This Is Far from Over: Get Religion Weighs In

And hits just keep on coming…

Kudos to Terry Mattingly.

Source: Get Religion

It goes without saying that I have received quite a bit of email from GetReligion readers, and others, wanting to know my take on last Friday’s resignation, and now the ongoing humiliation, of Metropolitan JONAH of the Orthodox Church in America. In a way, this news was rather shocking, yet not all that shocking because the bitter infighting between the OCA’s old guard and its idealistic young leader has been building for more than a year.

If you need a refresher course on the borders of this truly Byzantine scandal, then click here for the large Washington Post Sunday Magazine feature on the early stages of the fighting.

For journalists, I would also recommend the following essay, “Same Sex Marriage and the Revolt Against Metropolitan Jonah,” published by Father Johannes Jacobse at the doctrinally-conservative American Orthodox Institute. While this article was written by Nicholas Chancy, an openly pro-Jonah leader in the OCA’s growing Diocese of the South (in many ways, this controversy is linked to the growth of the Diocese of the South), the key for mainstream reporters is that it points, naming names, toward many of the key figures in the drama — on the doctrinal left and right — and offers info that hints at how to track them down.

It will be hard to get voices on both sides to talk. However, that is what reporters will need to do, if they want to tell this story in a journalistic manner. Also, I would suggest that journalists tap Catholic and evangelical sources linked to recent debates about religious liberty issues, since Metropolitan JONAH’s work with them was so controversial to leaders on the Orthodox left (yes, there is a doctrinal left in some OCA circles). And someone needs to contact Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, the Russian Orthodox Church’s point man on relations with other religious groups, Orthodox and otherwise.

There is much more I could say, but will not, since Metropolitan JONAH was a friend of my own parish, which is part of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese. However, in the end, what we do here at GetReligion is discuss the mainstream coverage of events and trends in religion news.

This brings us to the first serious mainstream story on this affair, by Manya A. Brachear of The Chicago Tribune. The early versions of this report covered the press release, and little more. However, Brachear has waded several paces into this maze and now has some — limited — on-the-record quotes from key players. For example, there is this:

“People were looking for that new wind of leadership that he seemed to embody,” said the Rev. John Adamcio, rector at Holy Trinity Cathedral, the seat of the Chicago Diocese. “He was under an awful lot of pressure to right the ship and keep the church on course.”

Metropolitan Jonah didn’t just try to correct the course. He also tried to shift the direction of the Orthodox Church in America, part of a constellation of churches separate from the Roman Catholic Church since the 11th century. He insisted on amplifying the church’s voice in the public square, moving the church’s headquarters from Syosset, N.Y., to Washington and speaking up against abortion rights. In 2009 he led a handful of Orthodox clergy to sign the Manhattan Declaration, a pledge to disobey laws that could force religious institutions to participate in abortions or bless same-sex couples.

The Rev. Mark Arey, director of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, said Metropolitan Jonah’s approach was not typical of Orthodox Christianity. “Orthodoxy is not in favor of abortion, but we don’t campaign in the same way you see evangelical groups,” Arey said.

But the Rev. Johannes Jacobse, president of the American Orthodox Institute, agreed with the primate’s foray into politics.

“He saw what needed to be said, and he wasn’t afraid to say it,” said Jacobse, an Antiochian Orthodox priest. “That kind of independence is threatening to a church that has operated by the same rules and assumptions for a long time. Part of this, too, was he represented a cultural shift inside the church that some thought should not have taken place.”

Of course, it is “politics” when an Orthodox leader defends the church’s doctrines in public. It is not “politics” when liberal activists inside the church work to silence the voice of the church, while quietly lobbying in seminaries and elsewhere to redefine those same doctrines. Gosh, that logic sounds rather familiar.

One more point: Voices on both sides are going to speak, at length, about Metropolitan JONAH’s self-confessed failures as an administrator. At some point, reporters will have to face a crucial question (should ecclesiastical or secular court proceedings come to past): What do the OCA’s own canon laws say about the events, the actual OCA synod and Metropolitan Council meetings, that led to Metropolitan JONAH’s fall?

Yes, reporters will need to find informed voices on both sides of those questions, too. Good luck with that.

About GShep


  1. Im not donating to the OCA after this forced resignation. I plan on turning my back when the basket comes around.

    If more people do this, maybe the priests will speak up. We also need a way to funnel donations to Metropolitan Jonah.

    • Good idea.

    • Heracleides says

      “We also need a way to funnel donations to Metropolitan Jonah.”

      There is:

      Metropolitan Jonah
      3523 Edmunds NW
      Washington DC 20007

      As for your local giving, an easy way to choke the life out of Syosset and their clowns on the Synod is to simply give your priest a gift card for groceries, clothing, fuel, etc. and offer to pay directly his (and the parish) utilities, etc. No cash = no assessment payment (or a greatly reduced one at any rate). Do it folks – this is the only message that will cause these jokers to really sit up and pay attention in any meaningful way.

      • Remember the elderly school bus monitor who was so horribly verbally abused by a few teenagers? Sympathetic people around the country sent her over $700,000. Does that spark an idea?

        • Heracleides says

          It sure does Sasha!

          Madam – I would urge you to ask Met. Jonah to set up a PayPal account (takes all of 5 minutes). Doing so would make contributions for his (and his family’s) care near instantaneous. If this is done, please post the information (usually the email address associated with the account) so that we may start giving. Thanks.

          P.S. Once an account is set up, perhaps George could host the PayPal ‘Donate’ button link on Monomakhos? (Doing so would make donations even easier.)

          • First, I am no “madam.” My beard is longer that +JONAH’s!

            Second, since you obviously understand PayPal far better than I do, please feel free to proceed.

            • Heracleides says

              Lol – sorry Sasha for the confusion.

              “Madam” refers to Met. Jonah’s sister who reads Monomakhos and occasionally posts under that name. As for proceeding – that’s in their hands. If/when a PayPal account is set up, I will be among the first to do my part though.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Excellent ideas! see how wonderful it is when the Brethren support each other!

          • This is a difficult time for the Metropolitan and family, biological and spiritual. However, currently, based upon advice of counsel, I cannot comment much more.

    • If you cannot give something like a tithe then how can you remain a parishioner, unless you are in an ethnic diocese that supports Syosset with a small fixed yearly contribution? But even then your parish needs to keep its doors open. Or do you expect someone else to man up in your stead? If we all take our toys home every time we get upset, what will be left of the Church upon which we vent our frustration? This is the time to get more, not less involved – and positively, not through griping about hierarchs.

      • when the priests say “Dear Bishop, we can not pay your salary or ours because most parishioners will not donate to the OCA because of your actions”, then they will get the message.

        I am in no way saying to get less involved. I am in no way taking my toys home.

        And NO–i will not put up with “we can not gripe about hierarchs”. We have heard that numerous times in 2008 financial scandal, weve heard it from our bishops about sexual scandals, we heard it from Catholics about their abuse. NO NO NO

        • Abercius says

          Here is a simple solution for DOS Parishes: for the 2013 budget, 38% of Diocesan Tithe income is projected to be sent to Syosset. Hold a parish meeting, pass a resolution that you will not send to the DOS that percentage of your normal tithe (send 6.2% instead of 10%). Let your dean, the chancellor, and treasurer know that your people will not in good conscience send more money to support the central administration. Keep your parish and diocese funded, but send a message to the myopic central administration.

          Parishes in other dioceses can send in their diocesan assessment, but not the $105 national church head tax, which we are supposed to be moving away from, right? We did pass that in Seattle? Where are the press releases speaking of progress in that field? Fr. Tossi? Fr. Jillions? Are you working on it? Will we have proportional giving in the OCA before the year is out? Or will we hear more excuses while you keep padding the payroll with sex police?

          • Nicholas Sandoukas says

            Then they will take 38 percent of that. Even if all you send is a buck, they will take 38 cents of it. No IF you want to starve out Soyosset Do not send a penny to the Diocese. Either they wake up in Soyosset an change, or the whole structure comes tumbling down, and if they will not change, the sooner the structure falls the better.

            • I am going to go to church on Sunday with a couple of gift cards. It really is a symbol until I figure out what to do next. But it is noticeable, colorful, silent, and feeds my priest’s family. I wish every basket in the OCA would be filled with them this weekend, just for a start.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                These are all excellent ideas. Being in the DOS, I’m going to suggest (since we don’t have a head tax) that the entire remittance from the DOS to Syosset be put in an escrow account until this issue is resolved.

      • Fr. John, we expect to keep our parishes open with gifts that can’t be used to send money to Syosset. This doesn’t mean we are not supporting our parishes, it means we refuse to allow what we give for God to be used for evil.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Fr John, please forgive me for what follows as I mean no offense at all. It is in the spirit of just straight talk, nothing more. What you suggest is what has gotten us into the state we are in. Quite honestly, it is illegitimate (as is this entire episode). Why do I say this? Because the Lesser Synod (at the very least) broke all the canons dealing with how to operate in a conciliar manner. This is now a proven fact given that they admitted this in Bp Matthias’ letter. Even if HB were guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors and heresy on top of that, the fact that no due process was involved here makes everything that follows from these meetings invalid.

        I could go on: there is the probability of coercion (again, illegal).

        Regardless, it is simply unacceptable to expect the Royal Priesthood to behave like children who must trust their shepherd when these self-same shepherds have behaved in an egretious manner. I’m sure that you and your parish council have higher standards of transparency than what is on display here.

        Again, I meant no offense.

    • If Syosset or the diocese start asking for money, I’m going to tape it to a cinderblock and mail it back, postage due.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Vow; are you still passing the basket around during services?

  2. Necessarily Anonymous says

    From a letter by Bp. Mathias to his churches:

    July 15, 2012
    Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils
    Holy Prince Vladimir the Great, Equal of the Apostles
    No. 147

    Beloved Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest,

    Christ is in our midst!

    This past week has been a challenging time for the Orthodox Church in America, and, I am certain, for many of our faithful. I am sure that rumors are running rampant and the blogs are busy with their “spins” and conclusions.

    I can assure you that the Holy Synod of Bishops has been working diligently in making decisions for the protection and love of the Holy Church. At times like these, the Evil One is busy trying to divide and attack the Church. The enemies of the Church will try their best to tempt and distract us from the truth.

    The Most Holy Theotokos and the Saints are interceding for the welfare of God’s Holy Church. I ask for your prayers for the Holy Church during this trying time. The work of the Church continues as the Lord continues to guide us. If God is with us, who can be against us?

    The love of the faithful of the Church and the guidance of the Holy Spirit will care for us and will lead us along the way as we discern the path on which we are to embark. All that we are experiencing will strengthen each of us as long as we remain faithful to the Lord and His Commandments.

    May the Lord be with each of you and keep us united in the grace and love of God.

    Your unworthy shepherd in Christ,

    Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest

    Look at this part:

    The love of the faithful of the Church and the guidance of the Holy Spirit will care for us and will lead us along the way as we discern the path on which we are to embark.

