fr. Fester directly and go to +Jonah, rather than forward the e-mails to a layman. I would be interested in understanding why you believe there is no wrong here. I have heard both arguments made, but nobody has ever been able to explain (a) why it was legal – based on statutory language or case law, not myths or (b) why it was proper to forward them to a layman and not confront Fr. Fester directly.

              • Bishop Mark forwarded emails to a layman? Do you have proof of that? If he did forward them to anyone other than the Holy Synod then yes he would be worng. However, unitl I see someone provide evidence it is just a bunch of malarkey. Now lets face facts… Bishop Mark was the Administrator of the South and Fr Fester was using company property. As to the whole cloud issue I will wait until there is more case law. The real issue is when Fr Garklavs emails were stolen by Archbishop Jonah. Abp Jonah was placed on a Leave of Absence and had all of his primatial duties and powers taken away during that time period. He was not acting as an officer of the church, the primate, or superviosr as he was officially on a leave of absence(i.e. suspended).Now he and Fr Fester may want to rewrite what actually transpired but as Bishop Mark told Fr Fester that he was there and that Abp Jonah was in fact put on a leave of absence.

      • Philippa,

        It is not slander if it is true.

        And, who would enter such a lawsuit? +Moriak? The OCA?

        And where were you Philippa when Mark Stokoe was publishing emails? Where was your outrage then?

        +Moriak’s behavior was inappropriate and I pray that this was the only time he did such a stupid thing because if it is not, others will step forward.

        Finally, this again proves the total incompetence of this synod’s ability to vet episcopal candidates. Did they even ask the Carpatho Russian diocese to look at Moriak’s file when he was in that diocese? Did they ask for +Michael’s file either? They gave both of these men no psychological evaluations. In fact the only bishop who has one is +Jonah, yet the rest of them, including +Moriak accused +Jonah of all sorts of psychological issues. What hypocrisy. What slander!!!!

        Phillipa, don’t shoot the messenger for delivering the bad news.

        • John 8: Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. They said to Him: “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?”…He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

          If one judges someone without an epitrachelion on his chest, without cuffs, and without a blessing to do so, one must prepare himself to be a public example in the most painful way. Bishop Matthias is going through his own punishment, but woe to us who perform this punishment on him. God is merciful, and He wants us to achive salvation. In order to heal the sin of judgement, the one should go through the same temptation to repent from committing this judgement.

          • fr. ambrose says

            I guess, Veronica, on these grounds, we wouldn’t turn in a criminal, either? Or a child molester? I think you are blurring the lines between judging (i.e., seeing someone as less that I am) and protecting the church her laity from possible abuse. –Fr. Ambrose

      • Elderly Convert says

        The bishop – not the young woman – has defamed himself! Both in what he wrote to her and in publicly denying allegations that he had already privately admitted.

        Apparently the young woman feared that an investigation might go awry? Might not protect us all? And thus she publicly released her letter, the texts, and his letter. I thank her for that!

        The information belonged to her. (He sent it to her. He INAPPROPRIATELY expected her to keep things SECRET.) Till now, yes, it’s been private. But she chose to release it. (Even at the risk of divulging her own naivete.) There is no law against doing so. She’s done nothing wrong. Indeed, she’s done us a public service!

        The bishop’s privacy, in this case, is being over-ridden by the needs of the public to be protected. Had the bishop acted more maturely, likely this tragic episode might have been prevented.

        God help us all! Especially the orphans…

  6. If it had been ONE questionable comment from the bishop that was quickly backed off from, I could see giving him the benefit of the doubt and advising him to be more careful in the future. If he’d apologized and explained himself immediately, I could see letting it go.

    But this is SEVERAL comments, over the course of days. He only apologizes once trouble is afoot, and even then, he was trying to lay a guilt trip on her for thinking his texts were inappropriate, with the bit about not being able to be friends.

    I applaud the complainant for coming forward. This would be unsettling enough if it were merely unrequited flirtation from a layman, but there is a power differential between a bishop and a laywoman. I was her age not long ago, and I know I would be terrified by this behavior from an older man, especially from a bishop who is supposed to be celibate.

    If he knew as a widower priest that he had this weakness, I wish he would have either secluded himself in a monastery to minimize temptation until he could regain self-control, or else requested to be laicized and sought another wife. Nobody forced him to take monastic vows, nor accept consecration to the episcopacy.

  7. I don’t understand how people can defend such a creepy guy! What he has done is totally inappropriate. Anyone in his position should know better. Any incident like this should be condemned. This is so embarrassing. He has shamed all Orthodox Christians throughout the world. How can people tolerate such nonsense??

  8. It’s very easy to miscommunicate when using electronic media. Especially texting on the phone. Call it teasing or flirting or joking, I suspect many of us have communicated things that we would in retrospect like to take back. Sometimes comments have sexual overtones, often they seem to convey anger or accusations. Yes comments may be inappropriate and yes they may float around for ever but I think these comments deserve nothing more than a raised eyebrow.

    • That doesn’t mean that this bishop’s behavior is justifiable. He has crossed the boundary. As a person who “claims” that he has a pastoral experience, he should have known how electronic communication can be damaging and misinterpreted. If you had a 22-year-old daughter and had such an awkward communication with a man in his sixties, what would you do? People, please have COMMON SENSE!!

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      Still, shouldn’t one be smart enough to realize the path such communication may be headed towards?

    • o Hamartolos says

      are you kidding me. Can you imagine a teacher having this conversation with a student, a therapist with her client, and priest with a communicant. Whatever way you rationalize it, IT WAS WRONG, UNETHICAL, AND A SIN! If I was the young woman’s father, I’d be at this so called bishop’s door, demanding to speak with him, and share a few choice words with him. May the Lord have mercy on him, and on us.

    • Greggo says: <>

      Only a raised eyebrow if made by a imature teenager, perhaps; but from a mature man? from a bishop? You’ve got to be kidding. It was wrong and puerile.


  9. This bishop has his head up his ass.

    Good for this girl blowing the whistle!

    We don’t need bishops that are “buds” what we need are bishops that are administrators and men of prayer.


  10. MartyOlson says

    Phillipa–The lady doth protest too much! The lady being you, certainly. So, greggo says lets just raise an eyebrow. Yeah, right. My interpretation of that statement is that if there’s ever a time you were to be found texting to a young woman in this same way, we should just raise an eyebrow and wink.

    “Those Bishops, they’re a racy lot now aren’t they?” Feet on the ground time. Yes she’s an adult; she seems to have handled the situation reasonably well. I look at her telling her Dad about this, and if it were me there’d be no reporting to the sex molestation folks. I’d take the dear bishop “for a walk” in the woods to chat things over—mano-a-bishopo. Don’t ever think some guy’s dressed in religious garb gives him any protection when he pulls a stunt like this. He’s gonna bring his air mattress and have a jolly good sleep-over. ROFL

    On the other hand, I don’t think this material ought to be published except through the courts or by the Synod as a decision made deliberately and in a wise way. Obviously there’s some person in the loop on this who let it out to make sure the sweetheart bishop didn’t try this prank again. Either way, remember whatever you write on this here ‘net is here forever. The new immortality.

    • “mano o bishopo”, good way of putting it, good way of handling it in a simple conversation. People are too litigious these days and it is in all our best interest to avoid the expense and protracted horror of litigation if there is another way. The young convert, suffering from a terrible physical ailment of some kind, chose another way. She brought the matter to the attention of the appropriate folks , not the police, but to spiritual leaders.

      My creepdar went off on this one. I broke down one conversation into categories of creepdom in just the bishops’s words alone-

      Secrecy (knowing the inappropriateness of his own statements) and Jealosy:

      We can hang out. I cAn bring an air mattress just don’t tell anyone…(With reference to her priest) Forget him. I am your bishop…(With reference to her priest) Ok great. Don’t share with him that I am coming. I would rather keep that between us and not let on what “buds” we are.


      (even though the local priest has visited her and blessed her apartment) I really feel the need to see u …(dating talk) Word on the street is that I am visiting this young woman in [city of complainant’s residence]…The bishop has a favorite I guess…(after being reminded of boyfriend known to bishop) Yeah but the woman is his favorite…(reference to boyfriend): Not as big a crush as the bishop has on the girl…U r so popular

      Throughout, there is an attempt by the bishop to use language. including internet slang, of a young person, and to foster a feeling of a dating experience while pulling the senior authority card: hanging out, taking a boat trip, minimizing a boyfriend, minimizing a local priest’s normal rightful role in a new convert’s life, traveling to spend time with her, being buds, sleeping on an air mattress on the floor. This goes waaaay beyond the normal friendship on my creepdar. The bishop knew that with a new convert, the likelihood of a new convert knowing what was normal bishop behavior would be less than usual. Why was he even texting her?

  11. o Hamartolos says

    Holy Hierarch, Dmitri of Dallas, pray to God for us!

    • Tom Jeffrey says

      With the falling asleep in The Lord of our most beloved Archbishop Dmitri last year, the recent ousting of Metropolitan Jonah, Archbishop Seraphim embroiled in a sexual assult case, Bishop Matthias tangled up in the latest mess to come to light, and others among our Church leaders with issues both known and unknown, one really begins to wonder is there not one righteous and/or godly man left among them?

      Certainly one begins to wonder whether there is even one among them worthy of being the primate of our Church…

      Lord have mercy on them…

      Lord have mercy on us…

      Let the repentance begin with each and every one of us. Let us show our forgiveness and love for one another. Perhaps we can serve as examples to those who should be examples to us.

      • Also, Brother Tom, don’t forget how +MARK (Maymon) monitored Fr. Joe Fester’s private emails for weeks after he left Dallas and then released them to OCANews for publication. The good bishop has never been sanctioned for it by the “holy” Synod.

        Coming across the sim card in Fr’s cell phone was not necessarily wrongful; even reading the emails may have been excusable. However, releasing them for publication instead of not taking the information in private to Fr. and to their common superior ++JONAH was inexcusable and utterly disloyal to his own Bishop.

        But neither +MARK nor the powers that be have seen anything wrong with his conduct and +MARK continues to serve with impunity–nay, he has been rewarded. Is this the way holy men behave? Is this anything like the Good Shepherd?

        I agree with you: Lord, have mercy and to induce repentance visit us with the bitter fruit of our transgressions until we turn from our wicked ways and seek Thy face.


    • Just change the names.

      Archbishop Iakovos, Archbishop Leonti, spending the night on an air mattress in a 22 yr old gal’s apartment? That really tells you all you need to know.

      • Pauline Costianes says

        OK – now I’m REALLY creeped out! As if it wasn’t bad enough seeing Matthias’
        stupid emails. Good thing that girl doesn’t have some redneck dad who would
        have “opened a can of whoop-ass” on him. Although that’s probably exactly
        what he needs.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Apropos of nothing at all, I think that generally speaking we need more “redneck dads.”

    • justagoodoleboy says


      Holy Hierarch, Job of Chicago, pray to God for us!

      • justagoodoleboy,

        Sorry, Job was not holy in the sense that you ask him to pray for us. Job was a very flawed human who would not survive the scrutiny of today’s Church world.

        May his memory be eternal to God.

  12. OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says

    Creepy. Undignified. Inappropriate. Unprofessional.
    No excuse.

  13. As ive said before, the Carpathos did not even ask this guy to be their new bishop–NOW YOU KNOW WHY

    2. They didnt ask +Michael either–someday you may find out why too.

    • Lance Hogben says


      • All in the Family says


        This is a no-shouting (CAPS ONLY) zone.

        I am not exactly sure what robert is referring to but I do know this, the departure of +Michael from the ACROD to the OCA was with an ominous caveat from Metropolitan Nicholas of blessed memory, he warned the OCA, “You will regret the day you received him.”

        Now that could have been nothing more than sour grapes for leaving the Carpatho-Russian diocese but Metropolitan Nicholas also cut loose +Matthias before he was even elected a bishop in the OCA and he had no regrets.

        Maybe what has come to light helps fill in some of those details but what we do know is that neither man had a future as a bishop in the ACROD and they moved on when they had the chance to wear the mitre.

        • Could you provide a link or reference to your quote from Met. Nicholas? In light of having made +Michael a Protopresbyter a few years before this, I think we should understand the context.

      • If you want the truth, talk to a SENIOR Carpatho priest (at least 60 years old).
        They almost all know it, but I doubt some will want to speak it.

        I have struggled with speaking about it–how do i confirm to you what I know, and what ive spoken with several Carpatho priests about?? I think its just another piece of the puzzle about the removal of +Jonah.

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says

          Look at it this way . . . if there had been ONE united Orthodox jurisdiction here in North America, would there have been proper vetting? Much harder to keep secrets when there is one layer of access.

    • Do you have any evidence to back up your insinuations about +Michael? If you do, please present them. Otherwise , you would appear to be little better than those you so readily criticize.

  14. Yana Porter says

    I do not say the truth should not prevail or be known, but known to whom, when, and under what circumstances? Many of us are socialized into this idea that everything is for public consumption all the time, so I can understand how communication of this nature’s been published in a venue such as this blog, but that doesn’t make it right or appropriate.

    This is a sad turn of events and discussing it here is simply broadcasting them as if the details were fodder for a bad reality TV talk show, trashy and classless. Where is the real love and concern for either the young lass or Bishop Matthias privacy and dignity? Both of them need and deserve that, but instead, the personal misery of these 2 people is paraded about as casually as if it were a bad B-movie, where anyone can make any fool remark they feel like. Both the lass and Bishop Matthias will be hurt by this because to them this is not just spicy mental floss and glib talk, but their life. Where is the respect? Publishing this is marching someone else’s soul down the street naked, and it ought not to be done at this time or in this venue.

    In addition, I wonder, did anyone consider that publishing this might be interfering with a legal investigation or create serious problems because of breach of confidentiality? You never know what could be quietly on the record some place if Bishop Matthias has a pattern of this kind of behaviour. Now, I am Canadian and I know this post would be a breach of confidentiality and a violation of our Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, but perhaps perhaps things are different States side. I sure hope so!

