The Unbearable Lightness of Stokoe

Now we know what OCANotnews had in reserve against +Jonah: the identities of the men who run OCATruth. Wow! I’m shaken to the core! I thought maybe they had something explosive, like HB serving Communion at St Nicholas or tonsuring an altar boy.

There is little substance in Stokoe’s report (more on this in the next few days). For right now I’ll address the issue that has him and his alcolytes so exercized — anonymity.

Let’s see, if memory serves, the governing document of these United States is something called The United States Constitution. It contains codiciles called Amendments. One of these is called The First Amendment. In it, we find these important words:

“Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech…”

So, what does this mean? For one thing it means that the Scribe of OCANotnews can write whatever he wants so long as it’s not libellous. On the other hand, traditionalist Orthodox Christians such as myself, Muzhik, Parishioner, and others can also write whatever they want on our blogs. You know, “sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander” — it’s not rocket science.

Don’t like Monomakhos or OCATruth? Go start your own blog. Call out on any inaccuracies, perceived or real. Heck, start one that says your humble servant is the greatest thing since the creation of the earth (that would really make my day!), but don’t act high and mighty because some bloggers prefer to remain anonymous. It’s the substance that counts. That’s why I don’t really care that some commentators here use a pseudonym.

Now, if you want to sell me a car, you have to use your real name. If you want to make a point, you don’t have to sign your name because I can tell if your point is thoughtful or nonsense just by reading it. I don’t know most of the commentators here but I can tell by what they write whether they are good thinkers and sometimes even good people. But if you don’t use your name and your points are good, it does not bother me at all.

By the way, three of our Founding Fathers published under the pseudonym of “Publius.” You might be familiar with their work, it’s called The Federalist Papers. Anonymity is not a credibility buster. Ask Hamilton, Madison, and Jay.

One more thing. No one who supports +Jonah has ever hacked into another person’s email account. Stokoe and his supporters can’t say the same thing. We’ll have more on this once the forensics are done.


  1. Heracleides says

    I find the timing of Mr. (Mrs.?) Mark Stokoe’s latest piece of non-news curious. I certainly would not be surprised if it was posted at this particular time to keep the focus off of the Synod & MC meetings taking place in a few days. What better outcome than to have the faithful chattering about such non-issues as the identities of the editors of a blog rather than having them phoning, emailing, and generally calling their respective bishops and MC representatives to accountability? Don’t be fooled by Team Stokoe – their agenda is still in play, and this latest silliness is a calculated part of it.

  2. Nick Katich says


    I’m reposting this from the previous post you made since people tend to read the latest and not the former.

    Food for thought in your crusade to legitimize OCAT and demonize OCAN (and I take no sides, I only seek the truth):

    WHAT shall I say of those two brethren who lived beyond that desert of the Thebaid where once the blessed Antony dwelt, and, not being sufficiently influenced by careful discrimination, when they were going through the vast and extended waste determined not to take any food with them, except such as the Lord Himself might provide for them. And when as they wandered through the deserts and were already fainting from hunger they were spied at a distance by the Mazices (a race which is even more savage and ferocious than almost all wild tribes, for they are not driven to shed blood, as other tribes are, from desire of spoil but from simple ferocity of mind), and when these acting contrary to their natural ferocity, met them with bread, one of the two as discretion came to his aid, received it with delight and thankfulness as if it were offered to him by the Lord, thinking that the food had been divinely provided for him, and that it was God’s doing that those who always delighted in bloodshed had offered the staff of life to men who were already fainting and dying; but the other refused the food because it was offered to him by men and died of starvation. And though this sprang in the first instance from a persuasion that was blameworthy yet one of them by the help of discretion got the better of the idea which he had rashly and carelessly conceived, but the other persisting in his obstinate folly, and being utterly lacking in discretion, brought upon himself that death which the Lord would have averted, as he would not believe that it was owing to a Divine impulse that the fierce barbarians forgot their natural ferocity and offered them bread instead of a sword.

    – St. John Cassian, “2 Conferences, Chapter VI”.

    Note that the two did not interact with the “anonymous” but with the known, ferocious Mazices. George, how have you exercised “discernment” when contemplating the blogging of the “anoymous”? I, for one, would like to know. Or, are you also in “conspiracy” with the “anonymous”? Please don’t let this question continue to fester.

    • OCAN demonized itself with it’s program to oust Met. Jonah

    • George Michalopulos says

      Nick, you’re a good guy, but a sloppy thinker in this regard. I didn’t demonize OCANotnews. Stokoe’s own words did that. If you can’t see his rabid, +Jonah-hating agenda, I won’t waste any more of your time.

      And for what it’s worth, I seriously doubt St John Cassian would have taken Stokoe’s tactics to his own bosom.

  3. No one who supports +Jonah has ever hacked into another person’s email account.

    Isn’t “hacking” into someone else’s email account a Federal offense?
    Isn’t that what happened to Sarah Palin during the 2008 election campaign with the perpetrator being apprehended and arrested (and jailed?)?

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      You are correct. And he was sentenced formally to several months in jail, I believe.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Why yes, Niko, I believe you are right. I believe that the malefactor in question is presently eating off of tin plates. A form of the ascetic struggle to be sure.

  4. Anonymous since it's all the rage says

    No one who supports +Jonah has ever hacked into another person’s email account. Stokoe and his supporters can’t say the same thing.

    Actually, Mark did say the same thing. “Leaked”? Yes. “Hacked”? No.

    Very much like the SMPAC report that Rod Dreher has. No one accused Rod of stealing it.

    Just to draw a comparison that you can relate to, George.

    • Volodya says

      Was the SMPAC report stolen? I have not heard that. The Fester e-mails were stolen. Rod Dreher did not publish the contents of the SMPAC report, though he had them. Stokoe did publish private e-mails that he knew were stolen. I don’t know if that is a criminal offense (though stealing them was). It is immoral, though. They won’t stop at anything to destroy Jonah. It’s scary.

      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

        Yes, publishing information you know to have been illegally obtained is a crime in and of itself. Stokoe appears to have committed that crime.

        • Nick Katich says

          Now, Deacon, how the heck do you know that? You ain’t got the foggiest idea how Stokoe got the info. Stop this nonsense by making speculations as if they were fact.

          • The Deacon serves in Father Fester’s parish, so he probably spoke to Fester today. Fester is telling friends that his email account was hacked on Friday, and that emails were forwarded from his account to Stokoe’s. I don’t know the law but I don’t see how him publishing stolen emails is different from someone selling property he knew was stolen. If they really were sent to Stokoe from Fester’s email account then how belivable is it if Stokoe claims he got an ananymous leak? He must have known they were stolen or he should have suspected he had stolen property. If somebody on Fester’s distribution list gives the emails to Stokoe, that is a leak, but if they were stolen and Fester can prove it then Stokoe and this hacker could be in a lot of legal trouble.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              I think in this case Stokoe’s only defense is stupidity. Someone sent him “scores” of emails from someone else’s personal correspondence, and he was too stupid to realize they must have been stolen.

    • Are you implying that Fr. Fester leaked email from his personal email account rather than it being hacked and leaked by someone else?

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        Nope. No clue who was on those emails. But clearly one of them leaked it. The claim that an email account was “hacked” is an extraordinary one. Present your extraordinary evidence.

        Mark’s explanation that the emails were indeed leaked stays well within the bounds of Occam’s Razor.

        • Mark from the DOS says

          Well Fr. Fester has stated that his account was hacked into on Friday. Mark Stokoe claims he had the e-mails Thursday. So you have to contradictory pieces of testimonial evidence with neither side apparently willing to produce documentary evidence at this point.

          Of course the utterly useless thing about electronic evidence is that the presentation of the evidence in paper form is so easily susceptible to fakery. It really would take forensics to get to the bottom of these conflicting accounts.

          • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

            Well Fr. Fester has stated that his account was hacked into on Friday.

            I did not know that.

            • Nick Katich says

              Where did he say that; or was that hacked as well?

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                Fr. Joseph is telling everybody that his email account was hacked, that the emails in question were forwarded directly from his account to Stokoe’s, and that all this occurred at a time when Fr. Joseph was in a meeting. He’s having some IT security experts look into it.

                Stokoe himself is claiming that “[s]cores of emails between the principals of [ were] obtained by” No claim that they were leaked. No claim that Fr. Joseph himself leaked them. No claim that any attempt was made to verify that Fr. Joseph sent them. (Wouldn’t a reasonable person email back, saying, “Uh, Fr. J, did you really mean to email me, your archenemy, all these incriminating emails?”) No, the only thing Stokoe is claiming is that he “obtained” them. Doesn’t look good for Stokoe.

                • Mark from the DOS says

                  Actually, Stokoe has made two different statements claiming a leak and disavowing any wrongdoing:

                  These emails were indeed “leaked” to me, not stolen from the senders. I know this for a fact from my source, for I would not deal in stolen goods, and made that clear.

