I’ll Gladly Accept Apologies from the Stokovites

One of the more specious memes put out by the late, unlamented OCANews and its amen corner was His Beatitude’s supposed inattention to political niceties. This came directly from Fr Leonid Kishkovsky and was repeated ad nauseam by his acolytes. According to this narrative, had Jonah known his place and truckled before this eminence grise, he wouldn’t have given that speech in Dallas some three years ago, which supposedly angered Patriarch Bartholomew. Not content to beat Jonah over the head for upholding the OCA’s autocephaly, these Stokovites go on to intimate that this gaffe permanently derailed the OCA’s recognition by Istanbul.

There are lot of problems with this narrative. Perhaps the most laughable is the idea that the Ecumenical Patriarch would ever recognize the primacy of the OCA. That’s ridiculous on its face and anybody who thinks otherwise is poorly informed. This criticism of Jonah is beyond naive — it’s mendacious. Jonah’s speech was certainly bold but it was in perfect accord with what the OCA had always believed about its autocephaly and primacy on this continent. It was startling to hear and no doubt His Holiness was probably angered by its audacity, but the facts were otherwise inarguable.

For the sake of argument let’s that the Kishkoviskyite narrative is accurate; Jonah shouldn’t have given this speech, or at least softened his tone. Put another way, Jonah should have listened to the OCA’s Department of External Relations before speaking on matters related to inter-Orthodox and international relations.

If the Stokovites were correct, then what are to make about this latest gaffe committed by His Grace Bishop Nikon of Boston? Nikon invited the “president” of the breakaway “republic” of Kosovo to come to St George Cathedral in Boston, the flagship of the Albanian episcopate of the OCA. Can anyone not see how inflammatory this is? (Special thanks to Byzantine, TX.)

Where to begin? Leaving aside the fact that Mdme. Jahjaga is a Muslim, could anyone in Kishkovsky’s office not see how this act would anger Serbian Orthodox Christians throughout the world? The Patriarch of Serbia wrote a stern letter to the OCA expressing his great dismay, something which primates of churches are loathe to do.

This provocation did more than damage relations between the OCA and the Serbian Orthodox Church. Their naivete no doubt startled almost all of the other Orthodox Churches, none of which recognize the Albanian-dominated “republic” of Kosovo and for good reason: its militias (including the KLA which was listed by our State Department as a terrorist organization) have destroyed and/or desecrated dozens of Serbian churches — some of them hundreds of years old, and uprooted and murdered thousands of Serbian Christians.

To not put too fine a point on it, the OCA needs all the friends it can get. This didn’t help.

If anybody thinks this indictment is too strong I offer a challenge: find me one Orthodox country who has hosted Madame Jahjaga or any official from “Kosovo” anywhere at all. Whether it was before a parliament, embassy, church, expatriate community center, cemetery, anywhere at all.

Who is in charge of the Department of External Relations? I’ll gladly accept his apology. As well as all our readers who upheld the veracity of OCANews and its Apostle of Accountability and Responsibility as the very picture of veracity and sobriety. This includes exalted archpriests as well.

View pictures of this affair here.


  1. Wow. The pictures make it look even worse than I had imagined. I figured they would at least have the common sense to have a quiet visit, keep it hush-hush. (Note to self: Is there anything in the OCA today that’s hush-hush, besides the numerous executive sessions at the Metropolitan Council meetings?) She’s front and center at Liturgy, and then, they have a Muslim woman speak from the Ambo. Nice touch. Did they have her sign the gospel on the altar too? Did they commemorate her at Liturgy as the president of “Kosova” (whatever that is)? I’m speculating they did…

    Nice Job, Fr Leonid! We know how they felt about you in Russia before. (Not much!) I’m sure your stock went way up after this debacle.

  2. Jane Rachel says

    What were they thinking? Any guesses? Was it deliberate?

    Yay! Edit is back on!!!

    • George Michalopulos says

      No, that would give them way too much credit. It’s simply unthinking Ortho-tribalism. Like when some GOA bishop gets his picture taken with the late Anthony Quinn or Jamie Farr stands in the Altar and autographs a Gospel lectionary in some Antiochian parish. What next, the head of Hamas addressing some Palestinian Vicariate parish on the proper way to put on a suicide vest?

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Ortho-tribalism is alive and well in many places in the world. Many folks would remember that the head one of the worst Arab terrorist organizations was an Orthodox dentist, Dr. George Hamash of the PFLP. In any case, this was not an OCA thing but strictly Albanian nationalism and pride. I do not like it but to interpret this as a slap in the face of Fr KIshkovsky would be a stretch. Now, if I may, I would like to take issue with the opening paragraph of your editorial, to wit:

        “One of the more specious memes put out by the late, unlamented OCANews and its amen corner was His Beatitude’s supposed inattention to political niceties. This came directly from Fr Leonid Kishkovsky and was repeated ad nauseam by his acolytes. According to this narrative, had Jonah known his place and truckled before this eminence grise, he wouldn’t have given that speech in Dallas some three years ago, which supposedly angered Patriarch Bartholomew. Not content to beat Jonah over the head for upholding the OCA’s autocephaly, these Stokovites go on to intimate that this gaffe permanently derailed the OCA’s recognition by Istanbul.”

        After I read +Jonah’s speech, I was vociferously in support of him. To this day, I do not find fault in what he said. Some folks here think that I am a Stokovite and I suppose I will not surprise them with the following thoughts. My issues with the speech evolved over time and included the following;

        – The revelation that some folks in CA ( I had thought that these include fellow bishops) had advised him not to give that speech. As most of the regulars here know, that is potentially a big Canon 34 no-no. As I had told Helga recently, +Jonah does have to get the other bishops’ approval on important matters that involve all of them collectively. In this instance, the speech IMHO was such an important matter.

        – The appropriateness of the OCA Metropolitan answering the Chief Secretary, a mere Archimandrite, bothered me. If I had a vote, I would have used it to delegate the answer to somebody of equal rank in the OCA, and preferably from the SVOTS, seeing that the offending speech was given at Holy Cross.

        – The appropriateness of the OCA answering that infamous attack by the Chief Secretary, instead of Moscow also bothered me. After all, this speech was really a counter-attack on Moscow’s refutation of Constantinople’s novel interpretation of Canon 28, as well as the recent unpleasantness involving Estonia.

        Under the circumstances, I do not think that it was unreasonable for folks to think that +Jonah had acted like a bull in a china shop, without regard to diplomatic niceties. And, if this was the only complaint against +Jonah, I too would be marching with you, Helga, Spasi, Jacob, et al. Nonetheless, I do agree with you it is ridiculous to think that this episode “permanently derailed the OCA’s recognition by Istanbul.”

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          I’m glad you think so, Carl. Nevertheless, in retrospect, we still wait patiently to hear what other “mistakes” Jonah has made in the interim. And yet the irony is that we continue to see a litany of mistakes or questionable actions made and/or taken by his detractors.

          • You won’t be waiting too long, George. The Synod’s response to the SMPAC memorandum is coming in May. You know who’s masterminding it? Bishop Melchisedek.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              helga, that’s going to prove to be a sticky wicket. Their blundering ineptness never ceases to amaze me. Do they honestly think that no other bishops have problems? This all reminds me of the great Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill Fiasco of 1990 and the demons it unleashed. Although Hill was proven to be a liar and Thomas innocent of her salacious charges, he won a seat on the Supreme Court, she went absolutely nowhere in her career and everybody else had to suffer because of the normal battle of the sexes that has taken place since the Garden of Eden.

              The most delicious irony was that it came to bite back Bill Clinton, who was impeachment was set in motion by a sexual harrassment suit filed by a woman when he was governor.

              • George, I can’t tell you how that scares me. Obviously, the SMPAC memo is as under wraps as it ever has been, but I have a feeling that they’re going to try to beat him over the head with this again.

                OCAT published a lot about the SMPAC that argued that the committee was drastically overstepping its bounds, and gave the impression that the memo was not really about how sexual misconduct policy was or was not being followed, but largely a pretext for an anti-Jonah witch hunt. Unfortunately, OCAT has gone totally kaput.

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  I think you worry too much. Even if the main culprit in the mishandling of clergy sexual misconduct cases was +Jonah, there is no reason to do anything but say “the past is past,” make structural improvements, and to move on. The Metropolitan owned up to his failings, went to a clinic that specializes in clergy with problems and is being treated for what ever ails him. It was one of your team (I forget who) who said that it was OCD, which should be great news for all of us because, as long as he is on his medications, +Jonah will be a fine Metropolitan. I wish he would never again listen to the wrong advisors, like Father Fester for one.

  3. Rebecca Matovic says

    Alerting you to a factual misstatement —

    Holy Trinity Cathedral is the seat of the New England Diocese, but not of the Albanian Episcopate. Bp, Nikhon holds both titles, and has two Cathedrals. The picture you posted was not taken at HTOC, but at St. George Cathedral in South Boston.

    • Alerting you to your error.

      It is Bishop Nikon not Nikhon.

      I guess Ms. Matovic, agrees with everything else you wrote, George. BTW, Rebecca, is it true that Mark and Steve no longer attend the OCA parish in Dayton? I am sure you know the facts?

      • Rebecca M. says

        I live in NY, not Ohio, and don’t have a clue what goes on in Dayton. I used to live in Boston and attended HTOC, so the slip up on the location was obvious. I’d have to get divorced if I approved of this visit, but I also agree with Ivan, below, that this is a political/nationalist thing.

        • Am I too understand you that since it is a “political/nationalist thing” is is not important? That such “things” have no impact on the life of the Church? I would appreciate your reply. I don’t want to misrepresent your comment. Thank you.

          • Rebecca M. says

            I was keeping my answer brief and actually deleted a sentence I’d added saying something to the effect that we all need to be on guard against the corrupting influences of these kinds of nationalist pressures within the church.

            My point wasn’t to defend or excuse in any way — just to say that to the extent that it’s part of any broader pattern, it’s the all too familiar and depressing pattern of Orthodoxy getting caught up in all sorts of nationalistic cross currents.

            • Dear Rebbeca

              You are on point with your comment which makes it so clear that the OCA must always measure seven times and cut once. This was a totally avoidable situation if the OCA was actually acting like an autocePhotous church and not the disorganized mess it has become.

              Is anyone actually in charge?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Miss Matovic: thank you for pointing out my error. I have made the correction.

  4. I wonder if Bishop Nikon got the Synod’s permission for this. Or is the Archbishop of Washington the only OCA bishop expected to do that?

    Oh, edit function, I’m so happy to see you! *kiss* *kiss* *kiss*

  5. Ivan Vasiliev says

    The pictures are of the Very Rev. Fr. Arthur Liolin, Chancellor of the Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America. I’m surprised that he was so insensitive to the feelings of the Serbian Orthodox, but friends of mine in the Albanian Archdiocese tell me that this was a “political thing”. Apparently they have to deal with significant internal and external pressures from the larger ethnic community. I know for a fact that no one in the Church leadership approves of the destruction of Orthodox Churches. This is a warning to all about the wrong kind of “ethnicism”, but that includes American triumphalist ethnicism, too. There is far too much of that going around in some circles. That, alas, is how it is in this broken world. It doesn’t excuse anything; it just reminds us of the dangerous game we play when we get too cozy with any ethnic or political party.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Ivan, your words are true. Even if we acknowledge the fact that all Orthodox nations can fall into triumphalism, etc., the fact remains that it is only the KLA at present which has purposely desecrated and destroyed Orthodox churches. The OCA’s dept of external relations should have been aware of these atrocities and at least raised the question with His Grace.

      Regarding your point of “ethnicism” and the fact that Albanian-American Orthodox felt there were “significant internal and external pressures from the larger ethnic community,” words continue to fail me. I’m appalled. I guess we can chalk this up as another nail in the coffin of real Orthodox unity here in America.

      While we’re at it, by continuing to have ethnic bishops & dioceses within the OCA, we legitimize the concept of the continued ghettoization of Orthodoxy in America. I think it is time for us to stop sitting on the fence: are we going to have territorial dioceses or the present hodge-podge? Both cannot remain.

      Helga: you raise an important question: did His Grace Nikon get permission from the Holy Synod, Syosset, MC whatever or is only His Beatitude supposed to be shackled by these strictures?

      • @ Rebecca, thanks for your answer. You seemed to be such a ocanews zealot, I thought you would know about the apparent retreat of Mark Stokoe from the OCA. I guess he considered his “work done here.”

        Again, the poor OCA finds itself with its “you know what” in the ringer. IF Nikon asked permission for this insensitive visit of the “Kosovo” president and he received approval, what does that say about the Synod or the OCA chancery staff. I bet that crack Syosset team never even considered the ramifications.

        If, on the other hand Bp. Nikon did not, what does that say about the conciliar work of our brilliant Synod? I can tell you for sure, he didn’t ask Met. Jonah because Nikon does not speak to Jonah. So if he got permission, it was another “end around” Jonah.

        The fact, as George most correctly points out, that the Serbian Church is now very upset with the OCA takes an important Church out of the OCA side of the ledger. This will have repercussions here in the USA and further marginalize the OCA.

        As to the OCA department of external affairs led by Leonid Kishovsky, if he approved of this, which is very likely given his ecumenical bent, he should be fired. If he was not able to block this outrage, he should be resign in protest. Of course, the OCA external affairs that Kishovsky has led these many years was with one goal only, self-promotion.

        This is one of those issues that will dog the OCA for many years. And, you can bet that this would not have happened when a certain protopresbyter was Chancellor. Not a chance in hell. But now, the OCA has hell to pay. Pathetic.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Very well put Jacob. Personally, I just despise the hypocrisy of it all. Think of it: there’s no good answer here. Wouldn’t it have been better to just not do something for which there is no justification?

        • This is all very sad.I lived in Chicago and the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral ,Holy Resurrection ,had horrible graffiti smeared on it and a Pan-Orthodox group went to help clean it off.The congregation was so grateful.
          I am starting to think that it is lay people who will have to lead the way.
          I am very sad about this slap in the face to our Serbian brothers and sisters in Christ.

        • “Nikon does not speak to Jonah” – Say what, now?

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Ah…the long reach of ethnic memories and prejudices across time and space! I must confess that, as a Macedono-Bulgarian I am distressed every time that I hear “poor Greeks” and “poor Serbians.” I am distressed because I feel guilty to feel that “what goes around, comes around.” In the case of Greeks, I cannot get out of my head the image of the Greek Metropolitan using the skull of a Macedono-Bulgarian as a drinking vessel or of Greek soldiers wrapping Macedono-Bulgarians in rugs, saturating them with oil, setting them afire and rolling them down a hill–all of this in the glorious fight to reclaim the Macedon of Alexander for the Greek nation and Hellenism that was the birthplace of democracy and civilization. In the case of Serbians, I cannot get out of my head the treacherous and unprovoked attack on Bulgaria mere months after she had freed herself from the Turkish yoke or of the continuing scandal that the see of the one of the Autocephalous Bulgarian Churches, Ohrid, is now a Serbian bishopric, because of the cultural genocide that was waged by the Serbs against Bulgarians of Macedonia since the Second Balkan War.