    No offense intended to anyone by my remarks, least of all to you, Mr. Michalopulos, feel free to blow them off like dandelion fluff if I am simply ridiculous and old fashioned.

    • But Yana, it wouldn’t need to be published if +MATTHIAS took swift action to show contrition, remorse and bring forth the fruits of repentance and if the Synod acted swiftly and firmly to clear the air AND hadn’t acted in an untrustworthy, selfish and deceptive manner in their treatment of ++JONAH. They have destroyed confidence in trust in themselves as a body and this is the natual consequence. It is a rule in the order of creaton that we reap what we sow and that the measure we use is the measure we receive. Our Lord told us as much. But men–and apparently even bishops and clergy who prove themselves to be carnal and passion-driven (sarkikoi) rather than spiritual (pneumatikoi), humble and loving–are constantly trying to make their own rules and evade the way our good God has designed Nature to work.


      • Yes, indeed. As so often before, Lexicaritas, you have hit the nail right on the head (and in your very first sentence).

      • Yana Porter says

        But lexcaritas, how can anyone be sure Bishop Matthias is not contrite? He sent an email to that end, and just because some folk brush it aside as bunk doesn’t make it so.

        I am concerned that all the facts are not in and that an incomplete picture might be emerging and that some are making quick judgements based on this incomplete picture. These judgements are very serious and have the power to ruin a person, and I don’t say they ought not be made, but that it’s too early to make them because not all is known. I have copied and pasted some points from Dean Arnold’s post below and these are:

        1. This blog doesn’t know all the facts
        2. This blog has no idea who this woman is or her background
        3. This blog hasn’t heard +Matthias’s side of the story
        4. The accuser has not been cross examined

        I agree that the synod handlled the situation with Met. Jonah poorly, but that does not justify the untimely publication of an incomplete dossier about Bishop Matthias. Met. Jonah is one issue. Bishop Matthias is another. To ride the wave of the upset of one into the other is wrong because only more destruction will come from that and this will also hurt you and I and the others posting here before this is over. I do not want to see that happen. The OCA may be dying, but it’s been my home and I’ve loved it. I’m not interested in helping with the destruction.

        Furthermore, the standards for holiness are the same for laity and clergy, so I hope the purity of people throwing stones is impeccable, otherwise we are tearing down our own house.

        Respectfully in His love and prayer
        Yana Porter

  15. What is so very special about these letters and messages is when the sleazy bishop got caught, he tried to pin the blame on the woman and her boyfriend for not understanding him, and for making him suffer from their own lack of understanding.

    Sleaze, sleaze, sleaze: this is our OCA episcopacy, folks.

    • One Holy man that I know of got caught up in a ‘sleazy’ situation. He was confronted by a Holy Prophet and ended up writing what we know of as Psalm 50,

      Have mercy on me, Oh God, have mercy on me.

      So far, I haven’t seen any Psalm 50 types of writings coming out from the accused. Rather than admitting sin and falling on his face before God, he defends himself by blaming the ‘sinful’ woman.

      Lord have mercy on us all.

  16. Dean Arnold says

    Let me propose an alternative theory. I don’t necessarily believe it, but it is plausible.

    1. This girl did lead him on a bit. (Although I certainly agree the bishop is the one most responsible.)

    2. We haven’t seen what she looks like or how she dresses.

    3. We haven’t seen what kind of non-verbal signals she sends him.

    What if, say, there were a bishop in the synod or other OCA leader who had a vendetta against Matthias for previous statements made regarding controversial issues in the church? What if this person or group of persons found a mischevious girl to lure him into a trap? (These things happen: see I KIngs 21:10). What if they caught Matthias on a bad evening having made the mistake of drinking and texting?

    It still doesn’t help with the not-a-real-apology cover-up email. But it would make a difference in how one views all this.

    I tend to believe the story on its face. But I offer this theory as something to consider.

    • ok Dean, please tell me you are NOT serious about 2 and 3 above (or the next paragraph).

      • Dean Arnold says

        Yes, I am serious. Why aren’t you?

        Right now we have trial by blog post. Why are you so quick to rush to judgment when:

        1. You don’t know all the facts
        2. You have no idea who this woman is or her background
        3. We haven’t heard +Matthias’s side of the story
        4. The accuser has not been cross examined

        Look, I appreciate George for hosting this site, and I agree with his views most of the time. He has chosen to post one portion of what will be (or should be) a ream of documents and an extensive investigation and hearing/trial. But this blog post is all we get right now. Was that the right call on George’s part? I’m not really sure. But since we are not in the position to get all the other facts, then we need to discipline ourselves to probe every possibility and be open to all plausible possibilities.

        I am doing that much for +Jonah. I signed the petition calling for an investigation. We should do the same for this situation. Opine? Sure. Bash, accuse, and ridicule? Too soon for that, my friends.

        • lexcaritas says


          It was reported early by official sources, if I’m not mistaken, that +MATTHIAS had admitted to sending the texts/emails in question.

          If this is not true, and he disputes them, some of your concerns would be valid.


        • Knows the Score says:
          October 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm
          “Maybe God is finally cleansing his Church by bringing all of this corruption to light.”

      • Pauline Costianes says

        especially #2. So if she was attractive it was HER fault??? That’s what the rapists say. Are you a Republican senator too???

    • Dean Arnold,

      Does it matter if she even did the Dance of Salome in front of the bishop? He had no business putting himself in any situation that could be misunderstood and this was more than that.

      A bad night of drinking and texting? Really? Come on. He is wrong and just stupid. It is not up to me to judge his punishment, but it is another major embarrassment for another bishop of the OCA.

      There is no excuse for his behavior. Now it is up to +Matthias to somehow make it good. Can he? I don’t know, but it will take a large dose of forgiveness, a virtue that +Matthias did not extend to +Jonah.

    • Dean Arnold says

      If the theory were true, it does not exonerate the bishop’s behavior. But if entrapment were involved, it makes a difference.

      What if we are all being duped?

      • Elderly Convert says

        With all due respect, Mr. Arnold, your comments (this one and others above) suggest that you may have forgotten Occam’s Razor: “the law of parsimony, economy, or succinctness. It is a principle stating that among competing hypotheses, the one which makes the fewest assumptions should be selected.”


        Your theories of entrapment and your belief that somehow a victim’s “background” affects the behavior of an authority figure or that the young woman’s emails from the bishop (as well as the bishop’s apology – of sorts) require that SHE be cross-examined… well, as I say above, they contradict Occam’s Razor by muddying the waters to a degree which strains credulity.

        You are certainly entitled to your own opinion. But far-fetched theories are best left to the loonies. And it would appear that the facts in these letters and emails speak for themselves.

        Peace be with you.

    • Brother Dean: She may have led him on. She may be a knock-out. She may dress immodestly. So what? How would any of that excuse a bishop for taking advantage of such a situation??? Patriarch Joseph didn’t? A bishop is to be above approach. He is a successor to the Apostles. He has committed his life to Christ our Lord and accepted leadership of a local Church as part of His Body. Has he nothing better to do with his time that flirt and text? Come on, the fields are ripe for harvest. If the laborers aren’t up to the task, why not step aside and let others take up the task?


    • Dean!

      Your 1, 2 and 3 makes me think you don’t know what you are talking about. Shame on you.

    • Catherine 9 says

      I was thinking this very same thing. Maybe she is a plain-looking girl
      and no bombshell.
      Since we have NOT seen her picture [at least most readers have not]
      it is difficult to assess the REAL nature of the interdynamics which took place.

      At one level, I [perhaps I am too trusting] could see how Bp Matthias was MOSTLY
      joking around, about the crush etc.

      He never gave a hint that he was intending anythig more than
      sleeping on the floor.
      What emerges FIRST from someone usually is the true story.
      He mentioned his probably travel air mattress for sleeping anywhere needed when
      stranded somewhere.

      If she turned out to be average in appearance, then I think all these
      alarm bells are sounding too strenuously.

      She sounded enthusiastic too.

      How do we know that she really included ALL the conversations, too ?
      What if she left out some discussions which did not reflect well on her, when
      she thought it over in retrospect ?

      There is not enough information yet to really make a clear decision, I think.

      I am in favor, especially now that I see that this Bp Matthias is a traditionalist
      and conservative ! – in retaining him after some time spent at a hermitage to self-reflect.

      After all, he does have important pastoral experience and that is not so easy to find.
      Think of all the resources spent to consecrate him and maintain him in his position.

      Why lose all that investment over a stupid display of immaturity?

      For Bp Matthias sounds immature.

      But not a creep or a predator. Those sound truly scary.

      I think people are a little OVER-sensitized on this point after so many awful stories on Pokrov.

      Why not assume he is just immature. Rather than in danger of ruining the entire OCA’s reputation
      throughout the world !

      You know, sometimes people think about saving money more than one might realize.
      I suspect he didn’t really care to pay for a hotel. But as a face-saving gesture he
      readily was agreeable to booking a room. Bp Matthias didn’t hesitate or argue about that,
      to his credit.

      Being a world traveler myself, I am perhaps more aware of this angle than some.

      • Good grief! Anybody can be sexually harassed or assaulted, no matter what they look like! Attacking the victim is terrible!

        And unfortunately, Bishop Matthias did look like a predator in that exchange. This is classic grooming behavior: going out of his way to treat her specially, gifts, having her in his home late at night and unchaperoned. One thing alone would not raise red flags, but the combination shows very bad judgment and an escalating situation that I am thankful the girl had the wherewithal to put a stop to before something even worse would happen.

        I don’t care what his supposedly traditional views are, or how he got rid of Mark Stokoe. His behavior is COMPLETELY out of line for a pastor, a monk, or a bishop, and he is supposed to be all three! The last thing we need is another “traditional values” hypocrite!

        • Catherine 9 says

          Well, being a journalist, my instinct would be that someone objective should interview Bp Matthias to find out HIS side of the story, 100%. Not just a hastily written apology to The Mid-West Woman, but
          his side from start to finish of this episode.
          Nothing can change the fact that it is unflattering to him.
          But I think the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot.

          Who in his right mmind would REPEAT such ill-advised actions after the harsh glare of publicity ?

          Why not just give him a chance to air his views?
          Remember that the young woman was QUITE ill – the ostensible reason for the Bishop’s visit.
          We don’t know whether her testimony is therefore as reliable as it could be.

          Even in the extremely conservative “Letter of Fr Victor Melehov to Bp Jerome [Shaw]”, the priest states
          vigorously that moral lapses are one thing, but selling out the Faith is unforgiveable.

          if Bishop Matthias could do much good for the OCA and other jurisdictions, too, that is the
          most important. If he can do better at upholding the Faith where other hierarchs would devilishly trample it [ imagine
          if abp. Benjamin is allowed to take the reins of the church ! ], why not give Bp Matthias a chance to make amends
          and get back to work ?

          Precious time is being wasted on rather minor events.

  17. Ivan Vasililev says

    I don’t know whether all this simply indicates that stupidity knows no bounds or that something more sinister was afoot in the bishop’s mind but it certainly doesn’t feel right in the gut. At the very least it is just plain creepy and a horrific transgression of both common sense and pastoral integrity. The bottom line is that it is really, really sad. In the end, the young woman probably did what is best. I’m not so sure that it was wise to publish it here, though. I’m not so sure of the logic that connects this nasty little piece of work with the Holy Politburo’s assassination of our former Metropolitan is clear, either.

  18. We have before us evidence that the Synod is bereft of the discernment of evil and it’s expulsion and exposure according to repentance. We have as recent failure the Bishops Theodosius, Herman, Nicholi, Tikon, Seriphim, Mark, Alejo, now Matthias, Michael and … We have yet to mention the enablers of Robert and Leonid and the rest of the bureaucracy on the take. Where have we heard a public condemnation of the graft, theft, false tetimony, fornication, meanness, and the unfair fireings of priests and deacons who spoke up against those being preyed upon. When did Nathaniel, Nikon, Tikon , Benjamine, Alejo enter into repentance and ask forgivness for the corruption of the synod so that this woman might trust this system? Do you trust the system? She will not be sued neither will the web-sight. This matter does not belong in the courts just in the LIGHT. She simply said out loud what the Bishop said as a whisper. She brought into light what he was doing in the dark. If she told it to the bishop, then two or three others, and still there was no repentance, then she has no recourse but to tell it to the Church. To many have been silent for to long! Lastly, if you condone the secrecy and this Bishop’s actions. Then you condone it for your daughters and yourself! You are simply asking that the Holy Church create more victims. Most Holy Theotokos save us. Are the allegations true or false?


    • Can you please elaborate on “We have as recent failure the Bishops Theodosius, Herman, Nicholi, Tikon, Seriphim, Mark, Alejo, now Matthias, Michael and …”

      Which Tikhon are you referring to? And what exactly have anyone of them other than Mets Theodosius, Herman and Bishops Nicholai and Matthias ever done or been accused of doing? Why have you left out Abp Jonah?

  19. M. Stankovich says

    I have a most dear friend of longstanding, and his wife and his children are most beloved of my heart. We had a discussion once about the “temptations” of infidelity, particularly with men who travel in their occupations such as he did. He said something to me that was so poignant that I have never forgotten it: I won’t lie and say it never crossed my mind, but the opportunity never presents itself. And the reason is simple. I am not available. I am not loud, and I am not obnoxious, but anyone who might be themselves “tempted” gets the message I am not available.

    I have taken this to mean that faithfulness and integrity are not simply measured, ultimately, by an action one does or does not take. The appearance of faithfulness and integrity – the unmistakeable outward representation of my conviction – must be congruent as well. I am the judge of the heart of no one – his heart is not at question – and in my mind is not a matter of guilt or innocence as to his intention. But in this circumstance, he must retire.

