This is Far From Over: A Call to Repentance

Readers: Beginning today, Monomakhos is going to take the weekend off. It is a good time to intensify our prayer life, We hope you do as well.

No, no one is coercing us to do this. No one has been in contact with Syosset or the Hierarchy of the OCA. No one for that matter has convinced us we are on the wrong track. In fact, quite the opposite.

We believe we are on the right track for this reason: Monomakhos has become the venue for speaking truth to power, in this case the Apparat that has undermined His Beatitude at every turn. If nothing else, it has served a purpose by allowing the Royal Priesthood to express their frustration about the Church we deeply love, which unfortunately has also become secretive in its dealings, moribund in its vision, and frankly, morally compromised in its leadership.

We do not want to see the destruction of the Church. Instead, We want to see its renewal. And, judging by the comments and discussion posted ever since the removal of Metropolitan Jonah, it is clear that most of us believe that if renewal does not occur, the OCA is doomed and the quest for authentic American Orthodoxy will be set back another generation.

We don’t want to undermine the Church leadership either — corrupt and inept as it is at times. Speaking for myself, I repent of any offense I may have given a brother this past week, whether he be bishop, priest or layman. Having said that, we cannot let down our guard and allow injustice or malfeasance to continue. Instead, we want the leadership to start policing itself according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the moral tradition of our Orthodox faith. We want accountability, and we want the leadership ranks cleaned up. It’s not that hard, and when all else fails, go to the Rule Book. (More on that below.)

Finally, this is not about His Beatitude. We should be aware though that because the removal of Jonah was grievously mishandled (and uncanonical and illegal), it became the precipitating event of this airing of deep grievances, many of which have been building over years.

This is what Jonah brought to the table: the clear Gospel of Jesus Christ framed in the context where its relevance and power could be comprehended and applied. What a breath of fresh air it was. The Christian world outside of the Orthodox Church responded powerfully to Jonah’s message. So did many of us within it. The OCA Apparat did not. Had they understood, they would have not subjected him to the many petty humiliations that they did.


First, you need to give an apology to Jonah and to us who were expected to countenance your mistreatment of him based on nothing but your claims of putative authority. Do you understand what a grave offense your extended mistreatment of him really was and how it offended so many in the Church? Do you understand how it divided the Church? Do you understand the scandal you caused those who seek out the truth of our faith?

Second, we don’t want sodomites in either the priestly or episcopal ranks. It’s a grievous sin. Four sins cry out to heaven the Scripture tell us: murder; robbing a man of his just wages; oppression of the orphans, widows, and poor; and sodomy. These sins corrupt institutions. If they are not rooted out, their rot will infect the entire institution and destroy it. If you don’t believe me, read His Beatitude’s prophecy regarding the erosion of freedom of conscience within the Armed Forces. This corruption is playing out right before our eyes.

Get rid of the sodomy. We are sick and tired of it. We want it gone. Let the sodomites go to the Episcopal Church if they want to remain “Christian.” They will be welcomed there.

Third, priests who have dared bring up sexual malfeasance in the past and have been punished for it such as Fr. Vasilie Susan (see testimony, .pdf), need to be restored. We don’t like it when good and honorable priests are mistreated in order to cover up sins that you are responsible for rooting out. Start doing your jobs. If you don’t want to, or if baggage in your background compels you to compromise and cover it up, resign. You are not a real bishop.

Fourth, start taking better care of the priests. It is unconscionable that some priests have to live on $30,000 a year or receive food stamps while administrators make upwards of $120,000 a year plus benefits. Where are our priorities? Why isn’t more effort being made to give these men a livable wage?

Fifth, no more secrecy. It is unconscionable that our “American” Church has a Metropolitan Council that cannot and will not allow its deliberations to be made public or a Synod which uses the euphemism of “concern” in self-serving ways.

As for the future (if there is one), we will not accept a Metropolitan foisted on us who has questionable behavior in his past. Given the complicity of this “unanimous” decision by the Synod, this may very well be impossible. We hope it isn’t.

The days of ignorant compliance are over. Simply telling the laity “trust us” are gone. We need you to lead, but your leadership has to be real and substantive. Mitres, vestments, and pietistic Ortho-speak alone doesn’t cut it anymore.

When the ringleaders of this illegitimate action are identified, they must be brought up on canonical charges and if adjudged guilty, appropriately punished. It doesn’t matter whether they are bishops, priests, or laymen. And if the secular courts have to step in because civil laws or criminal statutes have been violated, so be it.

We love our Church. We also know there are good men in the leadership. But the good men have to muster the courage to root out the rot, to retire the compromised, and set a vision for this Church that we all love. This Church needs to be freed from the shackles of the unrepented sin so that the Gospel of Christ can be preached with clarity and power and many can be saved. We are not going back to what it was.

See you all Monday.



  2. Rostislav says


    +Holy Hierarch Tikhon of Moscow, pray to GOD for us, for Metropoltian Jonah, for the Orthodox Church in America, that we weather this storm and emerge firm and victorious in Right Faith and Piety!

    Let us consider an Akathist crusade to the Theotokos or so to be guided in our work of restoring the OCA.

  3. Amen, Amen, Amen! Will be praying with and for y’all!

    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on me, as sinner!

  4. Archimandrite Gregory says

    The OCA is not the totality of Orthodoxy in America. Maybe the time has come for it to turn over its leadership to a more stable jurisdiction. They don’t seem to handle their affiars very well these days.

    • Rostislav says

      Who else does? No one. No, I think turning things over to something ethnically flavored is a mistake.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      When I Googled “Archimandrite Gregory,” I found two: one is an abbot in the OCA (NC) and the other is Byelorussian (NY). I wonder which one this is?

    • And who would that more stable jurisdiction be? Greek or Arab? Serb or Romanian? Russian? I don’t see much in the way of options for straight-shooting Americans (esp.clergy) you’re talkin out of the frying pan and into the fire.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        Do not attack the Antiochian Archdiocese or any other Orthodox jurisdiction in America. The OCA is not the only Orthodox jurisdiction in America that welcomes converts and uses English. Our Antiochian parishes are filled with converts. The majority of our clergy are converts. Converts are quite welcome and are made to feel at home in parishes throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese. I have been an Antiochian Orthodox priest for over 32 years and have never been to a Liturgy or any other service that was not conducted mostly in English. My parish and many others serve entirely in English. I have seen two Patriarchs of Antioch serve the Divine Liturgy in English. If the entire OCA disappeared tomorrow there would still be a place for converts and “straight shooting Americans” in Orthodoxy.

        Archpreist John W. Morris

        • Fr., predominantly Arabic language parishes do exist, though, and there is nothing wrong with that. Parishes should fulfill the linguistic needs of their flocks. St. George’s in DC used to be heavily Arabic about a decade ago. I have heard that St. James in Loveland, Ohio is mostly Arabic, but I have only visited the temple outside the liturgy.

          One of the “coolest” (pardon the adjective — substitute “together,” “strong,” “on fire for the Lord” — you get the idea) Orthodox parishes that I have ever seen in this country is one of yours — Holy Trinity in Santa Fe. It is a model for “American” Orthodox parishes if I have ever seen one.

          • StephenD says

            St.George in Jacksonville ,Florida is called “Ramallah West” because it is so arabic..Most of the converts go to St.Justin Martyr {OCA}

            • Arabs need a place to go to Church too. If you look at a listing of Baptist Churches in any sizable city, you will see baptist Churches with services in Chinese, Spanish, and even Arabic. In San Francisco they have a Russian language Nazarene Church. If Protestants can reach out to Arabs and Russians, I don’t see why the Orthodox shouldn’t.

        • Fr Patrick B. O'Grady says

          Thank you, Fr John, for this. I, too, am a “convert” priest, in the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles and the West. I am ever so grateful for our hierarchs for encouraging priests like me in the life of our holy church. But I dare to post here to say this: if folks go “church hopping” to find something “better,” then they will only be disappointed, since one tends to find what one is running away from. On the other hand, if one prays, drawing down the grace of God where one is, wonderful things take place.
          Here is my take on things: as matters Orthodox stand in our country, we are nowhere near ready for self-governance, spiritually. We need the vast spiritual resources of the senior churches in the old world for our deep formation. this takes time; God’s time. Let us be prayerful, patient, and industrious!

          • Michael Bauman says

            Fr. Patrick, I submit that we are “nowhere near ready for self-governance” because we have been forcibly kept in our parent’s basements for far too long. That breeds resentment, immaturity and dysfunction. Living an Orthodox life in the U.S and Canada is vastly different that living it in the countries from which we sprang. My observation is that our mother churches don’t get that and, frankly don’t really care to get it, thus we don’t get it either, not really–and ‘vast resouces’ what ‘vast resources’? I’d like some specifics is you don’t mind including how we can take advantage of them ’cause without our money, it is doubtful that anyone but the Russian Church would be ’round for long except as a marytric stump.

            It would be great if our respective parents allowed us to grow up, helped us to grow-up even. That’s not happening, IMO. With the continuted strangulation and destruction of the mother churches in the Middle-east and Turkey, it is likely that we will be forced out into the world, ready or not. We’d best get used to the idea and embrace it. If we would embrace and evangelize America as Met. Jonah attempted to do, we might be surprised at how ready we’d become and how quickly we’d ‘grow-up’ ala’ sink or swim.

            There will certainly be growing pains perhaps even extreme growing pains but we should expect and embrace those as well. I just don’t know how much longer we can afford to hide in our parent’s basement living our own quasi-dhimmintude (my apologies to Mr. Stankovich–it is a real, specific and quite descriptive word).

            • George Michalopulos says

              Michael, this is without a doubt, the most balanced, eloquent, and inspired comment I’ve seen in a long time. It’s been three years since Fr Lambrianides’ appallling speech was given at HC, in which he dared to tell us that we were immature. Though he was right for the most part, he had the gall to overlook what the Old World has done to us. You said it best: forced us to live in the basement, growing fat and playing World of Warcraft.

        • In Los Angeles, Father John Morris, there are three Russian Orthodox Churches; one in the OCA and two in ROCOR. All three churches have both an English and a Church Slavonic Liturgy every Sunday; although after Archbishop Benjamin suddenly removed Father Yuri Maev, and as suddenly removed Father Michael Senyo, the OCA parish’s membership is in decline. The ROCOR parishes are left to competently continue the two-languages for Americans tradition (initiated by the OCA parish some time ago), while our OCA parish continues in the ad hoc way established by the current rector, whose Church Slavonic is execrable and Russian comical. There’s also the old St. Nicholas Antiochian Church in Los Angeles using English. But to some of us the music is often a little too exotic in style and harmony/composition.
          There are, as well, many other matters almost as central as “what language” in the differences between parish life in an OCA and in that in the Antiochene Archdiocese. For exaample, the prominent part, IN SOME parishes, of Freemasonic membership and custom is…oh… No doubt, there’s none of that nonsense in the formerly EOC parishes and in new missions.

          • Fr. Senyo was not “suddenly removed” but rather voluntarily took part in a months long process by which the Rector for St. Alexander Nevsky was selected.

            The parish in which you reside has been in decline since the late 1970s. It is a decline that was created by shifting populations and its failure to evangelize to the larger Los Angeles community.

  5. Excellent, George!
    That says everything that needs to be said if the OCA is not to remain “dead in the water.”
    Add my Amen to it.

  6. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    Byelorussian? Thats another jurisdiction I’ve never heard of. We really should get this jurisdiction mess sorted out.

    • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

      This is the Byelorussian group of parishes under Constantinople.They are without a bishop,but commemorate the bishop of the Carpathorussian diocese.

  7. A reminder of Metropolitan Jonah’s address, for those who would like to help him with his expenses:

    Metropolitan Jonah
    3523 Edmunds St. NW
    Washington DC 20007

    A note about the address: I added “St.” after Edmunds, because there is also an Edmunds Place in DC. This will help avoid misdirected mail.

    • Helga,
      Do we know for certain that mail to this address will go directly to his beatitude without being intercepted?

      • Anne,

        The Edmunds St. address is Met. Jonah’s home address, and we got it from a blood relative of Met. Jonah’s, so the mail should get to him personally.

        We can no longer send mail for him to the DC cathedral (which was his former official mailing address), because he is no longer allowed to go there, on order of the Synod.

        The idea of this is to send Met. Jonah money to help him with his expenses because he is receiving a very limited financial accommodation from the OCA, and he is the main financial support for his mother, father, and sister. His legal name is James Paffhausen.

        I want to add that even if sending financial support is not possible for some, a card or letter would probably help cheer him up, so I think sending those should be encouraged, too.