                  These emails were not obtained criminally, and if Fr. Fester says his gmail account was hacked into on Friday, how did I learn of them on Wednesday and copies on Thursday? Just more disinformation. . . . How they were obtained, and from whom, will not be revealed by me. It is up to the source to disclose it publicly. With his or her permission

                  Thus we have two distinct stories – one of which is true and the other of which is not. Stokoe could produce the e-mails by posting the PDFs and redacting his sources names, but that does not mean much as they could be easily faked. No, forensic experts will have to be involved.

                  My analysis of what is on the OCANews websites appears to show that Fr. Fester is on all the e-mails discussed. This would make his e-mail account the likely source of the documents UNLESS someone else was copied on all of the e-mails. An innocent explanation would involve one person who had all the e-mails forwarding them on. But if no one person is on all of the quoted e-mails, that explanation falls flat, unless Fr. Fester is the leak, which he denies.

                  • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

                    I don’t see two distinct stories there. Differently phrased, surely, but not mutually exclusive, the way I read it.

                    Please expand your thinking on how this is “two distinct stories”. Please show me what I’m missing.

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    Stokoe’s later claim that the emails were “leaked” is just Stokoe trying to cover his tracts and avoid jail time. His original post is more telling. He says he has “scores” of emails shared among the principals — Fr. Joseph Fester and three people at OCAT, but all apparently involving Fr. Joseph. Who would have had access to that many emails except Fr. Joseph? Who could have and would have “leaked” that many emails to Stokoe? Until we have a plausible answer to that question, the most plausible explanation is that the emails were stolen.

                  • Mark,

                    An email does not necessarily have to be “stolen,” or “hacked” from the sender. It could have been retrieved through a bcc, for example.

                    George is right regarding forensics, once the metadata is retrieved, that should much more telling.

                  • Mark from the DOS says

                    Anon –

                    I should have been more clear – I meant Fr. Fester’s story and Stokoe’s story – not that Stokoe has told two stories

        • Occam’s Razor does not apply here – it is primarily for describing a law/principle that governs nature, not complicated human motives and desires. The correct latin maxim is Cui Bono? (who benefits?). I don’t think one has to look far to see why Stokoe would want to hack into this account, read emails and expose them. If you believe that Mark just stumbled on them, I have a great bridge in Brooklyn for you to buy. Lastly, I am really sick of seeing Occam’s Razor used to describe people’s behavior. You would think any Christian with an ounce of self-awareness would realize that we are a cauldron of desires, manipulations and motive which are not always pure. A simple explanation will never suffice.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Or hacked it. More to follow!

        • George Michalopulos says

          Actually, it doesn’t. Or let me put it this way: it would be within the bounds of Occam’s Razor if Fr Joe were the one who leaked it. But then he would be a double-agent. Certainly possible but then you’d have to reasses your opinion of him. Occam’s Razor, really?

        • I personally find it hilarious that Mark Stokoe was so offended by Met. Jonah rifling through Fr. Garklavs’ work email (which Met. Jonah actually had the right to do, being Fr. Garklavs’s former boss, and having a legitimate, work-related reason for going through his emails), but had no qualms about receiving and republishing these emails taken from a personal account without the owner’s permission.

          I would like to know if it was Fr. Fester’s cathedral account or if it was some other address that was compromised. If it was the cathedral account, given Stokoe’s assertion about how the emails were obtained, I’d look at people who work with or for the cathedral’s internet resources first. I’d also like to know if Fr. Fester is in the habit of using weak passwords or of writing them down anywhere.

          • Or possibly says

            Or it is possible that Father Joseph left a password saved on a computer in the DOS chancery. . . given the developing acrimony there, and the presence of one known to leak information to Stokoe it makes one suspicious.

            • I hear the thief left electronic footprints on the Fester computer proving without doubt it was attacked from the outside. If Stokoe really believes he got a leak not stolen emails then he has probably been deceived by source and he could be in big, big trouble with the law. Fester is known to be in contact with criminal investegators over this already.

  5. Nick Katich says


    Your current post is over the top and I don’t mean that charitably. You seem to suggest that the First Amendment gives you, OCAT, OCAN and anyone else the right to blog whatever they want. At least, that is egalitarian, if you believe in egalitarianism.

    My first observation is that it is a weak response to OCAN; but then again, it takes some days, weeks and years to compose a 1,000 words, as you have said. I would say that some would suggest that one or some were caught with their pants down.

    Second, your allusion to “forensics” is innuendo for nefarious “hacking”. If one side can leak emails, I guess the other can too. Goose and Gander come to mind as apropos. What the heck. Praise the fact that everyone has the ability to take a leak and run with it. That is also part of the First Amendment. Stream it into the wind, but live with the consequences. That is also part of the First Amendment.

    What is over the top, however, is that this is not a joke. You repeat OCAT posts that suggest that people are taking a hike from the OCA. You suggest that schism is imminent. You are trying to pour oil on a spark. That, my dear friend is your right under the First Amendment, so long as you don’t actually shout “fire” in a crowded Cathedral (if I recollect my jurisprudential training and practice). But, you are trying to “screw” with something that is the Holy Ecclesia. There, my brother, the First Amendment, as an Orthodox Christian, gives you no solace.

    Tread lightly with discernment. Blogging can be an addiction. Don’t get hooked because there are so many trees that you forget they are all part of some greater forest.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Nick, please note that I never said it took “years” to write a 1,000 word essay. If you can point me to the PhD that wrote his dissertation in 2 months, I’ll concede your point.

      I still can’t find any substance to your criticism of OCAT. Or +Jonah for that matter. If however you feel compelled to scream “Anonymous!” in the theater of the absurd, please go right ahead. It’s going to take canonical mistakes to take down +Jonah, not training your fire on bloggers.

      Still, like the Polish cavalry that took on Hitler’s tanks, I do appreciate gallantry, even if it’s nothing more than gearing up to fight the last war

      • An Orthodox Christian says

        “It’s going to take canonical mistakes to take down +Jonah…”


        If this is all a chess match, we’re in trouble. Lord have mercy.

  6. Nick Katich says

    I’m accoustomed to and trained both ways.

    • Nick Katich says

      I don’t know if George is typing or cutting and pasting. It is not the style of the George that I know from other blogs and have admired over the years.

      • George Michalopulos says

        You know, in the old days, I actually believed Stokoe. And in Santa Claus as well.

        • George:
          NK and ASIATR never seen have anything new to say.
          I think maybe they keep commenting on your posts just to “get your goat” (or to “bully” you off of their “playground”).

          • George Michalopulos says

            If so, it’s not working. However, I am more than happy to have the +Jonah-haters playing in the mud of anonymity. Too bad they don’t have anything canonical that can stick. It’s a damn shame actually. I think us fighting over canonical issues (such as one city/one bishop) would be far more edifying to the Church in the long run. But, if they’d rather go after independent bloggers, why they can go right ahead.

          • Nick Katich says

            Nikos RE # 68: Neither do y’all have anything new to add. Same old crap.

            • George Michalopulos says

              I guess the fact that both OCAT and I independently demolished St Stokoe’s Shrine of Immaculate Investigation is “anything new to add.” Stay tuned, Nick.

    • George Michalopulos says

      ASIATR, as a matter of fact, I do move my lips when I read at times. I also take a bath once a year whether I need it or not.

  7. Rod Dreher says

    Here’s why I chose to be anonymous on the OCAT blog: because I thought, rightly or wrongly, that it would protect Metropolitan Jonah. I am known from my days as a Beliefnet blogger as a friend of His Beatitude’s, and I didn’t want readers to get the idea that Jonah had anything to do with directing what I wrote on that blog. It is true that I corresponded with Father Joe Fester, a friend from our Dallas days, about material on the OCAT blog, but it was always my understanding that we needed to keep HB in the dark about what we were doing because we didn’t want them to pin OCAT on him. I’ve seen Jonah on one occasion (Forgiveness Sunday) since we started OCAT, and I was nervous that he would ask me about the blog. He didn’t, much to my relief. On Saturday morning, in my final post as “Muzhik,” I said that I worried Jonah, with his forgiving and gentle heart, would not realize what he was up against with Stokoe and the Synod. He is always trying to see the best in people. I feared that if he knew I was part of the OCAT team, he would ask me to stop.

    Now he knows he is dealing with people who will hack into a priest’s private e-mail account, and publish them on a blog. (And make no mistake: Fr. Fester’s account was hacked. He knows when it was hacked. It is not going to go well for anybody involved with this once the investigation is over.) Now Jonah knows he’s dealing with people who will engage in criminal activity to get their way.