    Discern the path on which we are to embark? It’s a little late for that don’t you think? The path was chosen the minute you picked up the phone and voted yes to oust +Jonah.

    Want discernment Bp. Mathias? Try this: Go to your people and apologize for what you have done.

    • Goodness gracious. The letter from +Matthias is just remarkable in what it says.

      1. Syosset and the synod are afraid of what people are saying, I am sure that rumors are running rampant and the blogs are busy with their “spins” and conclusions. Yeah, and you have been reading them. Your Grace, then tell us what really happened and why?

      2. Well, here is his answer to that question

      I can assure you that the Holy Synod of Bishops has been working diligently in making decisions for the protection and love of the Holy Church.

      So the synod was working “diligently” in hatching this coup. They were all in it and they did it “for the protection and love of the Holy Church”. That means that Jonah was not working to protect and love the Holy Church.”

      Honestly, somebody needs to tell this bishop to keep quiet. This letter is a treasure trove. It could be used as exhibit A in a spiritual court to depose these co-conspirators.

      And that sound of silence coming from the free men in the Midwest? Rather deafening isn’t it.

      PS. For all of you reading this in Syosset and on the CMT, your best bet is to say NOTHING. Pull the plug on your website and say it is down for a major upgrade, cuz nobody is buying this and +Matthias just said WAY TOO MUCH.

      • Necessarily Anonymous says

        Yes. Somebody does need to tell this Bishop to keep quiet. Every time they open their mouths they reveal their culpability.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Niko, this is all so disturbing (and unnecessary). Bp Matthias is definately one of the good guys on the synod. I think what he did to Stokoe was above-board, fair, and discriminate. It’s too bad he got caught up in this feeding frenzy. For what it’s worth, my sources who can stomach La Drezhlo’s site warned me that s/he wrote that s/he was going to “go after Moriak [sic].” There was an intimation that there was paper trail against Bp Matthias.

        I’m curious if those two (Stokoe/La Drezhlo) have formed an alliance.

    • Arrrgh! Yes, gossip is a bad thing, but THANK GOD we have sites like Monomakhos where we can question the official story. Better to run the risk of having untrue information out there in public than to have nothing more to go on than these official lies and half-truths. The hierarchs want us to trust them, but any Orthodox Christian who has paid attention to the OCA over the past 10 years or longer knows that that is a very dangerous strategy. I am worn out with being lied to and told to be humble, to focus on my own sins, not to worry my pretty little head about this stuff. They just overthrew the Metropolitan, and they won’t say why, only, “Trust us.” The reason so many of us loved Met. Jonah when he first showed up on the scene was that he had the courage to TELL THE TRUTH about what the OCA had become. I can believe he had problems as an administrator. These could have been worked out. The thing he had that none of the rest of them have is credibility, because he is an honest man.

      I refuse to go along with this Synod in this scandal. I vote no confidence. Until the faithful are given a full, believable explanation I vote “Anaxios!”

      • Ana,

        And make no mistake about it, this website is being monitored by Syosset and it would not surprise me if it is being watched closely by the GOA, EP and MP. The stuff that is on the OCA website is just transparent in its “officialism”.

        Sooner or later, someone will break with the syosset.oca corruption. Who knows, maybe that person is reading this right now. They will say, “enough is enough.” Who knows, maybe I am that person? In the end, their efforts in the synod and in syosset will be more on covering their tracks, justifying their actions, going to great lengths to convince us of their correctness, and by doing so they will further diminish not only themselves but the very thing they think they are protecting. But in the end, they are not fighting for the Church, they are fighting for a thing called the OCA, and really their own cushy jobs.

        The Church needs no protection. The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. What the Church needs protection from are people who use it for their own devices. Thank God there are good priest and clergy who will go to their parishes tonight for Vespers, will receive the Eucharist on Sunday, or sooner, and will continue to struggle with living a Christ-like life. However, don’t expect us to look to any of you on the synod or in syosset as examples of the Christian struggle, not while you continue to eat each other up. Jonah may have been a weak leader, but he was an example to us of the suffering servant.

        And, you can be sure, that it won’t be long before they really try and justify their actions against Jonah. They will destroy the man in public as they have done in private last wek so they can collectively thump their chests and make wide their phylacteries. On the levels they operate, it’s too late.

        To take a line from TIp O’Neil, “all politics are local” well “all prayer is local.” Rally around your priest, make sure he is taken care of, protected from the “church professionals” that make pronouncements from their cyber thrones and who use their good offices to punish their opponents.

        God will not be mocked.

        • DayofReckoning says

          Fr. Fester (Nikos), you wrote “Who knows, maybe I am that person?” Well, why don’t you “break with the syosset.oca corruption” and spill all the beans to help the church and clear the muck? What’s stopping you?

          You’ve been threatening to do this for a while. As you wrote in your letter (posted on on 3/3/2011):

          “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.

          • Fr Tosi, Fr Jillions, are whoever you are,

            I believe that George, who knows who I am, already informed you that I am not who you think I am. Sounds like you are forced to attack the messenger just like those who attacked Dn Wheeler when he exposed your ways.

            But, I do wish to thank you for your most open, transparent and accountable posting on the oca website. And for the interview by Kishkovsky and the letter of +Matthias. They speak volumes and truly do nothing but confirm what people already know that the fix was in against +Jonah long ago. Remember those emails from Kishkovsky to Stokoe, Reeves, Nescott, Skordinski, Solodow, and would presume, you all too, to “go to the OCA archives and get the Bishop Basil Rodzianko file. That is your template for Jonah.”

            Yes, indeed, the Internet is a powerful tool.

            Have a peaceful Day of Reckoning.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Greg, have you had any takers yet for the Sex Czar position?

          • You simply can’t demand a transparency in others, “DayofReckoning”, when you don’t give it yourself. It’s astounding that anyone would have the nerve to come on here anonymously while harassing someone else and insisting on being able to reveal their identity. Just shut up already and come out and tell everyone who you are if you want transparency.

      • Nicholas Sandoukas says

        Anaxios Anaxios, the entire synod Anaxios!

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        thank you, Ana. And a hearty ANAXIOS as well!

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Ana–He was given many chances. He was given help. He was put on probation. Nothing worked. As he himself acknowledged, he is not cut out to be Metropolitan. Sorry for yelling, but WHY CAN”T YOU PEOPLE ACCEPT WHAT HE HAS ACCEPTED?

        • Elizabeth says

          He was given “help”? lol

          My bishop told others that +Jonah was encouraged (shoved) to enter a drug and alcohol rehab program (with heroin junkies, addicted hookers, crack heads, and drunks) to help him because he was overweight. It truthfully occurred to humiliate and insult +Jonah with the ultimate goal of controlling or destroying him.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            You have the wrong information.

          • Almost, Elizabeth. He did successfully resist being put in the drug rehab, mostly due to the inescapable fact that he doesn’t actually have a drug problem. But he eventually relented to a week-long evaluation at St. Luke’s Institute – which sprung him on that Friday, fit as a fiddle.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Elizabeth, another bishop told me that he “was maybe ADHD.” They need to get their stories straight.

            • No kidding, George. The same people say that Met. Jonah is both a “mini-Pope” and a people-pleaser: in other words, that he is both excessively bossy and not bossy at all. Well, which one is it? The two are mutually exclusive.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                In some people, that is not mutually exclusive. I will not go into details lest I am accused of practicing without a license Tell you what, +Jonah can put all this to bed by releasing his medical records, particularly those from St Luke’s. In fact, I demand (I am emboldened to say this by the examples I encountered here), I demand that he must come clean before anyone considers him for any position of authority in the OCA.

                • Disgusted With It says

                  What ever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? It works that way in the Church too. Multiple credible witnesses, etc.

                  It’s interesting to watch the “anti-Jonah” crowd put the pressure on His Beatitude to prove his innocence when nobody has done anything to prove his guilt (besides spread rumors and petty criticisms).

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    He does not have to do anything at all. But, it would be nice if he came out and explained to all why he twice admitted to failings in leadership, what happened at St Luke’s, why the Holy Synod unanimously asked for his resignation, why his supporters should cease their efforts to split the Church, etc.. I am just saying that if +Jonah is a candidate for the vacancy in Dallas, I sure would like for him to do all the above things, to come clean and to tell us why somebody who doesn’t have what it takes to be Metropolitan can be a bishop of the best diocese in the OCA. I do not want DOS to be his consolation price, his reward for his failures (as he has admitted twice already). However, as I said elsewhere, I am not gong to throw a temper tantrum and threaten to schism as many of his supporters are now doing.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Carl, can we ask you to publish the results of your latest medical examination? Why won’t you? Sounds like you have something to hide.

              • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

                I’m reminded of the tale about Archbishop Job visiting a parish.He told the rector,”Father,your hair and beard are too long;get them trimmed!”
                The hieromonk did as the bishop ordered.When the next Archpastoral visit came around,+Job told him,”Father,your hair and beard are too short for a monastic priest!”

                • George Michalopulos says

                  “Beware the doubleminded man, he is unstable in all his ways.” (Epistle of James)

                  • Harry Coin says

                    That fact exists throughout nature and even is a tenet of formal logic. Once you manage to accept or cause others to accept two things as so that can’t both be so at the same time, even if one doesn’t come right out and say so or point out the inner incompatibilty: it’s possible to ‘authentically’ uphold anything whatsoever and have it ‘all connect logically to previously accepted facts’.

                    Whether one has fooled oneself into that, or has ‘mastered the art’ and uses it as a tool to get others who are unaware of it to ‘authentically see the need to support’ whatever serves their will.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      I’m not following you Harry. I’m just reading the CYA report and know that it’s incoherent. Read my critique. Tell me where I’m wrong.

        • Jesse Cone says

          Carl, please tell me about the cannon that puts primates of autocephalus Churches on probation.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            No canon that I know of. However, it sure was a good thing to do, rather than giving him the boot after he went back on his word after Santa Fe. Let me ask you a question: don’t you believe in second chances?

            • Jesse Cone says

              I don’t think your description bears scrutiny. However I do think that the fact that you can straight-facedly talk about how great it was that he was given so much leeway and how gracious an uncanonical probation is demonstrates the kind of misunderstanding of primacy that led us into this mess.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                You you asked the question. And, Helga was right when she joked that he was put on double probation. First, at Santa Fe. after which he broke his promise to seek help. I think that he was not forced to resign at that point because the new bishops wanted to give him another chance. Then, he screwed up again and was told either you seek help and behave afterwards or else. This time he did seek help at St Luke’s. He came out of that evaluation with a diagnosis (Jacob said it was something treatable) but the important element of his probation was his promise to behave. I have no idea at this point what broke that probation and resulted in the entire Holy Synod to conclude that there is no hope for him (in his own words, “I had come to the realization long ago that that I have neither the personality nor the temperament for the position of Primate”). My question, after reading his words again, is why didn’t you resign “long ago”?