        Personally, I am glad that I am in an American parish of the OCA, that I do not have to have my memories rise up like bile yearly on various ethnic festivities celebrated by my Greek and Serbian co-coreligionists. May the Lord have mercy on me.

        • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

          I feel your pain and commend you for being able to maintain such an even, measured tone to your comments. I have experienced on many occasions such expressions spewed forth with venom. As Orthodox Christians we must everywhere and always call out sin as sin regardless of who commits the sin – hierarch, government leader, clergy, lay. To even hint that commitment of such heinous sins is somehow OK because they were committed against our enemy, those not of our language, is such an affront to the life of our Savior Jesus it makes me so sad…. so sad. Would it be a stretch to say underlying such sins is racism? We sometimes soft-pedal the seriousness of our collective and personal sins against “others” by speaking of ethnicity, nationalism, tribalism… Aren’t we really talking about racism; conviction that my ethnos is superior to yours in every way?

  6. Let me add one more observation of this pathetic “Kosovo” outrage.

    We should not be surprised that this took place. Remember, members of the OCA Synod, like Benjamin, Nathaniel, Nikon have longed cried loud that the OCA can do whatever it wants since it is an “autocephlous” church. It is this arrogant attitude that pushed the OCA to the brink of being in deep kasha when Nathaniel as OCA temporary administrator when +Jonah was resting last lent, who wrote a totally “in your face” letter to Pat. Kirill of Moscow saying he had no right to stick his nose into OCA business over the “leave of absence” of Jonah. Well, Kirill, in his intelligent manner, ignored the objections to a nathaniel letter and sent Met. Hilarion to the USA to get the low down on what really took place.

    And let the record show that +Jonah is still the Metropolitan because Moscow made it clear that if +Jonah was ousted for anything but a major canonical infraction, Moscow would not recognize such a robber synod and would back +Jonah. That, is still in effect for many and various reasons.

    Nonetheless, Moscow has not forgot the tone of the nathaniel letter. Funny how these two Ethnarchs who have only a tangental relationship with the financial well-being of the OCA take full advantage of their seats on the Synod.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on nathaniel’s still negotiating with the Pat. of Romania about taking his ROEA parishes out of the OCA. What amazing disorder.

    • Thomas Mathes says

      Jacob, Is Archbishop Nathaniel’s letter to Patriarch Kirill available somewhere on the internet for viewing? This is the first time I have heard of it, but you speak of it as though it is well known. I tried to find more on it through a Google search, but was unsuccessful. Perhaps you or someone else on this blog could point me to some of the earlier reports about this. Thanks.

      • Jane Rachel says

        Re-reading Stokoe’s 2-5-11 article, +Jonah Placed on Leave
        of Absence by Synod
        , and keeping in mind Metropolitan Jonah’s relationship with the MP, and what Metropolitan Jonah was saying and doing back then, it wouldn’t surprise me if Archbishop Nathaniel wrote a letter to Patriarch Kryill saying something to that effect (something like, “You’re not the boss of the OCA and the OCA will not come under Russian Orthodox Church authority if the Holy Synod has anything to say about it, and Metropolitan Jonah cannot make that happen by himself…”) Also, keeping in mind what Jacob has written these past couple of weeks about the OCA being a “sinking ship,” so to speak, at least in terms of her leadership, and the OCA coming under the Russian Church, if only for a while, and Diogenes’ reaction? What is the real battle here?

        Are the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council unable/incapable of leading the OCA? If that is true, then does the OCA need the hand of Moscow to help her find her way back to solidity and respectability. If she is not respected worldwide, how can there be any possibility of unity? Is this what Metropolitan Jonah was working towards? The OCA needs to come back under good leadership, and since there seems to be very little unified, good leadership left in the OCA, she needs to be rescued, and who can rescue her better than her mother? Jacob, is this what you are saying? As usual, I don’t know, I’m wondering. But it does make sense to me.

        • The MP would not want the OCA to go under the EP. The MP “supports” the OCA because of this fear. The MP however has accepted that the EP take a role, along with all the other Patriarchates in the solving of a irregular situations around the world. The MP also knows that the OCA will not be a part of any Great and Holy Council because of how her autocephaly was granted, (only by the MP.) The MP also understands that the only way the OCA could be part of a Great and Holy Council is if it came as part of a Russian delegation but that won’t happen if such a Council has equal representation (like our Senate and not like the House). Russia would like representational voting based on all bishops attending. If this is not the case, the MP would not give up one of its two seats to the OCA.

          The MP will back the OCA because it can’t take back what it has done unilaterally. However, if the OCA were to give up its status, the MP would listen.

          This will be a full church diplomatic affaire and both the EP and the MP know that the OCA has no competent people to swim in these waters. The EP has the upper hand and the MP knows it. This is where it gets down to what is more important to the MP, the OCA or the Ukraine? There is no doubt it is the Ukraine. It must continue to be an intergal part of the MP.

          I think Jonah understands that it would be best for the OCA to go back under the MP because it would have much more leverage in a Great and Holy Council. Otherwise it will have no voice, no vote, no real presence (maybe as on observer) and all these decisions will be made with the OCA being treated like an “uncanonical” sect. I am not saying that anyone thinks they are but they will have no place at the table.

          What is so hard for folks to accept is that the status of the OCA has always been in question. What is different today is that there is no one person, like the previous Chancellor Kondratick, who was able to navigate through all the personalities. He was able to pick up the phone and talk to anyone in Russia, including the Patriarch. He was able to pick up the phone and call +Bartholomew and speak with him directly. There was no Orthodox leader in the world who would not accept his call, be happy to invite him to their respective Church and discuss things. This is how the OCA was able to survive as long as it has without Communion being cut off, which it could have several times over the decades.

          Today, the OCA has no one close to the caliber of Kondratick to advocate for the OCA. None. And we are paying a price. The OCA is in serious trouble and all the bravado of people like Benjamin, Nathaniel, and some folks who write here can change that. I also think there are bishops on the Synod who understand this and can think clearly.

          The ACOB process would take a huge step forward if the OCA went back under the MP or was able to work out some status similar to the ROCOR under the MP. It solves two major stumbling blocks here in the USA which make the prospect of unity that much easier (not that it will be easy) to complete. With the MP, the OCA and ROCOR become major players in deciding the future of unity in the USA. Without the MP, the OCA will at best continue as it is now, a weak and marginalized Orthodox group in the USA.

          Remember that when Jonah and his chaperone Melchezidek went to Moscow at the end of 2010, Pat. Kirill spelled all of this out in diplomatic terms to the two of them. But when just two months later the Synod attempted its coup the MP learned from the Jonah affaire that the OCA leadership is dysfunctional. If the MP really had faith in the OCA leadership it would not have sent Met. Hilarion. That event, I believe spelled the beginning of the end of the OCA.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Jacob, very interesting. You seem to be very much in the know. I can see how under this scenario the OCA wouldn’t be invited to a Great and Holy Council, but what about the other American jurisdictions? I can’t see them being invited as well. Also: shouldn’t all canonical bishops be invited to this council? And here’s the trap that I believe the EP walked into when it was forced to set up the ACOB contraption: All bishops in America are canonical by definition now, aren’t they?

            • George,

              They were never not canonical, except for some “fly by night” groups that call themselves Orthodox. However, you are correct, none would be invited except as part of their Mother Church delegation. But there is the rub, the OCA can’t be seated with her Mother Church because her Mother Church gave her independence, of which only Moscow, for the purposes of the GHC could advocate for her daughter Church to have a seat, but won’t because the MP knows it would be to no avail and just as bad, there is no one in the OCA that can effectively advocate the OCA position.

              As I said before, back to Moscow would solve the major problem in the USA for the ACOB concerning the OCA.

              • geo michalopulos says

                Interesting. Of course, a lot of this is contingent on whether there’s going to be a ghc, doesn’t it?

                • I am sure that those in current OCA leadership (besides +Jonah) are doing what little they can to avoid one. But whether one is called or not, the OCA is becoming less and less important.

                  • Jacob, you make it sound like +Jonah is the last person in OCA leadership who isn’t dangerously naive and/or insane with respect to the OCA’s viability.

                    Problem is, I have no trouble believing you.

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                What makes you think HS will agree to go back under Moscow? And how are they going to sell this to the lay people in the parishes?

                • @ Helga, +Jonah gets it which makes him “dangerous” to the (as VFR likes to say, the “OCA First Families.” They have staked their claim to fame on the myth of the OCA. Jonah, not being “schooled” in the way of the “First Family” becomes a threat to that status quo. Hence a certain protopresbyter of the First Family can mark him as “gravely troubled.”

                  @ Lola, I don’t know the answer to that but if members of our Synod act like feudal lords protecting their respective diocesan estates why should real feudal lords of oversees outposts act any differently. I don’t really think most laity could care, as long as they have a priest. Bishops and clergy have the most adjustments to make. But for clergy, in the OCA, their biggest question is if they are vested in the OCA pension plan how a new Orthodox structure would impact their pension. That is why I said earlier, the most important structural move the ACOB could be making now is starting a unified clergy pension plan that covers all Orthodox clergy across jurisdictional lines. That would break down a major hurdle and bring all clergy closer together.

                  • But + Jonah is “troubled.” This isn’t conjecture, but fact. Many believe he was brain washed while in Russia and possibly so. However, the real problem with + Jonah is his own demons from his past. The OCA has had other hierarchs with these issues and have dismissed or retired them – thank God. + Jonah cannot survive for the long-haul and will be replaced. He would do better to go to Dallas or go back to his monastery in CA. The issue is, who would be next? Bishop-elect Golitzin is the only one bright enough and savvy enough to move the OCA forward. The retired + Tikhon here crowed loudly when he won the crown of the West over Golitzin years ago.(a disaster) Now we’ll see who will crow and how loudly!

                    • Diogenes,

                      If you only knew how ridiculous you sound. You have no idea about the people you speak about, especially Golitzin. Don’t you just love it. Jonah’s critics crow that he was not ready to be Metropolitan, yet the sage Diogenes pronounces Golitzin is ready, he who has not even yet been made a bishop. Such logic. Such sound thinking. I am surprised that you would pass over such stellar replacements like Benjamin.

                      Exactly what “demons” are you referring to? Spell them out.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Diogenes, I second that. What “demons”? Spell them out.

                    • You’ve made it quite obvious, Diogenes, that you are the one who is really gravely troubled.

                    • Diogenes writes,

                      But + Jonah is “troubled.” This isn’t conjecture, but fact. Many believe he was brain washed while in Russia and possibly so. However, the real problem with + Jonah is his own demons from his past. The OCA has had other hierarchs with these issues and have dismissed or retired them – thank God. + Jonah cannot survive for the long-haul and will be replaced. He would do better to go to Dallas or go back to his monastery in CA. The issue is, who would be next? Bishop-elect Golitzin is the only one bright enough and savvy enough to move the OCA forward. The retired + Tikhon here crowed loudly when he won the crown of the West over Golitzin years ago.(a disaster) Now we’ll see who will crow and how loudly!

                      Diogenes, you speak of “demons from the past” haunting Met. Jonah. Why then do you speak so highly about this Fr. Alexander Golitzin, having once been on the Synod’s “do not consecrate” list? As for the possibility of him succeeding Met. Jonah, how will you break this to the poor Bulgarian Diocese, finally having their own bishop after so many years, that they’ve been used?

                      And what are these demons you speak of? This sounds like none of you can come up with a single canonical infraction to hang +Jonah with, so here come these reckless and humiliating insinuations about him and his supposed past.

                      It’s interesting how none of Met. Jonah’s “past” was bad enough to keep the Holy Synod from sending him to found that monastery to begin with, or to stop Archbishop Dmitri from taking him as a potential successor, or to stop the Holy Synod from electing him Bishop of Fort Worth. They had all the time in the world to dig up whatever corpses Met. Jonah would have preferred to remain buried. But ten weeks after electing him to the episcopate, they elected him UNANIMOUSLY to be Metropolitan! Strange, indeed! Am I to understand that +Jonah managed to exert some sort of brainwashing influence on everyone at that council?!

                      And you say he may have been “brainwashed” in Russia. Who brainwashed him and to what purpose? How does he behave that makes it apparent to you that he has been brainwashed?

                      Maybe you think he’s been brainwashed because he doesn’t flinch when you beat him. Humility and grace can give him that ability, too, but it doesn’t surprise me one bit that you would look at someone with so many gifts of the Spirit, and call him a madman.

                  • Jacob, I’ve long thought that Met. Jonah was only tolerated to begin with because it was thought he would be easy to manipulate.

                    After he was elected, there was a definite honeymoon period. But at some point that year, 2009, they realized he actually meant all that stuff about cleaning Syosset’s clock, and that the Tomos was not carved in stone, and that he was willing to give his frank opinion without being pre-programmed and rolled out on cue.

                    There’s the “Crisis and Opportunity” speech in February, calling out the EP in March/April, saying the OCA’s vocation is to “disappear” in June, proposing to move the national chancery to DC… all wild propositions for the Syosset crowd, but useful for, you know, normal people who actually want to have a church working the way it’s supposed to.

                    Part of Met. Jonah’s usefulness has been that amazing AAC: it was a major coup to have this Metropolitan “Cinderella” as the figurehead, while the functionaries hold the real power. That’s why they tried so hard to beat him into submission.

                    That didn’t work, so they tried to humiliate him into resigning: that poor, sad little thing tried his best, but just cracked under all the pressure, right? But that didn’t work, either, because it was a transparent lie. Diogenes is trying to revive it, but it’s just sad. It’s like watching a baby animal trying to wake his dead mother.

                    • Helga,

                      I don’t think one can overestimate the shock that was felt by the OCA establishment when Jonah was nominated by the AAC. Job was the well-groomed replacement for Herman. His “courageous” stand against the Evil Empire was a lock for him to be the next Metropolitan. Then this interloper, never a favorite while at SVS with his Russophile leanings and free-thinking made him an unknown and certainly not yet sufficiently groomed (compromised) to be our leader. But the Synod was in no position to buck the riled up AAC.

                      Job was perfect. His background was well-known, even to his most ardent supporter, Stokoe, who used him to perfection. He was groomed as his episcopal front and protector, knowing all the while his compromising weaknesses. I am not saying that Job did not think he was doing the right thing. He most certainly was convinced of his beliefs. But when Job knew he had a chance at the White Hat, he was energized.

                      But Jonah wrecked “the best laid plans of mice and men.” The stage was set in Pittsburgh. The last threat, Ab. Seraphim, was the only real contender to Job. But that was easy to take care of with the 11th hour reminder to Seraphim of his compromised background by a certain priest in the Midwest (oh those Free Men again.) And, just like that, Seraphim bows out of the race. It was going to be Job. Slam dunk. But then Jonah gave The Speech and all bets were off and the rest is history.

                      But do not think for one moment that the “Inner Circle” in Syosset is resting. Reports that the SMPAC fiction will be revealed at the Holy Synod meeting will be the next charge. Notice how quiet Benjamin has been. He has been laying so low that the silence is screaming. The Hopko, Stokoe, Kishkovsky, Jillions, Wheeler, Garklavs, Benjamin, Melchizedek, Tikhon, Nikon, oh and yes Maymon kabal are working and ready to pounce the moment Jonah steps out of line. Notice how they won’t even let Jonah select his own kelenik. They sure don’t want another Monk James as his aide-de-camp. No, the next one must be “vetted” very carefully so that he knows who his real boss is.