    Just this past week, I had been talking to a couple of people who knew my identity about whether or not it was worth any of us maintaining anonymity any longer. I didn’t expect this crisis to go on as long as it has, and I’d taken to heart the complaints many had that our anonymity hurt our credibility. Because Jonah’s enemies are so ruthless, and wouldn’t cut him any slack under any conceivable set of circumstances — something I really did not imagine when we started OCAT to defend him — I couldn’t really see the advantage of being anonymous any longer. When I learned that Bishop Michael Dahulich had tried to initiate a process of reconciliation between HB and the Synod, and that HB accepted by the Synod refused, that made it perfectly clear to me how determined these people are to destroy the Metropolitan. I had written to the OCATruth e-mail address under my own name a couple of times to see if it caused any kind of ruckus (e.g., “Oh, you’re just a friend of Jonah, he’s telling you to do that”). the fact that nobody said a peep about it told me that I had probably been too worried about Jonah’s being blamed for my OCAT blogging, or feeling pressured to tell me to stop.

    Anyway, the truth is out, and I am concerned that the work I did in an attempt to help Jonah, and that I concealed from Jonah to protect him, will come back to hurt him. I am going to stop blogging about this because having been outed, I become part of the story, not what actually is the story. I become a liability to His Beatitude, who, for all I know, learned only today that I was part of what Stokoe calls “Team Jonah”. I regret that I can no longer be of help in this cause I believe in. I regret that I can no longer be an active part of Team Jonah, and to do my part to keep the Church from going down a destructive path.

    George, if your readers wish to criticize me for being anonymous, I will accept that as my due. I will say that I did not remain anonymous so that I could say critical things without suffering backlash. I have been publishing my opinions for over 20 years in the mainstream media, and I have endured death threats (in 2001), and as recently as summer of 2009 was given 24-hour police protection for three days outside my house in Dallas after credible threats from an anonymous person angry over certain columns. This is something I’ve been living with for all my career, and it’s no big thing. Keep up the good work here, George. It’s important.

    • Mark from the DOS says

      Rod thank you for having the courage to answer these statements. I would like to pose a question to you, which you certainly have no obligation to answer.

      By way of background, you know that Fr. Fester has stated his e-mail was hacked on Friday. Mark Stokoe claims he had these e-mails on Thursday. In reading the lastest post by Stokoe, it appears the vast majority of the e-mails he quotes were between you and Fr. Fester. Were others copied on all of those e-mails? Were you copied on the e-mails that Stokoe prints that were not between you and Fr. Fester? Basically, what I am asking, is was there any one person who had all those e-mails on their system other than Fr. Fester? I certainly don’t expect you to say who did if the answer is yes, but if the answer is no, it certainly means the e-mails came from Fr. Fester’s account – either by his own hand or more nefarious methods.

      You put my concerns about this situation as succinctly as I have seen put:

      Because Jonah’s enemies are so ruthless, and wouldn’t cut him any slack under any conceivable set of circumstances — something I really did not imagine when we started OCAT to defend him — . . . . When I learned that Bishop Michael Dahulich had tried to initiate a process of reconciliation between HB and the Synod, and that HB accepted by the Synod refused, that made it perfectly clear to me how determined these people are to destroy the Metropolitan.

    • Rod, I like your honesty so much. Thanks for saying it the way you said it, and you know, there is this thing in Orthodoxy that says to God, “Help me to know from day to day that all things are sent by You.” I’m glad we know who is writing on ocatruth. Truth is not a liar. What’s good will come out on top.

    • Gregg Gerasimon says

      Mr Dreher,

      Good intentions aside, what you have done has not been good for the church. Lies, deceit, utilitarian means to accomplish a so-called “good” end — none of it is good for the church, none of it is holy.

      Metropolitan Jonah may be a fine man, he may be an excellent Metropolitan, or he may not be — honestly, to me it doesn’t really matter. We work with what we get in our hierarchs, just like God works with what He gets in His people.

      Please understand: the success of Orthodoxy in America (or of the OCA for that matter) does NOT rest on whether Metropolitan Johan is our first hierarch or not. It does NOT rest on whether Met. Jonah “wins” or whether the others “win.” So incredibly silly and inane. We do NOT (or rather, should not) have personality cult figures that we rally behind. We rally behind Christ. Our leaders are our leaders — some good, some bad, but we take what we get and we work with what we get.

      But for you and Fr Joseph Fester and the others to think that the success of the OCA depends on whether Met. Jonah remains our metropolitan, or to believe that behind-the-scenes machinations are needed to “save” him from others trying to “bring him down”…. well, if you think that, you are severely deluded. You are correct though, in that you are all now a liability to Metropolitan Jonah, but I think the error was from the beginning — you launched an “ends-justifies-the-means” approach to “save” him (as if he really needed saving at your hands). Perhaps you all overestimated your importance a bit.

      The minute we start rallying behind our “favorite hierarch” rather than behind Christ is the minute that we show to the world that in our hearts we are really protestant or Roman Catholic rather than Orthodox.

      Prayers to you and to Fr Joseph Fester and your colleagues, and please stop the 3rd-grade antics.

      Gregg Gerasimon
      San Antonio, Tex.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Gregg, you are being incredibly naive. No one on Team +Jonah is on board because we think he’s the only bishop capable of leading the OCA. (Dahulich seems decent enough.) Nevertheless, he is a true visionary and the Rock Star of American Orthodoxy (and genuinely beloved by parishioners and the primates of other jurisdictions). More to the point, as we shall soon find out, unlike those bishops who are implacably opposed to him, he is not morally or canonically compromised.

        According to my friend Nick Katich, we should wait for the whole truth to come out. I completely agree. Unfortunately, truths don’t come out on their own, they invariably come to light because of investigation and analysis.

        My point? When the truth finally does come out, we will know more about how much Stokoe has spun, lied, and withheld certain “truths” from everybody involved. How intitimately he was involved in corruption in Syosset while he was chairman of Syndesmos, why he was fired, and how he carried water for certain bishops who had their own agendas, and how he was able to extort others to get what he wanted.

        It’s not going to be a pretty picture.

        • Gregg Gerasimon says


          No, I imagine that it’s not going to be pretty.

          But I surmise that Mr. Dreher and Father Joseph and the others are not the paragons of purity that they make themselves out to be.

          Also, I disagree with you that Met. Jonah is the “rock star of American Orthodoxy.” He may be a fine man and a fine bishop, but please. No hero worship for me. It’s nauseating, and honestly I don’t believe that it’s Orthodox to engage in such worship of men.

          Anytime we put our trust or hope in ANYONE besides Christ we are, without fail, always eventually left empty, lost, and disappointed.

          Of course, everyone will do what they want, but for myself, I refuse to put my trust in “sons of men in whom there is no salvation.”

          This is a mess now, and honestly, I think people are simply believing what they want to believe. If you abide by the Met. Jonah rock star ideology, then anything Mark Stokoe says is blasphemous. No matter what it is. And vice versa. The spin machines are in high gear.

          But believe it or not, for 99+% of us Orthodox Christians out there, whoever our Metropolitan is has very little relevance to our daily lives, and most of us will never meet him or interact with him. Our faith and its teachings remain the same regardless of who is Metropolitan. And heck, Met. Jonah has been our “locum tenens” here in the Diocese of the South for how long? for more than 2 years? And how many times has he visited my parish in that time, which is a short 4 hour drive (or 45 minute flight) from Dallas? Zero.

          Gregg Gerasimon, MD
          MAJ(P), MC, USA
          San Antonio, Texas

          • David Yentzen says

            Dear Gregg,
            Wow…..based on your two posts I’m glad you weren’t around in the 1400’s to give Mark of Ephesus any advice. He stood almost alone among bishops after Florence.
            I find it strange that you bring protestantism into the argument and then, exactly like so many protestants do when cornered intellectually, resort to quoting the Bible out of context. By the way, everything is relevant precisely because one does not know exactly what is relevant…..all things matter. Who the metropolitan of the OCA matters very, very much not just to the OCA but to all orthodox in NA.

            David Yentzen, RN
            Austin Texas
            HM2, USNR, FMF( Fleet Marine Force)
            1/23rd Marines 4th MarDiv ( former)
            ( You can drop the pedigree)

            • Gregg Gerasimon says


              I don’t understand your reference or parallel to St. Mark of Ephesus. St Mark was a great defender of Orthodoxy at the Council of Florence against capitulation to Rome.

              What are the faith issues that are at stake here? I see nothing similar at all. Without Met. Jonah, we are not in danger at all of becoming Roman Catholic. We are not in danger of becoming the next ECUSA, as so many alarmists would have us believe. We are not in danger of ordaining same-sex-married bishops or clergy.

              Indeed, there are no faith issues at stake being argued here. We are all Orthodox and we all believe the same faith, we recite the same creed, etc.

              What we are seeing, rather, in my opinion, is a clashing of styles and people rallying behind their favorite personality of the day. That is what, I believe, is inappropriate and not Orthodox to do.