                • Carl, apparently you haven’t watched Animal House in a while. The “double secret probation” was an arbitrary and silly method to persecute the one(s) to whom it is applied.

              • Jesse, Karl’s thinking can be quite convoluted at times, in fact most of the time which makes me wonder what his real motivation is for posting so many comments here.

          • It’s “double secret probation”, established by the Animal House council of 1978.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Because Carl the only reason he is ‘not cut out to be Met’ is because the rest of the Synod don’t seem to be acting like bishops should and the entire OCA is shot through with the demonic disease of scapegoating. Only demons devour their own uncle Screwtape

        • Jesse Cone says

          Carl says,

          Nothing worked.

          as witnessed to all by the fact that he continued to travel, speak, and be liked by the vast majority.

          To the masses +Jonah was an count in favor of the OCA, so whatever work only seemed to be harming those who worked around him. He has clean background, something that is far more weighty and permanent than potential harm caused by “procedural” gaffes. Organizations have protected and supported their figureheads even when they didn’t like them and even when they had glaring shortcomings because it was obviously better (and easier) for them to do so.

          Yet for well over a year many of those around the Metropolitan have preached his shortcomings rather than the Gospel, and when we add up all the complaints what do we have? Nothing that comes close to sinking a Metropolitan. Nothing that warrants this degree of inter-OCA turmoil, international embarrassment, and the cost of another Sobor.

          Those of us who love the Church and serve in our parish know our priests well; their mistakes and their shortcomings. We still love them, we still support the Church. Can you imagine if a parish treated their priest (esp. publicly) the way the Metropolitan has been treated? It would be more shameful for the parish than for the priest.

          “Nothing worked.” says Carl. Maybe we haven’t correctly diagnosed the problem.

          Let’s get Metropolitan number 4 in here and try again. I’m sure that will fix it.

          • Michael Bauman says

            That will surely fix it Jesse, another lamb to the slaughter. “Getting rid” of all of the other bishops, or just +Benjamin or +Nathaniel or (fill in the blank) won’t change anything either. As an outsider I’ve got to wonder….if all of your bishops are this dysfunctional is there genuine authority there. Getting rid of a bishop, a successor to the apostles, should not be a light thing–that is unless the OCA is not really in the loop. Of course, that has always been the question about the OCA.

            Is it unreasonable to picture Fr. Schemman and the others getting together in a room and saying something like…”we have the tools, lets build a Church, we can make it better, we can make it stronger…. ”

            Of course the other part of the story is that few people who matter actualy give a damn about evangelizing the Untied States. Everybody is just ‘playing church’.

            I read a story yesterday on Salvo about a woman, Shelley Luben, who was a prostitute and a porn star. She pulled herself out of that mess with the help of a caring Christian man (now her husband) and got into an independent Protestant church which is likely full of all kinds of heresy but thanks to the grace of God and her belief in Jesus Christ, she was saved, transformed and now has a ministry to those still caught in the mess: The Pink Cross.

            We, all of us do everything we can possibly think of to prevent such ministries from happening in THE CHURCH. We hold ourselves aloof from the uncouth, the unwashed, the American.

            • Yes! Thank you for saying that! For all his problems, I believe Met. Jonah truly was an evangelist. These other guys on the Synod are playing church. I praise God for the Protestants like you mention, Michael.

    • Antiochian says

      Where is the INFORMATION that will effectively counteract “spin?”

      • Antiochian says

        I mean our leaders are so afraid of our “gossiping.” Give us truth, and gossip will go away!

      • Our leaders need to understand that the faithful continue to be scandalized as long as they hide behind generalities and superficial press releases that essentially say nothing useful. Given the prior spiritual and financial corruption that was exposed and admitted, and the seriousness of the issues that seem to be prompting the current turmoil they must speak truthfully and clearly.

        There comes a time when political correctness and legal-speak must give way to righteousness and truth. I believe that time is now. Continuing with the sanitized communications with the entire Church will only make matters worse, as speculation and gossip will spread and trust will erode in our leaders and our entire Church administrative structure. Meanwhile evil spreads and Satan rejoices, while the flock is scattered. Lord have mercy!

        Here’s a great admonition for bishops to act like men from a writer warning the Catholic Church hierarchy to stand up to the totalitarian mandates of the Obama administration. Our hierarchy can learn a lot from it. I hope they are paying attention and listening!

        In other words, STAND AND FIGHT.

        The only proper course of action is total non-compliance with these totalitarian edicts of the regime, and FORCING THEIR HAND.

        Anything less than that, and you LOSE. MEN fight wars. If you refuse to do your duty and act like MEN, then the war is already lost. And make no mistake, cowardice is a grave sin, and you will answer for it.

        Every bishop is given a crosier upon his ordination to the episcopacy. A crosier is a shepherd’s staff. It is a six to seven foot long staff that a shepherd uses to beat the crap out of wolves. That’s your job. Beating the crap out of the wolves – not killing all of the sheep yourself so that there is nothing left for the wolves to eat.
        MAN UP!!!! FIGHT, YOU FOOLS!!!

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Chris, that’s the last thing they want. I mean, if they have something, even a minor thing that Jonah may have mishandled, they can’t bring it out and expose to the light of day because that will create a horrendous precedent.

          Why? Because we have a culture of uber-secrecy in the episcopate. Why? because we are dealing with is the sin of sodomy.

          According to Christian tradition, there are four sins that cry out to heaven:

          1. willful murder (Cain and Abel; Gen 4:1-16). This includes abortion btw.

          2. Sodomy (Gen 19:5),

          3. Oppression of the poor, especially widows, orphans and strangers (Exod 22:20), and

          4. Defrauding laborers of their wages (Deut 24:14).

          Numbers 3 and 4 are definately in play. By withholding Jonah’s paycheck from him, they are are doing #4, but they are doing #3 as well (given that he is the only support for his elderly parents and sister).

          What is driving them to do this? Number 2. Because they are terrified of their own secrets being exposed, they must hang the sin of “noncompliance” or some such transgression around the neck of the scapegoat.

          • All in the Family says


            Help me to understand that if their decisions and actions were necessary in defense of the Church against a dangerous Metropolitan Jonah, why all the secrecy? Why all the non-news press releases. Why don’t they just admit that they all wanted +Jonah out. Admit they planned it. Of course, that would mean they would have to produce credible evidence that +Jonah was working against the Church. If he was, in non canonical or heretical ways, they should tell us.

            I don’t think it is a surprise to Orthodox and non-Orthodox in America, and outside America, that the OCA unseated another Metropolitan. That’s normal by now. I think what is new this time is that he was a popular Metropolitan and people are reacting to how it was done. It is just so unseemly and uncompassionate. It has done little to inspire my committment to the OCA.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            George–I think you are truly serious; you are not using this one issue as smoke and mirrors to cover up for +Jonah. I will have to think about it. In the meantime, I have started to review the recent history to find out for myself what happened. I will be on the lookout for any evidence of your thesis, which I had long discounted as a distraction. In the meantime, thee is a fascinating article by Andrew Welch, managing Ediror of Religion in the News, “Circque d’OCA” at

            • Alfred Kentigern Siewers says

              An interesting piece, but with a bias toward ethnic traditionalism (to which the author partly owns up), in the sense in which that term was differentiated from living tradition by Jaroslav Pelikan.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                Talking about spin! Folks, go ahead and read this piece. It just demolishes the conspiracy theories of our esteemed host and a host of others.

                • Only in your own mind, Carl.

                • Carl,

                  (typed in a calm voice, for what it is worth)

                  I read it as you requested.

                  I’m sorry but I just can’t see how it demolishes anything. The only thing it tries to demolish is the OCA and I don’t think it really even accomplishes that. It makes fun of the OCA for being small and having different groups in it, but those are not profound condemnations in and of themselves. The argument that communication shouldn’t happen on the internet is also a weak one, at least if you are trying to use that as proof that an entire religion or church is of no consequence.

                  The facts outlined are largely consistent with everything that has been discussed here. It does seem to ignore or diminish homosexuality and the gay rights movement as playing any role in the politics of the church.

                  It also helps to explain to me why you work so hard to be an enabler of someone like Stokoe, because you are both a part of what the article styles the “conciliarity faction”. But beyond that, the article doesn’t attempt to say anything constructive or encouraging about the OCA, and it succeeds in not saying anything constructive or encouraging about the OCA.

                  I mean this as sincerely as I can say it: Right now you are an enabler of the gay rights movement within your church and within society at large. There are some other issues unrelated to gay rights that are worth talking about, but it might help to focus on that one and see it through to a conclusion first (both for you personally and for your church). I hope you can understand these comments in the spirit they are intended.

                  If you can remove all fornicators, including the homogenitally active, from positions of church leadership, and convince your church to address sexual innovations from outside the church (assuming they do originate from outside the church, just for the sake of argument) with one voice, then you might have the luxury of moving on to other issues. The problem, and I can tell you this from experience as well as give you philosophical explanations if you prefer them, is that the gay rights movement is not an honest movement. It denies reality, then it goes beyond that and purposely lies and manipulates at every turn, using sophisticated models of social change to accomplish its objectives. Your church cannot stand unless it roots out this problem. This has nothing to do with Jonah. I could even conceive of joining your church (without Jonah), if you can show me that you have the maturity as a body to address this grave threat. I do not believe you have the will power or maturity as a body to do so. I do not mean that as a put down. I mean that as an honest communication out of love (such as I am able to offer).

                  • It appears that poor Carl is struggling to find anything that can stem the tide of the stupidity of the synod’s move against Jonah. What Carl appears to totally miss is that the synod acted in its own self-interest with little or no regard for others and have under estimated the response to their coup. His almost blind support of them is a sad chapter in the post OCAN OCA and the work of Stokoe and his minions.

                    Now I hear that his hero, Mark Stokoe has sent some sort of letter to the clergy of the Midwest in a sorry attempt to curry favor and support for his unjust removal from the MC by +Matthias. Oh, the irony of it is rather choice. The “outsider” who became an “insider” now an outsider trying to become an insider again. But don’t be fooled. the now discredited Stokoe has been working his magic behind the curtain, doing his best to guide those in the removal of Jonah like the great wizard of OZ. Well, we shall pay attention to him until the wicked witch of the Midwest is “dead” as in of no more consequence to the Church.

                    Remember, the Midwest Assembly is in October and Stokoe’s campaign against +Matthias has begun. Just what the OCA needs, another takedown of a hierarch.

                    If Jonah is going to Bethesda on Sunday, would it not be a sign of support to pack the Church and offer your donations to him and his family. Just a thought.

                    • I have a big problem with Mark Stokoe’s behavior in this whole thing, and I believe +Matthias was right to remove him from the MC. But as a matter of principle, I don’t have a problem with Mark Stokoe speaking out if he believes he has been treated unfairly.