                      At the moment there is peace in Syosset mostly because Jonah is hardly there. He has gladly handed things over to Jillions and the MC. Could it be that Jonah is giving them enough rope to hang themselves? One thing is for sure, the new MC is not a push over. There is a serious block of people who are not buying the standard chancery bull and who support Jonah. This is encouraging.

                      Here is the bottom line – does Jonah have the stomach to fight? The anti-Jonah forces are betting he does not. They got rid of those who were loyal to him:,Fester, Monk James and the DC Nuns. Notice how they went after Zacchaeus when he came to Jonah’s defense. It was well-played, to be sure by Benjamin, Melchizedek, Maymon and Stokoe. But what they did not count on was the response by Moscow. They never thought that the MP would get involved like it did. Stay tuned.

                    • Jacob, I’m not sure I grasp all of what you’re saying. I know Stokoe desperately wanted his great protector to become Metropolitan, but from what I heard, Archbishop Job hated being a bishop and wanted to retire.

                      Maybe that was all an act, I don’t know – it’s not like anything was stopping him from retiring immediately instead of waiting until he would have been 65, and he could have easily withdrawn from the nomination process like Archbishop Seraphim did. (As an aside, it’s precisely that blackmailing that makes me suspect Archbishop Seraphim is possibly being railroaded.) I did see a lot of those people at least profess to like Met. Jonah when he was elected. Stokoe took about two months to get cranky (I recall something about a very pricey panagia that Met. Jonah actually had nothing to do with commissioning); other people took longer. I think April 2009 was when they said Met. Jonah could no longer travel abroad without being “accompanied” by another bishop.

                      Yes, I see Bishop Benjamin has been quiet. It makes me wonder if Met. Jonah has been able to look into the same thing he was trying to investigate officially in February 2011.

                      When they start the SMPAC lynching again, I’m not sure what Met. Jonah can do but hang on as best he can. But one thing that gives me a smidge of hope is that he is moving his parents to DC: I just can’t think he would put them through a cross-country move if he thought there was a reasonable chance he’d be out of a job shortly.

                      As for Met. Jonah’s kelenik, they sure did a great job of making that position look as incredibly unappealing as possible, right? Even though for a monastic it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary, it looks crazy to laypeople. With that said, I do pray earnestly that Met. Jonah will be able to find someone for the job.

                      And I think you are right about Met. Jonah giving Fr. John Jillions and the meanies on the MC enough rope to hang themselves. If they’re as delusional as our pal Diogenes, their power structure is not long for this world regardless of what they do to Met. Jonah.

                      As for Met. Jonah’s strength, there are many, many laypeople out there who believe in him, and he does have allies on the MC now along with Moscow. They can get to some of his supporters, but they can’t possibly get rid of all of us, so I hope he will remain strong, knowing the present trial will not last forever.

                      Apart from that, the really essential thing to do is to keep Bishop Mark out of Dallas. You know they are trying very hard to make him the new Bishop of the DOS. For reasons we all know, that would be an unqualified disaster, not just for Met Jonah but for the whole DOS, which is by a wide margin the strongest and healthiest diocese in the OCA.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Helga–It has been dawning slowly in my old head but I have noticed (a) that many regulars here are kowtowing toward Jacob and (b) Jacob is writing as a protopresbyter or even a bishop, somebody who was/is in position of power. If true, I could speculate that our “Jacob” is none other than +Nikolai, or former priest Kondratick or even Father Joseph Fester. Come to think of it, you yourself write like an informed matushka.

                      And, here I am posting in the middle of this particular cabal; way, way outclassed! Bozhe moi!

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Carl, I’ve seen kowtowing to people in the Orthodox Church before. Nope. Not happening here. Not even remotely.

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            Pretty good, Jacob, pretty darned good. However, in the case of an attempt at a Council with being “Ecumenical” as its target, the Ecumenical Patriarchate would be hard put, indeed, to rationalize not inviting ALL Orthodox hierarchs with whom they concelebrate the Divine Liturgy to that council.

            • There’s a simple solution to that, Your Grace… they can break communion with the OCA!

  7. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    Bishop Nikon is, of course, responsible for his own actions; however, in the area under discussion we should realize that he has been deprived of an important ingredient in the normal decision-making process of an Orthodox hierarch–no one, obviously, gave him anything resembling competently formulated advice.

    If ANYONE, for example, any brother hierarch, including the First Hierarch, or any leading official in the “Central” Administration (which, by the way, would be called a “Patriarchal Administration” or “Synodal Administration” in a normal Local Church), had learned of such an upcoming visit, he should have suggested to Bishop Nikon that there were important diplomatic and ecclesiastical ramifications in extending any invitations to the kosovite president, which he should consider and that if he wished to go ahead on the course he eventually took, he should prepare the way in advance and have a ready-made press release which would address the pertinent issues.

    If, for example, someone from the State Department contacted Bishop Nikon, Bishop Nikon should have been advised by His Beatitude as to His Beatitude’s personal views, and Bishop Nikon’s Chancellor, if he had half a brain, should have asked him to contact the nearest Serbian Bishop, as well as the GOA’s token Albanian hierarch,to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Before Archbishop Peter reposed, Archpriest Kishkovsky’s decisions were not always accepted as Oracles; however, one must realize that Archpriest Leonid NOW probably is more intelligent and capable a person than anyone in the Synod, Metropolitan, Council, or Chancery, while being absolutely tenacious as a bulldog when anyone suggests he might be wrong about something.

    It seems to me, too, that while relations with non-OCA hierarchs and hierarchies are the responsibility of he First Hierarch, there is no limitation on any diocesan bishop’s relations with anyone not a member of a religious leadership at all. If Bishop Benjamin, for example, would wish to invite the King of the Gypsies, the Chief of the Arapahoes, or Christopher Hitchins, or Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, or the President of Ireland to visit Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco, there would be no canonical or statutory prohibition against him doing so without consulting any Synod or other hierarch whatsoever.

    And, you know, no one is going to rebuke Father Leonid for giving bad advice. What an idea!

    Diogenes/Eric, by the way, accused me of hating the OCA! What an idea! I am SO sorry about what has befallen the OCA and SO sad about its present state, but I can’t imagine hating it. If I admire the relative stability and canonical faithfulness of ROCOR from time to time, that should not be understood as “giving comfort to the enemy.” Nevertheless, there has always been one element in the Metropolia/OCA that has thought and acted in such terms and according to such an axiom. That element, today, prevails in all the life of the OCA now. Why Metropolitan Jonah has been treated like a DOG for even hinting that he did not support one-hundred-percent the OCA’s “wisdom of the day.” And the Synod is divided between the incompetents,the ambitious, and those who want only to be on “the winning side” .The MC is more than absolutely worthless in ameliorating or improving anything of substance in the OCA It’s an anomaly: the leftovers of the old diocesan council before WWI.

    No matter how true and “right on” it is to say, “None of this would have transpired if Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick had not be tarred and feathered by ecclesiastical hooligans and he were still the Chancellor of the OCA,” it is pointless to say it as long as Noone will admit he was wrong. As far as I’m aware, the last expression of a good and honest heart was the refusal by Archpriest Eugene Vansuch of Blessed Memory, to go to Alaska to lead a charge against Bishop Nikolai, the outcome of which was pre-determined.

    God is not mocked!

    • Excellent post.

      It is impossible, of course, to have such an obvious brotherly relationship between the members of the Holy Synod when they’re busy planning and potting against the First Hierarch and probably, each other. To “ask advice” and to “make sure that all are on the same page” are obvious things in business (at least in mine. I’m always reaching out to my boss or other business leaders about ramifications of business decisions.). It’s an indication of the dysfunctional nature of the entire governance structure of the OCA. And it also gives the obvious answer as to to how the obsession with policies, procedures, guidelines, “clipping the wings” of the Metropolitan, the soon-to-be Sex Czar, and the like, have gained such a foothold in the OCA. Or when you read the MC minutes, you’ll note how they lauded bringing in a “faciliator” to resolve problems, and recommended they continue to do that. When there is a lack of common sense and brotherly affection, replace that with a policy handbook or a consultant.

      So we must forgive Bishop Nikon for not having a clear policy on “inviting female Muslim leader of a breakaway replublic.” I’m sure the MC will form a committee soon to address the pressing need, completely with pretty spreadsheets and colorful powerpoint presentations.

  8. Excellent post.

    It is impossible, of course, to have such a obvious brotherly relationship between the members of the Holy Synod when they’re busy planning and potting against the First Hierarch and probably, each other. To “ask advice” and to “make sure that all are on the same page” are obvious things in business (at least in mine. I’m always reaching out to my boss or other business leaders about ramifications of business decisions.). It’s an indication of the dysfunctional nature of the entire governance structure of the OCA. And it also gives the obvious answer as to to how the obsession with policies, procedure, “clipping the wings” of the Metropolitan, the soon-to-be Sex Czar, and the like have gained such a foothold in the OCA. When there is a lack of common sense and brotherly affection, replace that with a policy handbook.

    So we must forgive Bishop Nikon for not having a policy on “inviting female Muslim leader of a breakaway replublic.” I’m sure the MC will form a committee soon to address the pressing need, completely with pretty spreadsheets and colorful powerpoint presentations.

  9. Reading here, it’s quite clear there are some “very touched” people posting here. Many with agendas of twisting & turning the truth. Basically, the work of the devil. Truly a shame. I guess the Lenten Fast means very little to some!

    • Diogenes, you obviously never learned one of the basic lessons of adult life: “Never throw something at some one that can be thrown back at you.”

      • Twisting the truth? Exactly where and how? Or Is it a case, dear Diogenes that “You can’t handle the truth?” or simply that, like Pilate, you would not know the truth if it was staring you in the face?

        • Diogenes’ mind lives in a “parallel universe” of his own making.

        • Jane Rachel says

          If Diogenes is Eric, how does his “Christian” witness here speak to his “Christian” witness back in 2006?

  10. Archpriest Yuri Maev says

    There is something missing in Fr. Arthur’s liturgical vestments, so, everything what has happen cannot be seen as real.

  11. “I guess the Lenten Fast means very little to some!”

    Now that is an almost admirable display of chutzpah — after insulting people here and ROCOR collectively numerous times in the last few weeks:

    Death will be at your door before you know it.
    Right….if we want to pretend we’re in 17th century Russia!
    Congratulations on being a proofreader. Now, go back to your knitting.
    ROCOR is dead.
    ROCOR is DEAD!
    As far as ROCOR is concerned, I think all Orthodox should join this sect. Afterall, Czar Putin is back!
    Everyone knows ROCOR is dying from within – no money. Even Moscow doesn’t really know what to make of them.
    ROCOR is a dying sect and has no reason to exist since Communism no longer rules.
    ROCOR was a sectarian church which is legitimized by it’s [sic for Jane] recent union under Moscow. Moscow has NO real authority in N. America – neither does ROCOR.

    Diogenes, who in ROCOR mistreated you so? Whence comes this anger?

    • Hello Joseph II.

      It just came to me. If we had a ROCOR monastery here in BC, it could be dead too… We have unfortunately only Holy Trinity in Vancouver and that one is not expired yet… it’s not even resting or pining for the fields…


      • I love Monty Python, and John Cleese is brilliant.

        Joseph the High Canuck, I wanted to know if you ever condescend to take the ferry south to our long suffering country in order to visit Vashon Island. All Merciful Saviour Orthodox Monastery is there. I visited it eight years ago, and it is really lovely. Small, but peaceful. A doe decided to munch on some ornamental flowers by the temple during the liturgy when I went. That is my kind of place — Snow White meets God, you know?

  12. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    Went to Entrance of Theotokos Monastery – wonderful visit. Full report later.

    • Please…I have the place is wonderful and is thriving…what a blessing!

      • Lola and Stephen,

        You must be mistaken . . . your visit could not have been wonderful, and the monastery cannot be thriving. Didn’t you get the memo (well, several, actually) that ROCOR is dead? DEAD, even!

        • I even hear the monastery has new vocations. But ROCOR is dead, DEAD, I say!

          I thought maybe Diogenes is just a troll, but I know there are people who really think the way he does.

          • Yes, people like + Jonah. Ask him!

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              Diogenes! Who is “+Jonah?” Is he the same person as is indicated in the signature: “+Metropolitan Jonah” and/or “+Jonah, Metropolitan?” I know that the plus sign placed before a signed Christian name may indicate that the signer is a hierarch, or an abbot or abbess. But it seems senseless to use the plus sign in other contexts. Surely one doesn’t address, say, Metropolitan Jonah, orally, as “Plus Jonah?” or ‘Sign of the Cross Jonah?” Or is it, rather a crude or lazy way of sneaking in a little levelling disrespect, as it always was on Mrs. Steve Brown’s site?

          • George Michalopulos says

            It’s dead, Dead, DEAD I tell you!!! Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes? Move along, there’s nothing to see here.

          • Yes, Helga. As Mrs. Basil Fawlty would exclaim, “Oh, I KNOW….I KNOW!”

            • “..Mrs. Basil Fawlty would exclaim, “Oh, I KNOW….I KNOW!”..

              One of my all time favourite shows… but it is now dead too….

        • I have not been there…friends have..sounds wonderful though..

    • Pravoslavnie says

      The Convent of the Entrance of the Theotokos is indeed a spiritual oasis where anyone can’t help but feel closer to Christ. I’ve been up there four times myself, and I liken each visit to a spiritual recharge. We always meet the most interesting people, and constantly note that the pilgrims arrive from many jurisdictions. Apparently these people didn’t get the word that ROCOR is dead.

  13. I have heard the place is wonderful and thriving…What a blessing!

  14. Turkey to reopen Halki seminary, Obama says

    Turkey has decided to reopen a former Greek Orthodox seminary on an island off the Istanbul coast, according to a statement made by US President Barack Obama.

    “I am pleased to hear of his decision to reopen the Halki seminary,” the American President said after a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the eve of a two-day nuclear security summit in Seoul on Sunday.

    The European Union has said re-opening Halki seminary, a centre of Orthodox scholarship for more than a century until Turkey closed it down in 1971, is key if Ankara is to prove a commitment to human rights and pluralism and advance its membership bid.

    During the meeting in Seoul, the two leaders discussed ways to press Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside, including non-lethal assistance to the opposition and getting Iran to stop supporting Assad’s regime.

    Obama is expected to visit Turkey for the second time in June, Erdogan said.

    ekathimerini.com , Monday March 26, 2012 (10:29)

    • Kudos to President Obama who has been working on this behind the scenes with great intensity.

      BTW, Dio, ROCOR is DEAD just like Jonah is “gravely troubled.”

      You got no cred here Diogenes, except as a troll.

      • Don’t believe me, ask + Jonah himself. ROCOR is DEAD!

        • You know, Diogenes, you, like A. Nevins, “don’t have it all upstairs” (as my mother would say).