              Met. Jonah may be the best leader the OCA has ever had, or he may not. But he is not a “defender of the faith” against a heretic or schismatic Holy Synod. To label him as such is inappropriate and unfair to the rest of the Holy Synod.

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                Gregg, you can’t keep what you won’t defend. If this generation doesn’t condemn homosexuality and instead turns a blind eye to it, the next generation will decide there’s nothing wrong with it.

              • David Yentzen says

                Then stop drawing parallels where there are none, Gregg. My analogy was meant as only that… analogy. You seem to be either, like George referenced, naive about the role and function of leadership within the church or, more likely, you are playing possum. ( In either case, note to self, avoid going to Gregg for differential diagnosis work…….he can not draw parallels or he won’t draw parallels.)
                You appear to reach the conclusion that supporting a certain individual in preference over another, with respect to church leadership, does not matter as long as that individual outwardly functions according to predefined descriptions. Only there exists two points that you must contend with. First, you can not separate “who” someone is from “what” someone is so it becomes essential, that is to say it becomes fundamental to the very thing itself, that the “who” is moralistic in and of himself. Two, since if the foundation of christian worship is corporate and the center of that corporation is the bishop then it is exceedingly important who the bishop is because if the central leader is in dichotomy…….the “thing” itself is in danger of dichotomy. And, you know the difficulty living with a corpus callosotomy……dang, there I go again with parallels.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Too late for that ASIATR, it’s not Rod who is the story (or who has done real damage), it’s your buddy Stokoe. Just so you know, his mendacity regarding the +Philip/+Mark brouhaha from two years ago, caused us all to feel sorry for +Mark (myself included). Looks like we got another pig in the poke thanks to Stokoe’s “objectivity.”

      • “ASIATR”:
        You are not nearly as funny as you think you are or want to be.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Define “lying” then, you know, the thing you actually accused Dreher of doing, not that which you didn’t acuse him of. Interesting rhetorical trick you did there ASIATR, too bad your grasp of the basic rules of logic isn’t as good as your sarcasm.

      • Dallas Dude Who Knows says

        Actually OCAT is run by friends of Mr. Dreher. The site is administered in Dallas. Mr. Dreher was invited to join.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Rod, I wouldn’t be so hard on myself if I were you. The +Jonah-hater’s are rabid in their delusion. Nothing you, me, or the guy behind the tree would have said would have made any difference.

      Such hatred ultimately destroys them however. Nobody on Team +Jonah broke any laws. We didn’t have to as all we were writing was the truth. (Not that I’m some saint, at my age, I can’t keep the lies straight anymore. It’s much easier to tell the truth. Hell, I can’t even write only half the story, so I just say “why bother?”)

      Not to say that I wasn’t being a little sneaky myself however: my two previous blog postings were meant to flush out Stokoe and it looks like he took the bait, to come out with something REALLY big. To bad it didn’t have any substance and really too bad that he had to break the law to do it.

      Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes!

    • My thanks to OCATruth!!!

      Without it Stokoe and OCANews would have been able to go on and on and on unopposed, unchecked, and unaccountable.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Time to fess up, ASIATR: Who are you?

      • I think he’s pretty much just a “plant” for Stokoe and OCAN
        because everything he says is “boilerplate” from them.

      • Olivier says

        Since when are bloggers held to the same standard as professional news reporters? If I ran a media bureau, I wouldn’t countenance Dreher’s activity if he were reporting to me. But I wouldn’t Stokoe’s activity either, reporting on stories in which he’s an active part. You are mistaking activism for journalism, Asiatr.

        • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

          I don’t disagree. It IS a different standard, and it should be. Blogs are opinion-journalism, not the real kind.

          But the blogosphere is famous for smoking out frauds. Rod Dreher decided to be a fraud. It’s his bed. Let him lay in it.

          I’ve hung out in the blogosphere basically since it began. (For the most part, on the conservative-political side of it, despite George’s assertion that I’m a liberal). ALL YOU HAVE is credibility. That’s it. You can be anonymous, but you must be credible. OCAT was never credible, because it was based on deceit. The blogosphere does not take to that kindly.

          • David Yentzen says


            You put forth a logical falsehood. First you claim it is possible to have credibility and remain anonymous and then you state OCAT “was never credible, because it was based on deceit”….well, exactly what “deceit” do you refer to? Being anonymous?…..You can’t have it both ways….very sloppy argument. And by the way, who cares if you are “liberal” or “conservative”, what does that mean anyway……wait, wait…it means nothing.
            Being anonymous is, in and of itself, not deceitful nor does it necessarily affect one’s credibility. The only operator that affects one’s credibility is the validity of the information…in other words is the information cogent.
            I would put forth that the “OCAT/pro Jonah” crowd has made exactly two tactical errors so far. First, you have allowed the opposition( and yes, they are your opponents….gloves off ladies and gents) to strike first–see OCAN. Second, you continue to allow the” OCAN/Stokoe” crowd to set the terms of conflict. It( the lines of conflict have now set) is now time to decide if you have the fortitude for the length/depth of the coming conflict….if not go home, if so proceed boldly into the breach. The best chance of success when ambushed is to rapidly proceed directly into your oppositions frontal attack. The “OCAN/Stokoe” crowd is using the art of deflection by attempting the false argument of shame on those who used anonymous blogging to spread their opinions of information.
            Now is not the time for those committed to their beliefs to leave from the arena of this conflict.
            ( Is it not odd that an anonymous poster on this blog has so much trouble with OCAT for anonymity…Or am I the only one that catches this irony?)

            David Yentzen
            Austin Texas

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              Hear, hear David Yentzen. As every infantryman knows: When ambushed, the tactical solution is to attack into the ambush. So we now know who is behind OCAT; the real news is that Team Stokoe broke federal law to find out.

              • Harry Coin says

                Dn. Brian … or… no federal law was broken and someone in within Fr. Fester’s world decided enough was enough.

                What’s all this really done? If a serious discussion of Jonah’s merits were possible– it would have always been diverted by speculations about connections to the anonymous OCATruth-niks.

                And now, those who wrote on OCATruth have to carry around the appearance they didn’t believe enough of what they wrote to be true to stand behind it until they were ‘outed’.

                What would have been the harm for those who believe Met. Jonah ought to continue on the basis of what they’ve been given to see simply stand up and said: “We all speak as we find, and for what we’ve been given to see here’s why we have these things to say”?

                Why could not they simply have said about those decisions found to be dubious “Here’s why they seemed to be a good idea at the time”?

                Most troubling about the OCATruth effort is that it appears to dangle at the end of a single connection to one priest– Fr. Fester. Met. Jonah has exactly that one friend, eh? With all that laundry about him in the past. Nobody else out there willing to set forth what inspired them?

                Meanwhile Mark Stokoe’s effort has all these people from all over the map involved. Those in the ‘OCATruth’ world appear to drink from a very limited menu, giving the impression that such is all there is.

                Note to others: Want to make a story out of yourselves instead of what you care about: Go anonymous then enjoy the betrayal fest when the inevitable happens. “We were hacked” “No, there’s a leak, was it you?” “Let’s say we were hacked to cover a leak” “Maybe the leader was a the leaker because he needed something to trade to gain position in the aftermath…” “Secretly with you from day 1, really”.

                Just sort of reflecting on the theme of the recent Gospel about the Jews centuries ago: “They took His body and now it’s worse than before, saying He rose from the dead”.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Harry, this is weak. “Or somebody in Fr Fester’s world decided enough was enough”? Really? Is that what you’d say if a co-worker hacked into your personal computer? I suppose you’d hold “Stokoe’s world” in the same regard. Or not.

                  But really, comparing Stokoe to the Resurrected Christ simply because some guys who like +Jonah set up a blog? What’s in that Kool-Aid?

                  • Harry Coin says

                    George, yes, I think it more likely that someone with legitimate access sent them along owing to having a change of heart about events. I hope yours has not become an all-black all-white world– you do recall mine being one of the voices asking in due course for the OCA to clarify Mark Stokoe’s position on the MC? That owing to circumstantial reasonable inference made in those articles about appearances, living in a way contrary to church teaching while holding high office. I doubt Mark Stokoe is likely to invite me over for lunch anytime soon. But if you’re going to accept high office then you’ll need to have a public answer for what people are given to see about your life choices. Moreover, it needs to come from the OCA officially, since anything he says would appear to be self serving no matter how true. I hope in due course there will be changes if due and a respectable clarification by an OCA leader in an official role, or a quiet non-continuance on the MC.

                    But I do think what fraction of the news he’s reported has been accurate, because it always seems to check out later on. The number of due corrections on OCANews has been fewer in a year than hereabouts in a few months.

                    I hope folk like Rod and others who are capable about reporting now choose instead of withdrawing to rally their professional skills to report as truthfully that which they are aware of omitted by OCA News.