                      What strikes me about this report, if it’s true, is how petty the man is. With the removal of Jonah, he has won! The OCA is firmly in the hands of his friends and allies, and his bishop, Matthias, helped make that happen. Losing his seat on the MC was a small price to pay for what his side has accomplished. I predict that the Diocese of the South will fall apart, which will rid the OCA of the kind of people the Stokovites see as semi-snake handlers. What does he have to complain about?

                      So … yes, if such a letter exists, please somebody leak it and let’s read it. The laity needs to see how devoted the Stokovites are to bouncing the rubble of the OCA.

        • That article has little if anything to do with Orthodoxy.
          It’s political RC propaganda against the Obama administration.
          And, by the way, Orthodox Bishops’ staves are usually not six or seven feet long.
          I’ve wielded many of them. i’m 6’1″ and none I wielded extended above
          my shoulder.

    • Dear +MATTHIAS,

      “The love of the faithful of the Church ” are sending yoiu a message. It should be arriving soon. Remember the drop in income from the +Mark incident?


    • lexcaritas says

      This kind of vague missive will never to. It only serves to stoke the fires. Where is the statement of the facts and rationale for the decision taken–its necessity, wisdom AND TIMING??? “If God is with us . . .”? “. . . on the path IN WHICH WE ARE ABOUT TO EMBARK”??? Wouldn’t that have been considred and charted before hand? Talk about recklessness and presumption.


    • Carl Kraeff says

      I agree with Bishop Matthias that the Evil One and his minions are indeed “busy trying to divide and attack the Church.” He is wrong, however that “the enemies of the Church will try their best to tempt and distract us from the truth.” The enemies of the Church, succh as the Reverend Nikos Fester, are already doing their best.

      • Carl? Are you a real person? I am no longer convinced that you are.

        You are saying that Nikos and Fester are the “Evil One” or the “Evil One’s minions”?

        How can you do that?! How can you call them “evil”?

        Your accusations are breath-taking, vile, pathetic, and completely unjustified. I thought the Orthodox were not permitted to pass such spiritual judgement on their brothers and sisters. Am I wrong?

        Would it hurt you so badly to consider for a brief moment that your self-described “enemies” might be right, and that regardless their hearts might actually be right? If their hearts are right, even if they are incorrect, does your God not honor the heart? How can they be Satan himself or demons as you claim?

        You need to do much more than just apologize. You, Sir, if you are a real person, you need a conversion of the heart.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          “Your accusations are breath-taking, vile, pathetic, and completely unjustified. I thought the Orthodox were not permitted to pass such spiritual judgement on their brothers and sisters. Am I wrong? ”

          That is exactly what I had wanted to say to all of you who were throwing the stones. Is there anyone on this blog who is not guilty? Shall I list the names?

          Don’t be a hypocrite Um.

          • So I am Satan, and you are too?

            My goodness, Carl. I think I’m done trying with you.

  3. Please help alert the GetReligionistas of any additional mainstream coverage, domestic or foreign.

    We don’t want to miss the next round.

  4. Michael Livosky says

    Your Grace,

    You said “The enemies of the Church will try their best to tempt and distract us from the truth.”

    When are YOU going to give us the truth????

    What role did YOU play in this????

    Do YOU agree with the way this is being handled????

    Because nothing in your letter (oh btw……dated 4 days from now) says anything about the truth or what is really going on. Do you honestly think people believe a word you say? The constant “shut up and color” routine from every Bishop in the OCA is just not working anymore. The fact that I read how much each Bishop loves his brother Bishop has become a blatant lie at this point.

    We, the faithful of this church, no longer want to hear about how challenging the future is going to be. We’ve been living this for 6 years now. And NOTHING has changed; as a matter of fact, it’s only getting worse by the day.

    Yes, your Grace, you and your brother Bishops are UNWORTHY shepherds and your flock is getting restless. Your unworthiness is starting to make me question my faith in the OCA…….AGAIN!!!!

    • Catherine says


      The bishops, the Chancellor and the Metropolitan Council, i.e. all of those entrusted to help build up the church, are all saying the same thing and you simply won’t accept it: Metropolitan Jonah was acting in ways that were destroying the church.

      Reading this dribble about how he was forced about because of his conservative views is ridiculous. He was forced out because he was incompetent at the job of metropolitan. Just read the Chancellor’s recent blog. As kindly as he could, he is trying to tell everyone that there were serious deficiencies in Metropolitan Jonah’s handling of the position of Metropolitan.

      • Are you saying everyone on the metropolitan council agrees with you? I don’t think that is accurate.

      • Antiochian says

        Example of his “acting in ways that were destroying the church?” Examples of his “serious deficiencies?”

      • Sorry Catherine,

        We ain’t buying it. We didn’t turn +Jonah into a martyr-hero, you all did. And, as usual, syosset has no plan going forward except rearranging the deck chairs on the poop deck of the Titanic.

        But, hey, folks, just keep that assessment money coming our way, so we can protect the Church from folks like +Jonah.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Catherine, there is the very slim possibility that you may be right. (I highly doubt it but I’ll play along with you.)

        You made two assertions: please back them up. (1) In what way was His Beatitude acting in such a way as to “destroy” the Church? and (2) are you on the Metropolitan Council? How would you know that “everybody” on the MC was in favor of this action?

      • lexcaritas says

        Catherine, your allegation of incompetence is vacuous. ++JONAH may have been weak and lacked deliberateness, but he was hamstrung at every turn with the idea that he was unable to take any action without the Synod’s approval.. In fact, under the current ecclesial governance structure the title of Metropolitan and “His Beatitude” is meaningless. It is an office without substantive power–though ++JONAH tried to give it some and was amazingly effective in making it seem to the outside world that the OCA was alive, thriving and growing.

        If an army or athlectic team or nation were had to be run as the OCA is structured and the MC and Synod seem to insist upon–it would lose every campaign, lose every match, and swifly decay and flounder as a country and be overrun by its enemies, within and without.

        Such an organization can be no more successful in demonstrating and spreading the Gospel. And I find that state of affairs horrifying and shameful.


        • Carl Kraeff says

          You make it sound as if it is an impossible chore to coordinate a common position/response/action. As if it was so impossibly difficult to act upon the recommendations of his team, who were doing their best to act in accordance with their instructions from him, the Holy Synod, duties as spelled out in the Statute, the Holy Canon’s, and policies promulgated by +Jonah himself. No, the problem was +Jonah’s inability and/or unwillingness to act in accordance with his proper role as Metropolitan of the OCA. Just as he has admitted twice already, he was responsible for all the turmoil and troubles and he is not cut out to be Metropolitan.

  5. +Mathias is correct on one point–“At times like these, the Evil One is busy trying to divide and attack the Church.”

    Im just trying to figure out who on the Synod he is talking about.

  6. News flash….Bishop Matthias was all the rage awhile back for taking Stokoe out of the MC. Now he is the devil?

    I did not appreciate the unnecessary readings forced on all churches regarding homosexuality, so I am no fan of Bishop Matthias thus far, but that can change.

    You folks can’t be serious about attacking Bishop Matthias’ letter. Shame on you. Measure your responses a bit.

    You guys have had too much of the koolaid-time to stop drinking it. It isn’t all black n white with or against..

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Dan, I agree whole-heartedly that it’s not all black and white, but even being as painfully aware as I am of Metropolitan Jonah’s failings, I have to wonder: What has he done so bad to deserve this treatment? Especially, what has he done lately so bad for the axe to finally fall? They already had him in a box as a humiliated figurehead. What made it necessary to demand his resignation? If they have good reasons, they should be listing them publicly. That’s the only smart and honest thing to do.

      • lexcaritas says

        Exactly what I’d like to know, Fr. Dcn: What had ++JONAH done lately to cause the axe to fall? The removal of a “Primate” ought to be seen as drastic action and to be jutifiable only for the most serious and urgent reasons.


        • Dan Fall says

          And I agree with both those sentiments, but to suggest Bishop Matthias is the devil; no.

  7. Question for the DOS folks: Is Father Gerasim now in storage at St. Michael’s in New Mexico?
    Question for the DOW folks: Is Father Zacchaeus now in storage at Guantanomanton?
    Question for the Archpriests of Syossetierland: Who’s on first base?

    • sub-deacon gregory varney says

      oh vladyka they had another synod meeting it went up on the oca website. nuthin new. i got more info from them when I told them in a email I will not put another penny in the collection plate. as for any more money for them other than the priest and the parish itself nuthin and I am not alone.

  8. BTW, it’s GetReligion, not Get_Religion.


  9. OCA Crisis Management Team in full swing.

    Kishkovsky’s interview to Pravmir (link below) blames it all on +Jonah. This confirms out of his own mouth, what we all knew, that Kishkovsky unrelenting attack on +Jonah started over the Dallas speech and he was out to get him that early in his Primatial reign.

    The interview is in Russian, I am sure it will be translated into English (can’t wait for Stan’s TRANSlation) . Sorry.

    As late as a couple of weeks ago, knowing full well that +Jonah would be out, the OCA brass (Jillions, Tosi, Kishkovsky) met with the GOA to figure out a way to get to Constantinope, paving the way for a post-Jonah OCA.

    Here is the interview in Russian, even a goggle translation is clear where Kishkovsky lays all blame. It was all +Jonah’s fault.

    • Alfred Kentigern Siewers says

      Protopresbyterianism (allied with corporate spin) on the march! 🙂

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Harry, Diogenes, if true, how do you feel about your precious American church now? I hope you like the taste of baklava and having your children dance in ethnic food festivals.

      • Harry Coin says

        George: You can’t expect a fellow whose job is external relations to not speak about events from the perspective of external relations do you? You think parishes will want to jump to the EP amid promises of how great it’ll be as a mostly-left-alone-until-not-so-much-after-the-property-can’t-be-taken-back exarchate?

        I admit the bit in the interview where it’s written that the Met resigned ‘of his own volition’ makes the writer the spiritual child of the person who asked Mrs. Lincoln how the play was, not counting the shooting of the president. Talk about selective focus!

        Also, you know there’s a bit of an issue about this idea you don’t criticize those under persecution. If a person under persecution is standing on your neck, because someone else is ‘making him do it’, well, I think the Nuremberg trials rejected the “I was only following orders” defense. And, you know, lots of history of folks whose title changed from “Mr.” or “Mrs.” or “Fr.” to “St.”

    • lexcaritas says

      It could NOT have been ALL ++JONAH’s fault. He should never have assumed the blame as he did. He should have admitted mistakes to the limited degree necessary and assigned responsibility to others where merited by the facts. Truth and clear-thinking and prudence should have been the order of the day. Fortitude and justice pave the way for mercy, faithfulness and love.


  10. Nicholas Sandoukas says

    I would love to see when ever the next AAC is to see the overwhelming majority vote for Jonah again to be the man in the White hat, and dare the Synod to shoot it down.