        • Interesting, then, how the “dead” ROCOR’s Metropolitan has been so nice to Metropolitan Jonah, he gave him permission to celebrate in ROCOR parishes without having to go through the usual channels.

          “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country and in his own house.”

          • And I sure hope Diogenes is not a practicing physician with the authority to pronounce when someone is alive or dead!

          • Pravoslavnie says

            The mutual love and respect continues this Saturday at ROCOR’s St. John the Baptist Cathedral in DC. Metropolitan Jonah will be delivering one of his Lenten lecture series at St. John. His Beatitude usually delivers these lectures on Saturday’s over at his own St. Nick’s. From the St. John parish bulliten:

            “With the blessing of His Eminence, the Very Most Reverend Metropolitan Hilarion, on March 31, after lunch (11:30 AM) following the Divine Liturgy for the Saturday of the Akathist (10:00 AM), His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will present a talk on the subject, “Raise me above this world’s confusion” (from the 7th prayer of the Morning Rule. A discussion of that theme will follow. The entire seminar will be conducted in English.”

            Note that the seminar will be in English although Mrs. Pravoslavnie tells me that His Beatitude speaks reasonably good Russian.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Speak for yourself please. I get where Diogenes is coming from and he is more right than wrong.

    • Very good news, indeed. Yet, I wonder what the strings were. Hopefully, they were not related to our special relationship with a certain nation in the neighborhood.

      It could have been done in good faith, though. I don’t know . . . weren’t the Kemalists worse to the Christians than the Ottomans? Maybe, an Islamic party would be an improvement over Turkish nationalists. That doesn’t seem to be the case in the Arab world because the Christians there are mostly fellow Arabs and nationalism has worked toward their advantage. That isn’t the case in Turkey.

  15. OK. I asked him. He says he is not “gravely troubled.” He also doesn’t think ROCOR is dead. So, I guess you are out of luck.

    • Jane Rachel says

      “Like” button!

    • Ask him if he considers people who think he’s crazy and should resign, to be his friends! I’m going to guess no, they’re not really his friends.

    • geo michalopulos says

      Only a moron would believe either contention. They only go further on the limb when they speak this way.

  16. Looks like many here like to live in the land of non-reality. They make their own reality and believe it. + Jonah wasn’t taken to task by the other bishops and MC because of nothing. There were serious reasons of “not thinking and acting right.” They had hoped this was checked by an evaluation, but + Jonah has not taken this seriously and has reverted to his “old ways.” This is fact.

    ROCOR recently announced it was going to sell it’s NYC hdqrts due to lack of funds. It’s monastery in upstate NY is ready to close. Without Moscow stepping in, everything may disappear shortly.

    • Diogenes, the most that came out of that evaluation, from an institution selected by the very people who said Met. Jonah needed an evaluation, was an OCD diagnosis. Are you saying SLI missed something? What behavior do you keep hinting at? Please, I am all ears.

      ROCOR is preparing to unload the 93rd and Park headquarters for the very same reasons Met. Jonah has been arguing for selling the OCA’s Syosset headquarters: they are very valuable while being terribly expensive to maintain.

      The OCA is not dying for need to sell its headquarters, it’s dying because it’s run by a bunch of impotent functionaries who can’t be arsed to actually do their jobs instead of picking at the Metropolitan and each other like bitchy little girls.

      ROCOR needs to sell its headquarters, but it is not dying, because unlike what goes on in the OCA, they actually work hard and do what’s necessary to fulfill the Great Commission, like taking in a thriving monastery that the OCA spurned for no good reason..

      • Yep, living in their own reality!

        • Diogenes, please allow me a furlough from my insanity and a day pass into reality, and tell me what behavior has you concerned about Metropolitan Jonah’s health.

    • Sorry Diogenes, ROCOR found the money to rehab 93rd St, unlike the OCA that is can’t raise any money except by taxing its people. You see, people in ROCOR believe in what it stands for. So again, you only remember what you think is real when in fact all you are is a shill for the Stokovites who can’t quite figure out how to rule after the revolution. But keep drinkn that OCA kool aid if it makes you feel better about yourself.

      Everyone, please don’t talk to loud. We don’t want to wake Dio from his sleep where he dreams up these things. He would have made a great member of the soviet proletariat believing ever word that Pravda printed.

      • Jacob, that’s great news! The last I had heard was that they were preparing to sell if they couldn’t get the money. And nothing at all to say they were in danger of folding as a church. So much for “dead” ROCOR.

        • Don’t worry Dio will keep beating that dead horse as long as he can. Of course he wishes ROCOR would disappear so the OCA can be the Russian presence here in the USA. But, alas, the OCA has done next to nothing for Russian immigrants since the fall of the Iron Curtain. The very idea of having a Russian Diocese was shot down by the elite of the OCA long ago. I remember one of them saying, “let them go to ROCOR if they want the Old Calendar and Slavonic.” They did. But there was one voice of reason then, Bishop Basil Rodzianko who pastorally kept some of his parishes in the West on the Old Calendar when the OCA officially went New Calendar. Remember him? He was branded a nut job and sent out to pasture.

          I find all this talk about ROCOR amazing. Another idea, a Western Rite in the OCA. That one got shot down, big time by Fr. Alexander. The Antiochians saw the need and jumped in, and, can you believe it, so did ROCOR. ROCOR even has a Benedictine order Western Rite Monastery. Oh those backward thinking, ROCOR people. Next thing you know they will use English and have parishes on the New Calendar. Opps. Wait. They already do.

          But we in the OCA, we have Strategic Plans, Best Practices, a Sex Czar and SMPAC’s. Let me see, which jurisdiction seems to be meeting the needs of those seeking Orthodoxy in the multi-faceted USA?

          In the end, Russia has the deep pockets now and their commitment to ROCOR will not be just lip service like the MP shows the OCA.

          If anyone is dying it is the OCA not ROCOR. What a tragic missed opportunity. But at least Jonah can see with a clear eye. Watch out, they might try the Rodizanko solution on him. Oh yeah, they already tried that. Stay tuned.

          • You forgot about the transparent finances of the OCA. Don’t forget about all the pretty spreadsheets and reams of polices and procedures. Oh, and there’s the deep sense of unity and brotherly love in the OCA among the clergy and the laity, don’t forget about that either! O – C – A! All – the – way!

          • You tell ’em, Jacob. Diogenes can’t get his facts straight about ROCOR, but he presumes to judge Metropolitan Jonah’s mental state!

            I ask again, what behavior of Met. Jonah’s continues to cause him such concern?

            It’s very suspicious to me that Met. Jonah must have some mystery disease that interferes severely with his ability to function normally, yet only manifests around his political enemies. (“How conveeeenient!“, as the Church Lady says!)

            Metropolitan Jonah has been mentally evaluated twice. Both times he came up sane and sober. I wonder how many other people in Syosset could manage that!

            • Helga,

              If they can’t blame Jonah for everything wrong in the OCA, then they would have to look at themselves for the decline of the OCA as institution.

              If Jonah was not so humble, others say weak, he would have made stands at many key points in the past 3 years to stand his ground, including when the Synod gave him the ultimatum to read the section of his speech at the AAC in where he took “blame” for the ills of the OCA. But, consider this, he has done everything that they have asked him to do, including go for his mental checkup, and that shot blanks on that one and Jonah is still the Metropolitan.

              Sometimes you make tactical retreats to fight another day for what you know in your heart is right.

              Diogenes is clear in his opposition to Jonah. I wonder who he thinks would be a better choice? Probably a married priest made a bishop. I wonder who would be on that list. Pray, tell us Diogenes.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                I know: Father Fester. He has lots of experience already in whispering sweet nothings to bishops. He believes in a strong Metropolinate, modeled somewhat after the church from whence he came. He is sly, cunning, organized, charismatic and very efficient. In other words, the perfect candidate for the regulars on this site.

                • Heracleides says

                  Speaking of an “utterly unredeemable jerk”… shoe, foot; foot, shoe.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Carl, do you know Father Fester? Oh, I see the colon now. Never mind.

                • I can never tell when Carl is speaking “with tongue in cheek” or “out of both sides of his mouth at once,” but it always seems to be “with forked tongue.”

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    Sigh! That was “tongue in cheek.” However, no such humor can be successful if it is not based on some reality. Thus the portrayal of Father Fester as an eminence grise, a Grima the Wormtongue.

                    That’s OK though; I pray that I will be as sharp as you when I reach your age a few decades from now. 😉

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Grima Wormtongue would not have written that letter Father Joseph wrote to the OCA clergy. Let’s see, what did Father Joseph write? Here ’tis:


                      Letter to OCA Clergy
                      Posted by from Fr. Joseph Fester on 3/3/2011, 8:45 am

                      From: Joseph Fester
                      Date: Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 10:01 PM
                      Subject: Re: [pastoralcr] Some words from the venerable presbyters among us

                      Dear Fr John and Brothers,

                      I write you tonight to warn you that Mark Stokoe is preparing to post another of his devilishly spun “stories” mixing half truths and inaccurate statements on the backdrop of a timeline of His Beatitude’s movements since the Synod ambushed him in Santa Fe. The ambush was lead by two members of the Synod.

                      Stokoe is scared and he should be because His Beatitude has in his possession concrete proof of the efforts of people, including Stokoe to have His Beatitude removed from office. This is a carefully orchestrated plan involving members of the Metropolitan Council, five principles, members of the chancery staff in Syosset, including the former chancellor, Alexander Garklavs, working with Stokoe to discredit His Beatitude, sow seeds of doubt about his mental capacity and using the much familiar buzz words as “Whistle-blower” NY State Law, Best Practices, etc. all designed to scare the Church into a quick take down of His Beatitude.

                      His Beatitude saw this coming when he realized that when the Bishops categorically rejected the term “rest or retreat” and insisted on “Leave of Absence” for his status, it was the first step in a movement to remove him.

                      The proof of this will be made public soon and the intrigue behind the scenes to use a report of the MC Sexual Misconduct Committee to tar and feather Jonah and make him look incompetent. The report is not only inaccurate, its members were and are afraid that its contents could expose them to legal action. You won’t hear that from Stokoe.

                      And while we are at it, when are any of us going to stand up and ask the question, “Why is a homosexual man, on the Metropolitan Council?”

                      Mark Stokoe is a master manipulator and a liar. He has used this church and all of us too long and now he is trying to manipulate the removal of His Beatitude by ginning up the mob (can you hear Crucify Him, Crucify Him!) If we don’t stand up now and move out, and he is banking that we will be too scared to say anything, we will not only lose His Beatitude, but we will lose the OCA. This is not hyperbole.

                      Alexander Garklavs was relieved of his duties with his resignation being accepted because His Beatitude gave a rebuttal of the Sexual Misconduct Report. You won’t hear that from Stokoe as he will begin to create the human cry that “we must DEMAND Garklavs return.” The MC will be ginned up to do this and the Synod will cave in. That is his goal.

                      Alexander Garklavs will not only lose his job, but he may lose his priesthood because of the manipulation of that report. We have the evidence, and it will be produced, not to hurt Fr Alexander, who still has time to repent, but more importantly to stop this rush to judgment.

                      Understand this, the history of the Leave of Absence in the OCA is a dark and sorrid manueaver. It was used to “encourage” Bishop Basil Rodizanko to rest, then to push him aside. It was used to keep Metropolitan Ireney on a leave for 4 years, it was used on other bishops in the OCA.

                      The plan is simple in its execution, discredit Jonah, convince him, “for the good of the Church” and for his own welfare, to go on a Leave and then, never let him off.

                      One bishop on the Synod revealed this to his aide, “we will put him on a leave, then we will keep extending it until after the AAC, then we will elect a new metropolitan at a special Council or wait until the next AAC.”

                      That, my brothers is the plan and Stokoe and his website are two steps ahead of us. But what he will soon discover is that he left tracks and those tracks will be exposed. He is not, the great purveyor of truth and transparency. He is working against the good order of the Church. We all know in our gut that there is something wrong with his website and therefore there is something wrong with him. I am not saying that he is beyond repentance and redemption, but we have to help him and those who read his stuff, and warn them, that this is not good for the souls of our spiritual children.

                      I beg you, and by writing this, I will be set upon, I beg you, to stand up against him. And how? By first writing here, each one of you who knows that this campaign against His Beatitude is wrong and it is unnecessary. We all have faults, we all can do better, but we all called to work together, as brothers, in unity, to help the one who is weak, to build him up.

                      When will we stop this eating our own culture of the OCA end? When will be say, enough is enough. I know I am “made and hell, and I am not going to take it anymore.” What about you my brothers. We know that His Beatitude is a good and decent man. He is a man of prayer. He is a formed monastic. He has battled through the spiritual battles and he is a dispassionate person who loves this Church and desires with all his heart to continue in his role as Metropolitan, a position given to him by the Holy Spirit and confirmed upon him by all of us.

                      The time is now to say, no to Mark Stokoe and yes to the Church and our Metropolitan. Post your support here, or send me an email letting me know that you support His Beatitude and will not be swayed by the innuendos, half-truths and outright lies that Stokoe will post shortly.

                      When I left Syosset in 2006 and went to the DOS, I was a man tainted by being labeled part of the “Inner Circle.” I went to the DOS and set out to do the job I was asked to do. I had many detractors, and rightly so. I mean, they didn’t know me. They only knew me through a report and the Stokoe website. There was nothing I could do about that except, do my job. When I recently left the DOS and came to DC (I wonder how long I will be here now) I was humbled to tears when my brothers in the DOS sent me off with love and respect for the job I had done. I didn’t do anything great, I just did what I was asked to do. As I was leaving, one of the senior priests of the DOS came up to me and said, “Father, you will always be in our Inner Circle in the DOS.”

                      I am putting myself on the line now. I may be moved, suspended, who knows what, but if I let this moment pass without standing up for a man who has done nothing deserving the slime job that Stokoe will now unleash upon him, I could not live with myself.

                      Brothers, it is now or never. Don’t abide Stokoe one inch. He will take it and spin it into a web that will entrap all of us. I beg you, not for me but for His Beatitude, who we know and love.

                      Please forgive me and pray for me.

                      We are at a tipping point and if we don’t stand now, we will all mark this day as one in which we will

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Jane R, like you, I’ve always thought that Stokoe was the Grima Wormtongue of the OCA, now I think it was a cerain revered archpriest. Anybody else have any opinions?

              • Jacob writes, “If they can’t blame Jonah for everything wrong in the OCA, then they would have to look at themselves for the decline of the OCA as institution.”

                Exactly. Never mind that it makes no sense whatsoever for Metropolitan Jonah to take the fall for things that have been going on since before he was even Metropolitan.

                The funny thing is, the more they blame Metropolitan Jonah, the more they expose themselves to scrutiny. When one person takes all the blame, when he can’t possibly be at fault for everything, sometimes people begin to wonder if the person is being scapegoated to conceal someone else’s responsibility.

          • “If anyone is dying it is the OCA not ROCOR. ……..Stay tuned.”