        • Anna Rowe says

          The Edmunds St address is the rectory. Are you saying Metropolitan Jonah cannot enter the cathedral at all or cannot serve there? I thought someone posted he was serving at St Marks’s tomorrow. Is that still on? It is so wrong if he can’t even enter a church. How do we know this? If this was posted I am sorry I missed it.

          • +MJ is serving at St. Mark on Sunday–some from the Cathedral are going there.

            +MJ lives on Edmunds st. im almost positive its 3523 Edmunds st, NW, 20007

            And yes, +MJ is not allowed to go into St. Nicholas Cathedral

    • There appear to be two street addresses for the Metropolitan

      3532 Edmunds st, NW, 20007
      3523 Edmunds st, NW, 20007

      Typo? Dyslexia? Can you tell us which one is correct. Thank you.

      • Sorry!
        i corrected it–it is 3523 Edmunds St

        never send cash anyway, just checks so only he can sign them if the mail is diverted.

  8. Defend The Faith says

    I would like to share the comments by a parishioner of the DC Cathedral, a spiritual son of Metropolitan Jonah. It is well worth reading, not only here but hopefully by the synod and the staff in Syosset.

  9. Im going to direct us to our FAVORITE GUY and Website

    The chronology of the past scandal see January 3, 2000 etc.

    Especially this part–“Attempts by members of the Metropolitan Council to have the Church Administration address these issues meet with denial, stonewalling and intimidation. Some members were forbidden to attend meetings, others forced into silence. Those clergy and laity who continued to raise questions in private, in public or on the internet, about glaring discrepancies in OCA finances – including new questions about the management of charitable funds – are openly criticized.”

  10. This article is spot on. The high brass needs to be transparent and open with everyone. When they say the Church is “concilliar” that mean EVERYONE should be allowed to speak their opinions and everyone should be in agreement all the way from the Parish window washer all the way up to the Metropolitan. I may be too “American” in saying…. Our tithes pay for the wages of the Bishops and the Metropolitan. They need to be open and transparent in everything. Remember, playing the “Good ole boy politics” is what got the OCA in hot water with the last Metropolitan when he financially raped the OCA of millions. Why are they still playing the same game? Be open. Listen to the lay-people and listen to what they say.

  11. I’m wondering how different things would be now if +Jonah had insisted on a Spiritual Court after receiving the “unanimous” request from the HS to resign.

  12. Rdr. Benjamin says

    Here Here George!

    Could you make this an online petition so that we can all sign your letter and have it sent to all the bishops (and perhaps to Moscow and/or Constantinople. These are serious issues that must be addressed and I believe that a petition will be much more effective than even this blog because it will force people into action.

    Just a suggestion.

  13. George wrote above:

    We are not going back to what it was.

    I like that.

  14. Toby Smith says

    Has anyone considered for a moment that this is not some enormous conspiracy in which every bishop (except Jonah) is in on? The facts will eventually come out. There is a legal investigation under way, and the Synod cannot speak publicly yet about the what Jonah did to demand immediate resignation. As recalcitrant as he’s been in the past when challenged by the Synod, do you really think he would step down and sign this letter of resignation unless the Synod had major cause?

    And for what it’s worth, it mentions above about our leadership making over $120,000 annually. But Jonah is the only bishop with this high a salary. Check the budgets for the Dioceses of New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and you’ll discover their bishops make meager pittances, usually below $40,000. Do our priests need to be paid more? Absolutely. Maybe Jonah could have started with shaving off some of his own six figure salary. Bishop Michael started a fund to help his priests, with much of his own money making up the bulk of the fund.


    Let’s be real, people. Jonah has made some enormous blunders in the past few years. But as for our present Synod, they are men of integrity. Those who write these horrible things about the Synod have never known any of these bishops. You have lived only in the South, knowing only dear Archbishop Dimitri. But the current Synod, for the most part, is a wonderful, pious group of men. Bishop Matthias is a reformer. Bishop Tikhon is a true monk, who lived in obedience for years (as opposed to Jonah, who was almost instantly made an abbot. Where are the years of him learning obedience and humility?). Bishop Nikon and Bishop Nathaniel are from the old era, but both are beloved in their dioceses. Bishop Michael ran St Tikhon’s Seminary for years, making a place of traditional values (as opposed to the liberal St Vladimir’s that Jonah graduated from. He tried to forcibly close St Tikhon’s a few years ago, which did not go over well with the Church). Bishop Melchisedek left Amercia years ago to live out his life as a humble monk in Greece, but was called back to serve as bishop.

    So how does Jonah stack up to these men in the Synod? Two of them were real monks, as opposed to Jonah the insta-abbot. Two of them have been bishops for many years, so you think he would seek their wisdom and counsel. As for the other bishops, there is absolutely no evidence that they are anything but men of integrity.

    This conspiracy nonsense is just that: nonsense. Jonah has continued to be stubborn, and his most recent mistakes, which are not yet public, have done him in. Innocent laypeople have no been hurt by his mistakes, and hence we have an ongoing legal investigation.

    So before you post your retorts, wise up, and wait for the facts to surface. We have to wait for the police and attorneys to clear things to be released. And when it comes out, Jonah will have nowhere to hide.

    • Mr. Smith,

      You have composed quite a list, though it says something more about the state of Orthodoxy in America than it does about Met. Jonah. As they say, when you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. Does being a bishop in the O.C.A. require one to get flea bitten?

    • Jesse Cone says

      Toby asks,

      Has anyone considered for a moment that this is not some enormous conspiracy in which every bishop (except Jonah) is in on?

      Yes. Labeling those of us with concerns “conspiracy theorists” is a straw man and makes us feel dismissed. That’s not the way forward; no matter how wrong we may be.

      The facts will eventually come out.

      We are all hopeful of this. If +Jonah did something criminal, let it be taken care of by the appropriate authorities. If he did something uncanonical they should have called a spiritual court and deposed him, according to the cannons. Again: not Team Jonah, Team Due Process.

      But we have seen, time and time again, contempt and finger-pointing at a Metropolitan who brings some real talents to the table. His talents are not ancillary either: how many times have people described how wonderfully pastoral, humble, and what a great teacher and speaker he is?

      We heard for years about how nasty a character Robert Kondratick is (though I’ve never heard about participation in orgies before today!) and how his “criminal” behavior got him defrocked. Yet, the authorities did not charge him. I don’t know the man, and I don’t really care about whether or not he was guilty. It just seems fishy (as well as the strange case of Bp. Basil (Rodzianko) of blessed memory) and now we’re seeing some of those same scenarios played out again.

      I’m sure you can understand why the masses are skeptical here that this verbiage about legal and police investigations (that somehow you can tell us is there but can’t tell us what it is) might not be above board.

      As to your narrative and “facts”, you are both not all wrong, nor are you all right. The claim of $120k was made about the main staff in Syosset; Frs Jillions, Tosi. Look at the sex czar position(s)! I believe all of those positions made more than the Metropolitan.

    • Jesse Cone says

      Toby says that +Jonah is stubborn and uncooperative:

      As recalcitrant as he’s been in the past when challenged by the Synod, do you really think he would step down and sign this letter of resignation unless the Synod had major cause?

      I am so glad you said this, because now I can ask you to show me how this has been evidenced. This is part of the narrative we all should inspect closely, because it’s a shocking claim!

      Is it a recalcitrant Metropolitan that allows for the Chicago “policies” to be established, when he could have walked out and ended the meeting? The one who complied with the demands set before him at the AAC? The one who insisted on his pick of Chancellor, and instead was given Fr. Jillions? The one who gets his travel budget “approved” by the Synod? Publicly?

      What in the past year suggests that +Jonah wasn’t the paradigmatic team player for the Synod? In fact, it’s probably easier to argue the opposite; that he was too focused on trying to smooth over the ruffled feathers.

      I’m just waiting for another similar claim from the same ilk of narrative: that +Jonah has an ego. That way I can talk about how we’ve moved from AFR’s “Conversations with Met. Jonah” to the “Chancellor’s Diary”.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Jesse, as usual, complete horse hockey. Mr Smith believes that if you repeat a talking point often enough, it achieves reality.

    • Seraphim says

      Mr Smith,

      Nicely done. The best spin doesn’t seem like spin at all, and you have shown a mastery of this dark art. Continually evoking esoteric knowledge that you miraculously possess, you confidently present a seemingly objective, independent account that neatly supports the “official” OCA spin. But a little too neatly. . . .

      First, it contradicts everything that those of us who know +Jonah personally have experienced of him, as well as very public details of his biography. (Perhaps you would like to spend a year or two at Valaam, especially during the winter, and then let us know how comfy you find the novitiate there.)

      But secondly, exactly how do you possess all this information to which no one else on this blog, including numerous priests and deans, seems to be privy? I can think of only two plausible ways. Either you are simply making this up, spinning a tale to support the view of events you want people to believe. Or else you are a sock-puppet for someone on the Synod, or else one of their enablers or collaborators. In either case, it is just the same old same old—a story that we’ve heard many times before. (There are more exotic, but less likely possibilities: you are a [literal] fly on the wall; you learned the art of hacking emails from +Mark; you have been spending quality time with gypsy fortune-tellers; etc.)

      But you had us there for a second. Nice try.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mr Smith, I redacted your middle paragraph with three XXX’s (no pun intended). What you wrote was defamatory and makes you liable for a civil suit. You can go down that road but I won’t. And if a lawyer comes calling, I’ll turn over my records and IP addresses faster than you can say Jackie Robinson.

      The rest of your diatribe has been left alone. I will answer your charges re “the leadership’s” $125K salaries. I wasn’t talking about Jonah (who has had his salary cut) but the functionaries in Syosset. Go look at the budget. And remember, that Garklavs continued to receive $134K per year even after he was fired.

      All: keep the comments on topic. Otherwise, we go back to moderation.

    • Toby,

      To answer your question:

      Yes, I personally have considered the possibility that Jonah has done something so horrible that no authority dares to even speak the name of the crime (nor even the name of its general category). I personally reject this hypothesis based on the fact that he has not been accused of any such crime. That really ought to be enough. But if it is not enough for you, it is now well documented that powerful factions within the OCA were colluding to find the best excuse to remove him from office. Beyond that, the hypothesis is inconsistent with Jonah’s request (in his resignation letter) that he receive a new episcopal assignment.

      Now here are some questions for you:

      How do you have so much secret information that supposedly only the bishops have and that even the bishops are forbidden from sharing? Are you a bishop, or do they simply give you information illegally? For what purpose do they give you this information? Or has God revealed this information to you through his angels for the edification of His Church? I’ll stop listing every conceivable possibility and just let you tell us.

      A few additional words of commentary:

      Your vague allegations do more harm to Jonah and the OCA than specific allegations. That you even make the allegations in this manner is unjust. Surely you are capable of understanding that. It would be ethical at this point to explain your full knowledge of any specific allegations. If you cannot do so, then it would be ethical to withdraw your allegations completely and apologize for your libel (I say libel because you mention crimes that make someone unfit for employment and not just a theological or personality conflict).

      Your vague allegations, especially if derived from some fact, would not be possible without a conspiracy (at a minimum that conspiracy would involve you and the person who fed you the top secret information). Surely you do understand that. The irony is that your words prove that you are either delusional, part of a conspiracy, or both (my guess is that you have been somewhat unwittingly duped into participating in libel).

      Let the law do what the law does. No one here is trying to prevent that.

      Most of your words are an attempt to create a cult of personality. These words are a diversion. It doesn’t matter if person A is 99% good and person B is 89% good. Specific salaries are irrelevant. The sexual issues are the only other matter that is relevant, but you have not yet provided any constructive information or ideas in that arena.

      Justice is something that can be considered independent of personality. The Holy Synod has not been harmed by any outside force and has the power to right any wrongs within the OCA. As for Jonah, you claim we must wait to find out if he has been wronged or not. You have not given a legitimate excuse for why you choose to keep us in the dark. You are smart enough to realize this kind of delay raises legitimate suspicions. This delay increases the likelihood that additional harm will be done to innocent parties, including Jonah and the OCA as a whole. Only a guilty party with an inadequate cover story would call for a delay in this situation. It’s called buying time, and its purpose is to find a way to perpetuate injustice.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Very well stated, Um.

        • Brian McDonald says

          I do agree with UM, George, and other posters that for “Toby Smith” to convey he’s got insider knowledge of something terrible that has led to a legal investigation–and then stop there–is unethical and contemptible since, as UM states, allegations without information can actually do more damage to someone’s reputation than specific charges.