    • lexcaritas says

      That a Synod woudl have the power to–without clear and convincing evidence–is a fatal, constitutiional flaw. I am sick to death of hearing of episcopal power as if it were absolute and arbitrary. Rather, a Christian leader must be the servant of all; he who would be greatest must be as the least. Carnal power is aritrary, capricious and bounless; spiritual power is ever just and based on sound reason and love for the governed and ready to give the reason for its exercise.

      This is how a true father and husband acts. Can any less be expected of a bishop who claims succession from the Apostles.


    • That’s what I’m hoping for.

  11. Dear Lesser Synod:

    Why have you asked for the resignation of our Metropolitan JONAH?

    The very fact that you have asked “unanimously” indicates that you previously agreed among yourselves to do this.

    The fact that you did it at a Lesser Synod meeting indicates that you wanted a fait accompli: you wanted a resignation in hand before gathering the entire Synod to “approve.”

    Why did you take such a momentous decision and task upon yourselves as a “lesser” synod, a smaller committee of bishops who have not been given the authority to make sweeping decisions in isolation, but who are simply given the task of implementing and expediting the decisions of the larger, Holy Synod?

    How is it proper for you, the Lesser Synod, to make requests of our Metropolitan which are not in consultation with our Holy Synod?

    How do you take it upon yourselves to demand our Metropolitan to resign, without the consultation of the entire Synod, let alone the entire Body of The Orthodox Church in America, and then, after the fact, call a telephone conference to affirm your already concluded business?

    This action is clearly coercive toward Metropolitan JONAH, and is manipulative toward the entire Synod and the faithful.

    +JONAH has complied with all your demands: when confronted with mistakes and bad decisions, he has openly, to his own repeated public humiliation, admitted mistakes and repented and humbly, asking forgiveness for things which are not even his fault. When told to undergo humiliating psychotherapy, he came back with a psychotherapist’s letter giving him a clean bill of health. When pressured to undergo rehabilitation, he has complied –even at a designated anti-traditional institution– and come back with another clean bill of health.

    So… why give your metropolitan the boot, as you have just done?

    I suspect it is at least in part out of fear, because His Beatitude has challenged your complacency, by speaking to our culture’s most pressing issues, and engaged non-Orthodox in serious dialogue. His Beatitude has exposed something all Orthodox have been hiding: the moral culture war is not just outside, but within the Orthodox Church.

    But the question remains: Why did you, the Lesser Synod, request His Beatitude’s resignation? To give facts and evidence would clear up this mess. Press releases and episcopal letters which call for “trust” without giving answers or facts do not help.

    It is in the interest of the peace of Christ’s holy Church that I ask this question: What charge do you have against our Metropolitan?

  12. Disgusted With It says

    I suggest that everyone who is displeased with the actions of the Synod recently should call and voice their displeasure. These guys love to make decisions and not face the consequences or be held accountable for them. Call not only the OCA Chancery, but also the “Locum Tenens” Archbishop Nathaniel directly. BE HEARD!

    OCA CHANCERY: (516) 922-0550

    ARCHBISHOP NATHANIEL: (517) 522-4800, (517) 522-3598, (517) 522-3656

    • Done. Not surprisingly, Fr. Jillions is ducking his phone calls and letting things go to voice-mail. Either he’s been flooded with calls or is taking the cowards way out – or both!

      • Disgusted With It says

        Has anyone tried calling Archbishop Nathaniel’s office? I can only call in the evening and just get a machine. Has anyone tried during business hours and gotten through, or just more machines?

  13. Humble and Obedient says

    I’m so confused by the continued support and admiration for Met. Jonah over the last few years. As per his letter, he mentioned that he lacked the “temperament” to be Primate of the OCA, and from everything one has seen, observed, and heard about his behavior both here and abroad, this seems abundantly true.

    Those who persist in seeing conspiracies in every corner of Syosset; those who continue to think of these charges as “trumped up” and fabricated are often (in fact, almost exclusively) people who have no inside knowledge into the deliberations, discussions and debates that the Holy Synod has had. In fact, most people who still defend Jonah are those who were exclusively in the camp of former DOS chancellor Joseph Fester and on the St. Seraphim Parish Council, and therefore believe themselves privy to information that amount to little more than schoolyard gossip.

    The DOS has, for many years now, been moving in a fundamental direction of radical independence and disrespect for the national church — as if they, and they alone, have a sole understanding of “true” Orthodoxy. Seeing the above comments regarding withholding tithes and calling the Synod “false” and “lesser” does nothing but stir up vitriol, tear down walls of trust and good fellowship, and make it difficult for any governing body to administer successfully. Yet this has been the tone coming from the DOS for quite a while, and it seems that these individuals alone are the key supporters of Jonah.

    Coincidence? Considering the late Archbishop Dmitri (of Blessed memory) handpicked Jonah as his successor in the DOS, are the late bishop’s faithful flock unwilling to see the obvious truth — Dmitri made a mistake? It seems so. Why else the intense passion and fervor that Jonah stirs up amongst the lower Diocese? Why the intense displeasure of the Synod, Syosset, and any governing body that doesn’t talk with a Southern drawl? Those who see the Synod as a conclave of shadowy figures all plotting the demise of Jonah must first accept the fact that they have not seen the charges directly, have not heard the accusations directly, and therefore have an understanding of the situation motivated by two things: juvenile passion and intense ignorance.

    So stop it.

    Unless you are a Dean, Chancellor or Bishop, your “insider knowledge” and conspiracy theories play out like second-rate “X-Files” episodes. The church has survived for 2000 years and will continue to the end of ages. Sounding the doomsday alarms because a sweet, nice, but administratively-challenged gentleman resigned as head of the OCA (again, because in his own words, he lacked the “temperament”) is not only irresponsible and ridiculous, but says more about our own spiritual decline than anything one group of bishops could do.

    If you do not have access to the charges and allegations; if you do not have direct contact with any of the bishops, and if you yourself are not a part of the Synod or Syosset, perhaps the best course of action would be to stop trolling on the internet and instead pray for guidance, sanity, and reverence. These vitriolic and passionate demonstrations of trust in Met. Jonah and embarrassing beyond measure. If you must be vehement in opposition to something, be so to the vices that compel you to think of conspiracies and rant and rave for hours on end about things you truly have no knowledge of.

    This is not what good Christians do. This is not what the church was founded upon. But reading the above responses provoked me to respond for no other reason than to say PRAY! Because if the above are a cross-section of the OCA, and the DOS especially, then prayers – and more of them – are the only thing that will save this holy body from the childish rancor that has apparently taken over.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      H&O, you are right about one thing: good Christians don’t act like this. And their shepherds should follow the canons.

    • Antiochian says

      I for one have NO inside information, and am an outsider to your church. But as I love my brothers and sisters, I am an interested party.

      The OCA administration has been untrustworthy for at least 2 decades now. They tossed out a highly respected and loved teacher and spritiual director. Everyone acknowledges he had problems as an administrator. But problems are to be overcome.

      But now, everyone is asked to TRUST the OCA? Again, give us facts! Why was His Beatitude’s expulsion necessary? Maybe we will all agree with the decision if we KNEW the facts. But the OCA Synod has NO RIGHT asking anyone to trust them! Obviously +MJ is the most trustworthy party here, and the Synod better acknowledge that they are the ones with some splainin’ to do!

      • lexcaritas says

        Since when must a Metropolitan be a “good administrator” anyway? What a Chancellor for? Administrators is what many Episcopal and Catholic bishops have become. Not sure that’s a road the Orthodox should take.

        And what, pray tell, is there to adminster is a little denomination with but 30,000+ active members? There’s just so much going on, so many problems. So many parishes, schools, hospitals, monsateries . . . The task is simply overwhelming.

        As for H&O, how do you know there were specific, new “charges and allegations” and how did they rise to the level of demanded “resignation” NOW?

        Yes the (Orthodox Catholic) Church has been around for 2,000 years. And the OCA? Just a small piece of it, just over 40 years old. The OCA may be “of” the Church, but it is not THE Church. And under current circumstances, it seems to be more “of the world” than of the Kingdom of Heaven.

    • Anonymous says

      H&O, I know enough about the situation between Jonah and the Synod to know that this is not a simple story about Good Guy vs Bad Guys. The OCA Truth blog is gone, but they published leaked e-mails between insiders plotting a long time ago to get rid of Jonah. I truly don’t know why they hate him so much, even despite his well-known problems, which he has admitted. With everything that the OCA has been through in the recent past, leading up to Jonah’s election, what in the world does the Synod think it’s doing getting rid of Jonah like this, a week after cancelling the Diocese of the South’s election, and then telling everybody to shut up and trust that the bishops, who know more than everybody else does, have acted properly?

      Why believe them? I would like to believe them, because they are bishops, but too much has come out to make that possible. Maybe they did the right thing. What they did was a shocking thing, though, and they owe the Church an explanation. If the problems with Jonah had gotten so bad that it required an attack like this on him, then I can’t figure out why it all has to be kept quiet and swept under the rug. The Synod’s actions in the past make me very skeptical. This whole thing stinks. For all I know, Jonah ought to be gone, but just because the Synod says it does not make me believe it.

      Honestly, please help me understand why you think the Synod deserves the benefit of the doubt here, and doesn’t owe the rest of us an explanation for its actions against Jonah. I’m not looking for a fight. I really am having trouble understanding this.

      • Harry Coin says

        Jonah should make a statement to his supporters. That would bring clarity, end all the odd theories.

        • Harry Coin says:
          July 12, 2012 at 9:04 am

          Jonah should make a statement to his supporters. That would bring clarity, end all the odd theories.

          illogical |i(l)ˈläjikəl|
          lacking sense or clear, sound reasoning

          • Harry Coin says

            Priest David, Let me step you through the logic you’ve doubted here:

            1. Met. Jonah’s actual supporters are not in a mood to listen to those who asked he resign, or any who think that’s on balance for the best. Met. Jonah is in a unique position to say whether his ‘yes’ was ‘yes’ and his ‘no’ was ‘no’, or not. If he says that things are as they appear and dark theories created to fill the vacuum (even if partly true) played no role of significance on his departure and are just part and parcel of the ongoing conversation; his departure was for reasons not to do with the states of the various social tensions, then those who support him for real can let go of what turned out not to be so.

            2. Met Jonah’s faux supporters (those with agendas for whom Met. Jonah was a useful tool) after such a statement will move on to other things or lose credibility. Right now the silence is being richly mined to amplify conspiracy theories latent in this or that reader’s heart anyhow. That said, there are probably some actual conspiracies as history shows, but, you know, there always have been and probably always will be. However, I think the apt phrase is ‘God will not be mocked’ and He’s not taking a little nappy.

            3. Met. Jonah might say something entirely contrary to his previous remarks. I do not know him personally but given what I’ve read and watched him say that doesn’t really seem very likely to me.

            So, on balance, an interview published unedited, sound and video, could bring some folks peace.

    • People are left to speculate,troll, rant and rave, as you say when they are left in the dark. If proper, respectful communications had been happening in the last year, months, weeks or days, you wouldn’t have such a busy website. . .