            Okay so now we (OCA) are dying too? Man, what are we going to do with the new church we are building or the one our daughter mission is building? And we thought we had covered all angles, English liturgy, new calendar in one parish, the old and Slavonic in the other, having produced so far four priests out of our small, oops it unfortunately doubled during the last five years, church. We have another young man with family off to SVS next summer, should we tell him? What about the four thriving missions that originated from our dying church? I guess they will have to commit hara-kiri as well.

            But then this is Canada, on top of it it is the West Coast of Canada and we live in igloos and usually don’t get the memos on time…. I guess that is why we are also praying with the Copts and get together with them and even with the Antiochians. The Greeks, not so much… but a lot of them, especially the younger ones, are coming to us… so do the Russians, the Romanians, the Scottish and even the Chinese… I guess they are all suicidal. No wonder with our weather here…

            I hope Lent will come to an end soon, the lack of protein shows in some of the posters…

            • Thanks for the good news, Joseph, it’s inspiring!

            • Joseph,

              That is good news and there is no doubt that on the ground, in certain areas with inspired clergy and laity, the Church grows. I have no doubt that you would be growing no matter what jurisdiction you were part of. My point is that as an institution the OCA may “exist” on paper but as a inspiration in and of itself, it is not. Compared to ROCOR, who some say is dead, the OCA is not doing better, especially in its current rush to be all things “business-like” i.e. best practices, a weak metropolitan, a ineffectual chancellor and an all-powerful MC. Checks on hierarchical responsibility.

              Just a thought, can you imagine if you were part of a local Orthodox Canadian Church instead of being the red-headed step child of the OC in America?

              Keep up the good work. Very inspiring.

              • Jacob: “Just a thought, can you imagine if you were part of a local Orthodox Canadian Church instead of being the red-headed step child of the OC in America?”

                We are thinking, we ARE thinking…. somewhere in this forum, I have put that thought on paper already…… and I am NOT alone in wearing my thinking cap. 😉

            • Jane Rachel says

              Joseph, you make a good point. I believe these guys who say the OCA is dying are talking about the leadership at the top and the lack of money at the top.

              Here’s a question: Do the problems at the top affect the people in the parishes? Maybe not. In which case Carl is right. All is well. Who cares whether our shepherds are good or not?

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                It’s an interesting dichotomy. The central administrative model is dying but some dioceses are growing. I wonder how long it will take for those bishops who rule over the static dioceses get the message? Money=growth. More money to Syosset means less money for missions. Hmmmm….

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  Not if you adapt the only Christian and fiscally sound methodology: Tithing by everybody and every level.

                  Me: 10% to my parish
                  My parish: 10% to Diocese of the South
                  Diocese of the South: 10% to OCA
                  OCA: 10% to outside the OCA (could be foreign missions, sister churches, any kind of charity)

                  • Carl,

                    You and I are in complete agreement as to funding the work of the Church.However, Syosset wants a whole lot more than 10% from a diocese and when a diocese is sending 75% plus of its income to Syosset and only keeping 25% or less, getting from here to there continues to be the question. Now the fact that the AAC sent a clear message to Syosset to reduce the head tax to $50, gives dioceses a fighting chance to not be under such a burden of dollar outflow. Such a change creates a window for parishes to preach Tithing since the burden of a Syosset head tax is lowered thus creating breathing room on the parish level.

                    As for from getting here to there, I would suggest you keep a close eye on the MC as to how they will implement the reduction of the Assessment decision by the AAC. Up to now, and they won’t meet again until the Fall, not one thing has been done to advance the reduction of the Assessment. At this point they can only hope that more folks will die and leave their estates to the OCA, as happened recently when a $400K estate came to the OCA. Maybe that is how they will pay for their Sex Czar. 😉

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      The problem with dioceses sending such a high percentage of their income to the OCA more than likely is because in certain dioceses folks are not tithing or, if they are, their median household income or the number of members have declined.

                      I ran some figures just to see what happens with the following assumptions:

                      – Median household income of $45,000, with each household having two members
                      – 50 households or 100 members per parish
                      – 50 parishes per diocese (2,500 households or 5,000 members)
                      – 10 dioceses total (25,000 households or 50,000 members)
                      – Non-tither members give an average of $20 per week (50% attendance rate)

                      In a tithing scenario:
                      Parishes collect $225,00 and tithe $22,500, keeping $202,500
                      Dioceses collect $1,125,000 and tithe $112.500, keeping $1,012,500
                      OCA collects $1,125,000 and tithe $112.500, keeping $1,012,500

                      Under this scenario, in order for the OCA to hold onto a $2.5 million budget, we either double the membership rolls or the percentage from diocese to OCA. The maximum Diocese assessment would be 22.22%.

                      Of course, in a non-tithing scenario, you will run into many problems, certainly starting at the parish level, where under my assumptions, parishes collect only $52,000, paying assessments to dioceses in the following amounts: $5,000 ($50/member), $10,000 ($100/member) and $15,000 ($150/member).. Interestingly, if the dioceses send up 50% of their take from their parishes, the OCA gets $1,250,000, $2,500,000 or $3,750,000 at the previously cited assessment levels.

                      Obviously, one cannot rush into a tithing paradigm shift, but we should also not rush into reducing the assessment in such a drastic fashion that we ruin all our national level institutions. There must be a transition plan, where folks will have to be convinced to start their proportional giving and increase it to tithing (just as Archbishop Dimitri of blessed memory had always counseled). We cannot afford not to insist on this because the spiritual health of the OCA, the individual dioceses, parishes and indeed individual parishioners depend on this. It is really not a matter of finances per se but of our individual responsibilities as Christians. I do not think that we will really have a serious and prospering Church unless tithing or sacrificial giving is ingrained in each one of us. Orthodox churches are relying way too much on benefactor or state support. We will continue to use this centuries old practice to our peril. So will any knee jerk reactions that will gut the national institutions.

                    • Carl,

                      Commenting on your Tithe numbers. You present a “best class” scenario based on the assumption that the faithful in the pews are tithing to their parish, which we both agree should be the norm. Of course there are some, very vocal people with blogs, who hear voices from other lands, which consider Tithing NOT ORTHODOX. Others simply did not grow up that way and thus consider Tithing an innovation and not part of Orthodox tradition. And others who put the Gospel in an economically convenient place in their budgets often born out of their life experience of checking in with God when it works into their schedule. So your numbers assume a committed church polity, which as we know is not the case. However it is still worth fighting for as a biblical principle and actually a starting point that the Church has mandated in Seattle.

                      But for this to finally work dioceses and Syosset have to put some “skin in the game.” Up to now, bishops have had the attitude of the course of least resistance. Sadly, clergy don’t want to fight the battle in their parishes. They are paid poorly and they don’t want to fight a battle that is not required. They make this known to their bishops and bishops want a sure thing expense, the Assessment, both diocesan and to Syosset. Up to now none are interested in the uncertainty of the Tithe.

                      There may be a glimmer of hope in the wake of the AAC. At least two dioceses, NY and the Midwest have finally asked for more information on how the South approaches finances. Not sure if it is still just talk or they have actually taken steps to know more. Stay tuned.

                      Now back to your numbers. Best case, as you present them, the OCA gets 50% less income from a Tithe scenario. That does not bother me because the Church has already said clearly, you get 50% less with a reduced Assessment. So now is the time for Syosset to say to the Church, we hear you. We will take less and we are going to work openly to support Tithing. Now that means a starting baseline lower than you project but what better way to inspire commitment than Syosset finally being part of the solution and not holding out for its guaranteed share of the pie.

                      Again, I have not seen any serious change in Syosset since the AAC concerning the reduction in the Assessment. It did not get ONE minute of discussion with NO decisions at the last MC meeting. They simply ignored THE most important issue voiced by the Church at the AAC. A new Sex Czar was decided but being paid for out of money we don’t have. Not that I am against a serious response to cases of abuse, but that does not sound like what the MC is talking about. They want to look into cases that are settled, closed and hire a person to do this. Really? Is that coming from a resounding outcry from the pews?

                      Anyway, for Tithing to make progress in the OCA, we can’t wait for the bottom to totally be committed. Rather, the top and middle (Syosset and dioceses) have to make a move toward Tithing so that we can finally meet in the middle, like the South and to similar degree the West have done. And, Syosset will have to ramp up its Development work, another issue the MC has ignored since Seattle. Why is development so important? Case in point, the OCA just received a $400K gift that was arranged almost 10 years ago. It has received similar gifts arranged decades ago in recent years. Hiring a Development person is necessary, it pays for itself over time. However, we now have the promise of a Sex Czar!

                      Come on MC and Syosset, wake up and start doing the work of the AAC and stop with your myopic Syosset is the center of the universe of the OCA. Reminder, the life of the Church is in the Diocese and parishes, not Oyster Bay Cove. Oh yeah, they talked alot about the strategic plan. Good because that plan is about a shift toward the Dioceses and away from Syosset. Right?

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Jacob–I agree with much of what you have written especially when you said that there must be movement from both top and bottom. I do think that the movement from the bottom is much more important but Syosset’s movement cannot be in halving the budget in half. That is a death sentence, not a reduction. Besides, if we cannot convince the priests and parishioners of the virtues of tithing, you might as well close shop and/or quit pretending you still are the Body of Christ. Indeed, I do think that one of the cardinal principles of an administratively united American church must be acceptance of tithing as a normative, not optional principle. Since I am on the subject, I also think that we have to establish a maximum parish size if we are serious about being a missionary church..

              • Jane Rachel, the money thing does not concern the OCA in Canada. We are prevented from sending money South by the tax-laws of Her Majesty’s realm…. we keep the monies that would otherwise go to the central administration in trust for situations the CA needs some money up here…

                Carl K we tithe in the same fashion…

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I am happy to hear that the immediate crisis has been solved. May the Lord richly bless the donor/s. Have you heard if the problem of large annual deficits has been solved? According to the January 19, 2012 Synodal statement “The Synod has been running $450-$500k annual deficits in recent years.”


        • Carl,

          But, halving the Assessment is exactly what was decided in Seattle. It just has to be done over a three-year period and not all at once. I believe that is fair. Remember this was also blessed by the Holy Synod. Now it is the job of the MC to implement that decision. Which also means that Syosset had better create new sources of income. That is the bottom line.

          You bring up a very valid point, it may not be possible for the OCA or any other jurisdiction to retrofit Tithing into an already established structure (it works in the South because they started that way), however a new united American Orthodox Church could and would be wise to establish tithing as the basic principle that all will promote by establishing funding on tithing.

          I will take your lack of response on the MC and the Sex Czar, their lack of movement on the cut in the assessment as tacit consent of my points. 😉

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Jacob, I largely agree with you except on this point: that Syosset has to come up with another source of revenue once the assessment decline kicks in. Actually, Syosset doesn’t have to exist at all. All of its national ministries can be taken over by other bodies (SVS, STS), a Chancellor-bishop esconced in Washington, DC, and everything else on the diocesan levels.

            It’s at the diocesan chanceries where the money would do the most good.

            Your point about “retrofitting” tithing is well-taken. It’s not impossible however. It could conceivably take off once it became clear to the people in the parishes that 90% of the income tithed goes to the parish and that the parish kicks “up” 10% to the diocese. In other words, the vast majority of the monies raised stays local.

            This will cause an explosion in building projects, missions, etc., which will create an upward spiral in giving. It’s been my experience that once people see things happening, pocketbooks open.

            • Well even in a united Orthodox Church there will be a need for some Center, albeit that is to be determined as to the size and structure. Your vision is certainly a model of a decentralized Church, not unlike Romania and Serbia but certainly the opposite of a Russian or Greek models.

              Nonetheless, the closer the focus is on the parish and diocese, the more potential there is for the vision of a missionary Church, like Carl correctly states, to be actualized. A top-heavy Church is like a battleship, big and impressive but not to easy to change course.

              And yes, people’s faith is boosted when they things happening and they are much more apt to give in all sorts of way, including their money.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Couple of points.

            1. You responded to my “deficit of $400K” post which was about ROCOR but I think you were addressing my subsequent post on the OCA budget. JUst wanted to make sure we are on the same page.

            2. I understand what the ACC did and I agree that it is the job of the MC to carry out that decision. I do not think it was a good decision since it was not more than a declaration of principle, of an ultimate goal, in addition to being a rebellion against the CA. I hope that a good transition model is found. I do not think that it is good for some dioceses to be starved of cash just because its priests and parishioners do not want to do the right thing and tithe. Here is an idea that contains sacrifices by everybody:

            a. Cut CA budget by about 20% to $2 Million. Do so by cutting the operational costs (travel in particular)

            b. Get the tithing dioceses to give more to CA for a transitional period only.

            c. Make tithing mandatory for all dioceses, to be implemented over that transitional period. In return, the currently non-tithing dioceses should keep a greater percentage of their funds at parish and diocese levels.

            d. Launch a campaign to implement tithing at the parish level. Make sure that the message is consistent. This would also be done over a transitional period. You could use change theory and existing system change models to make this happen in stages. Work with early adopters and start to add more parishes from the large, middle section of the bell curve. Don’t even worry about the 5-10% who will not change unless compelled, something that we must avoid.

            e. Let the early adopter pilot parishes figure out their own way on how to do tithing. Provide technical assistance and process coaches but do not impose one-size-fits-all solutions. The idea is for the congregation to own the process and the results. You may be surprised at how folks respond when they are empowered! Let them share their approaches (change projects) with the other pilot sites in learning collaboratives. Let the parish priests be change champions but not change leaders, while retaining their overall authority.

            f. As more parishes start tithing, they will like the benefits and the parishioners can sell tithing to their friends and relatives in the parishes that are not yet in the systems change project. You can do that Diocesan meetings by turning them into learning collaboratives that include the phase two parishes.

            Anyway, this is how many systems changes are implemented and it really works. I estimate that you would need about three to five years at the diocesan level. At the parish level, it could take as many as three years for the early adopters and a bit more for the second tier parishes–they will not be complete strangers to what’s happening and it would not surprise me if some of them want to get going before its their time.

            • I want what you’re smoking.

              If tithing were that easy to implement in the parishes (“Launch a campaign to implement tithing at the parish level”) don’t you think it would have been done already? What parish would not want to increase their income? What parish priest would not want their church rolling in dough (not perogies)? Maybe the MC is going to hire a Tithing Czar to force it down the throats of parishes as a policy now?

              Clearly, any ‘campaign’ to implement tithing which has at its base the benefit of a larger central administration is doomed to failure at the parish level. Especially on the heels of the cuts enacted at the AAC and the widespread sense that the MC and the Bishops are completely out of control. The cuts were not enacted out of desperation by parishes to keep more of their money (although that would be a very good thing), they were enacted to send a strong message to Syosset that its days are numbered.

              I can see the posters now: “Syosset wants YOU to Tithe!” Seriously, you must be joking. The current administration’s “what’s in it for me” attitude is so utterly repulsive. The fact is, parishes are asking Syosset, “what benefit have you give us in the last five years?”

              Carl, help me out. Let’s say that a parish has 100 people, and through the assessment they pay $10,500 to Syosset, per year. Currently, what is the $10,500 of value being given back to the parish? Or the $52,500 over the last five years. What does a parish get for its money? How is the parish made any better, any stronger, any more vibrant, by paying an assessment (or whatever methodology you use)?