          But why are we in this position of total ignorance in the first place? Why are we dependent upon the Synod, or Syosset, or any ‘sock puppets’ to give us the needed information? Isn’t the answer that Jonah himself has chosen to maintain silence? If the OCA synod and the MC are unwilling or legally bound to say nothing, why couldn’t Jonah take some steps towards clearing this up? I think he could do so without making accusations betraying legal confidences, or acting in any other way than the usual humble and charitable manner he displays in his public persona. He could do one of the following:

          1) state that rumors of any legal malfeasance are unfounded, or
          2) state that while an investigation of some events is underway, he is entirely innocent, and any charges baseless, or
          3) (God forbid) state that those who required his resignation had justifiable reasons for doing so and his supporters should put down their swords.

          I don’t see how any of these three statements would violate charity or humility, or compromise his legal position. Even statements as unspecific as 1) or 2) would signal that his supporters have good grounds for backing him up. For people like me who might be described as in-the-middle-but-leaning-Jonah’s-way, a statement like 1) or 2) would do a lot to move us in the direction we instinctively want to go–full support of the former metropolitan. A statement like 3) would be tragic, but would allow everybody to begin the grieving for another promising, but failed leader.

          Why then won’t he contribute his own bit to shedding some light into this painful darkness?

          By the way, I don’t want to end without stating that I agree 3) doesn’t pass the “smell” test. Nothing in the various criticisms of Jonah over the last four years has suggested that his “problem” is anything other than a “lone ranger” and uncollegial attitude or possibly “mental” issues. The claims (unsupported) of “legal” issues seem dragged in at the heel. Putting all things together, my own (completely speculative) position if there’s anything at ALL to it, it’s far more likely to involve Jonah showing some kind of naive carelessness about something rather than any active intentional deed. In our increasingly legalized way of handling our business with each other, that is a distinct possibility

          Here’s the problem for me, though. It’s not ONLY those things that tell against Jonah that don’t pass the smell test. I keep coming back to this fact: IF Jonah has been undone by “lavender mafia” elements in the Synod, Soyosset, and the MC, why would MIchael and Matthias (who have been firm upholders of the traditional Christian sexual morality) turn against him?

          Perhaps we should all go through the tough work of just suspending judgment for a while and praying more. That’s what George’s blog seems to suggest.

          • Monk James says

            Brian McDonald says (among other things, July 14, 2012 at 6:06 pm):

            ‘Here’s the problem for me, though. It’s not ONLY those things that tell against Jonah that don’t pass the smell test. I keep coming back to this fact: IF Jonah has been undone by “lavender mafia” elements in the Synod, Soyosset, and the MC, why would MIchael and Matthias (who have been firm upholders of the traditional Christian sexual morality) turn against him?’


            That there is a homosexually influenced contingent among our bishops is undeniable and could be proved, if necessary. God grant that we continue to elect godly men to replace them as they die off or retire — the sooner the better.

            In the present instance, my guess is that The Few Good Men among the bishops in our OCA’s Holy Synod were outvoted, but chose to go along with our tradition of (at least a public display of) consensus even if they had to vomit afterward.

            God forgive them and all of us for not standing up to be counted at those moments when our voices really do count.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Monk James, I think you hit the nail on the head.

              To all: I’ve never believed that the meme of the Gay Cabal is the full story. There are Gay Cabals (just ask any orthodox Catholic priest or man who was made to feel unwelcome in seminaries in the 1970s) but they are part of the vanguard of those who fight for a relaxation of Tradition. In this camp are many decent, well-meaning people who are Progressive on some issues particularly in the secular sphere.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Brian, I too wish that Jonah would just speak (as well as fight back) but the way this soviet “church” is run, the poor guy can’t even go to church wherever he wants to. He’s supposed to celebrate liturgy tomorrow at St Mark’s but I wouldn’t put it past the Apparat to slam the door in his face.

            I don’t think the vast majority of people understand how precarious his very life is. After Oct 31, 2012, they can throw him, his mom and dad and sister out onto the street without so much as a “by your leave.” They’ve refused to let Bp Nikolai join ROCOR and find gainful employment. That’s what awaits Jonah if he defends himself (which would be worldly and he’s not worldly).

            It’s a damn shame. The only silver lining is that this is martyric suffering. Still, it ain’t easy to put up with it or to even watch it. Not if you got half a heart.

            • Rod Dreher says

              That’s the thing that kills me, George. I think ++Jonah has been a problematic Metropolitan. But the way they are treating him is savage. He is a defeated man. And yet, they are not satisfied to get rid of him; they want to destroy him.

              People, don’t forget this.

          • Toby and any Tobyites out there,

            The synod has NOTHING on +Jonah. The only threat they could muster by this point was his non-compliance with THEIR PROCEDURES, that is, internal, best practices, procedures. Nothing illegal, nothing immoral, nothing uncanonical.

            The OCA is now run by lawyers and pencil pushers who whisper in the ears of the bishops and MC members, “we might get sued……we may have legal exposure……..we may have to spend money on this.”

            Nothing about the Gospel, about the spirit. No, it is the letter of their own law, their own gospel. Their transparent actions of disrespect to +Jonah are now naked, exposed for all to see. The OCA is a laughing-stock on one hand and an embarrassment on the other. A Church that has lost its way being led by bishops who are far worse than the one they have blamed for everything wrong in their dwindling jurisdiction.

            The OCA is fooling know one anymore.

  15. I’ve been hesitant to comment since hearing about the resignation because the truth is that I have no idea what to believe.

    Am I shocked that there is some degree of ‘institutional rot’? Not at all. I’ve suspected as much for years before I ever found people discussing it openly on the internet. I’ve seen too many situations where a bishop clearly ‘looked the other way,’ allowing clergy to continue openly in behavior that begs for an explanation other than that someone is compromised.

    Can I also believe the synod has good reasons for what they did? Yes. But they sure chose a strange and scandalous method of going about it. Moreover, leaving a bishop of the Church (whatever his alleged failures or ‘too-confidential-to-reveal’ transgressions and/or medical state) without a means of income strikes this reasonable person as simply un-Christian. Even those in the AOANA who were most vehement in their opposition to the reinstatement of +DEMETRI (Khoury) in a pastoral capacity didn’t begrudge him a means of income.

    Whatever is going on doesn’t seem to pass the smell test.

    George and others here are correct about the clarity of Scripture on this issue. The public (by which I mean public within the Church) telling of the truth in the Church is required in matters that affect the whole Church. However, knowing the truth about matters revealed to all for the sake of all should not be confused with ‘transparency and accountability’ which is a uniquely American idea related to a democratic process that does not belong in the Church. The words, “There is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed” are not a license to know or to reveal everything than can be known. When possible, we cover the sins of our brethren. We do not (or should not) shoot our wounded. When the Scriptural procedure is followed there is ample opportunity for the infection of sin to be treated and remain covered, as with a bandage, to promote healing. But when the infection spreads to the entire Body, the treatment requires the participation of the entire Body. And when the public telling of ugly or uncomfortable truth becomes necessary we, on our part, are to handle it like Christian adults – with love, compassion, mature discretion, and a willingness to forgive.

    Even so, I have to wonder if there is enough trust remaining in the hearts of the majority of those who comment here to believe an explanation were it to be offered. This is not a criticism; it is a question we should perhaps be asking ourselves with brutal honesty. If a reasonable explanation were forthcoming, would any be willing to believe it (after all, the ones from whom an explanation is demanded are the very ones who are trusted the least)? And if not, what possible way forward is there?

    I am not speaking of things contrary to the moral tradition (about which there can be no compromise) when I ask: Is there anyone left on any side of these controversies who has the humility to admit that maybe – just maybe – we might be mistaken in at least some (perhaps not all) of our interpretation of events? Even if our narratives are largely true, what does the fact that we are ‘right’ gain for us or for the Church?

    Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    Whatever degree of ‘institutional rot’ exists, perhaps our good God will deem us worthy of the godly leaders we desire when we ourselves are willing not to merely decry evil, but to overcome it with the virtues proper to our calling.

    • Arnoldus Magnus says

      Brian makes a very good point. You could call me sympathetic to the Metropolitan, but also open to the possibility that he might have done something especially bad that gave the Synod the opportunity to depose him in this underhanded way. I am old enough now to realize that what a situation looks like from the outside, and the truth of the matter, are usually two different things. The reason I am sympathetic to the Metropolitan is because of all the revelations from 2011 about how certain members of the Synod, and members of the Metropolitan Council, truly conspired behind his back to get rid of him through political intrigue and manipulation. Jonah has always struck me as a very gifted pastor who was a very weak administrator. You can learn to be a good administrator, and to get help doing those tasks, but the pastoral gift he has is not something most people can learn. If the Synod had the best interests of the whole Church at heart, they would have worked with him to make up for his shortcomings (he was a brand new bishop, after all) and made the most of his strengths. The fact that they never did that tells me that Jonah was a threat to them in some way.

      All that is in the past. Personally, I don’t see how this break can be mended. Brian is right — there is nothing that most pro-Jonah people could hear that would change their minds, because they do not trust the Synod. Some are totally sold out to the story that the Synod is uniquely villainous and Jonah is uniquely saintly, but that does not describe my position. To me, it became clear that Jonah has faulty judgment. I think it might be true that he did something seriously bad — not that he wanted bad to come of it, but that he was a patsy for some bad actor. Even if that is true, I believe particular actors on the Synod (especially Benjamin, Melchizidek, Nathaniel, Tikhon, and Nikon) had it in for Jonah from the beginning, and were just looking for an opportunity. I can’t think of anything they are likely to say in their defense that would convince me that the main thing here was politics, pure and simple. This might be a problem, however, with my own limited imagination. If they have something big and bad on Jonah, I hope they will make it public.

      Even if Jonah had to go, I still don’t trust this Synod. We all saw what happened with Bishop Mark in Dallas. None of that passes the smell test. I can’t look back at OCA Truth’s archives because they are gone, but I remember reading it, and Mark Stokoe’s site, during last summer’s Chicago synod meeting, and thinking that Father Fester had really stepped in it, and would have to go. When it came out that Mark told his own parish council that he had been monitoring Fester’s e-mails, even though Fester’s account was private (or so it was reported) and Fester was an employee of a different diocese at the time, and when it was obvious that Mark had leaked them to Stokoe, I expected that the Synod would realize that Mark’s position was totally compromised. This did not happen, and in fact they kept trying to shove him down the throats of the Diocese of the South. That tells me that this is a political Synod from start to finish. And then they cancelled the DOS bishop’s election when they knew their candidate, Mark, would lose big-time, and the candidate associated with Jonah would win overwhelmingly.

      So, no, I have so little trust in this Synod that they could have photographs of Jonah strangling cats or something, and I would still wonder what the Syosset spin was.

      An Orthodox friend e-mailed me to talk about where the Church is going. He said that the anti-Jonah side has already gotten what it wants, and if it can hold on until everybody else calms down, it has won. The pro-Jonah side either wants the impossible (Jonah restored) or does not know what it wants. His opinion is that the only choice is to knuckle under to Syosset, or to leave the OCA for another jurisdiction.

      I’m not a pundit, but I think there is a real chance that the DOS could leave the OCA, and people of the South will walk away from their parishes/property, which they would have to do because the OCA holds the deeds. The hurt and the anger in the South and the mistrust of the Synod is that deep. If the South goes, I don’t know what happens to the OCA. I don’t know how it survives. As it has been said on Monomakhos, and that chart, the South is the only diocese that’s growing meaningfully. I have heard that the South is the “goose that laid the golden egg” wrt tithing.

      PS Based on the facts as we know them now, if my parish decided formally or informally to walk away from the OCA, I would go with them, but if it decided to stay, I would stay. My parish means a lot more to me than the national church one way or another. If the Synod was full of saints, but my local parish was a bad place, I would go pray with the Antiochians or the Greeks. For me, the local church is everything.

    • In my village, the greatest man was the story-teller. He was referred to as teacher. He taught us our story so we would never forget it.. He was the story-teller and teacher because he had the purest heart.
      You see, you could not the receive the story from one whose heart was not pure, because the story would not be pure.
      Like wise, you could not hear the story if your own heart was not pure.
      So, everyone in the village wished to hear and be able to tell. For this was a great honor.
      The story- teller grew old and tired and looked around for another with a pure heart to tell the story of our people.
      He didn’t see anyone in our village who could do the job. So he went on a long walk to see where that person lived.
      He never returned. Some say he became a bird and flew away. Some say he was eaten by the bears in the pines. Some say he lost his way.
      Back in our Village, so many men wanted to be the story-teller and were so angry, to be chosen that none of the families in our village could even hear the story any more.
      Soon the families decided to leave this village and find a spot high on the mountain where they might hear the story told by the one with the purest heart.
      So they set out on this journey, which was difficult, but was part of the story too.!
      Left behind in the village were all those whose hearts were not ready to hear or tell the story of our people.