    • lexcaritas says

      Indeed, ForcedAnon . . . if only JONAH had resisted. Why did he simply not refuse–and let the chips fall where they might?


      • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

        lexcaritas, the pressures of public vilification are immense and each person has different tolerances toward them. In Met. Jonah’s case, it is likely that this was his first encounter with this degree of vilification and, if so, it would be almost an intolerable baptism by fire.

        The costs are high, many that we don’t see — lack of sleep, knowing that people you are talking to believe things about you that are not true but that you can’t address, magnification of past mistakes, preoccupations that contributes to present mistakes, difficulty in prayer, friends you thought you could count on don’t come through or, worse, abandon you, that sort of thing.

        I remember talking with Abp. Spyridon the day before his removal was announced. I had never met him before. I was working in New York at the time and found myself alone with him quite by accident. He of course knew he was leaving the next day but nobody else did.

        What I remember about the man was the intense emotional pain he was in. I could see it in his eyes, even feel it in the air. I could tell that he did not know if he could trust me or not. Rarely have I met anyone in such solitary emotional distress. It must have been a kind of hell. It was clear he was deeply hurt, even crushed by everything that happened to him.

        People handle these kind of things differently. We can’t impose expectations on them because these pressures are terribly difficult to bear. And we have to be tolerant too of mistakes that might be made by people under this kind of pressure. It is nearly impossible to be on top of your game when the crowd is pulling on you to fall.

        • Jane Rachel says

          Father Hans, I appreciate your comment. I’ve had all those things happen and understand. I feel I could trust you if I ever needed to. Thanks.

        • Harry Coin says

          Re: Abp Spyridon. He would be archbishop now had only he given those professors their jobs back after he fired them for dismissing the drunk Greek clergyman student who molested the undergraduate boy on campus. I’m sorry for his pain, but not sorry those several people got their lives and careers back for doing the right thing risking and nearly losing their long careers by protecting the younger students from the older boozy-sexually predatory folk who like’em young and exploit their authority.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Oh Boy you really know how to open old wounds with old lies. Sorry not going there again Harry but you believe what you want to believe and I’ll believe the truth.

            • Harry Coin says

              The difference I suppose is, I speak and chose as I saw, and not as I was told– and most, you won’t believe it, but anyhow: not according to what I preferred to see or hoped to see.

          • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

            Well, that’s all over now. But the pain was real, and it was the kind of pain that comes from the vilification I described. I saw it with my own eyes. I spoke to the man. It’s what I will always remember about him too.

            • Harry Coin says

              I do not doubt it. I saw the same thing x4 plus wives and families when the fired priests entered the hall here and there at the clergy laity congress with him looking down from the dias…. and their ‘brother’ priests moved away from their career-long friends to protect their own ministries from unhinged guilt-by-association retribution. He and Bartholomew/EP-chicks giving him daily orders could have avoided all the pain. As it was, they chose as they did and the pain was minimized and families were restored. I regret the pain and would have avoided it if I could have seen any way so to do. Moreover, I sincerely believe our choices protected the accreditation of a seminary (making student loans possible) and also avoided the creation of further victims and for years thereafter. That last, that’s the bit that matters the most.

              At least for a time, a fair season, the young hopeful seminarians and the younger undergraduate students were defended. They didn’t know it, but they were. If those who enabled the misdoing remained, the seen and unseen damage, it would have been very bad indeed, and for the lifetimes of many. It was the best of the available choices. I regret none better were attainable.

              • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                Yes, this is equally as true. Frankly, my position has evolved very close to yours: the farther away the leadership is, the more havoc it creates.

    • I’m not going to stand by while the Diocese of the South is trashed like this.

      Go see the survey done by the Patriarch Athenogoras Institute. It shows that in the OCA, over half the people and the clergy are converts. The future of the OCA depends heavily on evangelization.

      How do I know this? George posted a Spring 2012 OCA report on the “alarming” (OCA’s own words) situation wrt our decline. The overall OCA population declined between six and nine percent between 1980 and 2000, even though the overall US population went up by 24 percent. According to the report, a 2002 study found that 77 percent of OCA parishes were declining, and 47 percent were “in serious decline.”

      From 2000 to 2006, every single diocese declined — except for two of them. The West is up by 7 percent, and the South is up a whopping 36 percent. The worst declines were in the Northeast, the OCA’s former heartland.

      I do not know what the raw numbers are. No doubt the DOS’s amazing growth is partly because we started from a small base. The point is, unlike most of the OCA, we are hugely headed in the right direction. We are doing something right. It would be uncharitable to treat our brothers and sisters in other dioceses disrespectfully, but at the same time, y’all don’t want to be crapping on us, because whether you like it or not, we are the OCA’s future. Without us, the OCA doesn’t have a future, based on current trends. If y’all want to drive us out (are you listening, Synod?!?!) keep on keeping on.

      • Dan Fall says

        The south has a different starting point because of other relatively less classical religions. If you believe you above others are doing something so great, why would you keep ‘it’ a secret? Silly statement-sorry.

    • Jesse Cone says


      While you bring up some reasonable concerns (“is this just the DOS causing dissension?”) and some good points (there’s limited good to internet chatter, and quite a bit of harm) there is much more at play here than that.

      For starters, OCAT ceased publication. I didn’t want it to be divisive any more than it already had. The way forward for the OCA required some internet stillness. However, I strongly believe the way forward was not taken.

      As for your dismissiveness of HB, well that suggests you’re in an echo chamber, not us. People outside of Orthodoxy were impressed and pleased by him. Other jurisdictions were excited by him. I just heard from an Orthodox friend in another continent who is at an international patristics conference, and he’s disturbed and praying for HB. He’s NEVER been OCA. I’m no longer in the DOS (but still OCA) and I hear about how people think HB is great and has been treated poorly.

      Lastly, the sad fact of the matter is that the comments here is the BEST place to get the latest trustworthy news. Sure there’s some misinformation here, but the past week has proven that news breaks here. That’s one of the reasons why you sound hollow when you suggest that we don’t know what we’re talking about.

  14. All in the Family says

    Dear Humble and Obedient,

    If you take at face value that +Jonah’s resignation and the text of it were freely his, offered under no duress, then I can appreciate your point of view.

    I agree with you that prayer is always the higher and best course, but prayer is also about discernment, and people writing and processing their thoughts and using this blog, as you have, to move from outrage and anger to the higher paths, does not happen all at once.

    Telling people to stop thinking, analyzing, yes, even conjecture on this most hot topic may be easy for you, but it is not so easy for others. I don’t think that even you would think it was for the People of God to simply ignore the human cost that has now befallen +Jonah nor overlook that he is the sole provider for his parents and sister.

    The South from what I can tell, has always been composed of clergy and laity who respected and loved their late Archbishop, a man who kept much of the inner workers of the Central Church to himself and did not let it distract his flock.

    Your conclusion that Archbishop Dmitri was wrong about +Jonah, picking him as his possible successor because he was an administrative flop as Metropolitan is a leap in logic. I think it was Archbishop Dmitri who said, that he was pleasantly annoyed by the election of +Jonah as Metropolitan. I think we can safely say he was sorry to lose him to Syosset. Looking back, I can only conclude that it could have been better for everyone if he would have not been elected Metropolitan, would have had an opportunity to learn at the knee of his Archbishop the ways of the OCA as an Auxiliary, and then, if it was God’s will, become the bishop of the South. But, that is not how it ended.

    Don’t be too harsh on the good people in the South. They are hurting. Give them your prayers too. You may not be hurting from all of this, but many are the hearts that are heavy this day not only in Dixie but all over the world.

  15. Now it’s Archbishop Benjamin’s turn to do damage control.


    To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Diocese of the West:

    Efforts to divide and scatter the flock of Christ are unceasing. In human terms, the conflict and challenges we face in 2012 are really no different from those faced in other places and at other times since the day of the Crucifixion when Christ was abandoned by everyone save a small group of women and the youngest of his followers. This is not to down play the seriousness of what lies before us today, but I hope it will help us all put our present storm into perspective.

    Let me begin by assuring you all that the cup that unites us has not changed in the least. The Church, in spite of its fallen and broken membership, remains united to its head and is the Bride of Christ. It is the exact nature of our human brokenness, however, that lies at the heart of all we face today.

    The Church, and especially the monasteries, is not the collection of the well or the perfect. The Church is a hospital for those who are injured and bruised by the fallenness of the world and our own sinful passions. Each of us, clergy, monk, nun, or faithful parishioner is on a journey to uncover more and more the likeness of Christ within us and to become perfected by the work of the Holy Spirit. It is, however, a journey, a day by day process and not an instant fix done by some act of magic.

    We are not simple beings. We are spirit, mind and body. Each of our members is compromised in some way and reflects in one way or another our fallen human state. When the mind is ill, the body too suffers. When the body is sick, the spirit often reflects the diseased state of its partner, the body. Whether we are in a parish or a monastery, we use all the tools God has given us to bring health and wellness to each human person. This warfare and battle for wholeness and integrity is constantly waged in the Church of Christ and it takes on many different forms.

    The High Priest and Physician of the Church is not any one bishop or human priest, but Christ Himself. And we who are tasked with the care of Christ’s flock remind you of the letter to the Hebrews: “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably (Hebrews 13:17&18). Our struggle takes on many forms. And, not every battleground or skirmish can be openly reported and disclosed at this time because to do so would be to re-injure the innocent and do greater harm.

    Metropolitan Jonah resigned as Primate of our Church and rumors abound as to the reason why. While I cannot share the details with you, I can tell you the members of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Council and officers of our Church are fully aware of the reasons and are informed. You will no doubt hear all sorts of opinions and speculation from persons who have no first hand knowledge of events and simply disseminate their personal suspicions and agendas recklessly and with abandon. I can tell you it is wholly inaccurate to characterize this matter as simply a clash of personalities or philosophies.

    I want to assure you all the decisions made have been made unanimously by the Holy Synod and not lightly. I ask for your prayers and encourage you all to stand in faith and love as one body, the Body of Christ. Be confident and have faith the bishops are of one mind. Be confident we will move forward together as one body in Christ. Be confident God has not and will not abandon us.

    +Archbishop Benjamin

    • Antiochian says

      Again, Who are the injured parties, if not the people of the OCA? Don’t they deserve the Truth? What did His Beatitude do that was so terrible? Should we call the police? Certainly if it is so terrible, then the Civil authorities need to be involved……

      The OCA authorities do not trust the people of the OCA to handle this. People have trust issues when they themselves are untrustworthy……

      • Antiochian says

        The only thing that I have seen His Beatitude own up to is “poor administration.” (Throw clergy out every time for that offense, and what parish would stay open?) But, I have I missed something? He has supposedly done something so heinous to be tossed on his heiny. This is not, cannot be a case of discretion. If there are innocent parties involved leave their names out….but let the facts speak!