                    Of most interest, OCANews really is rich with news with what opinion there is interlaced in the otherwise information rich narrative. On the other side there has been mostly opinion and reaction, without much in the way of news reportage omitted elsewhere. They could fix that, if they wanted to, yes?

                • Gregg Gerasimon says


                  Thank you for being a voice of sensibility here. The FAR MORE LIKELY thing that happened, rather than a hacking into an e-mail account (which I imagine is quite difficult), is that someone who had access to the e-mails by whatever means (was possibly cc’d on or was forwarded them?), and who was thought to be reliable, eventually decided that enough was enough and forwarded them to Mark Stokoe. Maybe this person agreed that it is highly unbecoming of a dean of a diocesan cathedral to refer to Orthodox hierarchs as “turds” and “worms,” even if one disagrees with them? Maybe they felt that in order to clean house, some dirty laundry must be aired?

                  Granted, this theory doesn’t make for nearly as sensationalistic blogging… there’s no dramatic hacking story involved, but it’s far more likely that Mark was given the e-mails by someone in the know who (for whatever reason) wanted these antics exposed.

                  The truth will hopefully come out at some point — it would be nice for this person to come forward eventually — but until then, I expect more mudslinging, more character assassination, more defamation, more threatening of lawsuits, more alignment into “Team Jonah” or “Team Stokoe,” and of course more sensationalization of all of this on various websites to attract readers. The internet is, after all, available 24/7. In other words, more of the usual in 21st century American Orthodoxy. Sad. We can only hope that this incessant bickering is helping us define ourselves and our American church and that in 50 years there might be some meaning gleaned from what is going on now.

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    Yeah, right, MAJ(P) — Fr. J cc’s someone of dubious loyalty on every sensitive email he sends — “scores” of them. Gimme a break.

                  • Harry Coin says

                    Gregg, as you look back over the last couple decades of church history– the themes here are the same with different faces in the various roles. If we don’t make smaller the gap between what people hear in the church, how they see things are done, and the plain meaning of common terms– it’s over. Nobody will make a fuss about fading away any more than they try to correct ‘Baghdad Bob’ or walk past the latest cure-all fruit juice made potent by reason of it’s name being exotic and pleasingly unpronounceable.

                    None of this fuss would have been neglected while small and so allowed to rise to the growth killing levels we’ve seen across our American Orthodox landscape these past years if there were enough bishops able to in fact police their own ranks– people whose first concern was their own local people.

                    If we don’t see to that, in a few years there will be misdoing so extensive in high places another ‘Voithia’ will erupt and it’s weak-echo, the anonymous ‘Alethia’, now ‘OCA News’ and the anonymous ‘OCATruth’. A new cast of characters as the misdoers, the heroes, the leakers, the sychophants, the shills, the goats, the lime-light seekers, the patient, the usual list.

                    We’ve all done it at least twice over now that most know of, and a few times more generally folk don’t.

                    ‘Diocese’ of 12 parishes or so, give or take, with the bishop in charge of one of the biggest with an assistant. Shared costs of ‘national administration’ by rotating expensive events around.

                    And let’s observe that people generally are in fact living longer than ever before in church history, and that the wives are not dying in childbirth and in fact outlive their husbands now for the first century in history. That’s a big deal. Those senior empty nester priests would have been bishops 100 years ago as many of their wives would have died before they retired.

                    God has such a sense of dry humor– the wife lives, thanks be to God and so we can’t get out of our own way enough to respect the book we see held above our heads every Sunday by the fellow who, owing to the wife neglecting her past propensity to die young, does not elevate the priest, nevermind what it says on the matter in the gold covered book carried high for all to see. “Husband of but one wife”

                    The pages they like, they like alot. The others, well, ah, er…

                    • Harry Coin: Excuse me, but what the heck are you babbling on and on about…. Have you ever heard of proof-reading? Which would include grammar, sentence structure and throwing out half of what is said but makes no sense whatsoever. Your deposits here, in general, are only minimally understandable even after the second reading, if at all….

                      Besides, aren’t you in the GOA? Does it give you pleasure peeing into our tent?

                      I apologize to all, but I needed to vent that…

                    • Harry Coin says

                      I think there is really only one Orthodox church in a place, if communion means anything. And, pleasure? This? No.

                    • I think there is really only one Orthodox church in a place…

                      Why then different “Labels”? Rhetorically asking?

                    • Harry Coin says

                      Why the different labels here in the USA? Same reason polygamy was tolerated for a time in Alaska. Necessary for a time, but it had to go if the living was to have something to do with the preaching. If your church has ‘Orthodox’ on the door, you better not have too much space between the living and preaching if you plan on survival.

                    • Same reason polygamy was tolerated for a time in Alaska.

                      When was that?

                  • A Remnant says

                    I do hope you are a better Doctor, than you are as an Intelligence Analyst. Just for giggles, Google “How to Hack Email” and look at all of the professional help available.

                    Gmail is notorious for being hacked. In the last 6 months 3 people in my email world have had their Gmail accounts hacked, and I have received the “Nigerian Scam” to please send money, because they were stuck in London.

            • Lola J. Lee Beno says

              You’re right. “Do what I say, not as I do” is what comes to mind when the anonymity is bought up again and again like a dead horse.

          • lexcaritas says

            ASIATR this is ridiculous and duplicitous.

            Writing under a pseudonym is no fraud and if it were you would be guilty of it. Credibility is useful, especially when built on the truth of what one says and the accuracy of one’s thinking and conclusions. A pen name does not undermine credibility despite your assertion that it does; its use may be dictated by any number of considerations, including the enhancement of the argument one seeks to make or to communicate something of the view point from which the writer proceeds. I presume you think your own pseudonym does that.

            I’m not sure why it’s relevant to assert that you are “for the most part” on the conservative-political side of the blogosphere, since we have no idea what that means to you or how it relates to this discussion. I’m sure it’s subjectively true, but we are without means to judge its objectivity and so it is a meaningless assertion for all of us here.

            Let us, in all of this, not forget to glorify Christ and give Him the thanks which is His due and let us love one another for love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.


            • Thanks, Lexcaritas. That last part is from 1 John and I know it as a song I learned in Sunday School. The song goes, ” Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God for God is love, so beloved, let us love one another, first John four seven and eight.” Thanks for reminding me of that song and taking me back to my childhood. It’s a powerful statement in its entirety and worth repeating.

    • lexcaritas says


      It’s nice to know who Muzhik was/is, but I have never seen a thing wrong with writing pseudonymously: you are in good company with person among our nation’s Founding Father’s who wrote under pseudonyms like “Cato” and “Publius” and novelists like George Elliot.

      The content of what your wrote was important and crucial. It matter little to me who wrote it. The words speak for themselves. May the goodness, beauty and truth prevail. I think it matters little that you are a supporter of ++Jonah “Muzhik” made that clear from the beginning. It was not hidden. Keep praying and writing; we need you. The cries that you have done harm to the Church ring hollow when the whole thing began by the slanted and sensationalist pot-stirring from Mr. Stokhoe.

      Christ is risen and unto Him be all glory, now and forever.


  8. Nick Katich says


    I’ve admired your work over the years. However, you all at OCAT accuse Stokoe of being part of a conspiracy (which has criminal overtones in some minds — although anyone acting in concert to acheieve an end is in a conspiracy and I do not find conspiracies as necessarily nefarious), but, have you not now admited to being in a conspiracy yourself? And, you all accuse Stokoe of “yellow journalism” but have you all not been guilty of the same? There is not truth anywhere. There are only agendas. You have set up a straw man — OCAT — and then posted under your own name. That is not truth. It is called “manufacturing”.

    Thank you for your confession. I trust you regret this. I wish others would “fess” (no partial pun) up as well.

    There is a lesson here. We Orthodox are not a cult of personality, whether it is to support Jonah, Mel, Mike or others. They are ultimately irrelevant.

    I told everyone on AOI, when the story broke, to wait until we know all the facts. We still do not know all of the facts. Fr. Hans wisely stopped the blogging on this matter on AOI. You did not. George did not. Stokoe did not. I only pray that a handful of us idiots who blog or read blogs even know what is going on. The vast majority of OCA faithful hopefully do not and will not until the truth is in and the facts are in.

    Now. Let’s stop this nonsense. Quit being tempted, on both sides, to emulate “Varvara”. It time to pray — not blog.

    • History says you are wrong. This is the time for the people to speak, and the internet is fantastic in allowing us to use our voices. Believe me, I would love to post under my own name but I don’t want to be hurt again.

      Listen. A bishop is living with a gay man and that gay man is a deacon who is still serving at the altar. It’s not innuendo, it is true. I knew it long ago and it’s just plain true. Hey, if it is not true, wouldn’t that be wonderful? If it’s not true, would someone please come out and tell us? But, if it is true, we all know and acknowledge every Sunday during Liturgy that it is against the teaching of the Fathers, Holy Tradition, Scripture. Mark Stokoe, who runs ocanews and sits on the Metropolitan Council, is living with a man who is called by Stokoe’s family a “son-in-law.”

