Think It Can’t Happen Here?

One of the rewards of running a blog that allows open and frank discussions (and doesn’t pull any punches in the name of political correctness) is the quality of comments that it gets. Frankly, the diligence, forthrightness, and intolerance for cant are refreshing. Even most of the comments of those who disagree with me are vigorous and well thought-out. I appreciate the challenges to my thinking. Sometimes they help me clarify my reasoning and at the very least they force me to reconsider my own biases.

It is no secret that I fight against what I see as an incipient liberalism in Orthodoxy in America. Some respondents have remarked that no matter how bad things get for Orthodox traditionalism, we will never end up where the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA) is today. (In my opinion the ECUSA has degenerated into a neo-pagan Christic cult.)

They point out that the bishops who are presently aligned against +Jonah are every bit as conservative as +Jonah is. The prevailing view is best expressed by Southern Comfort who said that it’s impossible for the Orthodox Church to go down this road because Christ Himself said that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

I want to believe that. I really do. I agree that Orthodoxy in the abstract will never go the way of the demons, but I have less faith in individuals or even entire parishes. But are we deluding ourselves if we think that individual Orthodox Christians, parishes, or even dioceses are immune from the snares of Satan that have entrapped other churches? I think we might be.

Read the report below about the autonomous Orthodox Church of Finland. Then ask yourself, if this can happen in Finland, why are we so sure it cannot happen here?

From: Ortodoksinen Sateenkaariseura

The Question About Homosexuals is Complicating Relationships Between the Orthodox in Russia and Finland

Attitudes towards homosexuals is becoming the key issue of Orthodox church politics. The Russian media has presented the gay-liberal outlining of Finnish orthodox priests, which is strictly condemned by the Patriarchate of Moscow.

According to Russian sources, the visibly positive attitude towards homosexuality in the Finnish Orthodox circles might expedite the Patriarchate of Moscow to take the decision to establish a Russian diocese in Finland.

Russian portals ”religio” and ”portal-credo” have especially drawn attention to the statements of father Heikki Huttunen, the General Secretary of the Ecumenical Council of Finland and an orthodox priest. Huttunen is one of the Orthodox activists of Yhteys-liike (‘connection’, ‘bond of unity’), a movement fighting against discrimination of homosexuals in Finnish society and churches and promoting the right of the employees of the churches for civil partnerships.

”Patriarchia”, the official internet portal of the Patriarchate of Moscow released a piece of news in July 2006, telling that neither the head of the Orthodox church in Finland, Archbishop Leo, is not ready to judge homosexuality like the Russian Orthodox church does.

In addition to this, the Patriarchate of Moscow mentioned by name those Finnish Orthodox priests who are involved in the activities of Yhteys-liike.

The attitude towards homosexuality in the Patriarchate of Moscow is absolute. The Holy Synod of Moscow cut off their relationships with the Lutheran Church of Sweden in December 2005, as the Swedish Church had decided to start giving blessing to same-sex unions.

Attitude towards homosexuals dispersing the Orthodox in Finland

Three Orthodox theologians are demanding Archbishop Leo to prohibit Orthodox priests from being involved in the activities of Yhteys-liike.
According to the letter of these theologians to Archbishop, the gay-sympathies of the priests are making members of the Orthodox Church in Finland consider moving to other ecclesiastic institutions.

The letter written by Hannu Pöyhönen, lecturer at Valamo Lay Academy, Markus Paavola and Heikki Alex Saulamo also threatens that if the leaders of the church do not demand that the priests dissociate immediately from the aims of Yhteys-liike, ”the conscience of the writers demands them to act in another way in this issue”.

Pöyhönen, Paavola and Saulamo are confirming that homosexuality is a question of church politics. According to them ”it is yet more justified to spread other Orthodox jurisdictions into Finland, if our local church does not hold to the Orthodox teaching”.

Looking forward to sexual-political statement

The question of the attitudes of the Orthodox people towards homosexuals was raised in January 2007 when the Orthodox magazine Aamun Koitto interviewed father Heikki Huttunen and father Timo Lehmuskoski.

In the interview Huttunen and Lehmuskoski encouraged the Orthodox people into open discussion about homosexuality, and to reconsider old interpretations about homosexuality, based on the fear of aberrance and anomaly.

Meanwhile Pöyhönen, Paavola and Saulamo are demanding the Orthodox council of bishops to make strictly condemning statement on homosexuality. They consider the statement of the council of bishops, made 8 years ago, to be inadequate. In that statement, given to the Finnish Parliament on behalf of the Orthodox church, the bishops give their support to the traditional family-institution but they do not condemn homosexuality.