        As it stands now all that the people know is:
        1) Poor administration by +Jonah
        2) Personality conflicts in the OCA Synod.
        3) Something horrible that justified ousting the Primate.

        But #3 is only hearsay from an untrustworthy church leadership.

        Do this outsider understand this correctly?

        • Harry Coin says

          A statement by +Jonah brings this whole Rorschach echo chamber peace. Maybe, possibly, things are as they appear to be and a cigar is just a cigar.

    • when +Benjamin talks about “the cup that unites us”–does he mean hes off the wagon again?

    • Yes +Benjamin, We must OBEY and be SUBMISSIVE–for our overlords never do anything wrong–they never get drunk and/or arrested, never cover-up financial irregularities, never ever do anything wrong !!!

      so, YOU, Parishioner, keep giving us money, sit down, and be quiet.

    • Archbishop Benjamin’s style seems to have changed a lot. Why, he writes almost as if he were being dictated to by the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters, does he not? Almost the same “lingo,”‘ someone less punctilious than I might opine!

    • clichéd |klēˈ sh ād; kli-; ˈklēˌ sh ād| (also cliched)
      showing a lack of originality; based on frequently repeated phrases or opinions
      term is frequently used in modern culture for an action or idea which is expected or predictable, based on a prior event.

    • Disgusted With It says

      “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably (Hebrews 13:17&18).”

      Hmmmmm… sounds like something the Synod and saboteurs — I mean administration — should have kept in mind themselves THIS WHOLE TIME THEY’VE BEEN PLOTTING AGAINST THE METROPOLITAN. But you see, the rules and Christian ethics are not for them to follow. It’s for us poor fools who should just trust them and pay up our tithes, while they continue to hide their destruction of Christian morals and the Church itself.

      If they want to get rid of +Jonah, then let’s start getting rid of the others too. +Benjamin, +Nathaniel, others. Let’s start cleaning out some closets and throw ALL the trash away.

      • sub-deacon gregory varney says

        What is interesting about all of this it seems that the people are actually waking up. That they realize that there is real danger here. That the church they love is on the verge of being the laughing stock of the whole world. However as mad as we get nothing will get done as long as the money flows to syossett. There may be a chance here. the diocese of the south which is strong because in that part of the country people still got to church alot. As I pointed in a letter the powers that be. That the south is way more conservative then east. If at their conference they turn their attention to cutting syosset off and demanding answers. Something may happen. UNless of course they cancel it. Which would be absolute disaster. You know I remember in history a period called watergate. Showing my age here. Somebody said how could it have happened? Well those surrounding the president wern’t real bright guys. I think the same goes true here. These folks at syosset arn’t very bright. Oh they have wonderful educations. They are however out of touch with whats going on in the world especially this country. If you went to the average church goer and said what do you think of the strategic 5 year plan or simpac or whatever they are selling these days they would look at you and say. WHAT? Stop the flow of money any way you can.

      • Elizabeth says

        AMEN! If something wretched occurred that the faithful cannot be told (as +Benjamin’s letter suggests), then it’s time to clean house! All bishops must go! Dosvedanya! Hasta la vista! Goodbye and good riddance!

  16. If any case is crying out for a public airing of the facts, this is certainly it. And the people of the OCA are certainly on biblical grounds in asking for that:

    “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.” 1 Tim. 5:20

  17. V. Rev. James Bernstein, Dean says

    The O.C.A. bishops I know are of very high integrity. I have the greatest respect for Bishop Michael (of N.Y.) former dean of St. Tikhon and others. If the primary reason for forcing the Metropolitan to resign is other than the culture war, his conservative moral stance and his articulate and evangelical spirit – it should be made clear EXACTLY what the reason is so that we don’t have to guess. His Beatitude has already gone through evaluation and “rehabilitation.” In this regard he has demonstrated greater humility than his critics! The impression being given (whether accurate or not) is that he offends the “good old boys” and that because of his vision/idealism/energy is being cast out.

    Metro Jonah has developed terrific relations with ROCOR. Something none of his predecessors did. He has also sought closer ties with the Moscow Patriarchate – something that was resisted by some because of fear of losing autocephaly. His Beatitude was evidently willing to consider relinquishing the OCA autocephaly for a greater union of jurisdictions. He is considered a traditionalist – which is also viewed negatively among some. The impression given in this all is that it is not an administrative issue that has caused this act – but other more substantial issues. This lack of clarity about what the real reasons are motivating this act has caused confusion. My hope is that the Moscow Patriarchate and/or the O.C.A. laity will intervene in order to bring clarity to this conflict.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fr James you raise interesting points. I too thought that there was administrative clash between Syosset & the Metropolitan, or ineptitude on his part, or just plain jealousy. I’m afraid though that it’s far worse. As we are seeing things unfold in Manton, I believe that the Lavender Mafia has flexed its muscle. The fact that it was able to suborn two good bishops (Matthias and Michael) leads me to the conclusion that the OCA has been primed for apostasy.

      I now see that the signatures of Jillions and Kishkovsky on Rev Harrison’s declaration were nothing but ruses to provide them with cover. Frankly, as long as the OCA remains in the NCC, those signatures are worthless.

  18. Let me see if I have this right. DOS still paying +Mark whose misdeeds are widely known and the “Holy” Synod withholds HB’s pay who has done no wrong. Is that about it?

    • You get an A+, Theodore. Welcome to the OCA, we got fun and games! Welcome to the OCA, it gets worse here every day, ya learn to live like an animal in the jungle where we play…

    • Mark Maymon is still receiving his reward for delivering the head of Joe Fester to the Synod. Believe me, it is not been unnoticed in this diocese what they’ve done to us with Maymon, and keep doing to us. First he came close to destroying our diocesan cathedral, and ruined a priest by stealing his e-mails and sending them to Stokoe. This didn’t bother the Synod at all. Maybe Father Fester had to go for what he did, but Lord have mercy, breaking into a priest’s private e-mail account and reading all his mail, including private correspondence, for two months? How is that not outrageous in the eyes of bishops?

      Then they kept Maymon on the DOS payroll while he went around the South trying to campaign for being the next bishop. Making us all keep paying for him, despite what he did at the cathedral.

      When that didn’t fly, they cancelled the election to keep the candidate Jonah liked from being elected by the people of the diocese.

      Then they forced Jonah to resign, and didn’t explain anything about it.

      The hatred they have for the South is hard to overlook. I wish we could go lock, stock, and barrel to another jurisdiction. They probably want to get rid of us too, so maybe it’s time.

      • What did this Fr. Fester do that was so wrong? Reading the archives of the Stokoe blog it seems that he was a Jonah supporter? Oh, never mind, I think I just answered the question.

    • Yeah, that about sums it up.

  19. George, I’d love to know your thoughts about this posting.


    • Carl Kraeff says

      Great article by Father John Cox (a DOS priest BTW) that demolishes that theories put forth by the Cabal of Bishops Tikhon and Nikolai, Father Fester and former priest Kondratick.

      • Carl. Neither I nor Bishop Nikolai nor Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick nor to my knowledge Archpriest Joseph Fester has ever purported to see any homosexual conspiracy behind the destruction of Metropolitan Jonah’s ministry. as First Hierarch of the Holy Synod of the OCA, and we most certainly have not “put them forth!” The conspiracy/cabal label was originally and accurately applied to the individuals whose emails around the time of the Santa Fe debacle were made public. The opposition to Metropolitan Jonah is, in fact, greatly divided. Some of it is just ignorant and fearful, “hoping for the best and fearing the worst.” Ambition, greed, and ego are the most powerful engines across the entire spectrum of opposition to Metropolitan Jonah from Father Leonid Kishkovsky, Father John Jillions, Father Alexander Garklavs, Faith Skordinski, Mark Stokoe and Steve Brown, Protodeacon Eros Wheeler, Livosky, Geeza, Nescott, Protopresbyter Hopko, and many others, in the Midwest, and the East , Left to their devices, these instances would end up devouring each other, as well, I suppose. if Carl Kraeff pronounced Father Cox’s article “great,” this gives us information about Carl, period.

    • George Michalopulos says

      It’s actually well-written. The problem is that it posits its conclusion works back from there. I’ll just do a quick take-down on the Lavender Mafia angle which he thinks is so much poppycock: Lavender Mafias exist. That’s a proven fact, just read Michael S Rose’s book Good Bye, Good Men. For that matter, google Cardinal Josef Ratzinger’s Good Friday speech before he was elected Pope in which he decried the “great filth” that has corrupted the Body of Christ.

      To say that we can’t possibly have a Gay Cabal is ludicrous. By what right can we claim that immunity?

      As for the Northeast/homophilic axis, that’s proven. All the priests that are openly homophilic are located in the Northeast. I won’t name them but they’ve been written about on this site. Two are in the central administration, which is located in New York, which, last I looked was in the Northeast.

      Oh, we could quibble about the details –“Arb” Lazar Puhalo is not located in the Northeast of the US but in Canada. I guess this demolishes the Conspiracy Theory.

      • Notice that Fr. John concludes the article with:

        “* A note for all would-be interlocutors: This post is not an invitation to debate. I do not intend to respond to emails or messages of any kind that attempt to make it so.”

        In other words it’s a one way conversation, so all you readers out there, just believe and don’t ask questions.
        PS. The meaning of the All Seeing Eye on his website puzzles me.

        • Protodeacon, the “All-Seeing Eye” is meant to suggest that we are all anti-Mason/anti-Illuminati nuts. In other words, it’s just to make fun of us.

          • Isn’t it kind of a weird graphic to headline an Orthodox parish website?
            Makes me wonder about the thinking of whoever approved it use as such.

        • The “All-Seeing Eye” on a website brandishes the Freemasonry of its owner.
          I think it probably originated in the Swayko protective society.

          • Lola J. Lee Beno says

            Glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed this.

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says:
            July 14, 2012 at 11:57 am

            The “All-Seeing Eye” on a website brandishes the Freemasonry of its owner.

            Your Grace, in this particular instance, I was/am hoping that was/is not the case.
            But if so, “My oh my oh my!”

      • Thanks George!

      • Lavender Mafias exist. That’s a proven fact, just read Michael S Rose’s book Good Bye, Good Men.

        Your logic in essence is that Lavender Mafias exist, therefore every member of the Holy Synod of the OCA is either part of or beholden to a Lavender Mafia.

        • Not so. Read my earlier postings. It doesn’t take a majority in an institution to be beholden to this sin. It doessn’t even take a plurality.

          • It was a unanimous request by the Synod.

            What I find fascinating is that all of Metropolitan’s most vocal supporters believe he is lying in his letter of resignation. If we take him at his word, no conspiracy, Lavender or otherwise, is necessary.

            • Arnoldus Magnus says

              That letter read like something written by a man with a gun to his head.

              Nevertheless, if I had been in Jonah’s position, I probably would have resigned too, but I would have made certain demands in exchange for that letter — like, a severance package. Jonah, bless his heart, has no sense for these things. He really is without guile.