      Do you think we should not believe the negative reports that have been written recently about Bishop Mark in Dallas? Why not? If “Southern Comfort” is Father Fester, well? So what? Did he lie about Bishop Mark in Dallas? If he did, then that has to be stopped. If he did not lie, then let’s know the truth.

      I don’t like to use the word “conspiracy” because we Americans have messed around with that word so much it has lost its way, but something was certainly going on behind the scenes to remove the Metropolitan, and that something seems, no, IS, wrong and ungodly because what is being allowed to continue in the Church is wrong and ungodly, and there’s no way of escaping that fact. I don’t know all the facts but I think they will come out because God likes facts and God’s still God no matter what we humans say and do.

      Rod Dreher’s posts are humble, straightforward, and honest. I look forward to reading whatever he or any of the other people connected to ocatruth and monomakhos write. I read Father Fester’s “letter to the clergy” a few times, over the past few weeks. I also have checked out his Facebook page, and I’ve seen that he has had good fruits and is loved by those in his parish. If I could have thought he was a bad guy, and his letter was only a senselesss “rant” I would have thought that. But I think for myself, and I think that what he wrote is coming true, more and more.

      If Metropolitan Jonah blessed the ocatruth site and had nothing else to do with it, that’s good they sought his blessing. I remember when ocanews came online, Mark Stokoe said Bishop Job did not bless this site and I thought, “Why would a person who is under Bishop Job start a web site like this without the Bishop’s blessing?

      – Just Rachel, again.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Rachel, I guess you didn’t get the memo. Stokoe’s job is to tell us what to believe, we peons are supposed to pray, pay, and obey. That way, we’ll get more pastors like Mark. What difference does it make? What do you want, good men for bishops? I mean, come on, get with the times, Girlfriend!

      • Jesse Cone says


        Metropolitan Jonah did not bless the site. He blessed me to write, because I was aware that writing about such things carries consequences and I would have to invest time and energy into dealing with the dirtier things in all this. I asked for a blessing before OCATruth was even decided upon as a name. He probably put two and two together shortly thereafter, but I don’t know.

        So yes, the emails prove we believe in +Jonah’s goodness and we support him.

        • Oh, thanks for clarifying that, Jesse. Sorry. I read too quickly and what I read got tweaked in my head, and then I wrote in a hurry and ended up saying something that isn’t really true, which I wish people wouldn’t do, and I just did it. Human! Guilty!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Nick, so I take it you’re going to tell Stokoe to stop blogging? [Crickets chirping.]

  9. Really. That’s the best you can do Rod? For someone who says they have been a journalist…this stunt really calls into question your credibility. I’m sorry but it does. I’ve read your blogging before and found it interesting…but this calls everything into question about your motives and really what the whole point was. The convenient excuse by Fr. Fester of having his account hacked is always one that is the first thing mentioned when people are exposed in some way or fashion – for ill or for good.

    I don’t always agree with what Stokoe writes about, but I give him credit at least for being up front. The slanderous attacks that have appeared at OCAT (and really when you resort to nasty name calling a group of people it is slander) made it less credible than the anonymity.

    Those that are giving you props for finally coming forward…seriously??? For me, if you were really trying to protect the Metropolitan, you should have been open and honest from the get go. And if the statements and e-mails are true that there really is only one source for all the info…than what kind of journalism is that?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Andrew, Stokoe being “up front,” really? Just where exactly was he up front? When he didn’t mention the leaked e-mails that destroyed his credibility? Or the interesting “career” of Garklavs after his firing? Dare I go on?

      • Katherine says

        If Mark were really being “up front”, wouldn’t he answer the allegations about his being a practicing homosexual who is living with his “husband”?

    • Anders S. says

      Funny: the idea that blog comments are journalism. Mark Stokoe calls what he does “journalism.” Ridiculous. It’s opinion writing. I have no problem with that, but we shouldn’t be under the illusion that any of this online advocacy operates by the same standards as The New York Times, or that it should. People who read sites like OCAN, OCAT, etc., and expect that they should operate according to professional journalism standards are being silly and naive. I get good information from OCAN and OCAT, but I know what their biases are, and I account for them when I read. Nobody will ever make money doing professional journalism on Orthodoxy in America, because there aren’t enough of us interested to pay enough money to support professional journalism about us. Internet writers who post on these sites do it out of passion, which means they are going to bring strong feelings to what they do, not professional objectivity. I would rather have websites like OCAN, OCAT, Monomakhos, and others, presenting news and commentary from opinionated positions than having no sources at all. We get what we pay for. To those who have a problem with that, I say grow up.

      Funnier: to see someone using a generic name “Andrew” criticize someone else for hiding behind a pseudonym to criticize others.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Thank you Anders for distilling it to the bare truth. This is opinion journalism, OCAT and I are open about this, Stokoe is not.

        You know the damage that Stokoe has done to Orthodoxy in America did not start with his desire to lynch +Jonah. I now know that Bishop +Mark was one of his greatest sources of information in his imbroglio with +Philip. Stokoe spun this so masterfully that he got many people in the OCA (myself included) to lobby for the inclusion of +Mark into our Church, and specifically into the Diocese of the South.

        To show you how seduced I was in particular, I wrote a laudatory letter to the DoS asking them what I could do as a member to expedite the election process for a new bishop. I was laudatory of Bishop +Mark, thinking that he would be the right man for the job (and since he was already living in Dallas at +Jonah’s old apartment, I thought it was a no-brainer.) It appears that I gravely misunderstood his qualifications.

        As many of you know, the last week has not been kind to +Mark vis-a-vis comments posted by numerous people about his antics during Holy Week. Even up until two nights ago, I was willing to overlook these concerns chalking them up to rookie mistakes and/or the unenviable task he had in taking over after +Dmitri and +Jonah, both of whom were true archpastors for the South and genuinely loved.

        Yesterday however I learned several more details which in no way can cover him in glory. In less than three months, St Seraphim’s turned from the jewel of the South to a disaster. That takes a special kind of genius to do that. People there are so spit-firin’ mad that when +Mark returns to his apartment, he may find the locks changed and his belongings on a heap outside.

        So what’s the point? Stokoe’s reportage, that’s what. We bought it hook, line, and sinker.

        • Some moose are like that says

          George, I’m glad your eyes are now open re Stokoe’s slant. I have to say that his slant began even before +Mark; it happened in Alaska too. Biblical ways for resolving disputes between brethren are discouraged by Stokoe and his team – whatever is said online on his site, it is the actions that show the heart.

        • I now know that Bishop +Mark was one of his greatest sources of information in his imbroglio with +Philip. Stokoe spun this so masterfully that he got many people in the OCA (myself included) to lobby for the inclusion of +Mark into our Church, and specifically into the Diocese of the South.

          So what’s the point? Stokoe’s reportage, that’s what. We bought it hook, line, and sinker.


          Please refrain from drawing scandalous conclusions merely by association – and an incredibly loose association at that. Stokoe’s reporting on matters within the AOANA as they relate to +MARK (and all the other AOANA bishops) was highly accurate and well-documented by the Association of Orthodox Christian Attorneys. It was also experienced first hand by many, including myself.

          Say what you will about +MARK’s leadership skills or his compatibility with the DOS, but please don’t stoop to the level of your Adversary. You’re a better man than that.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Brian, as I’ve said elsewhere, I did not approve of +Philip’s methods to get rid of +Mark. Loose associations were drawn by me but also some that were based on highly accurate information. Let’s not forget, that when I report a story, I don’t preface it with editorial comments but let it speak for itself. Now if I am doing advocacy, then it’s obvious. Either way, I make sure that my facts are correct or based on reasonable assumptions.

            For instance, in the case of +Philip/Mark, we can be sure that it was not +Philip who leaked the story to OCAN and unless we are willing to posit that Stokoe can astrally project himself into the inner sanctums of Englewood, a reasonable assumption can be made that he got the majority of his story directly from +Mark. That’s a reasonable assumption.

            As for my own bona fides, I will tell you now that I lobbied hard for his insertion into our diocese (Dallas) and recently wrote a letter to the effect that we need him as our bishop. I did this based on the assertions of a man in Dallas whom I respect but more so because of the story that OCAN published two years ago.

  10. Anonymous since it's all the rage says

    OK, so who is “Tavarishch”? In his March 18 “Update from Our Inbox”, he perhaps made the most startling statement on OCAT (among the many), when he published:

    This just popped up in our inbox. It was forwarded by an Orthodox Priest on the clergy e-mail list and responds to Mark Stokoe’s latest article on +Jonah’s “Retreat”. Make of it what you will. Also, it is important to note here that +Jonah has never had anything to do with this website, or even been consulted on any of its content. It is simply a site run by concerned laypeople.