    • I have read about and pondered this situation with varying degrees of confusion, disgust, and amusement (in a gallows humor sort of way). I have read through many of the articles and comments trying to get a grasp on what happened, but come to no conclusion other than this is a very sad day for the OCA.

      What Brian has to say should ring in the ears of everyone trying to understand what happened: “If a reasonable explanation were forthcoming, would any be willing to believe it (after all, the ones from whom an explanation is demanded are the very ones who are trusted the least)?”

      • Here is a test of what Brian is asking. Bishop Matthias has just published an encyclical to his flock, here:

        I wondered why Bishops Matthias and Michael joined in calling for Metr. Jonah’s resignation. This explains much, although I am sure there is more to come.

  16. Theodore says

    How does a parish go about removing itself from one jurisdiction to another?

    • Check your parish’s bylaws–also check your dioceses bylaws.
      Sometimes the parish belongs to the parishioners, sometimes the dioceses, etc–it all depends.

    • Elizabeth says

      There is a perfect Faith, but there is not a perfect jurisdiction and probably not a “better” jurisdiction, Theodore. All of the jurisdictions have problems and some are more profound and ingrained than the OCA’s. Every jurisdiction is filled with sinners, just like me and you, and therefore, there is never complete “peacefulness”. Please stay with the OCA.

  17. Toby Smith says

    Was there a spiritual court and official defrocking of Nikolai of Alaska? No, everybody knew he had done spiritual harm; the accusations and evidence were overwhelming; and the Synod had to act to get him out of there and protect the people and the Church. I am not legally allowed to release what Jonah has done, but I know some of the individuals — pious laypersons like us that he should have protected — who have been hurt by his negligence.

    For those of us who do not live in the DOS or West, we have known these other bishops for some time, well before many of them became bishops. Only Nataniel and Nikon are from the old guard, so to speak. The rest are spiritually healthy, very solid men who love the Church, and sacrifice much to minister to their flocks. You mention that anyone who knows Jonah wouldn’t agree with the picture I paint. I say the same about anyone who knows any of the other men you defame on this blog. This is like Rome against the 4 other patriarchates. Are we to believe that the rest of the Orthodox Church was wrong, and that they were in schism from Rome? Are we to believe that all of these pious, good men are wrong, and that only poor little Jonah is right. That stretches the imagination.

    I know the salary comment above was about Syosset staff. But I wanted to point out that Jonah is the only bishop on par with Syosset. I’m no supporter of Syosset, and would be happy if we closed it and moved it somewhere cheaper. But Jonah is complaining about his loss of the 6-figure salary. Pretty good gig for a monk. And two years at Valaam (which I’ve heard him say publicly it was actually less than a year) is nothing compared to more than a decade in monastic obedience (like Tikhon and Melchisedek). He is not a real monk. He speaks publicly about asceticism, and is a well known gourmand. He speaks about “do not resent, do not react, preserve inner stillness,” and yet has publicly reacted to his detractors numerous times. His very speech in Pittsburgh when he was elected, which brought about the emotional reaction that catapulted him to DC, was precisely a strong “reaction” to Herman and Theodosius and Kondratick’s mismanagement of funds.

    I read the comments on this site, and know that most of the readers are die-hard Jonah supporters who are unwilling to entertain any thought that he might be wrong. You are not unbiased at all, so do no accuse me of being unbiased. In fact, what I see is simply a cult of personality, just like Abbot Herman of Platina fostered. When you make up conspiracies against the entire Synod, and in effect, every other member of the OCA’s Dioceses who respect and follow these men, then I would say you are the ones who need to check your facts and discern the spirits to see if you are being deceived by “Team Jonah.”

    The Church is hierarchical, and not a democracy. I for one trust my clergy and bishops because I know them, have seen their personal track records, and no how they stack up. Jonah’s bio is “real” spin, and he has been spinning this story for years.

    • It seems like both sides/dioceses are talking past each other. DOS is saying that they’ve been mistreated and have reasons to mistrust the bishops. Those in the Northeast are saying that they’ve been mistreated by Jonah. I’m more familiar with what’s gone on in DOS, than in the Northeast, so at some point it would be helpful if you could outline specifically what laity Jonah has abused and how. It’s not helpful to just say, “I can’t legally say.”

      I’ve come around to the position that yes, Jonah was not the right guy at the right time, and it was a big mistake to elect him. He was only held in such esteem because the bishops were held in such low esteem at the time. I don’t really see their position now being much stronger than it was in 2008.

      I think that if some of the laity from the South and some of the laity from the Northeast could have a private conversation without all the mouthpieces in between a lot of this could be cleared up. I agree it’s not a democracy but the priests and bishops between us haven’t been conducive to actual communication. So far it seems like DOS people talk with DOS people, and Northeast people talk with Northeast people.

      • I’d also like to add that while “anger” is the feeling that most seems to characterize the laity (both anti-Jonah and pro-Jonah), it seems to me that the response from the Bishops and Priests can be labeled with “Fear.” They are so terrified by the legal repercussions of any information getting out that they must have a literal fear of getting sued or losing their parishes. And while they try to calm our anger, I don’t really see them working to get a handle on their fear.

      • Arnoldus Magnus says

        Steve L.:

        I agree with you about 80 percent of the way. Jonah does not have what it takes to be Metropolitan under the conditions he inherited when he became the primate. It was a near-impossible task, and he proved not to be up to it. If he had had genuine help from the bishops, things might have gone better for him and for the Church. If the bishops had realized how badly compromised they were wrt the trust the people had in them, they would have said, “We might not like this new guy, but he has something we don’t (the trust and affection of the people), so we better do our best to make this work.” Coulda, woulda, shoulda…

        I think they were hoping that Jonah would provide a happy, trustworthy face on the old way of doing things, so they could continue as things were. If that is true, then there was no way they could ever work it out with Jonah. There needed to be a revolution in the governance of the OCA … a *moral* revolution. With Jonah gone, the old guard asserts its power, and the silence and the “Just trust us” garbage we got from the Synod (including, let’s not forget, the late Archbishop Dmitri) during the Herman years continues.

        I agree with you that we are in no better position than we were in 2008, and maybe worse. Back then, there was anger everywhere, but at least the common people (priests and laity) had a good reason to hope for renewal, when Jonah was elected. Now that is gone. In the short time Jonah was in office, I had Christian friends from other churches who didn’t know what Orthodoxy was hear things Jonah had said, or read something about him from their e-mail lists, and come ask me about Orthodoxy. Whatever his faults, Jonah was the best evangelist American Orthodoxy had this side of a Matthewes-Green. That’s over now. We had the beginning of an American Orthodox moment in our grasp, but our bishops threw it away, in my opinion. There’s no getting it back for a generation, at least. Its hard to see that the OCA has another generation, when you see the steady decline in numbers, especially now that the Synod has so totally pissed off the South, which is the only place we’re seeing growth and energy.

        I’m a DOS person who travels a lot, and believe me, to go to Divine Liturgy in the average Northeast parish, and to go to Divine Liturgy in a DOS parish, is to experience the difference bigtime. I mean no disrespect to our Northeast brothers and sisters, but the difference is real, and has been felt by more Orthodox believers I know than just myself.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Arnoldus, you have hit the nail on the head. While I agree with you that Jonah shine in comparison to the dim bulbs of 2008, or that he was a plateau in comparison to a valley, the fact remains that everything else you say is true as well. He had what PR people call a “Q Factor.” He had “it” (I think he still does btw). That’s why people sought him out.

        • Pravoslavnie says

          Met. Jonah had plenty of what it takes to be a Metropolitan as witnessed by the respect and love he has received both inside and outside the OCA. The rest of the Holy Synod and the CA can only hope to offer half the leadership that we saw from Jonah.”

          The only complaints we hear about HB is that he was not much into administration and he wanted to shake up the status-quo. Who cares if Jonah couldn’t organize his desk. The job of any Metropolitan is to be a spiritual leader; a first hierarch, not a CEO. Fr. Jillions and the rest of Syosset are supposed to be be shuffling the paperwork for him while the Metropolitan sets the moral and spiritual direction for the OCA. So despite the institutional rot of the Theodosius and Herman years, It turns out that too many people were not ready for necessary changes required in the OCA. The Synod may have confirmed Jonah as Metropolitan, but they didn’t expect they would get a real bishop. That is not due to any failure on the part of Met. Jonah. Seeing how far down the tubes the OCA has slid, perhaps he really was given an impossible task.

    • This sentence by Toby Smith is most scurrilous, and it is false: “everybody knew he(Bishop Nikolai) had done spiritual harm.” “Everybody knew?” Demagoguery, Toby, Demagoguery. You, for example, Toby, did not “KNOW” that His Grace Bishop Nikolai did any spiritual harm. You believed that, but you did not know it.
      Further, it is you who are doing great spiritual harm to Bishop Nikolai and his work and accomplishments.
      Has the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, Toby, ever intimated that Bishop Nikolai did spiritual harm? No. That’s all you and those like you. Please, take it back! You could even apologize here, and someone would see that he got it.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        I must agree with you here completely Your Grace. We hear that HG Nikolai “did harm” but we are never told what it was. Maybe there was a clash of cultures, I can buy that, but spiritual harm is a loaded charge. If true, then Nikolai should have been brought up on charges. As should Jonah. But the only charges that have ever been brought up were against Fr Kondratick in a court in which the normal due process was not followed to the extreme.

        • Consider who was beating the anti-Nikolai drums: Stokoe, Garklavs and +Brnjamin and now the synod won’t let +Nikolai go to another jurisdiction.

          Another line of bull Markie fed the OCA.

          • I prayed in the Altar at Holy Transfiguration Cathedral Thursday on the Feastday of SS Peter & Paul, during the Divine Liturgy served there by Bishop Nikolai, assisted by Mitred Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff and other clergy (this time Bishop Nikolai’s Deacon, Panteleimon, served in the first place, both at the preceding Vigil and on the Day.. It was very good. The Cathedral is rather splendid and splendidly furnished. All is clean and in good order. There was a full choir and, I must say, a rather large congregation for a weekday Liturgy which was not one of the Twelve Great Feasts. They’ve always had a good choir there: the director is Alexei Sokolov, brother of Subdeacon Constantine Sokolov of Christ the Saviour Church (OCA) in San Francisco, and son of ever-memorable Archpriest Michail Sokolov, formerly also of Christ the Savior Church. Alexei is a graduate of St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris., while Father Alexander’s wife, Tatiana Arsenievna, is a superb lead soprano. Bishop Nikolai has made an amazing recovery from cancer. He serves with as much energy as always, and preached a good sermon. He’s never done any spiritual harm anywhere. I can’t say the same about many leading clergy that I know rather well in the OCA (and in Alaska!).

          • Clare Voyant says

            No, friends in Alaska are rather adamant about the oppresive nature of Vladyko Nikolai’s reign. They need a bishop, but they still seem to be rather happy to be freed from the tyranny….