    • Abbouna Michel says

      Dr. Stankovich makes his point eloquently here. Let me add to it.

      I speak from the perspective of 35+ years of ordained ministry, mostly spent as a Chancellor and Seminary Dean. All too much of my ministry has been spent with issues of clergy misconduct, especially “boundary wandering,” and “boundary crossing.”

      1. The exchange of e-mails is reminiscent of the sort of thing a newly ordained priest might do, not a (presumably) mature priest or bishop.

      2. A major issue here is the power imbalance between the young woman and the bishop. It also speaks of the failure of the bishop to live into a mature understanding of his role in the Church. Much as he might like, he can’t just tke off the mitra when he wants: it’s his 24/7, like it or not.

      3. Another major issue is a failure in understanding what chastity is all about. It isn’t simply refraining from sexual activity, but involves willingly “living into” a state of life in which ones sexuality is integrated into ones religious personality. A married priest is called to be chaste, and reserve his sexual dimension for his spouse. A monk is called to be chaste and refrain from sexual activity, period. Being celibate but not chaste is a bit like being a “dry drunk.” You may not be guilty of serious sin, but you are responsible for a failure to integrate your entire life, and give it over to the Lord.

      4. This kind of “boundary wandering” is indicative of a failure to live into a genuine commitment to chastity. It needs to be a complete gift of self to God, the purpose of monastic life, and not a kind of “how far can I go” game.

      5. Troubling here is the lack of maturity one might expect of someone who’s spent a long time in ordained ministry, and now, is called to be a diocesan bishop. It also speaks to a failure to integrate the different parts of oneself. One can only ask, “If the person is unintegrated in this area, in what other areas is this also true?”

      6. As others have said, Dean’s comment is off-base and immature. It doesn’t matter, as I used to tell my seminarians, whether someone throws themselves at you in all sorts of ways: no is supposed to mean no, period.

      7. I, too, would commend Mother Raphaela’s reflections to the attention of all. I’ve spoken with her about the article she wrote, and have found both her and the article indicative of a high level of spiritual insight and maturity.

      • Gregg Gerasimon says

        Abbouna Michel,

        Thanks for your input — what you write is all too true.

        Things are really quite bizarre these days. I don’t see how Bishop Matthias (or the OCA Holy Synod) can have any sort of continued effective episcopacy without acknowledging that the text message issue has been made public and then doing something about it. I pray for Bishop Matthias and the Holy Synod that something is done, some sort of public acknowledgment is made, and what the plan is to correct it.

        All the more reason why our bishops should come from formed monastics, who have been living in a monastic community for some years and who have a strong support network of brothers (sort of like Met. Jonah….).

        Orthodoxy has no tradition of “bachelor bishops” or even bachelor priests for that matter, I don’t think — especially in our modern secularized society, the temptations and risks are too much for most Christians (including bishops) to deal without a strong support network. I do think that with rare exception, bishops and unmarried priests should be part of a monastic community.

        The double standard that we see in how they addressed Bishop Matthias as opposed to how Met. Jonah was treated is appalling. I wonder, though, if the OCA will even acknowledge that the texts have now been made public. Will they simply put him back in as Bishop of Chicago and pretend that nothing happened?

        I really don’t care about American autocephaly anymore. My opinion is that the best option is for the clergy and laity at the AAC in November to request that the OCA be taken under ROCOR as a large Archdiocese under Met. Jonah, who would join the ROCOR synod. The ROCOR American dioceses could then be restructured to incorporate all of the OCA parishes. ROCOR could then decide if it wants any of the other OCA bishops to join its synod or not.

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      I would have to agree with you on this.

    • Michael,
      Amen, my brother.

  20. Thomas Paine says

    Two things:

    1) Were these emails really originating from this fellow or was his account hacked? (Easily determined by IT people)

    2) Not condoning such activities, but this particular bishop was married with a family. Celibacy probably wasn’t of his nature and although refreshing that a woman was the object here and not a boy or man, these actions do not set an example. I believe another good reason to return to married bishops. Note; two guys who were pushed through as OCA bishops originally from Johnstown were this guy and Bsp. Michael.

    • So let me get this straight, since a bishop who is a widower can’t control his passions, then the Church must change to accommodate his passions and thus have married bishops?

      It seems to me that whether married or celibate passions still exist. I have to agree 100% with Michael Stankovich on this one, his words are spot-on. A married man or a celibate bishop are not available and it is the content of their character in the role they have freely chosen to live with integrity in all such temptations and never to put oneself in a position to be misunderstood or worse to yield to temptation.

      Again, he must beg forgiveness of his flock without any qualification. It was his sin and no one else’s.

      Thank you Michael for your straight to the point words.

      • Anyone remember Boris Bishop as he flew the friendly flight attendants of United?

        So how long do we have to endure a OCA that is either heretical and liberal like the Boston people, morally corrupt like Syosset and its Synod, convert stupid and dangerous like the HOOM’s groupies and so dumb it doesn’t know when to lie down and die?

        How many years of scandal? Why can no one clean up the mess so we can all get on with life? I’ll just bet that of Archbishop Dmitri of blessed memory must be ill when he looks down upon what has been done.

        It is long past time to clean house, maybe 2 bishops in the OCA can be salvaged, and I am not sure about that. Now is the time.

    • Disgusted With It says

      You see, we should be happy that things are getting better in the OCA. They’ve gone from boys to girls!

      Still, what a mess!

  21. George,

    Thank you for publishing this information. For many of the people who have been requesting facts, well I think they got what they asked for. Bp. Mathias should be laicized in my opinion. His actions were completely out of line whether he was a deacon, priest or bishop. Alas, someone here will post about “forgiveness,” or “let’s wait for the facts to come out.” Already we have some idiot who posted that he/she wanted to know how the young woman dressed. Are you kidding? Please crawl back under the rock. And let us not forget the good old fallback lines like, “I was hacked,” or “someone is trying to frame me” (hmm… sounds a bit like the naked picture of Archimandrite Isidore who’s naked picture was found on a gay sex web site — but I digress). Well, if they believed Isidore that it was a “setup” and allowed him back, I’m sure the Holy Synod will fall all over themselves again and bring this creep back.

    In the real world, this is called sexual harassment and people are terminated from their employment. And unless you are in a union, you will usually be terminated in a matter of days, not months. I would hope that the Orthodox Church would hold even higher standards for its bishops than IBM or HP would for their executives. But alas, this is the OCA.

    • Dean Arnold says

      A lot of angry people on here. And there may be some naiveté as well.

      I have already stated that his actions are wrong. I am deeply disappointed. If he were retired, I would not protest. But perhaps we should look into whether we’re being manipulated by someone far more evil than Matthias before we dance so happily on his retired vestments.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I for one, admired Bp Matthias. He had the fortitude to give Mark Stokoe the choice of either keeping his blog or getting off the MC. Also, he’s a stalwart on the pro-life and pro-sanctity of marriage front. I would like for him to be restored to Chicago. Unfortunately, his letter justifying what happened to Jonah opened this can of worms. For what it’s worth, I didn’t break this story. The OCA had already suspended him on the basis of these texts.

        • Might we see the return of Mark Stokoe now?

          • How do we know that you are not an active sodomite? Ridiculous witch hunts. If MArk is gay it is between him and his confessor.

            • Actually, no, it’s not. He is not merely gay. And, it is not merely between him and his confessor.


              He is, and has been, a public figure through the OCANews website, on which he has posted pro-gay articles.

              He was a member of the Metropolitan Council.

              He is, by all accounts, living with his gay lover.

              This means that he is living a publicly homosexual lifestyle: in his Church (currently), in the Metropolitan Council (formerly) and on the Internet (formerly).

              So, you’re right: if someone is struggling over same-sex attraction, and is struggling to repent of homosexual deeds, but in no other way promotes the lifestyle publicly or continually practices it, then yes, it’s between him and his confessor.

              But, that is not merely the situation here.

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                Amen. Well said.

              • ” He is not merely gay. ..”

                Not only is he merely gay, he’s really most sincerely gay. (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)

                I think Mark did the church an incredible service with OCA News, FWIW.

                • Actually, I have no idea whether he is gay or not, and it makes no difference to me. I’m not sure what business it is of anyone else’s either. It was just too funny a turn of phrase to just let go.

        • Dean Arnold says

          Yep, he is clearly a likely enemy of Stokoe, who we already know has a track record for trying to take down bishops.

          What if +Matthias started asking too many questions about the letter that was written for him about Jonah filled with slander and errors that he put his name to? (If that’s how it happened.) Interesting timing in all this.

          A bunch of people are getting mad about me asking “what if” questions regarding this situation. They think I am trying to justify +Matthias, but I clearly am not. I am simply asking if there is more to all this than meets the eye.

          • George Michalopulos says

            That’s an interesting point. Personally, I don’t think they’re that smart. I think that His Grace should have not had written that letter castigating Jonah after he was taken down. I wish we had one or two stalwart bishops who would have stood up and said NO! to Jillions and his wrecking crew on the Lesser Synod.

            • Everyone keeps crediting Bishop Matthias with the Stinkbomb. He did not write it, he was merely the first to publish it with his signature.

              The Stinkbomb was actually written by the Crisis Manufacturing Management Committee of the Metropolitan Council, headed by Archbishop Benjamin and Dmitri Solodow.

              (Interestingly, Dmitri Solodow resigned from the MC after an argument with Fr. John Jillions, though I don’t know any more about it than that.)

              As for this case, it is important to note that this is Bishop Matthias’s own behavior on the record. Syosset’s lovely interpretation of due process may have affected how it was investigated or how Bishop Matthias will be treated in the future, but nobody got Bishop Matthias in trouble except Bishop Matthias.

              • M.Vasiliou says

                Indeed, this juvenile “sexting” behavior of Bishop Matthias is very troubling. If Bishop Matthias were to be returned to his bishopric too soon without an opportunity to repent, undoubtedly, he will return to this immature behavior in an unguarded moment of perhaps too much wine. The underlying reason needs to be found. Certainly the bishop must learn to be silent, sober, and watchful by avoiding dissipative conversations. Perhaps if he swore off texting, left pastoral care to the Priests in his diocese, and learned to find solitude in the Lord, these measures would reduce his load of temptations. However, learning to change his behaviors and adopt a monastic watchfulness and lifestyle would take at least two to three years. This cannot be learned in one or two months.

                Incidentally, I found these two ROCOR articles on the Net concerning the OCA:


                Over the last two decades, the Church…has traversed a cataract of misfortunes of remarkable scope – plunging membership; attendant resource crises; financial, managerial, and sexual misconduct scandals among its senior hierarchs; and the sputtering of its animating vision of a new and unified American identity intended to supplant the divided realities of the nation’s small cluster of Orthodox Christian churches’. Given such a severe critique, is there any hope for the OCA?

                Perhaps the ROCOR is not interfering with the OCA in hopes that the OCA Priests and laity will voluntarily come to their parishes when the situation becomes intolerable due to heteropraxy.


                Name-worship (in Russian, imiaslavie or imiabozhie, and also known by the Greek translation of onomatodoxy) is a heresy which was condemned by both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Patriarchate of Constantinople at the beginning of the twentieth century. However, it is still promoted among a few modernist, Gnostic, protest groups on the fringes of the Church. Under Protestant influence, these are composed of a few intellectual, pro-Origen and so Neo-Platonist elements, loosely associated with the late Fr Sergius Bulgakov of the Paris-based ‘Exarchate of Parishes of the Russian Tradition’ and St Vladimir’s Seminary near New York, and also an anti-Church sect in Russia.

                Apparently, deluded individuals who have fallen into prelest believe that the Name of God (His Divine Energies) is miraculous and can save them in spite of their lack of true repentance. Men who tolerate or participate in sexual aberrations, among them Father Meletios Webber, seem to fall easily for this heresy. According to the above link, St. Vladimir Seminary is also promoting the Name Worshipping Heresy. Could it be that this Name-Worshipping Heresy is behind all these sexual aberrations seen in the OCA Hierarchy? Is this the red flag?

            • M.Vasiliou says

              Perhaps there might be one or two stalwart bishops who would stand up and walk out of the OCA unholy synod if the charge of heresy were to be proved. Are there any devout theologians reading this blog who would be willing to help?

              If we want to effect any changes in the OCA, it is important that we focus on any heresies that the current OCA Synod are permitting and/or teaching. Gossip, allegations of sexual misconduct, and suggestions of administrative blunders are mere distractors. Heresy is the RED FLAG WORD. Cries of “HETERODOX” and “ANAXIOS” might better serve as a rallying point to stir any devout bishop to action.

              Orthodox = Right Worship and Correct Beliefs.

              Incorrect Worship and Heretical Beliefs

              The OCA Synod has exposed their Christological heresy by choosing to use ecumenist and modernist inclusive language in the four mandated prayer petitions for the election of a new Metropolitan. In the link provided below, notice that the “He/His” pronouns have been deleted from the original prayer petitions that were previously used in the weeks prior to the All-American Councils.


              These heretical prayer petitions have been inserted into the Divine Liturgy, thus perverting the Divine Liturgy. Heretical inclusive language is already being used during the Divine Liturgy itself in certain OCA parishes. In some Episcopalian Churches and in the RCC Call to Action, the Lord’s Prayer has been changed to read: “Our Mother Goddess who art in Heaven” … Thus, use of inclusive language is not only a heresy, but also it is a slippery slope into blasphemy.

              What other strange and novel doctrines are the OCA priests, hieromonks, and bishops openly proclaiming? Is there anything on the OCA website that we can use to prove that they are now heterodox?

            • What synod members have come out and said they did not concur with asking for Abp Jonah’s resignation? As fas as I know it was indeed an Unanimous decision. Y’all must have access to info that we average folks don’t have or this is just one big nest of conspiracy theorists.