    The alleged email (who can tell if it’s real at this point?) then goes on to state that Metropolitan Hilarion threatened that the OCA would be unrecognized by Moscow if it didn’t support +Jonah. It’s a favorite ploy of the Jonah-vistas, this threat of “schism”.

    Rod, you yourself, as “Muzhik”, stated that a “blistering letter” had been received by the Synod from the MP. Can we see it? If you have the SMPAC report, surely a little letter from Moscow is no great shakes. Release it and let the Church decide.

    • Don’t release it even if you could.
      Let the Stokoeites keep pulling their hair out about it.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Agreed. Alfeyeve gave the anti-+Jonah bishops the demarche: act against +Jonah uncanonically and you’ll be on the outside looking in. Let’s stop wringing our hands over the horribleness of schism. To act in an unjustifiable manner is reprehensible in whatever venue human beings find themselves in, whether it’s the business world or the ecclesial one. In fact, it’s worse to act that way in God’s holy Church. (Or so one would think)

    • Displaced Lemming says

      Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

      I wish, humbly, to remind you that we are not the Church. The Church is universal. The Church is of Christ. Nor is the Church democratic. Concerning Church administration, the much maligned and highly imperfect East Roman system of hierarchical autocracy is our heritage. Whether it is good or bad is, here amongst these comments, irrelevant. In truth, here and now, the only administrative power reserved for the laity is that of petition. Words solve nothing lest deeds follow. If we wish to effect change, let us approach our respective priests and bishops with God-fearing humility and Christian love. If they do not listen, then our only recourse is prayer and more petitioning.

      Mr. Dreher and his two friends chose to play a dangerous game called politics. If I may say so, then it was admittedly a foolish choice, also naive. However, from my lowly vantage point as a parishioner fled from the Dallas cathedral because recent events, I cannot but conclude that their actions were inevitable. Being parishioners, or in Mr. Dreher’s case a former parishioner, at the Dallas cathedral, they have certain acquaintance with both His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, and with the vilified Fr. Joseph Fester. Ascribing premeditated malice to their actions denotes only ignorance of from whence they hail.

      At risk of exposing myself to harsh criticism, I wish to offer a brief explanation of their home parish, in hopes that knowing from whence they come, you all might truly understand to where they are now. I admit, my perspective is a minority one amongst the Dallas community, but perhaps it will be of some small help.

      St. Seraphim’s Cathedral was shepherded for about a decade by Fr. John Anderson, and with close, close loving care from Vladyka Dmitri Royster. Despite the occasional stumbles which all parishes undergo, under their stewardship the community throve in a manner unlike any parish I have known or about which I have heard. But it was woefully disorganized. Then came Fr. Joseph Fester, bringing structure and organization in his wake. The newest members members, never happy with what can best be described as a harmonious anarchy of love, were instantly enamored with this new priest. Fr. Joseph did many good things here in Dallas, but he also brought an easily divisive spirit of political activism where Church matters were concerned. We see the results now.

      Then the indescribably beloved Vladyka Dmitri brought an Abbot Jonah to the parish, designating him his successor. Abbot Jonah quickly became loved, in no small part because our dear Vladyka specifically chose him from amongst all possible candidates as the next shepherd for us. Suddenly, no sooner than had Abbot Jonah become Bishop Jonah, then he was plucked away by his fellow bishops to become metropolitan. If you wish to erroneously draw unflattering opinions about Archbishop Dmitri from all this, then I can but invite you to Dallas to spend thirty minutes with him. When you leave, you will have gained a new saintly father.

      As for Metropolitan Jonah, I have met and spoken with him. He is a kind and loving man, but I fear terribly, terribly naive. He is unsuited for politics. As a diocesan bishop, he might have served wonderfully. As a metropolitan, well, we see the confusion about him that has resulted. However, the parishioners in Dallas for the most part retain a childlike, and in some ways naive, adoration for him. Speaking as one who witnesses it, the nature of this adoration absolutely precludes wicked and malicious intent amongst His Beatitude’s following. Foolish and unsavvy behavior, yes, wicked and malicious behavior, certainly not!

      These three have done as they did because they honestly love Metropolitan Jonah. It hurts them spiritually and emotionally to see him vilified for reasons that they, with all integrity and sincerity, disbelieve. That they trust Fr. Joseph is also due to love. While here in Dallas, Fr. Joseph Fester was more-or-less a kind and loving man. He is an exceptionally charming man. He is an excellent bureaucrat, but quite frankly an imperfect priest. I say this with due respect and a certain degree of fondness, but his leadership style leaves much to be desired. However, because they love him, they trust him. Yet even they knew his name is a liability. So they hid that he assisted them, knowing that any information passing through him would be instinctively disbelieved.

      In the end, all I see is that three men and a priest wrote a blog saying Metropolitan Jonah is a very nice man. They remained anonymous so their names would not distract readers from their argument. Along the way, they wrote some articles of slightly better quality than the earnest but amateurish gossip-style articles of Mr. Stokoe. I say slightly better because, with all due respect to Mr. Dreher, I remember his work as singular only for its mediocrity. But ultimately, so what? He and his friends played with fire and were burned because they optimistically but naively thought they could make a difference.

      As for the allegations that their blog is merely the mouthpiece of Metropolitan Jonah, forgive my ignorance, but how does a hierarch granting permission to four of his flock to air some opinions automatically mean ongoing, or any, control? I may not remember much from college, but I do recall a statistics professor repeatedly saying, “Correlation does not imply causality.”

      Christ is risen!


      Displaced Lemming

      • Seraphimista says

        Hey Displaced Lemming, what did you do to stand up for Met. Jonah? What did you do to fight for the parish you just left? Or are you going to let others fight the battle for you, and come back to the cathedral when those who put their reputations on the line to stand up for what’s right have made it safe for you to return?

        You call it “politics,” as if you were too holy to dirty your hands with it. You might not like the kind of activism those guys were doing, but I’d rather have that than holier-than-thou types sitting around letting everything go to hell and leaving good priests undefended.

        • Displaced Lemming says

          Dear Seraphimista,

          You ask a valid question, so I shall answer it. I have done nothing proactive to stand up for Metropolitan Jonah. His activities after becoming Metropolitan are beyond my ken. Also, there are conflicting reports as to what he does or does not do. This being the case, I am in no position to do anything constructive beyond assuring those I meet that His Beatitude is, so far as I know, a loving and well-meaning man. This is all I know, so this is all I say. Sometimes, as I do now, I ignore my own advice.

          You next ask what have I done to fight for the Dallas parish. The answer is that I further the cause of harmony by staying quiet and praying. Personally, I consider the parish to have been spiritually sick for around five years now. However, as most members love what it has become, I bow to their wishes and let them have their way. Who am I to fight what comforts my brothers and sisters solely to salve my own diseased soul?

          Nevertheless, everyone has a breaking point. Mine came when the current events here in Dallas began. I falteringly made an effort to speak on behalf of a good priest, but to no avail. Authority having shown itself unhearing to me, now I can do no more than pray.

          Christ is risen!


          Displaced Lemming

          • Seraphimista says

            You further the cause of harmony by staying quiet and praying?! Spare me. I hope I am never in a ditch being beaten up by robbers when you come by. You’ll stand there quietly and pray for me, but not lift a finger to help me because it would disturb your precious peace.

            I’m sorry, but I don’t respect that. We are not all called to stand up for the right thing in the same way, but there are times when it is immoral to remain silent for the sake of “harmony.” It is a false peace you seek! God forbid that I should see a brother being treated unjustly or cruelly and decide to keep quiet because to speak out would cause me spiritual discomfort. God forgive me for when I have held my tongue out of fear.

            I get tired of language like “to salve my own diseased soul,” and putting “Christ is risen!” onto e-mails that say something sharp and offensive. It’s like Bishop Mark starting his e-mails to the parish “Dear to Christ,” and then slapping us around. It’s gotten to where whenever I read or hear an Orthodox person using those kinds of phrases, I know that they’re either deceiving me or themselves.

            • Displaced Lemming says

              Dear Seraphimista,

              Forgive me for causing offense. Judging by your referencing Bishop Mark’s emails, I presume you are a parishioner at St. Seraphim’s. Therefore, I assume your reference to silently watching a brother unjustly persecuted means either Metropolitan Jonah or Father John.

              If you mean His Beatitude, then I must correct you by saying that I have not seen him unjustly persecuted. Apart from his occasional visits to the cathedral, I have not seen him at all since he was spirited away to be metropolitan. All I have seen are allegations that he is bad, and allegations that he is good. Admittedly, Mr. Stokoe’s arguments are weaker than those of his opponents. But not being acquainted with the other bishops, I have no grounds for accepting counter arguments that, in the case of His Beatitude, they are conniving miscreants.

              If you mean Father John, then I cannot but conclude that you did not read the final paragraph of my first response.