© Jyrki Härkönen, March 2007 (The article of Jyrki Härkönen translated by Ortodoksinen Sateenkaariseura, 20.3.2007)


  1. Thanks, George. With things like the Arian controversy in our Orthodox Church history, one would think your point a given. As you have said in earlier comments, the slide toward liberalism (and other heresies or schism for members, hierarchs and even whole dioceses) is not inevitable, but neither is it an impossibility (or even an improbability). As goes our struggle for personal salvation all the way until our very last breath, so also with our corporate struggle within local Churches to genuinely remain one with our Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the same today, yesterday, and forever.

  2. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Thank you, George.

    On the basis of personal experience, I can avow there is considerable tolerance—-theoretical, and not just pastoral— for the homosexual vice among Orthodox Christians in this country. This tolerance extends over each of the three largest jurisdictions of Orthodox Christians.

    In the OCA and GOA, this tolerance for the homosexual vice is also found among members of the clergy.

    In my very first assignment as an Orthodox priest—an Antiochian parish in Newcastle, PA—I was maligned as a bigot for insisting that the homosexual vice, as incompatible with the life in Christ, could not be accepted in the Orthodox Church. This confrontation was quite public and unpleasant.

    One of the more common sins among Orthodox Christians, I believe, is that of proud triumphalism. Among the manifestations of such triumphalism is the pretense that what has happened in Finland could not happen here—the fancy that the Orthodox Church in this country (or any country) will necessarily be preserved from the punishments inflicted on Anglicanism in recent days.

    Those who proclaim such a view are seriously deceived.

  3. Anonymous since it's all the rage says

    And if “OCA Truth” wants to live up to its name, it will publish the SMPAC report that is in Mr. Dreher’s possession, apparently given to him by Mr. Fr. Southern Comfort.

    Go ahead and tell it to the Church. We’re big boys. We can handle it. Stop the Byzantine BS.

  4. Ivan Vasiliev says

    Christ is Risen!

    I will be blunt–no humor at all here: it is time for the OCA to return to a more formal relationship with Moscow, our Mother Church. The very heartbreaking and sick things that have been exposed in the OCA (not to mention the GOAA) and the goings on in Finland (where else?) show us that we need protection. Its time to get real and stop the foolish talk about fixing things here ourselves. Its simply time to ask for the protection of a Church that won’t mess with the gospel and won’t let anyone else under their protection do so, either. I’m not saying the MP is perfect, nothing in this world is, but it won’t wantonly compromise the gospel and the Great Tradition either actively or through acquiescence. Our people need to be protected and purged of all this wickedness–a wickedness that goes far deeper than sexual sins.

    • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

      I disagree, Ivan.

      If we go back to the MP, there’s no leaving. North America then becomes a place “occupied” by the foreign patriarchates, not “evangelized”. It’s just not going to work. It would set back the very idea of a united Church here by decades, at best. No, the OCA needs to be what it is: a bit of a canonical thorn that needs to be plucked.

      • Ivan Vasiliev says

        But didn’t the foreign Patriarchate of Moscow (sans Patriarch, of course, due to Peter I’s attack on it) provide us with the Mission to Alaska and eventually to the whole continent? We weren’t treated as occupied territory by the likes of St. Tikhon of Moscow, or St. Raphael of Brooklyn, or St. Alexis of Wikes-Barre–and all the while under the care of the MP.
        Don’t misunderstand me, I am not for a wholesale, eternal return to the MP. I think as real autonomy can and should be maintained and I think it is in Moscow’s long term interest to see that this happens. Eventually, sooner, I hope, than later a truly autocephalous church can be created on this continent. And, no, I am not so naive to think that it will be easy. But better this scenario than the sham we have now.

        • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

          Ivan, I don’t really think it’s a sham. We’re real. We’re freaking tiny, but we’re real. I think if we can get the Byzantine garbage behind us, like we’re dealing with now, and move forward, we can achieve unity. And I think the EP and the rest of the Churches really don’t have much strength left to deny it to us.

          Call me foolishly optimistic. I think this can be done in our lifetimes, if we put our minds to it. I would see going back to the MP as, at best, a sideways step that would waste energy we could be using in a more constructive matter. At worst: we’d lose our position to no benefit…..