              • Disgusted With It says

                “Y’all must have access to info that we average folks don’t have…”

                Yes, that is the point. Unfortunately the “powers-that-be” — or at least THESE “powers-that-be” in the OCA — intentionally misinform the good, honest and trusting members of the Church. Those who are in position to know what really goes on behind the scenes are sickened by it much of the time. As the old saying goes: If you saw how sausage was made, you would never eat sausage again.

          • Mark from the DOS says

            I think when this suspension was first announced I posited that perhaps it was a combination of payback for Stokoe and a way to keep him in line for questioning what he was told in the letter he signed. I also posited that if there was “something” that could be used to control him in the future, he would be returned to service, but now as an amiable dupe of the Syossett staff and the HS bigwigs. If nothing else, George’s publication of these texts prevents the latter from occurring. Assuming this is all there is, there is no leverage to be used against him by the Synod. Let’s see now if he is returned to his See.

        • George,

          You are the only venue left for this kind of publication. Stokoe is gone. OCA truth is gone. I think what you do is valuable.

          I just wish you didn’t like Romney so much! But FWIW…after seeing the Frontline special about him last night on TV, I think better of him.

    • How was the picture found? Was someone looking for or did they run across it…….?

    • Catherine! (or should I say, “Father?”) Are you aware of this colloquial American expression, “Put up or shut up?” If so, then, please, tell us to what picture of a naked Archimandrite isidore you refer, and to what “gay sex web site” you refer. After all, you did publish the following:
      “hmm… sounds a bit like the naked picture of Archimandrite Isidore who’s naked picture was found on a gay sex web site — but I digress.”

      This sounds, Father, a little bit like those foolish accusations you repeated recently against Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick and his wife, Bette relative to housing allowances. Clergy who live in parsonages, rectories, or whatever, owned by their church, and who get a housing allowance as well, may exempt such housing allowance from income tax (even though they may be included in total salary for pension calculation purposes). It used to be a staple of the pre-Drezhlo web site, ocanews.org, to accuse the Kondraticks of outright criminality in daring to get a housing allowance while living in a house owned by the OCA. News flash: most clergy, including bishops, who live in rectories or parsonages owned by the Church, get a housing allowance in addition to their salary. and, according to the I.R.S.’s guidance for clergy tax filers, may deduct those housing allowances from their taxable income. (As if renters had no responsibility to maintain the property they rent!!!!)

      • Heracleides says

        “It is believed that Father Brittain has a long established but secret homosexual life in Anchorage, AK where he lived prior to coming to Australia (Fr. Daniel Andrejuk of Alaska whom we understand has clear knowledge of Fr. Brittain’s proclivities as they related to himself while they were both in seminary can confirm this 1-907-240-1888). While his sexuality is of little concern to us, we have heard rumor that Fr. Brittain may have the HIV virus and cannot afford treatment in the US and is thus looking for a country other than his own to pick up the bill.”

  22. Michael Livosky says

    FWIW, here’s my 2 cents:
    1. The comments by Bishop Matthias are absolutely inappropriate. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it. And if he doesn’t realize that…..he needs to go.
    2. Concerning this 22 year old’s maturity level, whether it be in general or Orthodoxy as some have put it. Someone offer her this advice (but she should already know this, if her parents taught her anything about LIFE)….the moment it felt uncomfortable, YOU SHOULD HAVE ENDED THE RELATIONSHIP. This is Life 101. IF he then continued, you turn him in to the police for stalking. PERIOD.


  23. macedonianreader says

    Bp. Matthias exhibited signs of loneliness, sadness, and a need to fill a loving void. As Bishops of the Orthodox Church I would expect candidates to be vetted enough to know if they have reached a point of, at least, beginning to fill these voids with Christ not with what the new age provides.

    I feel compassion for him and for the girl, but this behavior breaks all basic elements or professionalism and moral integrity. The girl and the Bishop cannot be put to the same standards, one is working out her salvation on milk, while the other was given more and therefore we should expect more. A Bishop of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church isn’t supposed to be in need of the type of attention he was soliciting from the wrong person, via the wrong method of communication. He has that need met via the Church from Christ.

    I don’t feel the need to run him through the mud publicly, or destroy him. But he no longer should be at his position.

    • Disgusted With It says

      “Bp. Matthias exhibited signs of loneliness, sadness, and a need to fill a loving void.”

      Maybe it’s best that bishops, who are supposed to be monks, live in a monastery as a bishop and not in their own personal, lonely, hidden apartments God-knows-where. Being part of a monastic community would be beneficial to them spiritually and may actually improve their ministry as bishops, in addition to solving issues of loneliness. But that would make too much sense for this synod.

  24. Disgusted With It says

    So anyone want to take bets on how long it will take Pokrov to pick up this story? I thought something like this would be in their realm of interest. Maybe not? Maybe only for certain people? It’s been a while since the “public allegation”. Isn’t that one of their categories?

    • OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says

      POKROV was pretty quick to pick up on it.

      No updates though.

      • Disgusted With It says

        Thanks for the link to the old announcements. I know they mentioned his suspension, but these recent developments, the text messages, are extremely important. I would think they’d at least re-post what George posted on here so as to get the word out and help find any other potential victims. Maybe there’s some other young woman out there who would see these messages and think “Hey, I got messages like that from him too. I guess it’s not okay and I should tell somebody.”

        I just wonder if they have an arrangement with Syosset on when they would post information from investigations. Or maybe they’re just on vacation and not at their computers — but that’s unlikely because other stories on their site have been updated in the meantime.

  25. Denis Rukobludov says

    How did you get this information?

  26. Archbishop Benjamin did go through rehab several years ago, is open about his struggles with alcoholism, and no longer drinks.

    • That’s really good to hear, but he still acts out as an alcoholic. I saw this for myself at the last AAC. His desire for attention and to be center stage is glaring. Not to mention his yelling and screaming it seems mostly at women . . .

    • Disgusted With It says

      You forgot to add: “…but he now projects his issues onto others.”

    • Liam! You wrote this: “Archbishop Benjamin did go through rehab several years ago, is open about his struggles with alcoholism, and no longer drinks.”
      What is the basis for your assertion, “and no longer drinks?” This would be wonderful news! It would give the lie to those shameful reports from others that they’ve found him to be totally drunk when they talked to him on the phone during the past year or so!

      • ChristineFevronia says

        Vladyka Tikhon,

        Master, bless! I am happy you are back, and I have missed your comments. I came into Orthodoxy in your diocese while you were our Bishop, and I pray for you always.

        I have a question for you… So, let’s say you were the supervising bishop of a certain priest, let’s call him Fr. Matthias… and it came to your attention that this priest had sent a series of text messages to one of your flock that were inappropriate, along the same lines of the texts just published here on Monomakhos, apparently sent by an OCA bishop to a 22 year old woman. What would you, as an experienced Bishop of the Church, do with that priest? I know this is a serious personnel issue, but would you care to share your thoughts?

        Always your loving daughter,
        Christine Fevronia

  27. Sorry OCA folks, but this was one of the lacunae in Fr Schmemann’s autocephaly masterplan – where are the spiritually mature bishops going to come from? This is why you’ve had vacant dioceses for long stretches in the past and so many episcopal problem cases. Of course, every church has the latter, but the OCA seems to have more than its share on a pro rata basis.

    • Basil: No, I don’t think the OCA does have more than it’s share on a pro-rata basis. Less money to make victims feel whole enough to keep quiet– that’s the major difference.

  28. Thomas Paine says

    Mr. Pappas,
    Back in the day, when Achbp. Iakavos visited Holy Cross, he was surrounded by a cadre of young, single girls. Maybe orphans, I don’t know, but they catered to his every whim. He isn’t the only Greek bishop who had and has companionship of some sort.

    • Ivan Vasililev says

      A harem, Thomas? Seems to be yet another unfortunate inheritance from the Ottoman days! Good heavens! What will it be next? Besotted Hierarchs driving around in souped up red Mustangs cruising for (gender of choice) while accessing porn videos on their iPhones?

      • Thomas Paine says

        This isn’t Russia.

        • Ivan Vasililev says

          Russia! Have you ever tried picking up (gender of choice) in a red Pobeda? Or tried streaming anything outside of Piter or Moscow? Just does’t work out in the country….Bishops have to act, well, Orthodox…The babushkas are absolutely impossible….don’t even think about messing around with them…red Pobeda, red Mustang…or not!

    • Yes, Thomas Paine. Long ago, in the age Before Spyidon, even, there was a piece in “Vanity Fair” written about a famous Manhattan society gal/journalist (named “Cindy” or something) married to another media personality “Lefty” somebody) in which the conversation of Cindy with a couple other high society gadabout women was recorded. At one point, one of the women, sipping on her martini, asked one of the others, ‘Have you ever tried lunch with the Greek Archbishop?” One said she had, and another said something like, “Try it–you’ll like it!” You could probably dig it up in VF’s archives, if you can (my memories almost 80) cross reference the Cindy woman’s full name. Her husband’s moniker was either “Lefty” or “Shorty” . “Lazar” also springs to mind.

  29. OccidentalGuido (Guy Westover) says

    Benjamin has a DUI, allegations of a porn addiction made by another bishop, and the death of a drunk person in his house on his record.

    I am aware of the DUI and the drinking problem, but thought he received treatment and is in recovery.
    I am aware that pornography was found on his computer, not that it was alleged he has an addiction to it.
    I have never heard about the death of a drunk person in his house.

    Forgive my ignorance. Where can I find more information?


    • face-it-redux says

      Here’s some more information: Check out the first comment on the post:


    • Harry Coin says

      So, a bishop can have a young person overnight at their home allegedly involving about two working weeks worth of porn, and be responsible for not removing an abbot promoting gay sex enabling theology of puzzle-house mental mirrors according to allegations of departing monks — and he’s not suspended, not having documents leaked, all good.

      And in this present case we see as close as bishop gets to trash talking and perhaps staying over at a woman’s house almost young enough to be his grand-daughter (who has a boyfriend)— and him we see calls for his head thanks to George and whoever leaked the documents to him.

      How possibly can a church (the clergy and also the ‘in people’– you see no outcry regarding the former) be okay with dumping-ho upon the latter but all ‘nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more’ about the youthful other resident and the ‘all good here, come visit us!’ abbot maintained in office– suddenly with plenty of room at the monastery? Oh, with the allegations echoed by two bishops, now retired. Bishops most of the ‘in people’ don’t like, but bishops none the less.

      From the perspective of what the church leadership gives the people to see, this appears a most strained double standard. There’s always a story that makes it all okay. Sandusky was innocent, his wife was his only sex partner, said so himself at his jail sentencing to 30-60 years for ‘prohibited acts with male youth’.

      And then there’s the allegations of the priest’s wife on Pokrov who said he was for years enabled to create victims by having gay sex while retained as a priest, this while two priests who complained about it were ‘sent to limbo’.

      You know, a person couldn’t make this stuff up. And with it all — it isn’t greener in the Greek world or overseas. Just more money to make it go away, cover it up, and less interested readers than the OCA.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Glad you bring that up Harry. The case of Fr Vasile Susan is particularly heartbreaking. Arb Nathanael should at least have the decency to hear him out. If Susan is guilty of false witness, then he should have been deposed. Instead, he’s still a priest but is unable to have a parish assignment. That’s wrong on so many levels.

        • George – you named one name, but skipped the others.

          Is this Bishop Benjamin that Harry is first referring to (how could it be any other) and ….???? Facts are facts, and innuendo is worthless. Many people on this and other web sites say, ‘Well, I don’t know, maybe it’s not correct, there’s no proof,’ etc. It’s not mud-slinging. There is no accountability at the top as there should be and this is the only forum left for exposing dirty secrets and lies.

          FACT: It was reported to the Metropolitan that B. Benjamin was found to have gay porn on his computer. (A lot of it!) The Metropolitan directed a priest to investigate. B. B. howled and screamed that the Met. had no ‘right’ to investigate B.B, and the “Holy” Synod agreed with him, (Imagine!) well, that plus they went after the investigating priest like a pack of pit bull terriers – the priest backed off. (What else could he do – he wasn’t supported to continue this investigation!) Case closed….closed??? http://s1235.beta.photobucket.com/user/Heracleides/media/BigDaddy.jpg.html?sort=6&o=2

          B.B went through a dry out club after he was caught drunk driving, resisted arrest, and soiled the back of the police car taking him into jail, and now announces that he is dry with great gestures and humor. He’s really furiously angry! He’s pushy. He yells and bullies everyone on the Synod, pounding the tables and slamming doors. He displays all the signs of a dry drunk, and that is not what is required of a contrite and reformed person. He appears to be displaying the anger that ‘dry drunks’ display: they cannot drink because they were caught, but they feel they can control their drinking, although others don’t, so they take their raging anger out on every person they think is keeping them from drinking. Nice, right?

          Oh yes, and: B.B was at the spear-head of the assassination team of the Metropolitan.

          Who is going to investigate this stuff so there is no longer deny-ability? And….

          Why were the allegations that B. Irineu (his own auxiliary Bishop!) publicly launched against B. Nathaniel squashed? The record still shows that they were instigated. Why is every report of gay-sexual behavior squashed by B. N. (case in point, his good friends in Florida – who he vacations with – where an openly and declared gay Deacon is still serving in the church while living with his Retired Bishop lover – in celibacy of course)?

          What is being investigated about B. Alejo?

          Who is looking into the canonicity of B. Melchisedek’s episcopacy?

          These Bishops are all electable at Parma, right?

          • That priest that Abp Jonah asked to investigate. Did he have the educational background necessary to perform this type of work? No. Did he have the real world experience? No. Was he licensed by the State to perform this type of work. No. This one of the many examples of Abp Jonah making rash and poor decisions. If you don’t believe me check out his CV. The priest is a wonderful man btw just not qualified.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Geo, first of all, he’s “Metropolitan Jonah.” The priest who was asked to investigate these allegations had the same, if not superior credentials, to investigate as any member of the present SMPAC committee. Choosing him was not a “rash and poor decision” as you characterize it. Hence your assertion is baseless. Indeed, it almost approaches character assassination.