              And here’s another question to ponder: What would be any different in the parishes of the OCA today if there was simply NO central administration. No Metropolitan Council, no Syosset, no staff. Nothing. How would the parishes be any different? Would the OCA collapse? Would parishes simply cease to exist?

              • I think Car gave a very excellent technical presentation to the question of how to implement Tithing church wide. It would not surprise me if similar presentations have been done to the HS or MC in the past. The fact that Tithing has only taken administrative root in one diocese, the South, and to a lesser degree in the West, prove two things. It is easier to start with Tithing then to retrofit, but it can be done, at least the system of proportional giving, over time (the West).

                Of course, as I recall the idea of moving toward proportional giving was presented in great detail back at the AAC in Orlando. A step was proposed, freezing what Syosset took, translating that number into a percentage with that percentage number becoming a new minimum presented in percentage terms. Or something like that. It is all in those Council reports.

                It didn’t fly. Why? Well, I think, in part, because folks were asking then the same question, “What do I get for my assessment?” Back then at least they got the TOC newspaper 6 or 8 times a year and like now, the honour of being a member of the OCA and back then there was some honour in being a member of the OCA. Not now. (See below)

                It is interesting to me that Carl thinks travel should be slashed. All that says to me is that he expects the OCA to be a “stay at home” mom type of Church. He may be right, there really isn’t a need for the OCA to be visiting other Churches. It has been a long time since we were invited anywhere. No one is rushing to be seen with the OCA. So the travel budget may be slashed because there is no place to go! Problem solved.

                You are right, Spasi, the clear signal given and the directive sent by the AAC was, “You get $50 per head. Adjust accordingly.”

                I am still waiting to see how the fat-cat salaried staff in Syosset is going to try and wiggle of that hook. Sorry to be so blunt but we do pay their salaries and we have sent the message, we want you downsized. MC members, that is your job. Sex Czar? Really? A Sex Czar? What were you possibly thinking? Talk about drinking the Kool-Aid.

                Carl, the $400K was a gift recently given to the OCA from a late member who left the Church in his will. It has nothing to do with the ROCOR. I was making the point that Development is key to finding new funding sources for the OCA, a point made in their Strategic Plan.

              • I’m sorry, Jacob, but while I agree with your response, I don’t think it goes far enough. The question now should go beyond what value Syosset provides (and I know that I raised this question), but even moreso, “why do we need Syosset at all?” This is the question we should be asking again and again. There’s absolutely no reason why we need a Metropolitan Council (other than statutory obligations, which can be easily changed at an AAC). Just get rid of the whole structure. It’s unncessary and superfluous. Syosset and all the structures surrounding it is now just the albatross of the OCA. Get rid of the whole mess. I’m completely serious. Syosset is nothing but a cost center that provides no or extremely negligible value.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Why was the Metropolitan Council formed in the first place?

                  • It is an archane holdover from the Metropolia days when there were no real dioceses and diocesan bishops. Thus it was a pseudo governing structure to unite the dispersant church and pointing to the power of the central church and Metropolitan. It should have been abolished in 1970 but congregationalism was still very strong. It serves no purpose now with real dioceses and real diocesan bishops as the OCA claims in being autocephalous. It still has no real purpose except what powers it now grants itself.

                    • You are wrong, Jacob. After the RSK issue and + Herman issue, the Metropolitan Council needs to be stronger with more teeth. These people must stand at the forefront for the “Church” – the People, to say “NO” to the bishops who may want to ride roughshod doing whatever they want. Yes, the MC is of utmost importance in achieving balance and transparency. Not archane, but ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY!

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      I cannot understand how you can be both so right (as when you agree with me) and so wrong (most of the time). 🙂

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Diogenes, if you really want the people to be stronger, then you must accept the reality of strong dioceses/weak MC. The MC long ago gave up being the tribune of the laos when it devolved into an old boys’ club, complete with their secret handshakes and incessant recourse to super-secret “executive sessions.”

                      Let’s face it: they couldn’t police their own, they allowed Mark Stokoe to use his seat to help craft a narrative, That’s unethical. Then they lost the remainder of their moral authority when they conspired against the Primate.

                      Can’t have it both ways.

                    • George, don’t forget that some of the other MC members failed to reel in Stokoe because they sided with him. Remember Dmitri Solodow’s so-called “delegates’ guide” for the Diocese of the West that was in reality little more than a hit piece written against Metropolitan Jonah? (It was also a big pile of manure, but that’s for another day.)

                      There will never be peace and healing in the OCA, until people who pull this kind of crap are cleaned out of the administration completely.

                    • Diogenes says:
                      March 31, 2012 at 8:57 am
                      “the Metropolitan Council needs to be stronger with more teeth. These people must stand at the forefront for the “Church” – the People…”
                      Whence that kind of thinking?
                      (“POWER TO THE PEOPLE!”)

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Helga says:
                      George, don’t forget that some of the other MC members failed to reel in Stokoe because they sided with him. Remember Dmitri Solodow’s so-called “delegates’ guide” for the Diocese of the West that was in reality little more than a hit piece written against Metropolitan Jonah? (It was also a big pile of manure, but that’s for another day.)

                      There will never be peace and healing in the OCA, until people who pull this kind of crap are cleaned out of the administration completely.”

                      Yes. Good point. Wasn’t Dmitri Solodow one of the people in the emails that were leaked (legally) by Bishop Tikhon, the ones in which several people, including Faith Skordinski, Solodow, Stokoe and others were (is there another word?) conspiring together to get rid of Metropoliltan Jonah”? And here, as you say, Solodow is still around, still wielding influence. I think that’s unconscionable.

                    • Helga, Jane, you are correct: they did side with Stokoe. They all marinated in the same pseudo-Schmemmanite juices of Revered Protopresbyterianism, believing that the bishops were just a bunch of inept, immoral men.

                      Personally, I’ve come to the conclusion that he was pretty much a stooge/mouthpiece for them, or more likely the powers-that-were in Syosset. One reason he’s shut down OCAN for the time being is because of the lawsuit but also because his sources (esp Kishkovsky) dried up (admittedly also because of the lawsuit).

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    Hi Helga!

              • Carl Kraeff says

                I would refer you to my calculations that I had presented earlier (see 03/28/2012 at 5:44pm). The key portions were:

                “In a tithing scenario:
                Parishes collect $225,00 and tithe $22,500, keeping $202,500
                Dioceses collect $1,125,000 and tithe $112.500, keeping $1,012,500
                OCA collects $1,125,000 and tithe $112.500, keeping $1,012,500

                Under this scenario, in order for the OCA to hold onto a $2.5 million budget, we either double the membership rolls or the percentage from diocese to OCA. The maximum Diocese assessment would be 22.22%.

                Of course, in a non-tithing scenario, you will run into many problems, certainly starting at the parish level, where under my assumptions, parishes collect only $52,000, paying assessments to dioceses in the following amounts: $5,000 ($50/member), $10,000 ($100/member) and $15,000 ($150/member).. Interestingly, if the dioceses send up 50% of their take from their parishes, the OCA gets $1,250,000, $2,500,000 or $3,750,000 at the previously cited assessment levels.”

                The main point is that tithing:

                a. is the one and only minimum sacrificial giving that our faith requires of all of us.

                b. is beneficial to the spiritual health of the tither, parish, diocese and local church.

                c. minimizes the influence of benefactors.

                d. maximizes the personal commitment of all to parish life.

                e. optimizes the essential equality of all

                f. acts as a tide; if it rises, all boats rise equally, and if it falls, all boats also fall equally. This is the key to keep the peace between individual, parishes, dioceses and CA.

                g. has nothing to do with bolstering any function over another. To illustrate, budgeting would start with weights of effort: such a percentage to operational, another to missions, etc… You would of course have actual numbers to assign to these areas of emphasis and you would need to establish minimums, but once the policy and prioritizations are made, it would be easier to do inevitable adjustments that you would have to make.

                If I may answer your last question, we must have a structure and funding in place for those church-wide functions that are required of any church. The key is to make that the structure reasonably sized and funded. Just fulminating against the CA is not helpful; neither is the oft-repeated claim that the central officers are getting paid way too much. I think that to ask a priest with a family to work for less than what they are being paid is cruelly neglectful of their very real needs to support their families. Now, if they were monastics, you could obviously pay them way less but I had thought that one of the better features of our Church is that we prefer our priests to be married. I am not asking here for the Chancellor to get paid more than the $95K salary he gets–that is a very modest sum for the location (or for DC for that matter). What I am saying is that to call this pay extravagant betrays either naivete about NY or a certain animus against the incumbent or the position.

                • Carl,

                  How is this for being clear – The officers of the OCA should not be full-time jobs. In the heyday of the OCA the chancellor and other officers were part time. They had full-time parish assignments. I think the Church saying cut the assessment in half is a clear signal that they too believe that full-time positions are not necessary because if you can’t afford it you can’t have it.

                  I don’t think we would be any worse off if the clergy on staff as officers also had parish assignments. In fact, it might make them be a bit more realistic in their vision of what the CA is called to be and the function it should manage.

                  Stokoe raged against an “all-powerful” Chancellor. Well, in fact he believed in an “all-powerful Chancellor and Syosset, He just wanted to make sure he and it was one of his liking. Same goes for Wheeler. He must be very pleased now with his brother-in-law. Nah, it is the same old same old but the Church is now saying, we don’t need it, we don’t want it. The Assessment is $50. Now deal with it. And, they are fiddling away 2012 having done nothing. Just wait, it is coming, the wailing and doom and gloom the Syosset aparatchiks will load on the Holy Synod at their next meeting. They are writing their reports right now after a test run at the MC. The great distraction, a Sex Czar. What a crock. Go ahead, load up another office which we MUST fund, thus we CAN’T possibly cut the Assessment.

                  Carl, we don’t want to pay for Syosset any longer. We want a new structure not another retrofit that just rearranges the deck chairs on the Titanic. We have spoken. Will they listen? The CONCILIAR voice of the Church has spoken. Right? Now will they listen? Are you listening? We have spoken.

                  But in return, all we hear is silence.

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    I understand your position. Unfortunately for you, your position is not the position of the AAC. I read the Official Minutes of the 16th AAC and they clearly show that the proponents of the resolution to reduce assessments did so to move the system toward proportional giving (tithing) and not to gut Syosset. If the Minutes are wrong, I am sure that you can obtain clarifyiong stateme4nts from the individuals that I am citing below;

                    “Proponent: Mary Buletza-Breton, Annunciation Church, Brick, New Jersey (Diocese of New York and New Jersey)
                    It was never the intention of the writers of the resolution to drastically reduce the funding for the Chancery staff. The intent was to shift from an assessment to tithing and proportional giving. Our intent is to keep the dioceses and parishes strong.

                    Proponent: Priest Victor Gorodenchuk, St. Stephen Cathedral, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania)
                    To put this in a more positive fashion, the amendment does not require reducing the budget but simply looking at alternative methods of funding beyond that collected with the $50 per capita assessment. The benefit is that each Diocese can discuss how they choose to fund its own Diocesan work, and can also discuss ways to offer some additional funding to the National Church above and beyond the assessment.

                    Motion to amend the resolution: Archpriest John Shimchick, Church of the Holy Cross, Cherry Hill, New Jersey (Diocese of New York and New Jersey) 16th All‐American Council. Plenary Session 6 Page 4
                    Fr. John offered an amendment to the resolution which set the assessment level for the next year at $105 per person and then proportionally lowers it over the next triennium. The amendment would replace the last two paragraphs with the following text:
                    “Be it resolved that the 16th All-American Council fix the CCA fair share assessment for each of the participating dioceses at an amount of $105.00 per capita of the census of the participating

                    Proponent: Archpriest John Shimchick, Church of the Holy Cross, Cherry Hill, New Jersey (Diocese of New York and New Jersey)
                    Fr. John stated that this amendment was a compromise which would both respect the call for a different approach toward funding within the OCA, yet allow the Central Administration to study the issues and initiate a concrete plan.

                    The Chair conducted the vote. Amendment passed.”

                    I do not see anything here that supports your spin.

                    • $105 per person (FOR ONE YEAR) and then proportionally lowers it over the next triennium.


                      No spin. Remember it was a compromise but the intention is to LOWER the assessment.

                      They also slapped this together on the last day of the AAC, an old trick to try and slip something in when everyone wants to go home, and when in fact a large number of delegates had already departed.

                      You, dear Carl, are the one who is trying to spin this matter. The AAC wants the Assessment cut. How Syosset manages that, with the MC, is up to them, but the assessment is to be LOWERED. Comprende?

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      I just can’t square “the intention is to LOWER the assessment” and the statements of the proponents with the following statements of yours:

                      “The Assessment is $50”
                      “we don’t want to pay for Syosset any longer.”
                      “You are right, Spasi, the clear signal given and the directive sent by the AAC was, ‘You get $50 per head. Adjust accordingly.’ ”
                      “But, halving the Assessment is exactly what was decided in Seattle.”

                      Sorry, you strike out. Not once but four times (I gave you an extra shot since you are a VIP).

                    • Tithing is a ten percent tax on income. There are other approaches to proportionate giving: the two terms are not identical.
                      The Diocese of the West has rejected any tithe or other tax levied on individual members of the Church. Rather, it practices a tax levied on parishes, based on a percentage (which may change from time to time, based on changing diocesan budgets. The Diocese only COLLECTED the OCA assessment from PARISHES as a pass-through item based on the population figure reported by its parishes for that purpose.
                      Ten percent is not a Mystical, Holy, or Sacred rate, even though it, like circumcision and other practices is mentioned in the Scriptures, but one would surely never say tithing is inspired by the Word of God; that’s Seventh Day Adventist, etc., talk.
                      I believe:
                      1. The Holy Synod should determine how much of annual OCA budgeted income should be levied on each diocese to make up the whole.
                      2. The Dioceses should each pay their designated share amount from their Treasuries, and each Diocese should be allowed to determine by itself how it collects the money that goes into their Treasuries, but they should not tax individuals, but parishes.
                      3. The Parishes should remit the amount apportioned to them by the Diocese from their parish treasuries. How the parishes fill their treasuries should be determined by either the Diocesan or individual parishes, but the Dioceses should not assess individuals.
                      4. ANY system which bases OCA income on what is, in fact, an individual tax on members, will produce ever lower membership figures.

                  • Pharaoh = Syosset
                    Israelites = Parishes

                    Make bricks without straw, Slaves!

                    • Carl,

                      The Assessment will be reduced whether you wish to Believe it or not. If you don’t Believe it, than I can’t wait for the next AAC, which you obviously did not attend, to see the reaction of people who voted in the majority for Syosset to get less money.

                      In the meantime, enjoy life with your lion mentor.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      The assessment does need to be reduced; there is no question about it. At issue is YOUR insistence that it should be reduced to $50 and YOUR assurances that the idea of it all is to cripple and/or get rid of CA. Neither one of your claims is true. I really do not know why you are not answering my objections, why you are not acknowledging the obvious: While the original resolution proposed to reduce the assessment to $50, the delegates from the sponsoring diocese (New York) offered a vague amendment that said that the assessment will be reduced after the first year. The AAC never set a target. For all we can tell, the MC can reduce it “proportionally” to $104.33/person and still be in compliance with the letter of the resolution.