          • Ian James says

            The article says that the ROC might set up churches in Finland because the Church in Finland is corrupting on the inside. It doesn’t matter how you cut it, ie: tolerance, forgiveness, etc. etc., once a church goes gay, it’s gone.

            If the OCA can’t get its internal house in order, it’s gone. It has been sinking since Theodosios. Herman didn’t help. That’s what you call a culture of corruption, and the primary corruption was homosexuality. That’s what sunk the Episcopalians, crippled the Catholics, and will cripple the GOA in the decade ahead. Just watch.

            Stokoe is an old guard insider. Kondratick fires Stokoe. Stoke fights +Herman and Kondratick. Kondratick out, Stokoe moves back in.

            OCATruth was created to refute OCANews. OCANews was created to shift public opinion against +Jonah. The people wanting +Jonah out are the ones named on the leaked emails that implicate Stokoe.

            OCATruth’s emails reveal a strategy to defeat Stokoe and cohorts. OCANews’ emails reveal a strategy to undermine and banish +Jonah. Big difference. Defeating a lie is a good thing. Undermining a sitting hierarch with no canonical justification skirts evil.

            Why do they hate +Jonah so? +Jonah, despite his faults, has the same moral temper as the ROC. That’s why Met. Hilarion traveled to New York to tell the rogue bishops to shape up or they would be de-recognized by world Orthodoxy.

            If they refuse, then intervention by Russia becomes necessary. It all rides on the decisions made by the three or four bishops who use Stokoe as their mouthpiece.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Ian, as much as I treasure the autocephaly of the OCA, I would never countenance its acquiescence to the dominant secular culture, which is wholly immoral. If the Finlandization of the OCA is the future, then it will die out so the entire question of autocephaly will be moot.

          • George Michalopulos says

            I won’t call you “foolishly optimistic,” just delusional in your hatred. Grow up. I would say “man up” but since you’re a Stokoe sycophant, it might be taken the wrong way.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Ivan, before any good will come, it will get worse. Eventually, the moral reprobates will have to be shown the door. The death of ECUSA was because WASPs hate conflict and they’re too darn polite. In the interest of comity, they did everything in their power to sweep the problem of priestesses, bishopesses, and homosexuality under the rug. They thought it would work, but it’s only come roaring back and is making their church a laughingstock.

          Why? Because the immoral bunch are true Leninists who are not content with comity and tolerance for opposing viewpoints. They want to destroy that which is good.

          Sad. Even Hitler would have been happy if all the Jews relocated to Madagascar. I guess the difference is unlike the Lavenders, Hitler wasn’t a totalitarian. Kinda makes you wonder.

  5. Nick Katich says


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

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

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

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

    • George Michalopulos says

      Nick, I still don’t understand your point. What exactly was it that OCAT said that was untrue?

  6. It is possible that Orthodox priests in the United States could someday support homosexuality — as they already have in Finland — but I believe this is very unlikely to occur. Finland — like it neighbor, Sweden — is a very liberal country, with morals at a much lower level than those in the United States.

    As is the case with the Orthodox Church in Russia, the Orthodox Church in the United States would adamantly oppose the approval of any aspects of homosexuality.

    • George Michalopulos says

      George, I hope you’re right, but the normalization of homosexuality has proceeded apace. Even former VP Dick Cheney is on board with gay “marriage.”

      • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

        Has nobody mentioned that Mr.Stokoe himself spent some time in Finland (as part of SYNDESMOS, I believe)? I wouldn’t care about his alleged lifestyle, if he were just a typical parishioner; that would then be of concern only to his priest/spiritual father. Since he appears to be publicly trying to sink Metropolitan Jonah, that puts things in a different light.

        On another note, in my first ROCOR parish back in 1977-78, I mentioned something in a sermon about the homosexual lifestyle being incompatible with Christianity. I recall a Russian lady parishoner who had been born in Finland saying, “I want to go on record as opposing what you said.” Back then, I didn’t make the connection.

        • Fr, you bring up another thing about the “good ole’ days.” Stokoe was on the OCA’s payroll and hobnobbing on the OCA’s dime on many international trips. One of the good things then-Chancellor Kondratick did was fire him. That started the bad blood between them.

        • We still don’t know why he got fired either. Stokoe should come clean about this. What happened between him and Kondratick that caused the bad blood?

          It is still unclear why he hates +Jonah so much too.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Have certain members of the Finnish Orthodox Church ever been corrected for their views tolerating the Homosexula lifestyle? It is one thing to say that Homosexuals can obtain whatever rights they want in a secular governmental body, but quite another for that lifestyle to be sanctioned by and within the Orthodox Church. What is the current status of the Homosexual issue in the Finnish Orthodox Church?