              • George I believe that it is your assertion that is baseless. Please explain how Fr Gregory’s credentials are equal to or superior to the members of the SMPAC? Or rather please explain how he is qualified? Is he a lawyer and therefore can give a qualified legal opinion? No. Is he a medical doctor or Psychiatrist able to and licensed to give medical opinions? No. Is he a Clinical Psychologist able to and licensed to diagnose? No. Has he ever been an a licensed or trained investigator. No. Does he have any specialized traing regarding sexual misconduct? No. No. And NO. So what exactly was his qualification? According to Fr Gregory he is close personal friends with Archbishop Jonah. He was Metropolitan but I believe the Holy Synod has decreed that he is to be addressed as Abp. Am I incorrect in that?

                BTW I know Fr Gregory. He is a wonderful priest and a great preacher.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Well, I don’t ever remember mentioning Fr Gregory as the man who was hired to assist in the investigation of the bishop in question. But since you know him and think he is a “wonderful priest and great preacher,” then tell me why you think he couldn’t assist in such an investigation.

                  Be forewarned however: if you bring up his qualifications, I will then ask you what qualifications (if any) those presently serving on SMPAC have? Remember, the Sex Czar and Clergy Cop positions were created specifically because no one in the OCA –save for Bishop Nikolai Soraich–has forensic training.

                  • I didn’t know his identity was secret. It wasn’t secret in the parish as he publicly stated that he would be gone due to a request by Abp Jonah. And I believe OCAnews also listed his name. If you prefer to edit his name out I have no problem with that. As to the rest your comment I will respond more in depth when I have a chance.

                    After I originally posted it I came across page 7 of the SMPAC report on Pokrov. Where they talk about his lack of qualifications. And how Abp Jonah in yet another of his rash decisions appointed Fr without seeing his resume or any official credentials. Anyone may read it for themselves.

                    Now to respond to the qualifications of the members of SMPAC, all of whom were appointed by Abp Jonah:
                    “OCA Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee (SMPAC) has labored to create a new policy and establish better practices throughout the OCA regarding the handling of sexual misconduct issues. Its members, all appointed by Metropolitan Jonah, include its Chairman, Fr. Alexander Garklavs, Fr. Eric Tosi – OCA Secretary; Frs.Theodore Bobosh (Metropolitan Council) and Michael Matsko (a licensed forsenic sexual misconduct investigator) ; Protodeacon Peter Danilchick (Metropolitan Council) ; Dr. Nikita Eike (a clinical pyschiatrist) ; and Mr. James Spencer, Esq, the lawyer who represented Mr. Sidebottom.”
                    1 Lawyer, 1 Psychiatrist (M.D.), and 1 trained and licensed forensic sexual misconduct investigator vs a good Priest that does not even have the necessary educational background to sit for the test to get licensed (missing about 4 years of related graduate level work and 3000-6000 hours of mandatory supervised field experience). I think I have made my point both about the qualifications of the individuals and the competence of the Hierarch that appoints someone with no resume or official credentials that will be working in a very serious position and whose actions in that position would open the Church to potential litigation.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Well, George, if all the above named men are of such sterling qualities then why don’t they go investigate the numerous complaints (all of which are in the public record btw) against Arb Benjamin? Please don’t insult my intelligence by saying that the investigation into the Bishop of the West’s record was derailed because the “good priest” (your words) is not a lawyer or a psychiatrist. I think that this blog and its many correspondents have proven the exceeding bad faith of the Syosst Apparat when it comes to almost anything they put their hands to.

                      As for Frs Tosi, Bobosh, and Garklavs, surely you cannot be serious?

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    George, if I may add, since you obviously know, love, and respect Fr Gregory, may I ask if you’ve had the opportunity to ask him directly if he was indeed hired to look into the allegations against His Eminence?

                    I imagine that in doing so, we could get to the heart of the matter.

                  • George, I answered all your questions and instead of acknowledging that you give me yet more questions and innuendo. I feel you are still missing the point. If there was anything wrong or lacking from the members of the SMPAC it is only one person’s fault…Abp. Jonah as he appointed all of them. It would seem that you want to say that these members are not qualified or perhaps something even worse but it all comes back to Abp. Jonah. How could a competent leader appoint these people? Better yet how could appoint them under the belief that they were competent just to change his mind and appoint someone else that he thought was more competent and turned out to be less so? George… I think you and I will never see eye to eye. Let me tell you what I think… I think you and I have both been hurt. Spiritually and emotionally. You blame us we blame you. It is wearing us down until there is nothing left. Personally I am so upset it is making me physically sick. There once was a Church I was proud to be a member of. I am not sure that it still exists or ever will again. I am going to take some time for myself now. Peace be with you.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      No “George,” you didn’t answer any of my questions. You continue to side-step the issue by making Fr Gregory (a priest you curiously revere) a distraction, probably in order to protect the present, corrupt order of things.

                  • George,

                    You, Met Jonah, and all of your supporters have won. I have been worn down and have hit rock bottom. As of today I will never ever enter another Orthodox Church. The one exception will be when my Father in Law passes. He was in agreement with me. We are tired of the scandals in the OCA, AOCA, Goarch, MP, EP…. If he wasn’t born into it and been Russian Orthodox for nearly 80 years he would leave too. I hope things get better but I can’t remember the last year that went by without a scandal. So you can say whatever you want about me but I won’t waste anymore time on an institution that has so many problems ( and no I don’t blame the Synod). All of my posts have been factually accurate. PS I never said I revere him. He is a good priest is all i said.

                • Anagnostes says

                  He was Metropolitan but I believe the Holy Synod has decreed that he is to be addressed as Abp. Am I incorrect in that?

                  Yes, you are incorrect.
                  See the statement of the Holy Synod: http://oca.org/news/headline-news/holy-synod-appoints-archbishop-nathaniel-locum-tenens-bishop-michael-tempor.

                  His honorific was reduced to “The Most Reverend” (which is questionable as there is no precedent for such ‘demotion’ for former Primates), but he most certainly retains his title of Metropolitan. If he will be appointed to another see, his title may change accordingly.

        • I’m sure he will clear his busy schedule to inform you because you are so important.

          • Interested Observer says

            George, this is not a kind, let alone substantive, response.

            Charges are brought against a Bishop of the church. Priests cannot do this with impunity – only laity. A dismissive attitude will only further inflame the laity, and I would hope for a more thoughtful response from His Grace, and all of his supporters.

            People feel let down – they feel anger and disappointment. They need answers, not put-downs.

            I just went back and found other posts of yours. ‘If Mark Stokoe is gay…?’ Are you alone in not understanding that his ‘partner’ was listed as the son-in-law of Mr. Stokoe’s mother in her obit??? This is not don’t ask/don’t tell. This is coming out and announcing this predilection, and then demanding to stay on the Metropolitan Council. Not acceptable.

            I find that the tone of your posts are consistently unkind and aggressively defensive. Excuse me for trying to inform, however I will leave this for others to see that you are not overlooked nor agreed with.

          • George Michalopulos says

            George, if this is the best you can do, then the integrity of the OCA’s mechanisms are broken indeed. Sarcasm is the sign of unserious men. It is certainly not the response to a situation in which a priest is left twisting in the wind. At the very least, Arb Nathanael owed him an explanation or another parish assignment. If Fr Vasile Susan is not fit for the priesthood then Nathanael should have defrocked him. Since he did not then we must assume that there is nothing questionable about Fr Susan.

            However, if you insist on wearing your blinders and rose-colored glasses, thinking that all is well and good, then you will have only yourself and your Syosset overlords to blame for the inevitable destruction of the OCA.

  30. Lord, have mercy! Our priests are suffering from threats from above and diminished tithes from mass exodus of laity.

    Does anyone know of a canonical procedure for forcibly retiring an entire synod? Not a keeper in the bunch.

    • Well, you could start by signing a petition asking for an outside investigation . . . .

      Then there are civil suets . . .but that may bring down the whole church . . .

      Hard call that one.

      The people could riot at their doors steps and demand they repent like the good ‘ol days . . . just a thought.

      • Outside investigation by whom? No other Orthodox Church is going to interfere with the internal problems of another Church. And for a lawsuit don’t you need to have standing in order to sue?

        • How do you know outside churches won’t come together for this? All one needs apparently are 12 bishops. As long as they are legit-they can hold council.

          Also, I’ve been told by a lawyer one can have civil suets in this case and it’s my understanding there may be a line up.

          • Sorry Collete,

            I believe that you have been misinformed on both accounts. The Holy Synod is the Highest Canonical Authority in the OCA. There is a need for 12 bishops to depose a bishop. However, you can’t just gather another 12 bishops from outside the OCA and pretend that they have some authority. The Holy Synod if less than 12 may invite outside bishops to sit in so that they can reach the 12 bishops necessary for deposition. The canons do not allow for bishops outside of the OCA to make decisions for the OCA. And I think if you do a google search you will see that you need standing to sue.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Well, seeing that there are four other named bishops who have had credible allegations of malfeasance and/or misconduct leveled against them, then we it’s going to be hard for the OCA to meet the bare minimum of three bishops in order to have a legitimate synod.

              Could you please cite the canon which state that you don’t need twelve bishops to depose another bishop? I believe Collette is correct.

            • George states:

              The canons do not allow for bishops outside of the OCA to make decisions for the OCA.

              The fathers of the Ecumenical Councils did not know about the OCA or any other jurisdictions in North America. Thus, the Holy Canons do not speak in such terms. They speak of bishops in one nation. There are plenty of bishops in USA that can participate in a spiritual trial. It does not matter what jurisdiction do they belong to, as long as they are Orthodox and in communion with the rest of the Orthodox world.

    • Not only that but those men on Long island, that believe the show is REALLY theirs. I know the one who has last the longest should be the first to GO.

  31. Dmitri Ivanovich says

    I have a question for everyone here. In my parish, we are currently having serious issues about admitting someone who is a registered sex offender. The person in question has put 17 years between himself and the incident that resulted in his current legal status (which by the way did involve children.) He is also an Orthodox Christian in good standing as far as being in receipt of the sacraments. How would you guys react to this situation if this happened in your parish?

    • George Michalopulos says

      If the repentence is real and it is manifested by a sober life, I imagine that he should be accepted. Of course, he should be sequestered from being alone with children.

      • Two issues: One-If this person is a registered sex offender, what restrictions are imposed on him? Where is he allowed to go? Bear in mind that pedophiles are never cured. Maybe you should check with his probation/parole officer if he still has one. Two-if I am the priest, I have a chat with him, (assuming the assumptions made above regarding his repentance and sober life are true), the essence of which is that he had better behave himself, never, ever go near any child of any age, and if he does, irrespective of the circumstance or reason, my next chat is with the police. Immediately. * * * * * Wait a minute. Having written this, after thinking about it for a while, I still might just say “no.” The grooming activity of pedophiles takes all sorts of forms. Are there any children in the church who don’t have a father or other responsible and dedicated male in their lives? Why would I ever deliberately or knowingly put children in even the most remote danger? Maybe there is something to “better he were never born.” * * * * * Now, after thinking about it even longer, I definitely say “no.” Go to a monastery. I will not allow a fox among my sheep.

      • macedonianreader says

        Perhaps this should be a person that should be allowed to leave right after communion for a few years?

        If it’s someone who has truly repented and has taken accountability he/she would do whatever the priest request and do it quietly.

        • The parish also needs to check with its insurance provider as to any caveats they may apply should this man be admitted; they may require notifying parishioners as to his record and pre-notification of his presence at each service he attends, provision of an escort, sequestered from children, not allowed to hold office, etc. If these caveats are not followed the parish’s insurance coverage could be voided.

          • There may restrictions on the person due to his status-where he can live, go, visit. I’ll bet his contact with children is severely restricted. Can he even be in the same room with them. If he has a probation or parole officer, that person should be contacted for information on restrictions. But why, oh why, put yourselves in this position? Do you really want to spend every liturgy keeping an eye on this guy-watching what he does. Or will someone be designated as the official watcher-you know, one is a greeter, one passes the basket, and one watches the perv. I’m a former state and federal prosecutor. Pedophiles never change-they can never be cured-they will always be a danger. They look for the sad, lonely, isolated kid, with no adult male influence, groom the child and then pounce. Why let the fox mingle with the sheep? Send him to a monastery or tell him about St. Mary of Egypt.

  32. Sorry-but this really bothers me. An example from my life. Many years ago, my family attended a wonderful church with a really great/good/thoughtful/intelligent priest. An active full-of-life parish. All of sudden some guy starts showing up. He attends the last ten minutes of the liturgy then goes down for the coffee hour (which really was more like a nice lunch hour.) I was working as a prosecutor then (as if did for over 30 years) -not yet ordained. I spot this guy and the little hairs on my neck go up. Not that one has to wear a tuxedo to church, but this guy was showing up in sweats, and clearly had not made an effort to wash up. I don’t like this. I notice that he is edging closer to my daughter, who was a little bit of a thing then. I stand in between them. This guy actually goes around me and tries to stand next to her on the other side. I push her aside and stand between them again, and would you believe it, he does it again-goes to the other side. I am in full prosecutor dad mode now- I “gently” grab him, “escort” him outside, and inform him that he is real close to meeting with the duty officer. That is unless I decide to bypass the formal legal system and deal with him then and there as a father from the 1600’s would have. He walked away that day, but actually came back several times. I spoke to some church officers about him and they said they knew who he was, he was poor, and that they figured that some day they would “have to bury him.” I filled them in on my interaction with him, warned them they were on shaky ground, and they had better do something about it immediately. I think a call was made to a probation officer who settled the matter. Sorry gang. The devil takes many forms. There is a difference between compassion and willful blindness and unwillingness/fear to what must be done. And, as you probably could guess or assume, lucky for Bishop Matthias that the young woman in question was not my daughter.