            • What Alaska got for the first time in history, instead of an enabler, a paternalistic enabler, who felt the indigenous peoples should be treated like colorful orphan children, was a diocesan hierarch. When Bishop Gregory would remark, most jovially and merrily, about Fr. Fryntzko decking this or that ‘Indian” who had got tipsy, this was not extraordinary at all. The bishop was supposed to treat the Faithful as if he were a tourist, just off the cruise ship: “how quaint!” How ‘AUTHENTIC”? How unusual!
              But Bishop Nikolai gave the indigenous people no more leeway than he gave other ethnics, such as Greeks, Arabs, Russians, Serbs, etc. He insisted on treating them as sinners needing forgiveness and correction, and on recognizing those who placed the Gospel ahead of folk ritual. They have an enabler. He’s a convert from Lutheranism as I am, but with a West Slavic name, who has devoted his life to an ethnic CAUSE, to property rights, and to maintaining the separateness of the various Alaskan ethnic groups as not just good, but as important as the the equivalent of Gospel virtue.
              All those paternal folks, led by the Metropolia’s administration, especially the financial officers, and then the OCA’s administration, led by especially the financial officers, siphoned off every possible drop of Alaskan wealth to finance the Church in the “lower” states. When it came to property and profit, the fiction that the Metropolitan of All America and Canada was the REAL Russian Orthodox Bshop of the Diocese, and the beneficiary of the wealth of that diocese was scrupulously maintained. Bishop Nikolai PUT A STOP TO THAT. Only recently, this year, I believe, did Bishop Benjamin put the finishing seal on the process of insuring Alaskan property supported Alaskans and the Alaskan dicoese begun by Nikolai. Bishop Nikolai fought that battle almost alone.
              And does anyone hear know how many mutually unintelligible (native) languages are spoken by Orthodox Alaskans? To designate ONE of them as the Diocesan language would be impossible and would invite interethnic rivalries. What makes anyone think that Church Slavonic, the language of the Alaskan’s original Fathers in the Lord, is less appropriate than English, the language of the presbyterian and mormon missionary, of an exploiter every bit as rapacious as the Russian merchant explorers? Bishop Nikolai has a couple MBAs and he also provided a proper management and stewardship utterly superior to the country-store “rules”of previous ruling Bishops and their senior advisers. He scorned the idea of travelling away from his job to gallivant around advertising himself in the lower states, and insisted, yes, insisted on every pastor assigned by him as bishop to be a parish pastor in his place (the normal, traditional raison d’etre of the Orthodox parish priest) staying in his parish and serving it. (In the “old days”, Russian clergy, too, lived off the land and did NOT receive salaries, but only gifts-in-kind, but they did not desert the Divine Liturgy AT ALL, let alone for whole seasons, to look after their livelihoods. Bishop Nikolai ( “oppressively?”) demanded that scholar-priests stay in their parishes, rather than going on lecture tours, and that priests in fishing villages remain at their posts rather than assigning priority to ‘what ye shall eat…etc. wherewith shall ye be clothed”
              Most of Bishop Nikolai’s good deeds and initiatives have been twisted by those who resented him from amongst the parish clergy and at least one member of the monastic clergy. He wouldn’t let the Church shut down for a whole season, either for fishing, hunting, farming or gadding about on a lecture tour. He didn’t care at all for monastic clergy boozing it up in the basement of the rectory with an alcoholic choir director (until the latter died off from acute alcoholism), and let it be known. No, Bishop Nikolai was ALWAYS THERE (please note, Mr. Coin), and he visited villages and parishes that had not seen a bishop in decades, and Sometimes, corrected beloved local abuses of decency and good order. I defy anyone to give an instance of Bishop Nikolai profitting from his service in Alaska. On The Contrary, he dispensed most of his savings from his previous life in Las Vegas, savings accumulated in spite of substantially supporting first the Serbian parish he made there and then the OCA parish he made there. You can bet your bottom dollar that any temporary administrators after Bishop Nikolai’s departure, did not refuse a nice compensation. The diocese itself had one outstanding debt when he left: one mortgage on a property evaluated at ten times the amount of the mortgage today.
              As for “not allowing native languages in his presence,” that is a really low, cowardly charge. I have a decent knowledge and skill in Russian; nevertheless,when I would visit a largely Russophone parish and attend a festive meal after Liturgy, anyone who started to speak Russian to anyone else would be immediately hushed up by his neighbor(s), with “Speak English! Vladyka’s here!” I would usually say something reassuring in Russian. But I never forbade anyone to speak Russian. No doubt the same thing happened in Alaska. Someone would start to speak Tlingit (Bishop Basil Rodzianko used to call it ‘Ting-ga-lingg” someone NOT Bishop Nikolai would hush them up. This got translated into him being an enemy of native languages.
              Sorry, but I more and more have feelings of mortality and I have to be sure some things are said, no matter how tiresome they are perceived to be.

              • Your Grace,

                Your words are true and hopefully they sting the heart of those who have made it their main ambition to rewrite the era of Bp. Nikolai, especially scholar priests who are more concerned with their own reputation than doing their first duty and stand before the altar they are blessed by the bishop to serve.

                It makes me sick that a man who attempts to bring good order out of chaos is branded as oppressive. The first notes of that same opera are now beginning to be sung in the Midwest Diocese where Bp. Matthias is reigning in the liturgical and moral disorder that +Job permitted while there.

                I am happy that God has blessed Bishop Nikolai with a total recovery and cure from the terminal cancer he was diagnosed with three years ago. Does anyone wish to question the hand of God in his cure or spin it?

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Amos: Thanks. I was not able to find words to say it, but you did. His Grace’s words are true and so are yours. The alternative, that you are all liars, is impossible and unacceptable for me. I hate believing gossip. My prayers, for what they are, are with Bishop Matthias. What’s going on with that? Letters to the Midwest priests from Stokoe, or what? I hope that those who know about it, who have a voice of reason, will keep this in the forefront if Stokoe is behind the scenes. Scary. God bless all the good bishops.

        • Former AOC parishioner says

          I seem to remember it was reported in comments on this blog that Bp. Nicolai ordained a Subdeacon who he knew had within the previous couple of years been found guilty of statutory rape (or rape of a teen minor). Perhaps there was some “spiritual harm” related to that decision. If he made a judgment like that, is it unreasonable to suppose there might have been others like this also? Is it okay because the person with such recent immoral (and even criminal) behavior just didn’t happen to be of the lavender sort? At the very least, this action seems to me to be of the most spiritually insensitive nature.

          • That is true, although it was tonsuring the child molester a reader, not subdeacon.

            I do not think Bishop Nikolai should have ever been made a bishop, and I don’t think he was a good bishop. However, it was still wrong to take him out without a spiritual court, and it’s wrong to prevent him from earning a living, and it’s wrong to keep him from transferring to another jurisdiction that has been made aware of his issues and still wants to take him.

            The methods used in the OCA to take out bishops seen as “problems” by some – whether the bishops are real problems or not – are arbitrary, uncanonical, and downright evil.

            • Daniel E. Fall says

              And what, Helga, is the canonical method of removing Bishops that are just downright bad for the job, but otherwise have done nothing ‘legally’ wrong?

              Of course, my question is rhetorical. There isn’t a method.

              He gets told to resign; that’s it.

              • Daniel Fall. There isn’t an Orthodox Bishop alive today for whom the case that he is “just downright bad for the job” could not be made. You and I, Daniel, have to humble ourselves to the realization that we have only the canons and the bishops’ ordination vows to help maintain decency and good order.
                i just wrote my read on the episcopate of Bishop Nikolai in Alaska here. I think Helga, whoever he is, is wrong in his opinion “I don’t think he was a good bishop.’ Bishop Nikolai is a good Bishop. i know him and have experience of his service that Helga does not. I can speak authoritatively, based on experience, and Helga can not. I have supported Metropolitan Jonah’s “case” here since my first words here, but I have experience which would contraindicate such support that Helga does not have. I could say, with MORE justification built on prior experience of Metropolitan Jonah,”Metropolitan Jonah should NEVER have been made a bishop”, but I have not until now, when I’m feeling extra mortal.

                • Daniel E. Fall says

                  Extra mortal sure sounds funny. Can I have some?

                  Well, let’s just go along with the case presented that the Metropolitan did fail to follow set procedures for handling sexual misconduct and forget about all the other details (fit for position, whether or not the statement is actually true). In that instance, wouldn’t that be reason enough for him to be removed canonically or through his vows as you suggest?

                  If the canons or his vows allow a bishop to remain in his position after he fails to report a rape to the rest of the bishops or the civil authorities, doesn’t that seem problematic, like RC million dollar problematic? And that certainly can’t be considered good order can it?

                  Isn’t a resignation like a gift, then?

                  As far as my ‘just downright bad for the job’ statement, I was not implying this to be true or false and in no way meant Jonah. I am only asking a simple question, if the clergy don’t respect the bishop, and it is unreasonable he fire all of them, isn’t that a problem of good order? And it wouldn’t be right to remove him, but it might be wise to ask him to resign….no? Isn’t this what happened to Bishop Nikolai, to a degree?

                  As for Nikolai, didn’t he have a little too much print on pokrov for even you? I found it sort of sad, but it sure seems easy for a bishop to get into a dirty mess in a hurry-dealing with people..

                  And please, people, continue the negative ratings again. I’d hate for anyone to actually look at any of this logically for a second. You gave the good Bishop +6 last check and he even said Jonah should have never been a bishop I believe. How does he do that?

                  If I said it, I’d get a minus 10 for sure.

                  I’m starting to think Mr. Myers is onto something… please..

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Then there is no good order in the Church. The Canons and Scripture provide for ample measures to remove a “bad” bishop (assuming he is bad). What the Synod did was anything emblemmatic of good order in the Church. Indeed, they have justified the continuance of illegimacy.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Daniel, the traditional method was simply to ignore him until he died. That’s a little more difficult these days with folks inconveniently living so much longer.

      • Toby Smith says

        Dear Vladyka TIKHON,

        I cannot take back what I know to be true. I personally know some of the native Alaskans who were personally hurt by Nikolai. I never base my opinion on random internet stories and hype (unlike most of the posters on this blog), but on personal experiences of people I know. I have spent time in many different dioceses, and have seen many things in the past decades; I only speak from experience.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Toby claims, “Jonah is complaining about his loss of the 6-figure salary.”

      He does? He asked for financial help to support some of his family. I have heard no complaints from him. I don’t think Toby has, either.

      Of Bishop Nikolai, Toby writes, ““everybody knew he(Bishop Nikolai) had done spiritual harm.”

      They do? I don’t think “everybody knew” anything of the sort.

      That is to say, Toby, you’ve got some ‘splainin” to do.

      • Former AOC parishioner says

        Nevertheless, Father Patrick, I’m thinking that if the substance (if not all the details) of Toby’s claims turn out to be true, i.e., that Met. Jonah has made some seriously poor leadership judgments and been unreceptive to correction and now has actually exposed the OCA to legal liabilities and that the Bishops on the Synod are true and faithful pastors (and I certainly find mine to be) and acting for the most part correctly in view of the circumstances, the events of the last couple years would indeed make a lot more sense.

        The substance of Toby’s claims could indeed be true even if Met. Jonah has the good qualities that have been described of him (warmth, true pastoral heart, evangelistic zeal and vision, etc.), and as a matter of fact, I believe he does.

        • Former AOC, are you properly remembering the events of the last year? The months of harassment, misrepresentation, and insults on a website run a former member of the Metropolitan Council, aided, abetted, and promoted knowingly by Met. Jonah’s so-called “brother” bishops? The letter that had Met. Jonah’s signature mysteriously applied to it even though he never saw it, and none of the “brother” bishops said anything? The emails and text messages that were ripped off and published on a layman’s blog, while none of the “brother” bishops said anything? The very beginning of all this, the illegally-altered and highly suspect SMPAC report that blamed Met. Jonah and only Met. Jonah while selectively ignoring cases that either he’d handled well or made other bishops look bad, yet – unsurprisingly – none of the “brother” bishops said anything?

          Oh, you are also forgetting that your very “pastoral” Synod kept insisting for months on promoting the candidacy of Bishop Mark for the South, with Archbishop Nikon even arranging for money from that very diocese to go to Bishop Mark just to campaign for himself. They did this even being fully aware of the fact that Bishop Mark was a pastoral disaster in Dallas, has enough ethical challenges to make it clear he should never have been consecrated a bishop, Archbishop Dmitri said it was like he didn’t have a soul, and pretty much the entire diocese hates him.

          You want bishops like that? You can have ’em. But I can’t get past this sudden urge to turn my head and vomit.

          • Abercius says

            Helga is right. And when did the Metropolitan ever have a chancellor and a secretary who supported him wholeheartedly and provided competent administrative support to make him succeed? Isn’t his failure also the failure of the central administration and the Holy Synod? They elected him. I wonder when they will publicly admit their mistakes as +Jonah has.

            And one more thing: the Metropolitan’s letter of resignation was addressed to his “brothers” i.e., to his brother bishops. Why was this letter published? Who released it for publication? Why was only a priest sent to ask for the Metropolitan’s resignation and not two or three bishops? Does no one have any sense of respect for the dignity of the office of primate? Why is so much sensitive work being done by phone rather than in person? (I wonder who keeps minutes on those phone meetings, if anyone.) And yet the Holy Synod could not vet Fr. Gerasim in three years, and wants to put off vetting him until the fall meeting? Come on, folks.