        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          From the website “Orthodox England” on the Finnish Orthodox Church:

          A Tragedy in Finland

          We like to report good news. However, sometimes, with profound sadness, we have to report bad news. This is only in the hope that such reports will awaken the conscience of Orthodox and bring prayer and repentance.

          The 24 parishes in Finland and 100 chapels and communities, which claim a membership of over 60,000, have had the status of an autonomous Church within the Patriarchate of Constantinople since 1923. Ever since the group’s foundation under Archbishop Herman Aav in 1923, it has been known for certain Lutheran tendencies which have infiltrated among some. Increasingly less traditional since Protestant liturgical innovations were introduced here and there, a few members in the Church seem to wish to renounce the Orthodox Faith completely, in favour of a Scandinavian-style, politically correct, humanist and secularist mishmash, an ‘a la carte pseudo-Orthodoxy’. This is against the wishes of the majority.

          The Roman Catholic calendar and paschalia, ecumenism, freemasonry, liberalism, divorced priests and homosexuality, usually brought into the Church from ex-Lutheran converts, isolate a few of the Finnish parishes from the other Local Orthodox Churches. Indeed, many Orthodox clergy refuse to concelebrate with certain priests, pretexting the danger of falling under the Orthodox anathema for serving on the Roman Catholic paschalia. Today in Finland four Russian parishes have been formed. Some Finns prefer to go there rather than to attend certain Finnish parishes.

          Over the last few years a few of the Finnish parishes have undergone a crisis which is now breaking into the awareness of Orthodox worldwide. This concerns the homosexuality of some of its members. One Greek website, surely in an exaggerated way, has even referred to ‘a gay mafia’. It is true that it was widely rumoured in the 1920s that the beardless Archbishop German Aav was himself homosexual. Whether this was true or not, we cannot say. And it is also true that homosexual couples are allowed to take communion not only in several Finnish parishes, but also in at least one parish of the Paris Jurisdiction, as they were also in one parish of the old Sourozh jurisdiction of the late Metr Antony Bloom, against the view of Metr Antony himself (nothing to do with the new, Orthodox Sourozh jurisdiction) and, it is said, in certain parishes of the OCA, but these must be exceptions. Obviously, if a bishop or a cleric were himself a practising homosexual, then the rot would spread very quickly.

          We have known of the homosexuality scandal in the Finnish parishes for many years. Now a new book has appeared. Written by members of the Finnish Orthodox Church in the moderate and balanced terms one is accustomed to from a Nordic country, it nevertheless states the Orthodox Truth on homosexuality, for all those who wish to hear it. This can be found at:

          We would ask all our readers to pray for the many brave souls in the Finnish Orthodox Church, clergy and laity, who are scandalised by the apostasy of a few.

          The many Russian Orthodox immigrants in Finland now attend Russian Orthodox parishes in Finland. Thus a division in the country has already occurred. This mirrors the situation in Estonia, England, France, Belgium, North America, where tiny but often powerful and wealthy, Protestant-minded, semi-Orthodox groups exist side by side with large normal Orthodox groups, which follow the universal Orthodox Tradition. We should all pray for the majority in the Finnish Orthodox Church, who are fighting for the integrity of the Orthodox Church and Faith.

          Peter: – The rot spreads! Lord have mercy.

          • Peter, the only caveat in this report is the celebrating of Pascha on the Western calendar. Since the FOC is one of two state religions in Finland, Lutheran the other, support for the Church comes from the State through a percentage of one’s income going to the Church through the State. Thus, to be recognized as one of the two state religions. the FOC had to submit to celebrating Pascha on the Western calendar.

            The ROC parishes in Finland, celebrate on the Julian Calendar, which is the calendar for the fixing of Pascha (whether new or old calendar) in the OC.

            This report does state clearly the homosexual issue in the FOC and how it has spread into the clerical ranks. Thankfully people in Finland do have an alternative if the situation becomes to obvious and open.

            • Thus, to be recognized as one of the two state religions. the FOC had to submit to celebrating Pascha on the Western calendar.

              Jacob, I suppose that gives occasion to more questions: why should the Finnish state have any say whatsoever in determining when a church can celebrate Holy Pascha? And why would the FOC accept state funding if it comes with that level of interference in its affairs?