  33. How credible is this “victim”? Texts can be easily fabricated and taken (and cut and pasted) out of context. Does her mother, who apparently went out with her and the bishop on several occasions corroborate this all? Why isn’t she mentioned? I have a lot more questions than answers. The whole thing could be a set up.

    • JJ Unbelievable says


      I am a married member of the Church and the Bishop has made off handed remarks to me along with jokes full of sexual inneudo. I just dismissed the jokes as him trying to be funny but this now makes it apparent it may have been a bit more.

      I do not want to be a part of this but I think he should definitely know better and behave better as a Bishop of the Orthodox Church. His inappropriateness overshadows all of his pastoral work and mission.

    • Catherine 9 says

      About the mother, notice, too, though, that Bp Matthias
      did not hesitate a second to take the duo out to dinner !
      He seems to have acted normally and
      even maybe chivalrously.
      After all, does a Bishop have to take out
      a family to dinner?
      The apparent motive is sympathy for the daughter’s
      debilitating illness [she complains her feet are swollen etc].

      Then the topic of the purported “boyfriend’ is obscure too.
      It sounds like the girl and the Bishop discussed her
      relationship with this man in enough detail that the
      Bishop advised her or BOTH parties to live a pure life

      So is he THAT bad, then?

      The whole story lacks COHERENCE, which opens
      it up to more scrutiny as a possible way to remove
      a contender for the Metropolitanship.

      The timing itself is a little suspicious.

  34. Dear Vladyka,


    Thank you for the wonderful laugh! No, I am not a “Father” but I do speak to them occasionally. Maybe you know some of them? As to the picture you requested, I’m sure you would agree that it would be in very poor taste to publish a link to such filth. After all, we wouldn’t want any more clergyman to be tempted. However, if you are very interested in obtaining a copy (it sounds like you are), please request a copy from the former chancellor. I’m sure he would be delighted to send it to you. From your little message you seem to think I have some “inside knowledge.” My dear Vladyka, people talk. What I have posted is nothing but what has been told to me by a variety of people. If you have facts to dispute anything I have posted, please by all means show them to all of us.

    With regard to the housing allowance, I think what you wrote is correct. But you left out a few minor details. In the case of your friend Rodion. I have heard that he lived in the house. Is that your understanding as well? I have heard that there was no mention on a 1099 or W2 of this particular house he was living in on Long Island, Is that your understanding as well? I am not a tax accountant but it would seem to little old me that this is called “double dipping.” Is that what you see or do you see it differently? My eyesight isn’t what it used to be but let’s see: (a) he lived in a house owned by the church that he did not pay for, and (b) he received a housing allowance to pay for a house that didn’t cost more than his utilities. Curious minds would like to know how that makes sense. Since you are such good friends with Rodion, you might also ask him some time when he is going to replenish the money he received from Beslan and 9/11 funds.

    How is your own housing going? Your HVMLA web site took down the minutes from the parish council meetings. Too bad. It left off where someone was going to ask you to start paying rent. Did you correctly record the fair value of your home as compensation on your taxes? I’m sure you would agree that that would be the honest and ethical thing to do.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Catherine, I don’t understand this back-and-forth regarding Fr Kondratick. The accusations leveled against him (esp the Beslan funds) are serious. I really don’t care about the inner politicking of the OCA during his Chancellorship all that much as all chancellors tend to be the heavies (in order to make the bishop look good). I’m more concerned about embezzlement and other types of actual criminality. Why were the State of New York drop them? I’d really like to know.

      • George why are you referring to a former priest that was deposed as Fr.? I am assuming that it was a mistake.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          I don’t think it was a mistake especially when he was deposed without any real due process.

      • George, Catherine makes a dreadful charge and then, when challenged, says, “PROVE I’m wrong.’ Well, I called her “Father,.” If she has a problem with that, then (according to her rules) it’s up to HER/HIM to demonstrate she’s not a Priest.
        She made this ridiculous charge: “(a) he lived in a house owned by the church that he did not pay for, and (b) he received a housing allowance to pay for a house that didn’t cost more than his utilities.”
        It’s legal and OK according to the I.R.S. for a priest to live in a house he did not pay for and at the same time to receive a housing allowance. She obviously thinks “housing allowance” is limited to an allowance to buy/pay for a house. It is not so limited. Look up the monthly financial reports of the Diocese of the West and you may read that Archbishop Benjamin (like me before him) lives in a house belonging to the Church and for which h did not pay, and he receives a generous salary and a generous housing allowance.This is legal, common, and accepted behavior–nothing egregious in it whatsoever. in other words, when she/he wrote “to pay for a house…” she was mistaken. Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick did NOT receive an allowance from anyone “to pay for a house.” Period.
        And, George, you are spot on relative to the Breslan money. As a matter of fact, not ONE of the charges levelled by Protodeacon Eric (Eros) Wheeler in his initiating letter (the one relative to which ever-Memorable Archbishop Job asked “Are these charges true or false?”), not ONE, I repeat, has be been proved to be true. They were all false witness, or we could call them misfires, fumbles, and incompetent bungling. Catherine can’t back up his fable about naked pictures of Archimandrite Isidore. What next? Apparently one could charge Ann Romney with moonlighting as a call girl and if anyone objected, one could answer, “If you object, it’s up to YOU to show she’s NOT moonlighting as a cal girl!
        Catherine’s words typify, epitomize the whole anti-Kondratick rationale and campaign. Recently,the Diocese of the West completed its Diocesan Assembly in Denver. There, the delegates were regaled at length with tales of how one of Metropolitan Jonah’s main sins was telling the whole Church about matters that were confidential and NOT meant for publication, causing all the current problems!!!!. Yes, believe it or not! That’s how far we’ve come with the Sacred Cow of “Transparency/Accountability!!!!!”
        I wonder if they’ll have the nerve to float that one by the Karma Kouncil?

        With every word that an OCA Bishop utters as justification for requiring Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation, they charge themselves with utter incompetence and dereliction of duty in their sole responsibility of electing the Primate!! This does not apply, of course, to the bishops who were created during Metropolitan Jonah’s own incumbency: he’s responsible for them; but the rest of the hierarchs are responsible for HIM.

        In the Russian Church, no Hierarch may be nominated or elected as Patriarch who has not already already served as a Bishop for at least five (5) years. The OCA’s procedures are defective in not including such a limitation. Of course, no one ever dreamed that a Holy Synod would elect an utter, almost unknown tyro-bishop to hold the First Place among equals, the ‘Primacy.”.

        Mature men, CHRISTIAN OR NOT, should own up to their mistakes, especially those which affect the safety,, health, and well-being of others. Instead, these men blame the FRUIT, the prodiuct OF THEIR OWN MALFEASANCE on their own PRODUCT!!!!!!!!!

      • Because tax cases are a bear. Proving them is tough. The evidence must be right on target or else the prosecution is faced with a defense of “I didn’t know” or “I didn’t understand” or “my accountant gave me bad advice.” That my not be sufficient to ward off a civil case or an IRS proceeding, but it could stall a criminal case in its tracks.

  35. George,

    Your question is a very good one; however, I don’t have an answer. What I have mentioned about the house and the housing allowance is in the report. Why the federal government chose not to prosecute I have no idea. This is probably a question for the former treasurer and/or the current treasurer.

  36. Elderly Convert says

    Somehow this discussion seems to have veered off from the issue at hand to factions, back-biting, and recriminations – many of which seem to have little to do with the emails and letters posted on the blog above. (Which some commenting here apparently have not read carefully: He’s ADMITTED his behavior. See his letter to the young woman and her boyfriend – it’s there after the texts.) This is not only sad but think how it may look to individuals from other denominations or even to people whose faith may be shaky.

    If we confine ourselves to the matter at hand, it seems that there are some here who have given wise and helpful comments. Comments regarding the manipulative, immature, and egocentric behavior of the bishop – as seen in his own words and in his actions – as described by him and as proposed by him. A wonderful comment by the Abbouna regarding chastity and the evidence that the bishop seems not to have integrated that into his personality, which along with the other character traits already mentioned, raise huge questions about his fitness to serve as bishop. And many wonderful comments regarding the need to protect other vulnerable individuals. For it is the vulnerable, above all, whom Christ calls us to serve.

    Now it seems to me that there are two issues here. One is spiritual. The other is temporal. And we need to disentangle them in order to get a clear sense of what course of action is needed.

    Regarding the spiritual, there is no need for judging the soul of the bishop. God is merciful. Of that I am certain. And what the bishop needs now is a spiritual Father (of good repute) to help him through what is likely to be a very difficult time. Who better than the Abbouna who has so eloquently weighed in? In any case the spiritual health of the bishop is not our concern, with the exceptions of prayers that his eyes be opened to see how he has acted imprudently and thus brought distress to one young woman and division and distress to the Church.

    Regarding the temporal, the need to protect the vulnerable must be paramount. The young woman above (and I say this from decades of clinical experience – though I am now retired) has come forward, even at the risk of exposing her own naivete, after realizing that the bishop’s behavior toward her was inappropriate. To slander her and accuse her of being part of a conspiracy – when the bishop himself initiated all but one of these text exchanges – is to lose sight of the bishop’s role here. (She was 21 and a catechumen when the bishop took her out to dinner and back to his apartment! The texts we have above are from nearly a year later.) She is to be commended for coming forward – not slandered.

    To recap, spiritually the bishop is in God’s hands and I trust the mercy of God. But the temporal future of the bishop is the matter at hand under discussion. Because of his behavior, admitted to by him (!), his ability to lead a flock is now in tatters. The unfortunate divisiveness, recriminations, and back-biting here are sad evidence of that. In addition to the obvious distress of many.

    Having sat myself for a number of years on an Ethics Committee in judgment of my peers, I know how weighty is that role. With regard to any complaint we always knew that even if the patient was crazy, it was possible that the professional had acted imprudently. And our business was not to judge the complainant but the professional. In order to protect the public!

    It is sad and tragic that the bishop has acted in a way that is harmful to the Body of Christ. And I second the Abbouna who strongly warns that the evidence here suggests a lack of integration in his personality – wider than in just the area of chastity. For he seems to have difficulty with basic trust and uses the word “trust” as if he needs obedience, obeisance, from others to feed a deep inner wound. And he sadly seems to use manipulation in order to try and achieve that obeisance from others. (I base this solely on his own words and my long clinical experience.) Thus, the bishop’s own personality (something which would be very, very hard to change – even with many years of therapy) places vulnerable people at risk, given his – I’m sorry to put it this way – pathological needs which he seeks to meet from others. (The Abbouna, too, remarked on this in terms of lack of spiritual maturity.) No one can demand trust. But this is what the bishop did to the young woman. And then just threw her away.

    So, what to do? To me the course is clear. The bishop must stand down or he must be removed from office. This is the only way to protect the vulnerable. And as I’ve said in other comments here, I am also concerned for any (especially think adolescent women!) in the orphanage – a place the bishop insisted he wanted to maintain ties with (as a precondition).

    Think for a moment of how this appears to the general public. How it may appear to other denominations. Common sense and wise heads should maintain an eye on the ball. In light of the Gospel. The bishop needs spiritual care. But the diocese and the Church need to place the welfare of the most vulnerable among us first. And this bishop, sadly, has proved himself untrustworthy in that regard.

    One last thing. It is very painful for me, coming after long professional experience with abused individuals in the Catholic Church, jouful to worship now as Orthodox, to witness this tragic situation. Not just the bishop’s clearly egregious “boundary wandering” (as the Abbouna put it) and his attempts at manipulation of the young woman but the back-biting, recriminations, and outlandish efforts to place blame on the victim. I am not going to lose my faith over this. Because God is good and merciful. Beyond anything we can imagine. But people, please, keep in mind that the bishop’s future must be decided based upon our concern and care for the most vulnerable. Any bishop must put the flock before himself. Think of the Foot Washing. Jesus washed even the feet of Judas. We are all loved. But we have different roles. If the bishop has any sense, he will step down.

    I am old. I am not perfect. But it’s clear to me that – with Christian Charity – the bishop is ill-suited for authority over vulnerable individuals. And the Abbouna’s words on this thread are the wisest.

    May God protect us all!

  37. Does anybody have any news from the OCA Synod meeting this week? Any decisions on or discussions of Metropolitan Jonah’s status? Any discussions / responses regarding the OCA investigative petition?

  38. Heracleides says

    Anyone else notice this little gem posted yesterday on OCA.org:

    “The Holy Synod will prepare a statement on Christian Life, Communication, Relationships between priests and faithful and other pastoral matters, which will be distributed to the faithful prior to the 17th All-American Council.”

    I highly suspect it will be geared towards suppressing any and all dissent at the Clown Council.

    Source: http://oca.org/news/headline-news/holy-synod-of-bishops-concludes-fall-session

  39. At this point, I suggest that any OCA clergy and faithful who has common sense and disgusted by the whole thing should make a complaint to the syosset. They SHOULD KNOW what people think and act accordingly. If they can’t put their act together, all the parishes should leave the OCA. What’s the point of keeping such a dysfunctional church? It’s time to act. Come on people!!

  40. HoldMeTight says

    The OCA Sexual Misconduct Guidelines state:

    5.03. Pastoral Authority: Members of the clergy, by their position, have an inherent power over others. That power, whether or not acknowledged by clergy or believed to exist by the others, creates a difference between themselves and the laity that places a special moral burden on the clergy. No member of the clergy shall use or exploit his position in connection with his sexual or emotional needs or desires.

    5.04. Avoidance and Precautions: Members of the clergy should be aware of and not disregard any signs of sexual boundary breakdown in relationships with others… Members of the clergy shall at all times take precautionary measures to avoid inappropriate behavior that could lead to sexual misconduct.

  41. Tom Jeffrey says

    This morning during our morning prayer and reading time, relecting on recent events in our Church, my sweet wife Bridget was inspired to look up the following from 2 Timothy. I quote these scripture passages along with a selection of the commentaries pertaining to each from the Orthodox Study Bible:

    2 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2) And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (3) You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (4) No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. (5) And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. (6) The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. (7) Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.