            • Former AOC parishioner says

              There are a lot of good-sounding questions here that perhaps deserve some answers. I don’t have those. Do we have proof positive that the bishops “knowingly aided, abetted, and promoted” the spin and info. that was being proffered by OCAnews? I wonder is it possible the leaks from the Bishops were not intentional, were rather from Syosett staff members or others close to the Bishops who overheard things or read emails or some such and passed along sensitive information, having their own agendas? Is it possible the Bishops, for the most part (we hope) focused on prayer and pastoral and administrative duties, weren’t always poring over the news and comments at places like and as fully aware of the spin etc. that was being put on events, until it was too late? (Bp. Matthias did shut it down, not long after he was elected.) Could a couple of them be compromised enough that they might to be tempted to manipulate things in order to serve their own interests? Sure. But does it then necessarily follow that all the Bishops are in on it, wise to it, or savvy enough not to accept some legitimate-sounding explanation from their “brothers,” especially if they could perceive for themselves some real problems and liabilities with Met. Jonah as Primate, and perhaps even as a Bishop?

              In my general experience, people involved in full-time Christian ministry are not the same sort of foiks as those involved in politics (there are, undoubtedly, some notable exceptions). Neither are they trained to think like lawyers, and that is part of the problem perhaps. Bishops have feet of clay like the rest of us. They can be naive about what suspicious minds will “see” (whether it is there or not) almost at once. Perhaps most of our Bishops have just been like many pastors and Christians in general–a bit too trusting around one or two undeserving people close to them. Perhaps that is what has been largely responsible for Met. Jonah’s errors in judgment as well. It takes a really special person to become savvy to all the ways of evil in its distortions of intentions of certain very crafty people without being oneself drawn into evil. I doubt any of our Bishops are truly evil people, and certainly not most of them–and so they wouldn’t be predisposed to expect it in someone else close to them, especially if that person were trusted and provided a good reference by someone they also trusted.

              Is it possible, finally, that there is really only a very small percentage of Orthodox onlookers and concerned OCA members interested enough and/or idle, fearful, confused or angry enough to get caught up extensively in these blogs (and here at some points, I implicate myself), and that the Bishops have not answered to your satisfaction because they see most people in their flocks don’t have the same kinds of questions or doubts about their ministry, and so they get on with doing what they believe is more primary and important?

              I could be completely wrong (probably am about numerous things because my experience is limited), but these are honest questions I have myself, because what I know from people I actually know and trust and my own gut from my own experience, on the one hand, and a host of interpretations and speculations on this blog, on the other, simply don’t add up. And this is true despite the fact that I am conservative morally and with regard to Orthodox tradition, that I have supported and liked Met. Jonah (what I knew of him), and that I am as concerned as anyone here that what looks like a slide toward liberalism on the part of a few Priests and prominent lay persons within the OCA not gain real traction and a lasting foothold within the OCA.

              • Brian McDonald says

                Dear AOC,

                If I were as charitable and thoughtful as you, this is exactly the post I would have written. Like you, “I am as concerned as anyone here that what looks like a slide toward liberalism on the part of a few Priests and prominent lay persons within the OCA not gain real traction and a lasting foothold within the OCA.” On the other hand, again like you, “In my general experience, people involved in full-time Christian ministry are not the same sort of folks as those involved in politics” and therefore “it’s quite possible that “ most of our Bishops have just been like many pastors and Christians in general–a bit too trusting around one or two undeserving people close to them. Perhaps that is what has been largely responsible for Met. Jonah’s errors in judgment as well.”

                From my own experience, not only of Orthodoxy, but my career as Presbyterian pastor 25 years ago, I’m only too aware that “it takes a really special person to become savvy to all the ways of evil in its distortions of intentions of certain very crafty people without being oneself drawn into evil.” The Presbyterian Church, like other mainline denominations, has devolved into its current tragic state because the politically “crafty” machinations of savvy bureaucrats has allowed them to magnify their influence far beyond what their numbers should have warranted. Part of the reason for their success in bringing the Presbyterian Church (and other mainline denominations such as the Episcopal) to their current sin-affirming status is that the regular pastors and presbyters (and folks in the pew) were just too busy or too naive to grasp what the manipulative, “lawyering” politically scheming minds in the central church offices were aiming at.

                I certainly agree that it’s quite possible that “The Bishops have not answered [certain questions] to your satisfaction because they see most people in their flocks don’t have the same kinds of questions or doubts about their ministry, and so they get on with doing what they believe is more primary and important.” But as a former Presbyterian, this innocent desire to focus only on the regular work of the church is precisely what alarms me. Few of my Presbyterian colleagues could even imagine that the ecclesiastical politicians and bureaucrats among them were aiming at: nothing less than the revolutionary overthrow of Christian moral truth; thus they never organized an effective resistance to what was coming.

                How does this relate to our current OCA crisis? It’s quite possible that the bishops’ request for Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation may have been sincerely and honestly motivated by real and serious leadership flaws on his part. But if so we need some clearer statements than we have now, and I would hope that the bishops wouldn’t be content to turn the handling of the rationale for his “firing” over to Syosset “lawyerizing” bureaucrats. This is especially true since concern that the Metropolitan’s real “crime’ was his forthrightness in reaffirming the Orthodox position on human sexuality and marriage doesn’t seem to be wholly unwarranted. “Renovationist” elements in our Church DO exist and want to alter the perennial Christian truth on human sexuality and marriage.

                The fact that Renovationists may include only “a few Priests and prominent lay persons within the OCA” doesn’t comfort me at all since that was also true in the Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches. Despite their small numbers, they triumphed nonetheless!

                • Former AOC parishioner says

                  Thanks, Brian, for your kind and very reasonable response. You have learned a lot of things the hard way as have many who have come from other mainline traditions into the Orthodox Church. Does our Orthodox Tradition provide us with any safeguards that our Protestant brethren did not have to fall back on and can those in the OCA make use of those? It is our faith and historic experience that the unchanging nature of the Orthodox Tradition guarded through the Holy Spirit guarantees Orthodoxy will prevail, but, of course, not necessarily the OCA.

                  • Something you all don’t understand or keep forgetting is that the gay rights activists who wanted Jonah shut up and deprived of religious authority were not at all limited to the OCA. On the contrary, the center of gravity for this particular faction (the gay rights faction) was certainly outside the OCA. Christianity is an enormous obstacle to the movement, and Jonah’s ability and willingness to communicate the Church’s truth to power made him a prime target on the national scene. As just one example, the vindictive leadership of the Episcopal Church (and their network of cultural elite sympathizers) hated Jonah as much or more than anyone in the OCA because his communications diminished the authority of the Episcopal Church’s innovations and gave encouragement and moral authority to conscientious objectors within TEC as well as the breakaway Anglican Church in North America (some people in ACNA disliked Jonah because he freely condemned Calvinism as heresy, but they still gave him a podium because he spoke with authority and validated their own suffering and struggles). He was applying pressure right at the point of the most meaningful and most dynamic change. Orthodoxy itself gave Jonah’s voice authority and political power. Most gay activists do not care about theological issues, but they will use whatever tools they have at their disposal to accomplish their objectives — and many are vindictive. I’m sure there were OCA staff members and even bishops who knowingly or unknowingly faced pressures from outside Orthodoxy to do something about the Jonah problem. There is no way Jonah could physically, mentally, and emotionally stand up to these pressures without the true support of his church. For this reason he was right to resign. But it was a terrible loss for the cultures of North America, and I do not personally see how the OCA can “right the canoe” without help from other Orthodox “ships”. If that is possible, then something good may come of this yet. Even if the OCA is abandoned by Orthodoxy, I suppose something good could result. But the most blind of all are those who genuinely believe this is a victory for the OCA. Not even your average gay activist honestly believes that.

            • Abercius is probably right about Metropolitan Jonah’s letter. I’ve stated before that no Orthodox Hierarch (and perhaps no BELIEVER) could have composed it. Any mention of God is completely absent. Someone pointed out that the words “brothers” and “prayers” were used, once apiece. I’ve never ever seen or read any letter from any Bishop which did not mention God, did not speak of *****brothers in CHRIST*****, of “concelebrants”, or did not invoke God’s help or blessing at the beginning and end. NOT EVEN AN “In Christ” at the end!!!!!! How could anyone believe an Orthodox Metropolitan (or BELIEVER) wrote it? Even a subdeacon or reader would sign off with at least, “in Christ!” OR?

          • Daniel E. Fall says

            The SMPAC report didn’t say what Metropolitan Jonah wanted it to say; that was the biggest problem of all.

            The ‘stolen’ emails contained some pretty poor language on the part of the priest author and if they hadn’t; nothing would have been posted.

            You are all crediting Stokoe for the takedown of a second Metropolitan.

            He sure is powerful.

            Not really.

            (note: I forgot to hit send and found this open on my pc on 7/17)

        • Jesse Cone says


          Besides the sermon in Dallas during his first year in the white hat, what glaring mistakes did +Jonah make? And considering the fact that he apologized to the EP, how is it that +Jonah is not responsive to correction? Considering the fact he agreed to an evaluation? Accepted responsibility for his role in the “administrative disaster” (which negatively affected the OCA how exactly?)?

          These are not schismatic questions, nor the questions of a +Jonah-can-do-no-wrong-er, just enduring questions about that particular narrative we’ve heard seen peddled around.

          I would submit the most embarrassing thing +Jonah ever did for the OCA was accept responsibility for any kind of “disaster” and agree to seek the help the bishops urged him. It publicly put him, and thus the rest of the OCA leadership, in an unnecessary untenable position. That was, I think, the most visible mistake in judgement he made.

          • Jesse,

            +Jonah trusted his brother bishops. A cynical person would say that was his biggest mistake. He truly believed that his brother would always seek the higher ground like he tried to do. But, his basic assumption was flawed in that every time he humbled himself, the brotherhood of the synod used it as another arrow to weaken +Jonah.

            I find it interesting reading the diary of the OCA chancellor in his attempts to real assure us, and on Friday, July 13, even an attempt a disarming humor. However the humor reveals something deeper.

            We’ve all had a tough, busy week here at the Chancery but the OCA “canoe” hasn’t capsized. I used the image of a canoe earlier in the week and one of my friends said that was entirely too peaceful an analogy. It was more like an ambulance going the wrong way on a busy one-way street in New York City!

            Yes, the OCA is like an ambulance going the wrong way on a busy one-way street in NYC. I recall some years ago a bumper sticker and T-Shirs which had a “one-way” sign pointing up, inspired from Scripture, “I am the way…” (one) way.

            In his attempt at humor, he revealed it hasn’t gone as scripted. (When we drive into Bagdad we will be received as heros) remember that one?

            The synod and Syosset brass are going the wrong way and it isn’t funny and we are not accepting them as heros.

            • Diogenes says

              + Jonah’s fellow brother hierarch’s weren’t the problem, + Jonah is. He was warned some time ago about forcing his own agenda and acting unilaterally. He didn’t listen. Trying to take the OCA back to Moscow via ROCOR did not help him. This will never happen. Now, on to a leader of the OCA who believes in the OCA.

              • Arnoldus Magnus says

                Now, on to a leader of the OCA who believes in the OCA.

                Even if your premise is correct, the question is, how many followers will he have when this all shakes out?

              • Diogenes says:
                July 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm

                + Jonah’s fellow brother hierarch’s weren’t the problem, + Jonah is.

                “+Jonah is” and not “+Jonah was,”

                • That sounds like a freudian slip to me, Diogenes, indicating that you people may be “running scared.”

              • George Michalopulos says

                Never say never, Diogenes.

              • If you all don’t like Met. Jonah so much, why don’t you just release him to ROCOR and be done with him?

        • George Michalopulos says

          The trouble here AOC is that all of the older bishops have done things to open up the OCA to legal liability, either personally or because they are responsible for their priests. This is a new standard: immediately try to hang something on the scapegoat and hope that this doesn’t come back to bite you later.

  18. Esther Smith Holmes says

    The official OCA web, under History and Archives, has a site: “Past Primates”.
    The list ends with Metropolitan Herman 2008. Metropolitan Jonah is not mentioned
    but the previous two, who resigned in disgrace, are listed. This is dishonest.

  19. Esther Smith Holmes, the OCA archivist, Alex Liberovsky, has been travelling. He has a son in school in Southern California, so he was out here the other day or so. He’s not dishonest; in fact, he’s very scrupulous in that department. If you knew Alex, he was born in old Parisian intellectual circles and he has all the stereotypical traits of the harried academic, including appearance, clothing, etc. But he is NOT DISHONEST. He’s behind.

  20. Reminder
    you can sign anonymously
    email your friends–lets get to a 1000!!!!

    • LOL! An overwhelming amount of support! 68 signatures! That is probably the entirety of Team Jonah! And we know how they like to post under multiple names! This whole website is a pack of lies. And the clergy and laity posting here should be held accountable. Especially the muddrakers. You think your website is helping +MJ? Hardly.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        You know how the saying goes . . . for every signature, figure up to 10 people who don’t sign but feel the same way as outlined in a petition.