              Now, however, with good humor, I shall demonstrate how my staying quiet increases harmony in a parish. You and I apparently disagree. Thus while we talk there is disharmony. I will now leave. Now there is greater harmony. No man, no problem.

              Christ is risen!


              Displaced Lemming

              • George Michalopulos says

                DL, are you sure that you cannot see how +Jonah has been “unjustly persecuted”? Have you ever been given the Soviet treatment of being “asked” to consign yourself to an insane asylum?

                Spare me the pietistic talk. Seraphimista is right. I pray that I am never set upon by robbers in your presence.

            • Mathias Stromberg says

              What true words those are! At least somebody else out there understands that there are time for praying and there are times for fighting! Free man stand or free man fall!

              Mathias Stromberg

      • Jesse Cone says

        Locationally Challenged Lemming,

        I agree with much of what you say: though I must repeat again that HB only blessed me to write, and also that Fr. Joseph was never part of the blog. As the emails point out, at times his opinion was asked for, like when Rod received the SMPAC report and wanted to know what to do with it. We have several sources: and once we started the site we were inundated with information from all over the US. Obviously we need to be vet the information we put out there, and not all good information needs to be aired.

        I admit that I’ve been naive, though I don’t know if I’ve been as naive as you might think. Particularly in regards to division and spiritual harm for myself and my loved ones — those things have been on my mind the entire time. If you speak of seeing the OCA and only seeing +Jonah… well, I would take issue with that as well. I do admit I don’t have the history with the players in this drama that Stokoe does. That might be a blessing or it might be a curse. However, I am of the opinion that change is needed — it was needed before Pittsburgh, and is needed even now — and I think +Jonah is the best candidate we have for that change and for it to be the right change.

        As for your characterization of St. Seraphim, I would take some small issues with your characterizations. I would say that for the years I have been here –up to and including Fr. Joseph’s departure — the two priests were getting more and more adept at working together and utilizing their own unique strengths for the good of their community. There was a truly symbiotic relationship between the clergy and the laity as well. The “drama” of years past was wonderfully in the past. Those there today witnessed a very close and loving group of people: and we have Fr. Joseph, Fr. John, Met. Jonah, and (most importantly) +Dmitri to thank for that.

      • George Michalopulos says

        DL, I think it is you who is being naive and if I may say so, illogical. You castigate OCAT for “playing a dangerous and foolish game called politics” on the one hand while saying that we laymen should “petition” for change on the other. Well, which is it?

        Neither Messrs Dreher, Cone, or Folsom were acting irregularly, illegally, or unethically. They were not playing a “game” at all but merely setting up an Internet forum to defend +Jonah, in other words, to “petition” for change.

        From the history of what OCAN has wrought, and given the fact that its purveyor is a member of the MC, it is a very reasonable assumption to place this charge at the feet of MS. There is no ethical way that one can be a member of the lay hierarchy and an objective reporter at the same time.

  11. Bishop Michael Dahulich had tried to initiate a process of reconciliation between HB and the Synod, and … the Synod refused… .

    In so doing, did they not deny Christ Himself?

    • And how do they partake of Holy Communion, even at the Holy Table, after refusing to be reconciled with their brother who desires reconciliation???
      If they do, then they drink damnation unto themselves as St Paul warns.!!!
      What absolution would they give someone during confession if the person confessing refused to be reconciled to another???
      Are they so bold to even recite the Lord’s Prayer anyway???
      Do they themselves have father-confessors, and if so, what would they say to them about it??
      How could anyone accept anything they teach and preach about following Christ and forgiveness and reconciliation when they themselves do not practice it???
      But then, maybe I don’t have the whole story and am reading too much into it.
      But if not—???

      • George Michalopulos says

        Niko, the canons and Scriptural injuntions are for the Little People, not the best and the brightest. Didn’t you get Stokoe’s memo?

  12. Why does Mark S. selectively post comments on his blog? I have written several times and he doesn’t post my comments! I suppose if you don’t write what he wants or if he can’t ridicule you it’s no fun or him . . . . He is so manipulative.

  13. Perhaps this quotation from Archbishop Justinian of Russian Orthodox Church will help those who think that we “worship” Metropolitan Jonah understand our feelings about him:

    “…Your Beatitude, we understand you and see you as the one who is continuing the tradition of St. Tikhon, Enlightener of America. The love of St. Tikhon for the languages and traditions of the Orthodox churches in this country is well respected by all Orthodox people in America. He, as a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, and receiving support from there, was a pastor for all the Orthodox in America. St. Tikhon was indeed bishop of all Orthodox Christians in America, no matter what their ethnic background. He was particularly caring for the Arab Orthodox here – their bishop was his auxiliary. His heart was full of love for all of the ethnic Orthodox groups and he had the wisdom to govern this complicated territory.

    Your Beatitude, observing your service to the Church in America, we can testify that you truly resemble Archbishop Tikhon. All those who know you, know your pure, loving heart, your deep spirituality and your wisdom. Your Beatitude, on behalf of the Patriarch of All Russia, we congratulate you as Primate of All America and Canada. And we would like to present you with this figure of St. Tikhon, Bishop of North America – Apostle to America – and later Patriarch of All Russia.

    Dear Vladyka, Many Years!”

    The full address can be found here.

    When I say “our feelings” I mean those of many parishioners at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, D.C. We do not worship him, we worship God, and I fully agree that we should not put our trust in sons of men. However, we just see him as an exceptionally good pastor and spiritual father, and a great leader that our Church clearly needs. We have been truly blessed with having His Beatitude here with us, and I have been telling other people that we should probably send a letter to the Holy Synod thanking them for giving us the opportunity to spend the Great Lent of 2011 with him serving in our Cathedral.

  14. Also Anonymous says


    I can respect the difficult situation that you believed yourself to be in. What disturbs me most, however, in the emails and what I think that you really must explain, is what appears to be a plot to smear Bp. Mark and your calling him a “turd.” Could you please give us an explanation of that?

    • Father Fester used that term, and he probably used it because he’s human, etc, etc, because he uses strong wording when he writes, and for the very reasons I recently told someone I know (in confidence) that another person I know is a bonehead. Like that.

      It seems from what I’ve read that the bishop in Dallas is not popular because of his own actions, not that there was a plot to smear him. From what I’ve read it seems that Bishop Mark’s own actions changed how people felt about him.

  15. A. Rymlianin says

    Yes, the person who hacked into the OCAT blog is guilty of criminal violations and needs to be discovered and sent to jail . Anyone who reprints such documentation also runs the risk of jail time . I hope that the folks at OCAT are prepared to provide the necessary forensics to catch this person and or persons.

  16. George Michalopulos says

    I didn’t, I just put them under “moderation.” Truth be told you were getting rather tiresome. But, since I believe that it’s best to give fools enough rope to hang themselves, I’m going to let you keep on repeating your same tired cliches.

    • George Michalopulos says

      ASIATR, still waiting, anything new and substantive? Or just the same old cliches? They were never really valid in the first place but now that we know who OCAT is are even less so. Substance sir, substance!

  17. Brian Jackson says

    Praise God for what’s been revealed. I know many have been praying for light to shine and to show what’s been hidden. I am reminded of the words from the Presanctified Liturgy: “The Light of Christ illumines all.” Who really thought that this light would only shine unidirectionally? In any case, I think that giving names to the founders of OCATruth neither adds to nor diminishes the credibility of what was there, as argued many times by Mark Stokoe himself when defending multiple anonymous posters on his own site on several occasions. Somewhere in all this the mercy of Christ may be found, and maybe this is the firstfruits of much more to be revealed and, ultimately, healed. I think this is no particular vulnerability for His Beatitude, as, whether the OCATruth folks remained anonymous or not, those who criticize him will continue to criticize. Nothing really changes in that regard. And if His Beatitude is the kind of man I think he is, then he is dealing with this with prayer and supplication and God is certainly not taken by surprise with these developments. Christ is risen!

  18. Chris Plourde says

    I’m quite literally stunned by the documented and acknowledged EPIC FAIL here.

    It is as if you guys had never heard 1 Corinthians 3, or maybe decided that you’re so spiritually mature that you can safely ignore its teaching.

    The sole defense offered, “The other guys are worse.”

    What I see displayed in this thread is a defense of an unwillingness to trust God, and a willingness to do things that Rod feared Jonah himself would not tolerate.

    Epic Fail, guys. Epic Fail.

  19. George,

    “As many of you know, the last week has not been kind to +Mark vis-a-vis comments posted by numerous people about his antics during Holy Week. Even up until two nights ago, I was willing to overlook these concerns chalking them up to rookie mistakes and/or the unenviable task he had in taking over after +Dmitri and +Jonah, both of whom were true archpastors for the South and genuinely loved.”

    I am totally out of the loop I guess. What antics has + Mark done that would make you question his qualifications? I know here in the Midwest is absolutely beloved by his former Diocese at least that the impression I get. Thanks.