                  • Wrong again, Jacob on all counts!

                    • Carl Kraeff says:
                      March 31, 2012 at 12:37 pm
                      I cannot understand how you can be both so right (as when you agree with me) and so wrong (most of the time). 🙂

                      Oh, Carl B. Kraeff, you are so funny. Where did you get such a sense of humor? Maybe in the lands of the wood.

                • Carl B. Kraeff writes

                  If I may answer your last question, we must have a structure and funding in place for those church-wide functions that are required of any church.

                  1. Exactly what does the Statue set forth as those exclusive church-wide functions of the CA?

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    Speaking of a sense of humor, you must be in a playful mode to ask such a question. BTW, I get the reference to the “lands of the wood.” What I don’t get is the midddle initial “B.” that you just attributed to me. What gives?

                    Also, have you noticed that you change the subject each time that I say something that you cannot rebut. Effective tactic for propagandists but not for serious people, no?

          • Thomas Mathes says

            Jacob, you are campaigning for the dissolution of the MC, and so, I understand your need to find fault with whatever they do. In that light I appreciate your use of the term “sex czar”. However, the sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has framed the public’s distrust of religious institutions, and especially bishops to police themselves. From what I have read in newspapers and on the internet, I know that some RC bishops have appointed lay people to deal with sexual abuse allegations, now not only of minors but also of adults, by not only clergy but also by lay “ministers.” Also, individual dioceses have gone back into the clergy personnel files to find if there exists cases that were not adequately dealt with. Whether the OCA has anything hidden in its clergy files, I don’t know, but given what people have written about the OCA clergy on this blog, I don’t find it beyond possibility. Also, given what people have written about the bishops, I can’t imagine that the contributors here would trust the OCA bishops with properly handling sexual abuse allegations. Hence, the proposal by the MC for a “sex czar,” as you call it, seems prudent. How much to budget for that, I don’t know. That seems worthy of debate, but not the proposal in itself. Whether you like it or not, the RC scandal has put new expectations not only on the RC Church, but also on institutions beyond it.

            • Thomas,

              Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

              I am totally in agreement with you except your assumption that Orthodox bishops are not to be trusted when it comes to abuse cases. The institutional corruption in the RC church on this issue goes back long before either of us were born, our parents, grandparents, etc. The homosexual subculture in RC seminaries is finally being addressed in a serious and systematic manner in the RC church. It is common knowledge that such a subculture has almost destroyed the RC priesthood in the USA and other countries. Where such subcultures exist in any Church, it needs to be exposed and rooted out.

              My objection is that there is no role for the MC to be involved in Diocesan affairs. My objection is that the authority of the diocese can be usurped by such a Sex Czar. If and only if a diocesan bishop requests help from the Czar is such an office necessary.

              Again, I am for zero tolerance when it comes to child abuse. There is no grey area whatsoever. Call the police, call the bishop, and let the investigation begin. But the Sex Czar is not above the diocesan bishop (assuming that the diocesan bishop is not the subject of the investigation. Then the Czar is working directly with the Synod.) Otherwise he works with and for the diocesan authorities. HE DOES NOT WORK FOR THE MC.

              Finally, you are correct, I am not in anyway in favor of the MC assuming any more authority than given to them by Statute. The drift taking place in the OCA pushes it further to the edges of congregationalism which will have its eventual counterweight in clericalism. Neither are Orthodox.

              • Thomas Mathes says

                No, Jacob, I did not assume that orthodox bishops are not trustworthy; rather, I observed that the scandal with the RC bishops has made people suspicious of all bishops—Catholic, Orthodox or otherwise. In response, the RC bishops formed lay commissions to address the sexual misconduct allegations with the hope of dispelling people’s fears of further cover-ups. Likewise, the OCA bishops placed the “sex czar” under the MC.

                Besides, the news media has raised suspicions among people about Orthodox bishops: the stories about Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paisos, the conviction of Antiochian Orthodox Bishop Demetri, and GOA’s handling of the allegations against Fr. Katinas (that at least superficially resembled the way RC bishops had acted). My point here is not to challenge the integrity of Orthodox bishops but simply to illustrate how just a few recently well-publicized cases might encourage people to look upon Orthodox bishops as they now do upon RC bishops.

                Also, several contributors to this website helped to reinforce that public distrust of OCA bishops. Here the OCA bishops are described as the “unholy synod” and accused of immoral behavior. When the OCA announced about the new-elected bishop, one person here suggested that the synod approved him because of “you know what I mean.” But I suppose the most damaging allegation on this blog must be that a leading bishop on the synod not only committed unmentionable acts with his nephew but also was able to quash the investigation of this. Again, whether the allegations are true or not, they further raise suspicions against the OCA bishops similar to the RC bishops. How much credibility does the synod collectively or the bishops individually have left?

  17. Pravoslavnie says

    It’s with some amusement that I read the ire raised in some quarters by the mere mention of ROCOR. As for Metropolitan Jonah, he is again serving liturgy at ROCOR’s St. John the Baptist Cathedral in DC this Saturday morning, and will deliver one of his lenten lectures there in the afternoon as I wrote about earlier. So it seems that ROCOR has a lot of life left in it as far as he is concerned, and he sees value in continuing to interact with its clergy and laity. I dont think he views his visits to be the same as attending a wake for ROCOR. I take HB at his word when he said that he sees St. Nicholas and St. John as serving the same community.

    • Pravoslavnie says

      Metropolitan Jonah delivered another barnburner Saturday afternoon. His Beatitude again served the Divine Liturgy at ROCOR’s Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Washington, DC. He was greeted at the door by the cathedral warden after which he was vested and then served with the cathedral clergy in front of a mixed congregation of ROCOR and OCA faithful. Following Liturgy, and an ample but fully Lenten lunch, his Beatitude delivered a lecture entitled “Raise Me Above This World’s Confusion” before a packed house. As is typical for him, the Metropolitan spoke without notes for over 1-1/2 hours, and offered a Q&A session which lasted almost as long as the lecture itself. All of this was conducted in his trademark conversational style. Some takeaway points from his talk were:

      • As humans we are all prone to distraction, even during prayer and the Liturgy. This is part of human nature, and distraction is what leads us into sin.

      • Sin is distraction which separates us from God.

      • The best way to demonstrate our Christian faith in civil society is to live your life by example.

      • Civil society is rapidly becoming intolerant of Christianity, but particularly so at the universities and in the workplace.

      • The Metropolitan made an example of his own experience while a student at UC/San Diego studying psychology. He was pulled aside and told that his department did not tolerate active Christians and he had to make a choice between his Christian faith and professional advancement.

      • His Beatitude made a comparison between the Soviet Union of the early to mid 20th Century, and the USA of the early 21st Century where public and private expressions of faith can be met with hostility and have severe personal and social consequences.

      • The recent HHS rule changes, with respect to contraception, are a bold attempt by some in government to marginalize and limit the right of religious bodies to participate in the public sphere. It is an attack on the historic right of religious organizations, Christians in particular, to act as the conscience of society.

      • Freedom of religion in this country is rapidly being redefined as freedom of worship which really is an enforcement of militant secularism with a condescending nod to people’s right to worship at the “cult” of their choice as long as they do so privately.

      • Secular values have proven to be a disaster that is destroying society because the result has been abortion, homosexuality, and other evils.

      • In response to a young woman’s question about whether the Orthodox church has a formal position on modern social issues, His Beatitude indicated that all the Orthodox juridictions are in substantial agreement on social issues (abortion, assisted suicide, the definition of marriage, etc.) but the Moscow Patriarchate has an extensive position paper written largely by Pat. Kyrill. It runs something like 160-pages, and is available online in English. The OCA has also taken taken formal positions with resources found online.

      • Many of those suffering from same sex attraction are dealing with intense inner pain and conflict, and should be treated with compassion by Christians and offered our help and prayers. While same sex attraction is a sinful temptation, homosexual relations itself is a grave sin.

      • The recent HHS rule changes with respect to contraception are an extremely dangerous development that will amount to nothing less than the end of the freedom of religion in the USA if left to stand unchallenged.

      • The Roman Catholic bishops realize the present danger. His Beatitude agrees that it cannot stand unchallenged, but that Orthodox jurisdictions in this country have historically been reticent to engage sociopolitical issues in the public sphere perhaps largely because Orthodoxy is rooted in an immigrant background. This has to change. He pointed to the National Right to Life march in January which was 500,000 strong, and overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Despite a mainstream media blackout, and doctrinal differences with the RC’s, His Beatitude indicated that we have common cause with the RC’s because of the common threat.

      • The Russian Church has declared that if the state is ever to force a choice between civil law and Christian teaching, then clergy have a duty to support Christian teaching up to the point of acting on and supporting civil disobedience.

      I could go on, but those are few of the major points which I have paraphrased. None is a direct quotation, but I do not believe that I have distorted His Beatitude’s meaning. It was a very strong and impressive speech which was videotaped by a professional, and I hope that it somehow makes its way to the Internet because it is a message that should be heard by all Orthodox Christians, if not not all Christians, who should take note. The lecture was very well received by the attendees, and mutual thanks were exchanged between His Beatitude and the cathedral’s rector Fr. Victor Potapov, as well as to the ROCOR’s Met. Hilarion who gave his blessing, but was not in attendance.

      As my wife and I left the church, all we could say to each other was WOW! We knew we had seen not just a Metropolitan, but also a real bishop.

  18. Pravoslavnie says

    I’ll try to find the link as I was simply amplifying the comments of HB and Fr. Potapov who both indicated it is somewhere online. In the meantime you may find useful material here at http://orthodoxeurope.org/

    • Mike Myers says

      Pravo, thanks so much, but I just found it, under Documents, not Publications. Completely eluded me on first glance. And yes, I’ve read around at http://orthodoxeurope.org/, lots of fine stuff there.

    • Pravoslavnie says

      Found it.


      Check out Section IV: Christian Ethics and Secular Law.

      • Pravoslavnie says

        You probably found it, but the last line in that section speaks about an obligation to obey secular laws, however imperfect, but also of a duty to speak out against laws that conflict with God’s laws and commandments. As a last resort it advocates civil disobedience when secular laws threaten our individual salvation. Those are very strong words, and HB was definitely inferring that society is moving in a direction where civil disobedience may well become a necessary action for individual American Christians in the very near future. Strong stuff indeed. At my age I never thought I’d find myself part of the counterculture.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          “HB was definitely inferring that society is moving in a direction where civil disobedience may well become a necessary action for individual American Christians in the very near future.”

          That’s the bottom line of the Manhattan Declaration and I signed it because of it. I am also not a spring chicken but I think we can teach the younger generation a thing or two.

          • Mister Kraeff: A really small, even petty, matter. I mention it because of the precedent of discussing orthographic matters such as revolve around the apostrophe-ess with “it”. Carl surely meant that Metropolitan Jonah (HB) was IMPLYING something about society. It would be those who listened to him that might infer this or that. As for spring chickens, “Oh to be seventy again!”

            • Carl Kraeff says

              I thank His Grace for the information and call Pravoslavnie, the author of the quoted sentence, to take it to heart.

              I hope you do not mind if I could gently chide you for dismissing my claim to be of a venerable, old age like you. I am old enough at 67 to be your son, a consideration that fills me with hope for my future and admiration for you.

            • Pravoslavnie says

              I take note that his Grace correctly points to my poor choice of words. “Imply” may certainly be the more accurate word in recounting the Metropolitan’s remarks even though he had just discussed the recent HHS rule change that affects the exemption offered religious employers in providing insurance coverage for contraception. Although the rule change has been delayed a year in order to give religious organizations “time to adapt”, it seems that they will soon to forced to violate their beliefs, or begin to engage in civil disobedience at about this time next year. His Beatitude may very well have been inferring this based on the new rule. In either case a line has been drawn in the sand, and nobody quite knows who will cross it first.

  19. Carl Kraeff says

    Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) said “Ten percent is not a Mystical, Holy, or Sacred rate, even though it, like circumcision and other practices is mentioned in the Scriptures, but one would surely never say tithing is inspired by the Word of God; that’s Seventh Day Adventist, etc., talk.”

    Nice spin, Your Grace, especially grouping those who believe in tithing with the Seventh Day Adventists. It will not work because you are simply wrong.

    Tithing was a Scriptural practice even during the time of Jesus and the earliest Church. It was not an issue like circumcision simply because the earliest Christians gave more than 10%. They knew that the reason why they gave (in a cheerful fashion and because of love for the Lord and each other) was very important. In Matthew 23:23, echoed in Luke 11:42, the Lord specifically said not to overlook tithing (I am bolding the relevant part for you): “23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” We know that in the Old Testament, Abraham is shown to have tithed and Jacob promised to tithe. So 10% is not something new. Granted that tithing originally referred to agricultural production, the principle is to give God at least a small portion of what He gives us.

    There are passages in the Scriptures where Jesus advises folks to give up everything. So, we do have an indication from the Lord that we should give up some/all of our worldly possessions. The two Biblical extremes that we have are 10% at the lowest level and 100% at the highest level. If His Grace Tikhon knows of any other percentage that is found in the Holy Scriptures or in the writings of the Fathers, it would be good if he would share that knowledge.

    • Ten percent is not a Mystical, Holy, or Sacred rate, even though it, like circumcision and other practices,is mentioned in the Scriptures. Thanks, Carl for detailing where it is mentioned in the Scriptures.
      Christ, of course, only had one standard for everything: perfection. His standard was the widow who gave everything, and the requirement that the rich young man (besides “not leaving the others undone”) should give EVERYTHING. Be ye perfect, he said, and he didn’t say “perfect as much as you can be” The goals the Church sets before us should not be “minimum requirements to be a respectable Christian”. Charities, also, should not be secondary to institutional well-being and functionality in priority. But they are, are they not? And don’t we approve of that?
      And for those who are concerned with accountability and transparency, He seems to have encouraged us to be opaque about our fasting, no? We’re supposed to PRETEND we are not fasting.
      With the coming of Grace, it seems wrong to revert to the old dispensation and its economies and limits.
      The tithe is neutral. Requiring it is…OKing a standard less than Christ’s. As I previously mentioned, my copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica (an old one…of the sixties) has a large article on tithing which concludes with the information that the Eastern Orthodox Churches have never practiced tithing. Why would that be, Mr. Kraeff?

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I guess we are not perfect in every way? Or, are you arguing that the historical absence of such a practice precludes it from ever being practiced?

        Seriously, I guess your answer to my question is that you also have not found a percentage other than 10% (tithing) and 100% (perfection). I am so happy that we agree on something. Now, why not try to persuade the laity that tithing is the least that they should do? Obviously, all the rightly dividing the word has not produced 100% giving; on the contrary, you have folks satisfied with throwing in a ten or a twenty, that is when they show up, as if it is the worth of a ticket at a show or something. Instead of taxing them or using top-down fiats, try to find some lay folks to take the lead on this, to persuade fellow lay folks of the virtues of tithing (or more if they are so inclined). Aren’t you tired of some of our jurisdictions using country club dues systems, organizing rich folks to raise targeted money, or putting on food and dancing festivals to fund the operations of local parishes? Why not give tithing a chance?