        As for whether the names are false – many of the names on the list are familiar to me and I’ve known some of them for years. Do I know you, George?

      • Brian McDonald says


        If you believe accountability is so important, why remain anonymous? Why not post under your full name as many of us do? I might add that the tone of your post indicates why a lot of people here probably choose to remain anonymous. They fear that for you, and others like you, “accountability” is a code word for “punishment” for asking questions and speaking their minds. Rightly or wrongly they worry that some in positions to do them harm might share this attitude.

        I myself do not like–and several times have commented on–the angry and immoderate tone taken by some posters to this blog. But if this tone bothers you so much, why ramp up the ferocity—as you call for accountability while hiding under an unaccountable cloak of anonymity? Instead of threatening words and blanket charges about a “pack of lies,” why not select several statements you think are false and provide the reasoning and evidence that proves them so?

        Not EVERYONE here is a diehard Jonah supporter. I’ve characterized myself as “instinctively” pro-Jonah, but am held somewhat in check because the apparently unanimous decision of the bishops included several who share Jonah’s strong commitment to the Church’s historic teaching on human sexuality and marriage. I could be convinced that this decision was the right one—if anyone in authority showed any inclination to convince me or people like me.

        Thus perhaps some of your anger is misdirected. Why not at least give a glance in the direction of the Synod, Syosset, and the MC, whose decision to remain “mum” was BOUND to create this kind of backlash? Many people loved Jonah and his bold and brilliant witness to the world at large about Orthodoxy. And when the Synod et all respond to their anguish with (in essence) “No comment, we’re just moving ahead,” you can’t expect those who found him an inspiring metropolitan to say, “Oh, yeah, I guess we were wrong.”

        In the new open and accountable OCA surely one of the educated and very articulate people in our church leadership could have crafted a statement general enough to avoid violating privacy issues but specific enough to address the concerns of Jonah’s supporters. None has been forthcoming. To tell people with whom you already have little credibility, “Just trust us, we had our reasons” is almost bound to create the kind of backlash that disgusts you. As Mark Stokoe used to say over and over again, “The truth shall set you free.” What about just a little truth here?

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Brian, you raise several good points. You paint a picture which solidifies the suspicions of many that this was an essentiall “on the fly,” rogue operation orchestrated by maybe half a dozen operatives, including bishops and Syosset-people, who read each other blogs and believe their own press clippings. I for one don’t think that there was one man among them who said, “wait, is it possible that this may blow up in our faces?”

          I’ve given up believing that there are any honest canonists there (or God-fearing men) would would say, “hey guys, we can’t meet without the Metropolitan present, that’s against all the Canons and the good order of the Church.”

          Anyway, what’s done is done, now it’s just a matter for them on how to contain the damage. The OCA won’t bounce back from this. Trust me. I will develop this further next week.

          • Lola J. Lee Beno says

            You mean this week? Aren’t you going to DOS?

          • Brian McDonald says

            George, I appreciate your kind words (as I’ve always appreciated the nice way people have treated me though I’m not always in “sync” with the views on this blog); however, I wasn’t attempting to “paint a picture which solidifies the suspicions of many that this was an essentially ‘on the fly,’ rogue operation orchestrated by maybe half a dozen operatives.”

            I had two aims: The first was to demonstrate to “George” the irony involved in his blasting posters who should be “accountable,” when he himself didn’t have the courage to use his own name. I didn’t state it explicitly, but it seemed to me that (unlike other anonymous bloggers on this site) being open and honest about who he was would cost him nothing since he was in agreement with the synod and Soyosset. Thus, if he valued “accountability” so much, he should have been willing to give his actual full name.

            My second point was simply that the Synod’s (and Syosset’s) refusal to provide any kind of specifics made angry blogging understandable. I don’t KNOW that their decision “was an essentially ‘on the fly, ’rogue operation orchestrated by maybe half a dozen operatives,” but the refusal to provide anything but bland ecclesiastical justifications doesn’t give me confidence that it WAS the correct decision. In other words, the decision MAY have been right, but we haven’t been given a reason to be confident that it was.

          • Thomas Mathes says

            George, I’ve been meaning to ask you this for sometime, and your remark here seemed to allow this. My question is for clarification about the use of “against the canons” and “conspiracy” on this website. When the GOA bishops met together without Archbishop S., and wrote to the EP requesting his removal, were they acting against the canons as you claim the OCA bishops are? Also, were the GOA bishops and GOA prominent laymen acting in a way that you would describe as a “conspiracy” as you describe certain OCA bishops and certain OCA lay members of the MC acting against Jonah? I’m not trying to compare Metropolitan Jonah to Archbishop S. Again, I’m trying to understand the use of “conspiracy” and “against the canons” on this blog. Their use has perplexed me for sometime, and I thought perhaps the comparison between the actions of GOA bishops and OCA bishops might help to clarify why I am confused.

            • Seems like the appeal to the EP might be justified by this canon:

              Canon 9 (4th Ecumenical Council, Chalcedon, 451)

              And if a bishop or clergyman should have a difference with the metropolitan of the province, let him have recourse to the Exarch of the Diocese, or to the throne of the Imperial City of Constantinople, and there let it be tried.

              But the banding together of clergy before hand is prohibited by this canon (the laity presumably have more freedom):

              Canon 18 (4th Ecumenical Council, Chalcedon, 451)

              The crime of conspiracy or banding together is utterly prohibited even by the secular law, and much more ought it be forbidden in the Church of God. Therefore, if any, whether clergymen or monks, should be detected in conspiring or banding together or hatching plots against their bishop or fellow clergy, they shall by all means be deposed from their own rank.

              But that interpretation is based purely on a plane reading of the text. I know nothing about GOA politics, the episode you mentioned, or how these canons are interpreted by sophisticated scholars today.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                Please note that Canon 18 refers only to clergymen and monks plotting against their bishop. It does not apply to the members of the Holy Synod who are coordinating possible course of action to address an errant member, even the Metropolitan. To suggest otherwise would be to make the Metropolitan more into an Eastern Pope.

                • Monk James says

                  Carl Kraeff is not in a position to make such a statement.

                  He would do well to consult Abp Peter L’Huillier’s The Church of the Ancient Councils and learn the principles of analogy and extrapolation as tools of interpretation, and then leave canonical interpreting to the bishops, who have that responsibility as a charism of their high and holy office.

                  Even if the bishops get it wrong now and then, they have to answer to the Lord for that. May God grant them pure hearts and clear vision.

            • Thomas, I would say “yes” to both questions. I’m glad you brought it up, though the insertion of Arb Spyridon by the EP was done without regard to the Greek-Americans, the fact remains that ever since his removal, the GOA has floundered. The recriminations have not stopped.

              My own take is that if the GOA bishops had a problem with Spyridon they should have addressed it en bloc with him present. But this raises a whole other set of problems in that the GOA had and continues to have canonical issues re its eparchial nature.

    • Anonymous, Hah! says

      If you are going to sign anonymously, you’d better not sign at all. Anonymous signatures on a petition are useless, and amounts to nothing more than venting.

    • Robert: I don’t want to seem harsh or ungrateful, but your petition is just not put together very well, and I believe this is limiting its appeal.

      First, as has been pointed out on this blog already, the inclusion of anonymous “signers” renders the outcome rather meaningless beforehand.

      Second, the grammatical errors in your petition make it seem amateurish. Predicates need subjects, and singular subjects require singular predicates. (And “lets” in your comment requires an apostrophe.) You may think this is not a big deal, but many people will simply dismiss a petition, if they see the document they are asked to sign as something of an embarrassment.

      Third, the demands seem not very consequential, and rather easy to fake. You are basically asking for the truth to be aired about how the process unfolded. It would be all too easy to answer this with just the kind of spin and vague generalities already coming from the OCA power brokers. And even if they were completely candid in their answers, what would this accomplish? Most would grumble and then move on.

      People want more than understanding. They want change. Demand adequate financial recompense for Vladika Jonah. Or better, demand that his evangelical energies be re-employed at the episcopal level. The thought of a man who is that charismatic, and so deeply loved by so many, being mothballed at such a young age is intolerable and absurd. Demand that the Synod make a statement that the lavenders are not behind this, and that homosexuality will no longer be condoned in the OCA, either theologically or practically. Demand a traditionalist bishop for the DOS. And ratchet up the consequences as well. Threaten not just with a suspension of donations, which can be weathered, but with a class action suit by the DOS for damages and redress. These are, of course, meant not as specific proposals for a new petition, but merely as examples of the kind of robust, significant demands that a good petition ought to make. I am sure many readers of the blog will have better ideas than these.

      One of my disappointments in following the comments here for the last week is how much energy is going into venting and speculation and how little is being spent on proposing practical courses of action. I commend you for your attempt, and I would urge others to come up with other alternatives. But as your petition stands, I don’t think it will get much traction. It may even end up being used by the status quo as evidence that there are no more than a few discontented people. And that would be a pity.

  21. George, NOT George M.

    Not sure what parish you went to today but the one’s I have heard from and the chatter all around me today centered on how disgusted people are with the OCA. Talk of not paying their assessment, going to another jurisdiction, how they can take the priest and parish out of the OCA. But, in general a sense that the OCA is beyond help.

    So, George , NOT George M., I am sure life was just serene at St. Sergius Chapel in Syosset today where the “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

    The OCA is worried, very worried that this coup is not going to do anything but further hurt them. Too late now. .

    Nice try, George, NOT George M.

  22. The Metropolitan served at St. Mark today. He will be serving at St. Mark for the next couple of weeks as he is not allowed by the Synod to go into St. Nicholas Cathedral. +Jonah’s eldery mother was at St. Mark also (and cyring sometimes during the Liturgy).

    As to the Internet petition, George (not George M)–It just started 2 days ago! Does anybody yet know about it ???

    • Gregg Gerasimon says


      Thank you for letting us know this — it’s good that at least Met. Jonah has a warm parish to worship and serve in. When I was in school in DC in the late 1990s, I went to St Mark’s regularly — it was such a wonderful place & full of warm people and of Christ’s love.

      I am in Boston for a conference this weekend, and my wife and I went to the OCA’s Holy Trinity Cathedral here as it is not far from our hotel. A beautiful church, but with everything that has happened to Met. Jonah this week, it was sad to be at one of the OCA cathedrals. Nevertheless, I lit candles and prayed for Met. Jonah and for the Holy Synod here in Boston. Sad that at the litany last night at vespers, when they were praying aloud for Orthodox Christians, I did not hear Met. Jonah’s name.

      As with so many others, I wouldn’t be surprised as a result of this “firing” of Met. Jonah if the OCA is now in its final stages as a distinct church body. I think that the Holy Synod and those in the central administration were counting on most of the faithful to be detached, unaware, or to not care about forcing Met. Jonah to resign, but I think that was a gross underestimation.

      We don’t worship now at an OCA parish regularly, but next summer when the Army will likely send us back to San Antonio, we hope to be back at the OCA church there, where my wife and I got married. I can’t help to wonder what will happen to the OCA and to the much-loved Diocese of the South during this time over the next year.

      Prayers for the situation, for Met. Jonah, for the Synod, and for the OCA all around. Lord have mercy!


    • Pravoslavnie says

      I also attended St. Mark. Earlier this morning we pulled into the church parking lot just ahead of the Metropolitan, his subdeacon, and a hierodeacon from SVS. It was a rather subdued non-hierachical liturgy with Met. Jonah serving and St. Mark’s Fr. Gregory Safchuk serving with him in the #2 position. None of the usual fuss associated with a visiting hierarch. Abp. Jonah was commemorated as His Emminence, “former Archbishop of Washington, and Metropolitan” with Abp Nathaniel and Bp Alexander being commemorated a bit awkwardly as locum tenens as read from an index card. I guess we’ll all be getting used to it.

      Yes, there were many tears shed, not just by Mrs. Paffhaussen. It was an unusually full church today, with a fair number of visitors there from St. Nick as well as other local parishes attending specifcally to see and support HB. The elephant in the room that nobody wanted to discuss was the “why” behind Met. Jonah’s “voluntary” resignation. HB did not offer a homily, it was given by Fr. Gregory, nor was the matter discussed afterward. In any case, the truth is slowly coming out. George is right, this affair is not over.

  23. I would like to ask Monomakhos readers in the OCA what you heard in your parish today. What did your priest say about this situation? What did your fellow parishioners say?