              • Can’t answer those questions. A trade-off, I suppose, but as I see it, if that was the only issue in the FOC, I don’t think it would be that important. They have much deeper issues.

                The Orthodox Calendar should never be idolized, whether the old or the new. Sadly, to some, if you are on the Old Calendar you are somehow more traditional (holy) more orthodox. And those on the NC often can be heard saying that those on the Old are out of touch with the modern world, etc.

                The point is, we worship Christ not a calendar. Both the OC and the NC are part of the recognized tradition of the O. Church. Living in a land where there are both, I have often taken advantage of both, if I miss a Feast on the NC, I know I have a chance in 13 days to celebrate it!

                • Jacob, the issue isn’t with the calendar itself (I really couldn’t care less which one), but with admitting state authority in what should be an entirely internal matter for the Church. In whatever country we Orthodox find themselves, the state has no compelling interest in determining which date we celebrate Pascha. Allowing them to determine that is allowing them to set a very dangerous precedent of interference. If the state can compel the Orthodox to celebrate Pascha on a certain date, they can compel us to marry same-sex couples, or do any number of other things that serve their interests but are in opposition to the Orthodox faith. The FOC should have either fought that condition or refused state support, in my opinion.

                  • The history of the FOC while it was separating itself from the ROC after 1917 and when it came under the EP in 1923 was indeed a very turbulent time for Fins. The degree to which the embracing of the Western Calendar (Gregorian) which the EP permitted them to do, and its recognition as one of the two state religions was a visible act of cutting the ties with their Russian past, I would think does not preclude the FOC from renouncing that “privileged” position if they wished to do so. But, I can certainly see how it could be a slippery slope into compromise. The presence of the ROC in Finland may act as a counterbalance to the FOC moving too far into heresy. Time will tell. One other thing to consider, at that same time in Russia, the idea of changing calendars was a tenet of the Living Church movement. In hindsight we can see that as a political perversion, but there were many inside the ROC prior to the Revolution who advocated a change to the NC, so in the “real-time” of the formation of the FOC, changing calendars was not an unspoken idea.

                    The close relations between the ROC and the pre-Revolutionary Russian government was, IMHO, a mistake and led to much of the overreaction of the Bolsheviks against the Church. I am certainly not going to tell the Fins that just because they are a state sponsored Church they are heretics, like others have, but it certainly should give them pause if they are being influenced unduly to align themselves with what the State is promoting.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              Hi Jacob:

              The issue as framed by Helga is a correct. The calendar issue not important from the point of view of if you follow the OC you are holy and if you follow the NC you are not. This is just plain wrong. I myself have preferred the OC not because of anything special about it but because there was no Great Council where the entire Church decided it should be changed.

              Piecemeal changes, even to the most minute of this in our faith, are dangerous as they set a precedent. There was no great council that changed the Creed, but simply a piecemeal effort that started in the coucil of Trullio then supported by the Franks and then placed in our Creed with no agreement to do so. As you know this changed the theology of the Trinity in the West.

              The Calendar allows Orthodox Christians to pray and celebrate certain fasts at certain times. The OC created an “Orthodox Mentality” for centuries. So any changes that strike at our core we should be slow to implemment and should be done on a conciliatory basis. This did not occur with the OC and a schism arose, especially in the Greek Church, that exists to this day. Yet, on the basic issue of does the Church have the authority to change calendards? Yes, but the WHOLE church should do it, not only section of it. This is how the schism arose.

              As for the Homosexual issue in the FOC the patten is clear, and it follows a patten seen before, first raise the question, then start a debate, then start to say we can go this far and no further, but next year revisit the issue and push the line of acceptance even further, and the next thing you know its the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches debacle all over again.

              The sin, if I may call it that, occured in the FOC once the question was raised. This is why I agree with George that the question can never be raised, nor any debate on the issue. Because once you do this the war is on and its just a matter of atrition. The Homosexual lobby is willing to wait so they can gain their victory as long as they are allowed in the room. Keep them out of the room!

              The FOC did not do that and that is why, as the report states, they now run the risk of being a NON-Orthodox Church as all other Orthodox Churches will cease to commune with them or recognize them. Ony time will tell. However, we must pray for the FOC that they wil come to their senses and rejoin Orthodoxy.


              • You will get no argument from me on your analysis. The sad fact that a now deceased Archbishop Ambrosy of the FOC was a homosexual, did not help matters. He was a magnet for gay clergy and the gay agenda and the FOC is now dealing with that reality.