        Would you maintain that the Church never supported tithing if you knew that Church Fathers had supported such? According to the following analysis, “six Church Fathers between 366 and 400 advocated tithing with none arguing against it. Constantine (c.a. 325 A.D.) had a large impact on Christianity while he was emperor. It was under Constantine that the church and state were united. Constantine himself was a generous giver to churches. However, no mention has been found of him collecting or paying tithes. Basil of Caesarea (370 A.D.) exhorted Christians to pay tithes and Gregory of Nazianzus (c.a. 365) mentions first fruits, but no reference to tithes has been found in the writings of Gregory of Nyssa (c.a. 365). Hilary of Poitiers (366 A.D.), when commenting on Matthew 23:23, concluded that while Christians should place a greater emphasis upon justice and mercy, tithing was still required.

        Jerome (pictured left)(385 A.D.) saw the clergy as being in the line of tribe of Levi and the Jewish priesthood and therefore due tithes. In comments made on Malachi 3, Jerome said that Jesus commanded Christians to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor. Since Christians are unwilling to do that, at least they should “imitate the rudimentary teaching of the Jews” in giving tithes for the poor and the clergy. Otherwise, Christians are “defrauding and cheating God.” Ambrose (374 A.D.), the Bishop of Milan, was unequivocal that Christians are required to tithe. If Christians neglected to give God his tenth, then God will take what they have. He clearly supported the concept of tithing. John Chrysostom (375 A.D.) said that the Christians of his day should return to tithing or face dangerous consequences. He understood the Old Testament to be inculcating multiple tithes, not one (“tithes again upon tithes”). Commenting on Matthew 5:20, Chrysostom calculates that the Jews gave about half of their income. He concluded that if when giving half “achieves no great thing, he who doth not bestow as much as the tenth, of what shall he be worthy.” While Chrysostom thought that Christians fulfilled the Old Testament law by tithing, he also believed Christians should not need law.

        Augustine (pictured left)(400 A.D.), Bishop of Hippo, is one the most often cited church fathers by both Catholics and Protestants. He said that while the paying of tithes occurred before him, presently Christians were not adequately paying their tithes. Augustine believed that Jesus’ command to sell one’s possessions and give the proceeds to the poor was binding upon Christians. He lived this out in his own life. However, since Christians were unwilling to give all, they should at least imitate the Jews and give a tenth. Therefore, Augustine supported tithing through concession.

        In summary, the following Church Fathers all advocated tithing and none were found in this time period that argued against tithing: Hilary of Poitiers (366), Basil of Caesarea (370), Ambrose (374), John Chrysostom (375), Jerome (385), and Augustine (400).”


      • Carl Kraeff says

        Here is an article written by a clergyman who must be a Seventh Day Adventist masquerading as an Orthodox priest according to His Grace.


        by Fr. Dimitri Cozby

        “Honor the Lord with your substance, and with the firstfruits of all your produce.” (Proverbs 3:9)

        In ancient Israel, the Church of the Old Testament, the Law of Moses instituted the “tithe,” also called the offering of the “first-fruits.” “Tithe” is merely the Old English word for “tenth.” Israel’s tithe was an assessment of one-tenth of all produce. Usually this portion was rendered from the first harvested of the crop, hence the tithe of “firstfruits.” The proceeds were devoted to the maintenance of the Temple, and support of the priesthood, and the sustenance of the poor (Num. 18:24, Deut. 12:11, and 26:12).

        These activities are still necessary parts of Church life. Parishes need suitable places for worship, education, and fellowship; we are still responsible for our priest’s livelihood; and the Lord continually reminds us of our obligation to the needy. Therefore, the practice of good stewardship, represented by the tithe, retains its importance.

        The motive behind the Old Testament tithe, however, was not purely pragmatic. For the ancient Hebrews tithing was never merely an efficient way to raise money. Rather, they understood that their relationship with God required them to dedicate a substantial portion of the fruit of their labor to His purposes.

        Our basic understanding as Orthodox Christians, derived from the Old Testament, is that everything comes from God. All that we have or hope to possess, beginning with life itself, is His gift. We acknowledge this fact in our spiritual life through prayer and fasting and through our struggle to follow His commandments. With regard to our material blessings, we confess that He is their true source by returning a portion to Him, to be used for His purposes in this world. These works include the maintenance of worship, the support of those called to His special service, and aid for the poor. By thus giving a portion of our wealth for His purposes, we sanctify the remainder. Through offering a part, we bring the whole of our lives into harmony with God’s will.

        The Old Testament Law embodied this admission of God’s sovereignty in the tithe. Nothing in this is changed by the coming of Christ. Tithing is not a purely Old Testament observance revived by Protestants and, therefore, a thing we Orthodox Christians need not worry about. It is true that many Old Testament practices are now understood in a spiritual way fulfilled, transformed, or displaced by Christ’s coming, death, and Resurrection. It is also true that, in recent times, some Protestants have stressed tithing as the norm of giving. But in reality, neither of these objections applies to the tithe or denies its “validity.”

        Our Lord criticized the way in which His opponents tithed, but in so doing, He confirmed the tithe itself: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe your mint, dill and cumin, but have omitted the weightier matters of the law judgment, mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without omitting the others.” (Matthew 23:23)

        Likewise, one of the earliest witnesses to Holy Tradition, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (sometimes called The Didache), applies the firstfruits to the Church. “Every firstfruit of the produce of the wine-vat and of the threshing-floor, of cattle and flocks, you will take and give as the firstfruit to your prophets; for they are your chief priests…If you prepare food, take and give the firstfruit according to the commandment. Likewise, when you open a jar of wine or oil, take and give the firstfruit to the prophets. Take also the firstfruit of money and clothing and every possession, as it may seem right to you, and give according to the commandment.”

        Saint Irenaeus, writing toward the end of the second century, notes that Christ Himself “gave directions to His disciples to offer the firstfruits of His own created things not as if He stood in need of them, but that they might be themselves neither unfruitful nor ungrateful.”

        Saint John Chrysostom contends that the tithe is more binding on us than on the Jews. In one of his sermons, he notes that under the Old Testament tithing was the norm. Among Christians, however, it has become a cause for amazement; we exclaim in wonder, “Why so-and-so tithes!” Saint John finds this a sad reflection on our piety and ends with the warning, “If it was a danger to neglect the tithe then, imagine how serious it must be now!”

        As we said, the Old Testament saints did not see the tithe merely as a way for organizing fundraising for the Temple and clergy, but as part of their relationship with God. Similarly, we cannot regard our giving merely as providing for our parish’s material needs. We must appreciate the spiritual importance of tithing, as the return to the Lord of a portion of His blessings through which we sanctify the remainder for our own use. Thus we acknowledge the Lord’s claim upon the whole of our life and affirm that the focus of our existence is not this world but the Kingdom to come.

        The tithe, one-tenth, is the ideal of stewardship set forth in Scripture in the Old Testament tithe, and in Tradition, represented by The Didache, Saint Irenaeus, and Saint John Chrysostom. At first, for those not used to the idea of tithing, this amount may seem staggering. The best way to begin is to adopt a lower percentage and then increase it over time. First, we should accept the underlying principle behind tithing: That we should not give an arbitrary amount, but that our contribution should represent a proportion, a percentage, of our income. Once we establish a certain percentage (for example 3-5%) as our starting point, we can then increase it by one percent a year until we reach the tithe.

        From the beginning, however, we must adopt the idea that we give a percentage of our treasure; we cannot base it on impulse, giving “a little something” from what we “have left over.” Instead, our offering should represent “the firstfruits of our produce” offered because we feel the need to “honor the Lord with our substance,” because we want to show our gratitude to Him for His blessings, and because we acknowledge our part in His work of redeeming the world.

        (Father Dimitri is Rector of St. Anthony Orthodox Church in San Antonio, Texas. Reprinted from The Dawn, Diocese of the South)

        • Jane Rachel says

          There’s a difference between “should” and “require”. We are REQUIRED to give everything and we SHOULD give a tenth.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            You said it better than I ever could. Here is the full comment by Saint John Chrysostom that Father Dimitri cited above:

            “For what did not they of old do? They gave tithes, and tithes again upon tithes for orphans, widows,and strangers; whereas some one was saying to me in astonishment of another person, `Why, such an one gives tithes?’ What a load of disgrace does this imply, since what was not a matter of wonder with the Jews has come to be so in the case of the Christians? If there was danger then in omitting tithes, think how great it must be now!” (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, volume XIII, First Series, page 69).

          • Absolutely. Note that Jesus did not condemn tithing any more than he condemned fasting. “When you fast…” (Not if you fast.)

            Orthodox Christians who think that tithing is a Protestant invention are quite mistaken.

          • Jane Rachel says

            I take it back. I don’t want to get in trouble with the widow, who gave her last two mites, or the woman who found the coin that she had lost, or the man who found a treasure in a field. Or the little drummer boy, who played his drums for Christ. Or Saint Peter, who was crucified upside down, or me and my sister (!) when we were children and gave a nickel and a dime to the missionaries, which we brought to Sunday School tied up in mom’s embroidered hankie. We are REQUIRED to give everything and we SHOULD give everything we possibly can, whatever that amount is.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              JR–I understand and sympathize. However, we need something more that “We are REQUIRED to give everything and we SHOULD give everything we possibly can, whatever that amount is.”

              I think the Church has been consistent in saying exactly that. Yet, we still have quite a few Orthodox in good standing who give much less than (a) everything, (b) everything that they can possibly can, or (c) tithes, which was Saint John Chrysostom’s bottom line.

              It is time that we as a church move off platitudes and get real. The parishes are no longer supported by the state or rich benefactors, nor should they be. Besides, each of us is called to give back to God (through His Church) of our time, talents and treasure. If we do not do so, are we serious disciples of the Lord? This may indeed be a case of “faith without works is dead.” Now, before folks get too riled up about this, I brought it up to make us think about the consequences of not buckling down and seriously considering the ramifications of our discipleship.

        • I know what Father Dimitri Cozby is.
          Tithing was a device and an obligation to provide support to the Temple.
          We no longer support the Temple, and have not since the earliest decades of the Christian Church. I’m not an expert on what the western Church of HIlary, Jerome, and Augustine may have advocated to support the Western Churches of Rome,etc., but there is no indication that the Apostles imagined EVER having to support a corporation/institution like our OCA or any other Local Church because the Temple had been so supported.
          Tithing which originated in the 20th Century in ANY Orthodox Church is an innovation, or, at best, a re-formation, and it was instinctively perceived as such by Orthodox who landed in Protestant America.
          I realize that many converts, like me, may have felt that tithing was an obviously virtuous practice that, astonishingly, “cradle’ and ‘old world’ Orthodox, found to be innovative and even radical, but that we, having all kinds of experience in the game called “stewardship” based on a Gospel account of a steward, would be able to improve this aspect of Orthodox life, thus, perhaps, at last showing them all that an American Orthodoxy must be and truly is, an Improvement! Take the ancient Patriarchates and the Local Churches whose hierarchs are in their dyptichs and tell me which one EVER practiced tithing.
          There are SINGULAR and MEMORABLE instances of the extraordinary practice, for example the “Church of the Dime (or Tithe)” in Russia, which was famously and so UNIQUELY funded by a tithe that this became the source of its fame.
          I; know, some will say, “There goes crazy, deluded Tikhon (excuse me, it would be, of course “+Tikhon”) again, being the Arch Conservative among us, not allowing a more liberal attitude toward Tradition. Why, he even defines something as Tradition only if it has been actually transmitted, passed on to us in the Church. He always claims that the ending of a practice in the history of the Church is as much an indicator of Tradition as its continuation! But, of COURSE, we can revive dead customs and call them “the original tradition! if we decide (in a conciliar way, of course, that circumcision of males (the “Original Tradition” before the Apostolic Council) is a good thing, we can restore it: it’s fully Orthodox. And since Saint Paul says a bishop must be the husband of one wife, that must mean that SOME had two or three or more, in other words, “polygamy” was….you’ve got it, An Older Tradition! And even if the Orthodox Churches never EVER required their members to tithe, we can have a Council, pass the measure, and thereby have the Holy Spirit inspire the practice!@

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Thank you Your Grace for your thoughtful reply. May I point out that all of the saints that were mentioned by the first article that I cited, all are saints of the universal and undivided church? Of course, the article also cited Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom–probably the greatest of all Orthodox theologians.

            The “Western” saints that you sort of dismissed included St Hilary, who is commemorated by all Orthodox Churches on January 13th. Here is his life from the offficial OCA site: “Saint Hilary, the great opponent of Arianism, was born around 320. He was raised as a pagan, but converted to Christianity as an adult. He became Bishop of Poitiers in 350. When the emperor Constantius II attempted to impose Arianism on the western Church, St Hilary led a vigorous opposition to his efforts. Because of his outspoken criticism, he was exiled to Phrygia in 356. There he became such a defender and champion of Orthodoxy that the emperor decided it would be less trouble to allow him to return to his diocese.” (my emphasis)

            Saint Ambrose (December 7) was by all accounts a giant amongst all bishops and theologians whom the Church has glorified. Saint Jerome (June 15) and Saint Augustine (June 15) are also quite famous, although they are more esteemed in the Latin West than the Greek East. The point that I wish to make is that there is solid Biblical and patristic evidence that tithing would be an innovation only in the minds of folks who are not familiar with the facts of the case.

  20. Oh, I forgot to add that circumcision may not be Mystical, Holy, or Sacred, although Christ’s example certainly was, and we commemorate His Circumcision on the first day of the civil new year.
    Incidentally, just last week CBS radio was reporting on even more new evidence that circumcision (in addition to preventing the transmission or acquiring of H.I.V.) has now been shown to make prostate cancer less likely!

  21. Carl Kraeff says

    Jacob–You were complaining that I had not given you a point to rebut. I did give you such as point but you may have missed it. Here is is again:

    “At the conclusion of the 16th AAC, there was no $50 per head except in your imagination”

    Rebut away..

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Jacob–Just a gentle reminder. It has been almost 31 hours since I complied with your request. You however have not rebutted my point. Hope you are having a great day.

      • No need to remind. You may be retired, but I still have a job. I know you can’t wait but I do have other things to do. Enjoy waiting.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        Carl . . . don’t you realize things are just getting a mite busy around this time of the year? Everyone is thinking about getting through the next week. There will be plenty of time for rebuttals.

  22. I came across this video on YouTube this morning from the joint Divine Liturgy at the ROCOR Cathedral in NYC. It is from the end of the service and the choir is singing the tropar for the Kursk Icon.

    At the beginning of the video, Bishop Benjamin approaches Metropolitan Jonah and says something to him… about twenty seconds later, at the 30 second mark of the video, the Metropolitan makes a very funny and disarming, IMO, comment to Bishop Benjamin.


    • Thanks for posting this, Nick… I can’t quite make out what he says, though. “I just [something] the Tomos” or “Thomas”?

      • I think Metropolitan Jonah is saying, “Veniamin (Benjamin in Church Slavonic)…. There is a method to my madness!”