              He was in a hopeless position. There was no way he could work with a group that unanimously voted “no confidence” in him. On the other hand, I have no confidence in the Synod’s character and judgment.
              We are going on the second week since Jonah’s resignation and the Church has been told **nothing** about why the bishops demanded it. Nothing! We have to all be very careful about what we believe on blogs and listservs, but as many here have pointed out, with Syosset’s silence, all we have to go on is the word of the bishops, and trust in them. I do not trust them as far as I could throw them.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Actually, it wasn’t a “unanimous request from the Synod.” By definition it couldn’t have been. As he was not with the synod when they requested it. So you’re statement is a falsehood.

              • It’s your blog so you can be as supercilious as you wish.

                But clearly you think the Metropolitan is a liar, thus justifying your conspiracy theory. Here’s his own words:

                “To the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America,


                “As per your unanimous request,…

                And here are yours):

                Actually, it wasn’t a “unanimous request from the Synod.” By definition it couldn’t have been. As he was not with the synod when they requested it. So you’re(sic) statement is a falsehood.

                If you have an issue with someone dealing in falsehood, it is with the Metropolitan.

    • This willful dishonesty is sickening even to someone who is not part of your institutional suicide. Although it is clear some of you do not have ears to hear, I offer three points for those that do:

      1. WE KNOW IT WAS A CONSPIRACY — There is NO room for “theorizing”. There is no room for “speculating”. If anything is a fact, this is.

      Jonah’s resignation letter was addressed to the synod “as per your unanimous request, as conveyed to me by Chancellor Fr. John Jillions”. That this request was conveyed by a messenger (who incidentally is not a member of the synod but of the church staff) means Jonah was not present at the meeting where it was decided to remove him from office and that all of the other bishops and at least some of the church staff knew of the decision before he did. That is what we in the English speaking world call a “secret plan, agreement, or plot” to get rid of a leader of an organization. That’s dictionary definition “conspiracy” (from the Latin “to agree, plot”). Because several of you are so thick headed and stubbornly resistant to the truth here, let me suggest how Jonah’s resignation might have gone down without there being a conspiracy: The bishops could have met, without previously agreeing to a predetermined outcome, and discussed these matters openly at an official meeting of the Holy Synod (of which Jonah is the president and an essential member). Had matters been handled in this “non-conspiratorial” matter, then Jonah would have been part of the decision and known about it as it was being made. There would have been no message for the church staff member to convey. This is so simple, I guarantee you a child could understand this. Please stop condemning yourselves by denying the clear, documented truth here.

      If your intent is to accuse Jonah of lying in his letter, let me remind you that according to the official message posted on the website: “His Beatitude composed and signed the letter at his residence in Washington, DC, in the presence of Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor”. Since Jillion’s failed to address Jonah’s accusation of conspiracy either at the time the letter was written and signed or in the days since, then even a civil court would conclude Jillion’s has confirmed Jonah’s account. It is official folks, both the metropolitan and the chancellor of your church have laid down a record clearly stating and confirming as eye-witnesses that this was a conspiracy.

      It just couldn’t be simpler. Just because Jonah failed to resist the conspiracy in every way possible does not mean it was not a conspiracy. It was a conspiracy. It is confirmed. It is a fact. How exasperating you people must be to your God.

      2. WE KNOW A LAVENDER MAFIA CONSPIRED AGAINST HIM — There is a gay rights contingent within the church that conspired to get rid of Jonah. Again this is documented fact at this point. We don’t have to speculate, in fact if we speculate otherwise we are ignoring what is known to be true.

      It is well documented that Mark Stokoe is a gay rights proponent in the OCA. Stokoe openly lives in a same sex relationship, is unrepentant, and is supported in his lifestyle by his priest. These are all well established facts at this point. Stokoe for years enjoyed tremendous influence over the direction of the OCA as a member of the board of trustees of the national church (the MC) and as the only editor of (one of the most influential sources of information and commentary in the OCA until it went silent recently). He was supported in his work by unnamed informants within the Holy Synod who fed him confidential information from synod meetings to edit to his liking, publish on his website, and comment on to present this exclusive information to suit his purposes. He is known to have brought down (brought about the resignation of) powerful figures in the OCA in the recent past, including metropolitans. He is known to be part of a group that was actively conspiring to find the best angle to remove Jonah from office over a year ago, this group included members of the MC, permanent church staff, and synod of bishops as per Stokoe’s own email accidentally cc’d to the wrong person. (Side note: The angle they seemed to be favoring was to accuse him of exposing the church to financial risk by improperly handling sexual misconduct accusations. They didn’t seem to think other approaches could work, and the implication was that staff members were at least open to manipulating an important church report to achieve this desired outcome.) In addition Stokoe was fed unethically obtained emails to support his efforts against Jonah and his Jonah’s supporters by an active bishop in the OCA. At least one priest (Fester) was forced to resign as a result of this collusion. So we have an openly gay activist in church leadership who was actively supported by bishops, MC members, and permanent staff members in bringing about changes in church leadership. They also lobbied against Jonah’s efforts to bring about changes in national church leadership to support his work, documented in Stokoe’s own commentary on Holy Synod meetings. Stokoe’s own vehemently stated goal in the recent past has been to see Jonah removed from his position as metropolitan (according to Stokoe’s own words it was an urgent priority). So the gay cabal exists, we know that, it is well established (making it a little less of a cabal now, being outed partially against their will, but most of its work must still be done in secret since no one is giving regular reports on their work now). And we already knew a good year or more before Jonah’s resignation that this cabal had made Jonah’s remove one of its top priorities if not in fact its very top priority (the evidence is that this was their all-consuming objective in the past year or two, but we don’t need to state things that strongly to make the point valid). Yes, a “lavendar mafia” has been out to get Jonah and has had enough influence to be a serious threat for a long time now. This is fact, not speculation.

      3. WE KNOW THAT THE NATIONAL CHURCH ADMINISTRATION WAS THREATENED BY CHANGES JONAH WAS MAKING AND WAS FIGHTING BACK VICIOUSLY — This also is well documented at this point, including in Stokoe’s own words. We know from both primary and secondary sources that this faction worked to keep Jonah from moving the national offices from NY to Washington, DC, where he also maintained his cathedral seat. We know they did everything they could to keep him from hiring staff members who were willing to work together with him and to keep him from firing staff members who were cooperating with the gay cabal described above and even with Stokoe’s strategy for accomplishing this. There are multiple eye-witness accounts of permanent staff members mocking Jonah for his weight, his decision making, etc. There are stories, some confirmed by Stokoe of entire groups in public meetings communicating disrespect and resistance to Jonah at official meetings, simply because of their hatred toward him as a man. I could go on, but it is really, really not my job.

      I should also point out (but should not have to point out) that the two forces known to exist as outlined in points 2 and 3 above were actively cooperating with each other. The only thing that is unknown is to what extent individual conspirators were motivated by their commitment to gay rights vs. the administrative status quo (which is to say their own “money and social status” as supported by the administrative system that existed when Jonah took office).

      Is there a strong enough condemnation for those who continue to support the above factions and abuse Jonah in light of what we know? Thankfully God will be your judge (not me), and there is time to repent. Nevertheless, you all continue to do additional harm with every moment that you perpetuate the efforts of these two well-known, well-documented factions. Unless you are a gay rights activist or work for the national church, you condemn yourself by not doing everything you can to support Jonah even after his forced resignation. Frankly, even if you are a gay rights activist and even if you do work for the national church, you condemn yourself by colluding with those who seek to destroy a servant of God within His Church. I don’t see how even being a non-believer could excuse someone for participating in such evil.

      • Diogenes says

        Not true! + Jonah is gone via the decision of his brother hierarchs for two reasons. 1) He acted unilaterally making decisions without the consensus of his brother bishops. 2) He was forcing his own agenda of pushing the OCA away from autocephaly back to Moscow via ROCOR. He was warned about these issues, but continued. His brother hierarchs had no choice, but to act.

    • Clare Voyant says

      Well done, and should give some pause I would think.

      But what Fr. John seems naive to, is the reality of the spiritual conspiracy that has been at work, fighting the Gospel since 33AD (and before). Our enemy is not “flesh and blood” but ” evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world.” Read the lives of other persecuted Godly hierarchs, from St. Paul himself to, John Chrysostom, to St. Tikhon, St. Raphael, St. Nectarios and John of San Fransisco.

      There need not be an organized rebellion “on the ground,” so to speak. But the fight is real, not imaginary. And there are real casualties.

      “While you are in the world, you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the World.”

  20. Harry Coin says

    This bit of John’s I think is spot on: “If you want to argue that a homophilic movement that wants the moral tradition retooled doesn’t exist or receive tacit institutional support, then you haven’t been listening.” Met. Jonah goes and signs the Manhattan declaration and energy to support the new guy ebbs and mistakes don’t get corrected beforehand and then it all turns to ‘we can’t work with him’.

    I suppose I can see where some of the energy George and others evidence comes from to sort of turn it all over to folk overseas, their hope (charitably written) is folk over there have it together and will bring all this into some good order. Convince me that such is not out of the frying pan, into the fire. Look at how well that worked out for the folks in the parishes under Rome. Absent the activity of the civil authority the young would be victimized right now. Look at what the EP did when there was the misdoing at the seminary. Then, the EP’s appointment for the West Coast see formerly held by Bp. Anthony made it a point to support rights to gay marriage in the two largest newspapers in the all California the weekend he takes office. Look at the AOA gaining all those folks through the celebrated charter granting ‘self rule’, and after the money came and folks came, out goes the rug with ‘it’s the arabic text that controls and it doesn’t say that at all, neener, neener, neener”. We’ve already read about the conflation of the church in Russia with the pesonalities in the civil authority to the point of oppressing nearby apartment owners, treating loudmouths the same as those who generate medical injury and truly impressive jewelry to tell the time (like, it doesn’t say the time on his cell phone? Really?) All foreign control does is make it harder and more expensive to get those with self control struggles away from authority over others. And, as you’ve seen corrective action when there is an overseas component gets all gummed up in ethnic solidarity, ethnic embarrassment, ethnic control, the state of world politics, etc.

    The reason I think it’s better to make a go of it here is that folk here who don’t like the Orthodox message have already left, and those that haven’t left have plenty of choices shorter drives from their homes to go do whatever they want. What do I know, I just read what I can and muddle along. The local case I think just has the better chance to succeed and has the virtue of being in much better resonance with the content of the services and texts and history. That resonance I think is what helps people stay, the integrity of the thing they feel is valued, that’s what sustains folk over the mistakes and bumps.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Harry, you’re really going to have to stop accusing me of wanting to put the American Church (which really doesn’t exist anyway) under C’pole or Moscow. I can’t speak for others but as for me, my words are plain enough on this. Stop it, you’re beating a dead horse with a straw man (mixed metaphor but there it is).