    2:3-6 Faithful ministry requires discipline: obedience, self-denial, and struggle. Our icons (examples) here are the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer.

    (8) Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, (9) for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. (10) Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

    (11) This is a faithful saying:

    (12) For if we died with Him,
    We shall also live with Him.
    If we endure,
    We shall also reign with Him.

    (13) If we deny Him,
    He also will deny us.
    If we are faithless,
    He remains faithful;
    He cannot deny Himself.

    (14) Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. (15) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (16) But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. (17) And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, (18) who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. (19) Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ[a] depart from iniquity.”

    2:17, 18 What is the heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus? Perhaps a superspiritual interpretation of resurrection as affecting only the soul and not the whole person (Greek philosophy thought bodily resurrection absurd); thus resurrection is thought to be already past, having occurred at baptism. They use the language of baptism but in a non-Orthodox way. Let us not be naive: this sort of novel doctrine can spread through the community like cancer.

    (20) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. (21) Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. (22) Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (23) But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. (24) And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, (25) in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, (26) and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

    2:20-23 Heresy corrupts: bad theology. leads to bad behavior. The Church on earth is a mixture of wheat and tares sown together. Membership in the Church guarantees nothing – even the baptismal confession acknowledges the necessity of struggle.

    26 Good theology helps us along the path to good behavior. Although, the truth stands firm and unalterable cannot tolerate the false, it instills a reasonable patience and gentleness toward all, especially toward false teachers – while not losing sight of the fact that they enemies and should be avoided.

    3 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: (2) For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (3) unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, (4) traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, (5) having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (6) For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, (7) always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (8) Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; (9) but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

    3:1-9 While technically we have been in the last days since Christ walked the earth, the Church has seen this and other warnings as a reference to the days just before His coming again. A great decay in morals will even infiltrate the Church. Like the prominent men of Cain’s city, these offenders willfully reject law and morals out of love of self and love of pleasure

    3:5 The form and power of godliness are intended to be inseparable. We normally do not have the power of godliness without the form. Charismatic power, however, can be twisted tor evil and greed. Outward forms, even of liturgical worship, can be carried on without power or conviction. As faith without works is a form without substance, so is religion out power. This is a stern warning to those of us committed to proper form.

    (10) But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, (11) persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. (12) Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (13) But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (14) But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, (15) and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    3:10-13 Paul’s life exhibits what the Lord taught: In this world, godliness elicits persecution.

    (16) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
    Preach the Word

    4 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at[b] His appearing and His kingdom: (2) Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; (4) and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (5) But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

    Let us therefore lead the way with our repentance, forgiving one another, and seeking God’s forgiveness. This life is certainly enough of a challenge without all these distractions from doing the work of the Church. We are certainly praying that we can put all this mess behind us soon, one way or another, if God so wishes…

  42. IWannaBeYourMan says

    Fr Ted Bobosh summarized things well on his blog (emphasis mine):
    “All clergy bear a special moral burden due to the fact that their position in the church and society places them in a role of power vis- a-vis others in the church, whether these others are members or not. Clergy must consciously keep themselves aware of the power inherent in their position for when they forget that power they become at risk to abuse or misuse it. The OCA’s PSP state: “No member of the clergy shall use or exploit his position in connection with his sexual or emotional needs or desires.”

    Every human has emotional needs and desires. Clergy who allow their own emotional needs or desires to take control of their lives are at risk for engaging in sexual misconduct precisely because their role gives them “power” in a relationship. Even if they are personally unaware of their own psycho-sexual drives, clergy who exploit their position to meet their own emotional and sexual needs and desires are engaging in sexual misconduct. While the PSP forbids such behavior, it cannot stop an individual from acting. That is why there has to be disciplinary measures taken against those clergy who cannot or will not control their own desires and needs. Because the clergy role is always one of power, it is better that those who cannot control their sexual and emotional needs (or who are controlled by them) be removed from a clerical position by church discipline so that they do not harm others.

    The PSP further states: “Members of the clergy should be aware of and not disregard any signs of sexual boundary breakdown in relationships with others.”

    The burden for maintaining relational and sexual boundaries thus falls on the clergy themselves. It is the clergy themselves who bear the responsibility and the consequences should they disregard or ignore the sexual boundaries that must be maintained between clergy and those with whom they work in the church. This is the “special moral burden” of the clergy. The “power” the clergy has in its relationship with others, is not simply ‘over’ the lives of others, but is also exhibited through self-control, self-restraint and self-denial. Again, if the clergy cannot control themselves and exceed the necessary sexual and emotional boundaries between themselves and others in the church, then the Church itself must step in and place disciplinary controls on the clergy, including suspension and permanently removing them from office.

    The PSP implies that each clergyman himself is responsible for violations of the moral boundaries between himself and others… This of course assumes the clergyman has enough self-awareness and emotional maturity to recognize that he is crossing the lines and boundaries of appropriate behavior between a clergyman and others in the church. Again, if the man shows himself not exhibiting such self-awareness and restraint, it is the duty of the Church to remove that person from office in order to protect the welfare of others in the church. It is never pleasant for the Church to have to remove a bishop, priest or deacon from office, but it is the moral obligation of the Church as institution to take such actions to protect the public, all church members, the dignity of the clergy, and thus the Church itself.

    None of this is exactly new. One can look at the so-called Arabic Canons attributed to the Council of Nicea (325AD) to see that problems of clergy sexual misconduct occurred in ancient times as well. Canon IV comments on the cohabitation of women with celibate bishops, presbyters, and deacons:
    “We decree that bishops shall not live with women; nor shall a presbyter who is a widower; neither shall they escort them; nor be familiar with them, nor gaze upon them persistently. And the same decree is made with regard to every celibate priest, and the same concerning such deacons as have no wives. And this is to be the case whether the woman be beautiful or ugly, whether a young girl or beyond the age of puberty, whether great in birth, or an orphan taken out of charity under pretext of bringing her up. For the devil with such arms slays religious, bishops, presbyters, and deacons, and incites them to the fires of desire. But if she be an old woman, and of advanced age, or a sister, or mother, or aunt, or grandmother, it is permitted to live with these because such persons are free from all suspicion of scandal.”

    Bishops and other celibate clergy are forbidden not just from having sex with women, but from escorting women, or being familiar with them or gazing persistently upon them. Really these celibate clergy are not to keep company with woman, nor establish friendships with them. The burden is on the clergymen – this is the cross he must bear himself, or leave the clergy or be removed from the clerical ranks by the Church. The punishment for violating the canon will fall on the clergymen. While this particular canon deals with celibate clergy, we can extrapolate from one such canon a moral sense that applies to married clergy as well. ”For the devil with such arms slays religious, bishops, presbyters, and deacons, and incites them to the fires of desire.” The fires of desire which the devil incites can be heterosexual or homosexual or pedophile. To be overcome by those desires for a clergyman means to have lost his ability to continue as a clergy. All clergy must be “free from all suspicion of scandal.” That too is part of the special moral burden which clergy bear.


    • What happens if clergy are ‘set up’ by senior clergy to send women to ‘help’ them to overcome certain indulgences or addictions?

      this has happened more than once.

  43. Bishop Matthias clearly violated policy. The friendship, albeit never becoming sexual, was clearly emotional.

    As to whether the emotional relationship is enough for his early reitirement, I do not know.

    Forgetting for a moment that the bishop must be punished; why can’t a bishop have friends? It is sort of a human need? There are a few monastics posting here; I’d prefer to hear from them instead of happily marrieds or hapless singles or anonymous blowhards, and yeah, that is a deserved shot off topic.

    Seriously, can’t they have friends?

    • I don’t think there’s something innately wrong with a bishop having friends, even female friends. When he starts preferring a particular female over others, he’s getting into the danger zone and must carefully guard his thoughts, if not distance himself from her. If he feels himself attracted to her, alarm bells should go off in his head and he needs to distance himself immediately. But I would see nothing wrong or improper about a bishop simply having a female friend, although it would be best if his female friends were mature women or committed to celibacy.

      Bishops who suffer from same-sex attraction would have a much harder time because they wouldn’t have male friends to fall back on, they would be the ones they are attracted to. They couldn’t get close to women either because that would at least foster rumor and innuendo, and he might find himself drawn to them, too. I’m not sure that people with same-sex attraction should be ordained at all.

  44. I simply don’t have time to read through all the comments, but have read through enough. I began my inquiry into Orthodoxy 9 months ago. I am now a catechumen in an OCA parish, only because there is not a Russian Orthodox (ROCOR or MP) parish here. I wonder if the CA “couple” above (w/ the physically transgendered male) had the Catechumen service rendered prior to their chrismations, with the blowings and exorcisms and public renunciations, etc… the traditional catechumen service? I ask since all 3 jurisdictions where I live told me I would be received by chrismation, thus refusing my plea of conscience for Orthodox Baptism, a plea I believe is based on Orthodox Church teaching re: Akrivia and Ekonomia (forgive any misspells), Canon 7 of the 2nd Ecumenical Council, the greater context of St. Basil’s writings on the subject (not just Canon 1), and other teaching/writings, and my past. I also learned just recently of the catechuman service I mentioned above from a priest (not OCA)… a service that was never mentioned to me by any of the 3 jurisdictions here. And, all 3 of the 3 jurisdictions’ priests here are all converts received by chrismation… so they might have a hard time agreeing with my resolve in the matter, which I am told by a priest (not OCA, Greek or Antiochian) and others, is a good and proper plea on my part. I say this because of the comment above by “Jmical” in their 10/11 3pm reply on this string re: “an overly-flexible interpretation of “economy”. So, what am I to think, when I am denied baptism and left in the dark about a catechuman service where many graces and exorcisms and the appointment of an angel guardian, etc. are given, which service goes unmentioned and apparently unavailable. This all seems too casual, presumptive and convenient… much like the Western culture that breeds these attitudes like overfed bacteria.
    Over a 25 year period I was subjected to the same among the hip, Vatican II, nothing sacred types who “engage the culture” with ‘ring already in nose’ and a longing to be led to a false acceptance by the world, all apologetic and gushing and rushing to understand the latest “scientific” dogmas… so they can accomodate and be respected. In such profound cowardice, there, as many know, was an abundance of sexual crimes, cover-ups, “renovation” and novelty and loss of faith and emptying of pews that resulted… and much more. (ecumenism comes to mind).

    This said, I rejoice in the great gift that God has given to a very tired (but intrepid by His Grace) married couple to come home to the Ancient and Orthodox Church. I opted to keep the body God gave me which I figured (just by the law of nature) wasn’t an “option” to begin with. And let me be quick to say that we must feel real sorrow and compassion for another who saw that as an option and acted on it, and pray for their conversion and healing and salvation. I know that “our” (can I say that yet) problems as Orthodox are not unique (which sure as hell doesn’t make them “OK”) in the context of a long history spanning 2000+ years, for the Church. Though deeply disappointed and initially disoriented by my “western” Orthodox experience early on, by the grace of ongoing conversion I am and will seek new birth and cleansing in the womb of Christ’s Authentic Church, and then pray and work for an Orthodox heart and mind and life for all my remaining days, Lord have mercy! IMHO, When rationalistic theology and cultural confusion obscure the path to the Kingdom of Heaven, ALL suffer…greatly. When Church leaders allow and promote that… then words fail and judgment looms.

    We are relocating very soon to another town to find refuge. Enough is enough. St. Herman of Alaska pray for us.


    Excuses are the shovels with which we dig our own graves. False tolerances are the groans we make in the process.

    • I was with ROCOR in Europe, probably before you were born. Under Archbishop Antony (Bartoshevich)
      converts, even those coming from the protestant reformed denominations were received by Chrismation.
      This was and still is the official practice of the Russian Orthodox Church. Empress Aleksandra Feodorovna
      and Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna, both lutheran, German Princesses were chrismated
      when they entered the Church. They have now been proclaimed Saints, Passion Bearers of the Church.
      The Priest has no choice in the matter. If the guidelines of his Church order him to receive converts by Chrismation he must do so. The most essential ingredient in all spiritual life is humility and obedience.
      You must submit to the Church, not vice versa. When you are chrismated into the Church you receive the fullness
      of grace and are TOTALLY ORTHODOX, if you doubt that, you are not. Ultimately, do what you want, go to one of
      Efraim’s monasteries, they’ll gladly baptize you…………..

      • Catherine 9 says

        Archbishop Anthony was a notorious LIBERAL amongst the
        Hierarchs of Rocor !
        Many Rocor Bishops did not approve of his ecumenical activities
        and were especially displeased with his relatively open attitude toward Moscow.
        Likewise, they probably did not agree with all of his practices.
        Though I don’t know too much about THAT part.

        So he is not perhaps the best example to choose

        Mr Ivanov has painted a powerful picture of the advantages of
        undergoing a full Baptism.

        I think for all catechumens, it’s worth thinking deeply about
        before leaping into a simple chrismation.

        • If the Orthodox sacrament of Chrismation “supplies all that was lacking” in a heretical baptism, one with equal validity can assert that the Orthodox sacrament of Baptism “supplies all that was lacking” in that same heretical baptism. I genuinely do not understand why Chrismation is considered the cure, rather than Baptism. (Nor do I know why it has taken me so many years to see that this is obvious.)

          Is the problem that we fear the “h” word? — (“heretic”) — thus leading us to select Chrismation as a “gentler”, more socially polite approach to ease a convert’s hesitancies to turn his back on his former belief system?

          I hope for thoughtful discussion of this. Thank you.

        • Catherine 9,

          I, too, was one, although baptized twice (in two different Protestant traditions) once by sprinkling in infancy and once by full immersion as an adult, who earnestly desired full Orthodox Baptism. But I was told by the AOC Priest who received me that this would absolutely not be allowed in my case because I had already received Triune baptism in water, and because it was up to the Bishop of the jurisdiction, not the individual converting! This approach was confirmed when, having already been received by Chrismation and after transferring to an OCA parish, I opined to my new Priest that I wished I had, had the opportunity to be baptized into the Church, including undergoing the rites of Exorcism, etc., that accompany it. He told me that Chrismation “completes that which is lacking” in the non-Orthodox baptism and that even an individual Bishop cannot decide on his own on a case-by-case basis how to receive converts who have already received water baptism in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but must accept the decisions handed down to him by the Synod of Bishops to whom he is responsible (who decide these matters for the whole jurisdiction). Regarding the rite of Exorcism, he exclaimed, “We should spit on the devil every day!” Therefore, I believe it might be more correct to understand that the overarching Vehicle of grace is the authority invested in the Church herself by Christ, not the individual Mysteries, per se, in and of themselves. Any clergyman can correct me if I am not understanding this correctly.

          • Catherine 9 says

            That is a revealing reply.

            If there is no choice, then there is no choice.
            But if one is considering becoming Orthodox in a jurisdiction which allows for
            full Baptism, I see how superior it would be.

            Especially for people coming from Protestant denominations.
            Their mysteries are NOT Mysteries !

            Most readers here are far more liberal and many indeed converted from
            Protestant sects. [I am waiting for Mormons to discover Orthodoxy –
            it will happen sooner or later.
            Churches should prepare for this. What about them ?
            They SURELY need a FULL Baptism, not having received anything at all
            in their sect.
            Mormons even believe that they THEMSELVES can “BAPTISE” the DEAD !
            It’s pathetic.]

            This day being Halloween, I feel it is immensely a propos to be thinking
            about ridding one’s soul of any devils and the influence of demons.

            Hence I am weighing in strongly for a full baptism for any case where
            it is permitted by the Holy Synods.

            If not, I would say : go to a more conservative jurisdiction !

            I think Ivanov’s worries about obtaining a true valid baptism are fully justified.
            I commend him for his conscientiousness. And his choosiness.

            I mentioned the word “leap” – to answer Bishop Tikhon here – deliberately
            to emphasise that many who are considering becoming Catechumens
            are pushed so hard that they don’t have even time or ability to
            search deeply to figure out what they really prefer and where they
            can find that.

            The new candidates for conversion need to have space to think.
            Not have a cacophany of voices cajoling them “Oh just sign up here,
            at MY parish” –
            too many even adults are moved by peer pressure.

            They need the opposite : thoughtful examination of all the spiritual questions involved.
            And, considerate people who will encourage them in whatever direction they feel
            suits their soul BEST.
            Not demand that they RUSH to join a particular “popular” parish so they can “fit in” and
            feel part of a “community”.

            This is why i employed the term “leap”. Not thinking of Fr Damien’s parish on Molokai !

            Following one’s own individual instinct and continuing the search until one is SURE
            that one has found the Will of GOD for him or her is certainly wise.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says

              The appropriate hierarchical authority, usually the Primate and Holy Synod of an autocephalous Church or the Primate and Local Synod of an autonomous Church, decides how a convert is to be received. Canon 95 of the Council in Trullo provides three ways that a convert may be received: Profession of Faith, Chrismation or Baptism. By economy a convert Baptized with water “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” may be received by Chrismation. By strictness all converts must be received by Baptism. In the past the Russian Orthodox Church has received Roman Catholics through a Profession of Faith. I am not sure what practice they follow today. The canons provide that Monopysites and Nestorians may also be received by a Profession of Faith.
              All non Christians which would include Mormons as well as those who do not Baptize, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit,” must enter the Church through Baptism.
              How many times do I have to write the reception of a convert by Chrismation is not the recognition of the completeness of the non-Orthodox Baptism. Chrismation completes whatever was lacking in the non-Orthodox Baptism.

              • Archpriest! These two sentences are contradictory:
                (1) By strictness all converts must be received by Baptism.
                (2) The canons provide that Monopysites and Nestorians may also be received by a Profession of Faith
                Tell us what Basil the Great says of the reception of Arians, who denied Christ’s Divinity, a rather serious heresy. Was he not a “strict” Holy Father? I think he was.

                • Archpriest John Morris says

                  Your Grace:

                  I should have made myself more clear.
                  The guidelines for the reception of converts is found on Canon 95 of the Quinisext Council also called the Council in Trullo, 692.
                  The canon provides three ways that converts can be received into the Orthodox Church
                  (a) Baptism
                  (b) Chrismation
                  (c) Profession of Faith
                  The canon mandates that Arians are to be received by Chrismation and Nestorians and Monophysites by Profession of Faith.
                  Since Protestants and Catholics did not exist in 692, the canon does not cover them. Therefore we apply the principles of canon law to the reception of Catholics and Protestants into the Church. Strictly speaking, the Orthodox Church does not recognize Sacraments administered by non-Orthodox. Therefore according to the principle of strictness (Arkibia) all Catholics and Protestants are to be received by Baptism. However, the canons also allow for the principle of economy (oikonomia) by which a Bishop with authorization by the Primate and Holy Synod under which he serves may bend the rules and receive a convert who was Baptize with water “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” may be received by Chrismation. The idea is that by Chrismation whatever is lacking in the non-Orthodox Baptism is perfected by the grace of Chrismation. Therefore a Catholic or Protestant may be received by Chrismation. Historically, the use of economy has been the most common practice and was approved by Pan-Orthodox Councils in 1484 for Catholics and 1672 for Protestants. Although Patriarch V of Constantinople issued a decree in 1755 requiring the Baptism of all converts, the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided to allow local Bishops to receive converts by Chrismation through economy in 1875. Thus, the Greek Archdiocese in America receives converts from most Protestant groups and Catholicism by Chrismation. ROCOR receives most converts by Baptism, but by a decision of its Synod of Bishops in 1971 allows a local Bishop to receive a Roman Catholic or Protestant by Christmation through economy.
                  As I have written before both practices are proper according to Orthodox canon law. However, once a person has been received they are Orthodox. The practice of so called corrective Baptism advocated by some is completely wrong and heretical because it denies the grace received by Chrismation.
                  St. Basil the Great favored the reception of converts through Baptism, but also recognized the authority of Bishops in “Asia,” to receive converts through Chrismation. St. Basil wrote, “It is right to follow the custom obtaining in each region because those, who at the time gave decisions on these points, held different opinions concerning their Baptism.”
                  For those who care, I am listening to the Mikado by the great Gilbert and Sullivan as I write this.

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    Father bless!

                    Dear Father John–Listening to Mikado should be something that you do when you correspond with His Grace; your reply was absolutely clear and on point. Can I, as a mere lay person, grade it as A++?

        • Catherine 9! What in the world is a simple Chrismation? Are there also kind of complicated or complex Chrismations? At what point is leaping involved, i.e., INTO Chrismations? There is a denomination of Molokans, mostly here in East Los Angeles who are “Priguni”, i.e., “Leapers.” Do they leap into a simple or compound chrismation also?

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I think it is extremely presumptuous and dangerous for lay persons to give advice to catechumens. We have bishops and priests for very good reasons; guiding and instructing catechumens is one of them.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      To Ivanov above
      If you want to be Orthodox the first thing that you must learn that you must come to the Church on the Church’s terms, not your terms. Unless you are willing to enter the Church according to the instructions of the Bishop over your parish, you are not ready to become Orthodox. I know that this sounds harsh, but we are not Protestants where every one decides for themselves how to interpret the Bible, or in this case The Holy Tradition of the Church. Becoming Orthodox is not a matter of reading a few books on Orthodoxy. The difference between Orthodoxy and Western Christianity both Catholic and Protestant is not just that we have different beliefs, the difference is that we do not think the same way. A catechumen is not qualified to decide for themselves how to enter the Church. Remember a catechumen is a babe in the Orthodox Faith. There is an old saying, “There is nothing more dangerous than a little knowledge.” The same is true of Orthodoxy. There is almost nothing more dangerous than a person who attempts to proclaim what is and what is not Orthodox without proper instruction and spiritual maturity. It takes years to learn how to think like an Orthodox Christian.

  45. The apparent behavior of Bishop Matthias was not prudent. It was beneath the dignity of the high office he was called to by God. He sinned. He fell short and he missed the mark.

    But now what? It seems to me that he has been put in a box, like one of those sweat boxes in the movie the Bridge over the River Kwai. He has been isolated from his flock. I find it very sad and unhealthy that he has not been able (prohibited?) by the Holy Synod from having the chance to face his flock and beg their forgiveness, to say he is sorry and to ask them for another chance. Now Syosset is sticking in Bishop Mark (Maymon) to serve for Bishop Matthias.

    He crossed emotional borders, mostly his own and he has been burnt by the public exposure. It seems that in the OCA if you mess up or more to the point, if you find yourself on the outside looking in, you are screwed.

    I think that Bishop Matthias should be given the opportunity to face his clergy and faithful and see if there is a path forward for them as a diocese. Syosset has stuck their nose in the Matthias affair enough. Time to give healing a chance.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I agree with you Amos. I believe he should have been the courtesy of addressing his diocese personally.
      This idea of hyper-secrecy/obedience that the Synod imposes on those bishops it doesn’t like is nothing less than Stalinist.

      I also don’t think he should be laicized.

      • George,

        I don’t know if the situation between Bp. Matthias and his flock can be repaired, but not giving him any chance seems to cut off that avenue and I think that is wrong.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I agree with you but it may be best that some additional time goes by before +Matthias is offered the opportunity to apologize to his former flock and ask for their forgiveness. Of course, he should first do the same to the young woman whom he offended.

        • His flock forgiving him and allowing him to be with your young people again ,are two different issues.
          Amazing, amazing, are you prepared to give him a chance at other young people even if supervised by another questionable bishop in the OCA. Not me brother/sister, not me.

  46. JamesMiller says

    I have not yet seen a formal expression of gratitude offered to the young lady who appears recently to have been the object of unwanted attention from Bp. Matthias Moriak and who has now proffered documentation thereof, so I want to take this opportunity to offer my own personal expression of thanks. I believe my sentiments are shared by many others.

    It is true that I am at a very poor vantage to assess this matter, having no official standing in the church and with only the text-message exchange the young lady offered publicly as evidence of the bishop’s questionable behavior available to me as testimony. If that evidence offers most of the salient factors in this case, then it certainly does seem that Bp. Matthias has behaved in ways quite unsuitable to his office. If the impression given by the texting exchange is at all accurate, in light of his high ecclesiastical standing, Bp. Matthias has thus potentially compromised the ethical standing not only of himself, but of an entire community within the Orthodox Church.

    Too often, it seems to me, we who are more deeply involved in religious life are willing to overlook or cover up things which we know to be questionable or even wrong: I know I have certainly been guilty of this in my religious life. I find it heartening, therefore, that someone so new to our Church has found the strength, courage, and honesty to speak out. I only wonder that, given the awkward and potentially compromising situation into which she appears to have been placed, she did not turn away from Orthodoxy altogether: may God reward her diligence in following through with her conversion.

    We need more people like this young woman in the Orthodox Church. Though we strive to love and honor the treasure we have found in what we look on as the True Church, we must admit that we, Her members, fall short in many ways. We all stand in need of correction of one sort or another–our hierarchs clearly not excepted. We should count ourselves blessed to have new members with such keen senses of integrity and the willingness to expose our faults so that we may repent and strive to correct them. I hope Bp. Matthias might likewise find occasion for repentance and conversion in the wake of these events.

    Again, I offer my sincerest thanks for the service it appears this young lady has done for us. I commend her for her bravery and fortitude and I pray that all we Orthodox may learn to act in like manner so that our Church may indeed become the light to the world that our Savior intended Her to be.

  47. Catherine 9 says

    How about if Bishop Matthias does take more time away as Carl Kraeff
    says above, I assume to alleviate some of the bad feelings
    and move the entire problem to the back burner ?

    My idea is also that Bishop Matthias can do whatever is
    appropriate along the lines of a Catholic
    “Offering Up” of this major problem, which obviously caused
    a lot of embarrassment and trouble for some people —
    so this would be all the better to Offer Up to the Savior
    and the Mother of God so that maybe this
    whole incident can be used for SOME GOOD somewhere.
    Perhaps to prevent some other WORSE problem.

    Let’s try to think of positive ways to handle this which
    would make everything turn out right despite the
    apparent debacle !

  48. Can you believe that Matthias is going to be reinstated? It’s come down from the holy synod in a letter this evening that Matthias will ask forgiveness from the complainant, go through treatment, and then be supervised by one of his fellow bishops so that one day he can resume an active role as a hierarch. This is disheartening, embarrassing, and foolish.

    First he denies the allegations. Now he admits them. And soon it seems he will resume his responsibilities as bishop. Does anyone see a problem?

    Any administrator in the corporate world would not be reinstated to his position if such nonsense happened between him and an employee. This is really….unbelievably… inconceivably…just plain disgusting.

  49. First of all his “Grace” doesn’t deserve to be called “his Grace”. Intelligence and good common sense is a pre-requisite for any bishop. Matthias lacks both. If anything he should be removed for sheer stupidity making comments like this to a 22 year old convert with a rash. Lord knows we’ve had enough stupid bishops in our lifetime. Secondly, I think it is important to point out that the “complainant” is far from a victim and her responses to Matthias shows she was not only initially complicit but actually egging him on. So she leads him into the bear trap and then suddenly is the offended part in tears? PAAALLEEZE! She’s either lying or stupid, or both for allowing things to get to such a level where she felt “uncomfortable”. Give me a break. From the get go, she should have told the old geezer to knock it off and failed to do same. What a mess the OCA is and continues to be. God help us all.

    • Making excuses for sin, are we? Whoever wrote that ridiculous essay has his head in the sand. Matthias asked to sleep over at his spiritual daughter’s apartment. He clearly flirted with her. His behavior was inappropriate. Period. End of sentence.