    In my parish of the Diocese of the South, our priest was very careful. He said he could not tell us anything about what was going on because nothing had been explained to him or any of the priests of the DOS. It was plain to see that he was distressed by it. He asked us all to pray for Met. Jonah and for the Synod, and to remember that Christ is our true shepherd. I think what he said was the most responsible thing any priest could say at this point.

    In coffee hour, I talked to people who were upset by everything. Several of us agreed that the OCA is in its last days, because after so many years of scandal and misconduct in high places, and the ugly way the bishops got rid of Met. Jonah, there is no reason at all to trust the bishops. The trust is broken, and it is not likely to be restored. Nobody knows what’s coming next, we all agreed, but we also agreed that returning to the status quo is unthinkable.

    For us, things will be a lot clearer after Miami.

    I was not able to talk to enough people at coffee hour to get an idea of how strongly people feel about Met. Jonah’s departure. The people I talked to feel very strongly about it (against the Synod) but I don’t know if they represent most of the parish. One of our group said that he doesn’t know what to believe because he reads so much on the Internet about all this, and without the Synod and Syosset saying anything of substance, anything is possible. I think it’s safe to say that we all believe the Synod is handling this in the worst way possible.


    His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah served at St. Mark’s in Maryland yesterday. It is good that he had an altar to serve at and that the all merciful OCA synod did not banish him from all churches in his former diocese, just his Cathedral See.

    But why St. Mark’s in Bethesda? Well the real story is that with +Jonah serving in Bethesda, his every move and word will be dutifully reported back to the synod. Matushka Alexandra Safchuk and Father Gregory Safchuk are BBF’s with +Benjamin. Matushka Alexandra calls +Benjamin almost every day. When +Benjamin is in DC, he stays with them. This is a very cozy situation for those keeping tabs on +Jonah.

    So the synod will have a direct line to everything +Jonah does in Bethesda. And you can bet that if there is one wrong word, one wrong move (as deemed wrong by Matushka to +Benjamin to the synod) it can and will be used against +Jonah in the synod court of law.

    This offer to serve in Bethesda is a nice gesture but with a backhand.

    • StephenD says

      That is so horrible…They won…can’t they now just leave him alone?

    • I do NOT endorse Nikos’s somewhat paranoid assessment of alleged perfidious tactical weapons directed at harming Metropolitan Jonah being wielded by either Father Gregory Safchuk or his wife, Sasha. It’s not them.
      i know them. They ARE long-standing friends of Archbishop Benjamin’s from SVS days and from the period when Archbishop Benjamin, not yet ordained anything, was the choir director at the SS Peter & Paul Church in Detroit. In fact, when the Safchuks were being made very uncomfortable at SS Peter & Paul through the Rectorship of Father Matzko, Archbishop Benjamin, then a deacon in L.A., suggested Father Gregory as a replacement for the departing Rector of St. Innocent Church, Tarzana. And I assigned him there. He did a good job. Ask Chris Banescu. Only thing, he once told Chris, Chris says, that the Church needed people like Chris. What an idea! The Church needs no one. I told Chris that, and he’s never forgiven me for it.
      Be that as it may, to illustrate the close and good friendship of the Safchuks with Archbishop Benjamin, one time (I think it was the first time) when he declared bankruptcy, Sasha took (at his request) his credit cards and check book and controlled every penny of his expenditures until he was out of the hole.

      • Your Grace,

        I respect your opinion of my take on +Jonah being allowed to serve at St. Mark’s but it does not diminish the fact, as you have offered more background, that +Benjamin will be told about +Jonah’s day in Bethesda by the priest’s wife. It also does not diminish all the good things done by the Safchuk’s for +Benjamin when he got himself in financial trouble.

        I pray that +Jonah’s proximity to the ear of +Benjamin will not be used against the former Archbishop of Washington in the current toxic environment. It is good to hear that +Jonah did not preach, but took as low a profile as possible on Sunday. As I said before, it is good that he has an altar to serve at, unlike Bp. Nikolai who must rely on the kindness of clergy in ROCOR to serve.

        • Pravoslavnie says

          Low profile? His profile could not have been any lower without him standing in a hole. His Emminence basically served last Sunday as a simple priest. Despite the fact +Jonah is still an archbishop, there was no bread and salt greeting at the narthex, no vesting in the nave, no blessings with the trikirion, and no homily from him. He arrived with a subdeacon and a hierodeacon who had little to do in the non-hierarchal liturgy, but otherwise no fuss whatsoever. I admit that all this bothers me, but maybe those were conditions that the Holy Synod dictated.

          In any case I was very surprised by the almost complete lack of the usual St. Mark welcome for visiting clergy afterwards, the visitor being no less than an archbishop. In my opinion this was borderline disgraceful. At coffee hour nobody could even arrange to save a plate of food for their former Metropolitan who had just served their liturgy. Most of the food was eaten even before His Emminence arrived downstairs to deliver a blessing over it. A charming older lady I later learned was his mother sat alone at a table with her walker without anyone offering her so much as a cup of coffee. I wrote earlier about the elephant in the room that people didn’t want to discuss. Consequently I noted very little interaction between the people, Jonah, and his small entourage. It seemed most of the people seeking his blessing were visitors.

          It’s obvious that Met. Jonah was dumped into St. Mark as an unexpected guest sort of like your unemployed brother-in-law showing up one night and asking to sleep on the sofa for a couple of weeks. A little more than a week ago everyone would have been bowing, scraping, and asking for his blessings. I asked for the Metropolitan’s blessing as I was leaving and he seemed genuinely grateful. Actually we both were. These were my observations, and I don’t think I am being too severe. Some people may be offended by this, but frankly I don’t care. It could have been handled much better.

          • I would not hold the liturgics against anyone, it was probably felt that a full hierarchical liturgy would have been inappropriate.

            The reception of the people, it is kind of human nature to shy away from someone who’s just had a big embarrassing thing happen. It also may have been meant as a kindness on their part not to draw attention to him. I hope next week, the shock will have worn off and people will be able to warm up to him.

            • And I just want to say one more thing: if anyone sees Mrs. Paffhausen, or anyone else, crying in church because they are upset, for God’s sake, please give that person a tissue and a hug.

      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

        Father Gregory has done a fine job at St. Marks and as chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington. He has always treated the Metropolitan with all due respect, and he was especially effective in communicating to local clergy the sense of the Metropolitan’s letters last year to clergy and laity on not communing people whose public words and deeds testify against Christian faith.

      • Not sure what in the world Bishop Tikhon is talking about (re: “I told Chris that, and he’s never forgiven me for it.”), but I could care less about what he thinks about me, although him referring to my family and my best friend’s family “excrement” (or “colon bacteria” depending on alternative interpretations of his comments) is another issue altogether.

        “I am happy to report that Saint Innocent Church is in good condition, after undergoing a “high colonic” whereby a couple giant egos moved out. They are even ahead of other parishes in meeting their financial obligations! The parish is an essentially healthy organism and it managed to fight off infections without any antibiotics being administered by the Diocese.”
        +Bishop Tikhon (email sent on Sunday, May 12, 2002 11:22 PM)

        What I really cared about, what I always emphasized in my emails, appeals, and various online communications with him was his incompetence and cowardly behavior in failing to effectively address and deal with serious pastoral and sacramental issues by a suspended priest from Canada (an old friend of his) who he appointed at our parish that left our community in shambles and despair.

        While this spiritual crisis deepened and grew he never ONCE showed his face in our parish or come talk to us directly, even though he lives less than 20 miles away. In the meantime St. Innocent’s Orthodox Church shrank from 120+ pledging members to about 39! He continues to falsely blame this on “malcontents”, demographics, and cultural changes in Los Angeles.

        Bishop Tikhon ego and spiritual darkness delude him into thinking that I give a hoot about what he says about me. Nothing could be further from the truth. This has always been about the flock and the innocent families and children that he FAILED to protect and defend. His incompetence, delusion, and hard heart allowed the faithful to struggle, suffer, and scatter, while he pontificated and blamed THEM for the failures and abuses of an incompetent priest he appointed and continued to support for many years. To this day he has refused to accept responsibility for this tragedy or apologize for the suffering and abuse his inaction and cowardice caused.

        I wrote about this tragedy here:
        The Parable of the Missing Samaritan

        It was only after Bishop Tikhon retired that Bishop Benjamin took a interest in our plight, came and met with us, talked to the families, and finally acted removing the incompetent priest and appointing a new and true shepherd who has the sacramental gifts and calling to be a decent and loving priest.

        • I’m not going to bother defending my active service as Bishop of San Francisco for the likes of Mister Chris Banescu; however, I’d like to point out that, contrary to what he’s saying, it’s impossible for a bishop to assign a suspended priest to anything, let alone to a post as parish priest.
          Archpriest Nicolas Boldireff was granted RETIREMENT at his own request by Bishop Benjamin. He THOUGHT the could take early Social Security retirement, plus OCA pension, and go live with his brothers in Quebec. To his disappointment he learned that he could not get a full pension from the OCA, so he asked Bishop Benjamin for another assignment. Bishop Benjamin had a vacancy in the parish where Father Nicolas had received him (by baptism?) into the Orthodox Church in the 1970s, Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral. He assigned him to Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral in Los Angeles.
          Father Nicolas Boldireff is, if anything, a competent priest. I object to Mister Chris Banescu’s evaluation of him as incompetent.
          I won’t stoop to reply to the latest iteration by Mister Chris Banescu of his hostility towards me and my episcopate. I’ll just refer him to the recent resolution of the Diocese of the West characterizing my service, and, if anyone has it, the DVD which was made and then shown by Fr. Tosi at the diocesan retirement banquet for me in Las Vegas.when I retired, with an embarrassing outpouring of love and undeserved honor.

          • Daniel E. Fall says

            I have found, in my pitiful own way, it is inevitable no priest will be loved by all. They are human, afterall, and all different.

    • “Nikos,” be a man and sign your name; although I have a good idea who you are. Shame on your for again giving your spin to events, a spin that has nothing to do with the truth, seeking to create more confusion and dissent.

      I am blessed to call both Fr. Gregory and Matushka Alexandra (Safchuk) friends, having been at St. Vladimir’s Seminary together (while my husband was also a student). They are very pious and dedicated servants of Christ, serving and witnessing to the community of St. Mark Orthodox Church in Bethesda, MD. Yesterday His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah was at St. Mark for the Divine Liturgy and served (as a priest).

      You should apologize to both Fr. Gregory and Matushka, especially to Matushka Alexandra, for your assertion that she is virtually a spy for the Holy Synod. I stand behind them as good, faithful Orthodox Christians, tending their flock.

      I think of what my confessor told me when I spoke to him in distress over unjust attacks on him. “If I have such enemies, it means I’m doing something right (in God’s eyes).”

      Let us love one another!

      Matushka Jan

      • ” If I have such enemies I am doing right in God’s eyes?”
        Get a grip,
        What if they are doing evil? Would you even recognize it? Let alone speak for GOD?

      • Well it seems that I have gotten my ears boxed real good for my comments about the Safchuk’s.

        I hereby sincerely apologize for my characterization of Matushka Alexandra being a tattle-tale to +Benjamin of every move and word said by +Jonah. I also apologize for anything else I said or implied to impune their integrity. I was wrong and beg your forgiveness. Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner.

        • You are forgiven, Nikos. Keep in mind, there are definitely worse things out there.

    • “Nikos” your paranoia and viciousness have sunk to new lows. Cowardly hiding behind a fake identity while spreading this garbage makes is 10x worse. Shameful and disgusting!

      • Jane Rachel says

        Chris, who can’t be wrong, wrote:

        ““Nikos” your paranoia and viciousness have sunk to new lows. Cowardly hiding behind a fake identity while spreading this garbage makes is 10x worse. Shameful and disgusting!”

        Chis says Nikos is paranoid, vicious, low, cowardly, hiding, fake, spreading garbage, shameful, disgusting.

        And then Nikos wrote:

        “Well it seems that I have gotten my ears boxed real good for my comments about the Safchuk’s.

        I hereby sincerely apologize for my characterization of Matushka Alexandra being a tattle-tale to +Benjamin of every move and word said by +Jonah. I also apologize for anything else I said or implied to impune their integrity. I was wrong and beg your forgiveness. Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner.”

        I think that’s cool. Reminds me of a certain well-known scene, or scenes, featuring stones.

        • The admonition from Chris was not the motivating factor in my apology. In fact it is what caused me to delay my apology. But, that was then and this is now and yes, there are much bigger issues afoot.

          • Jane Rachel says

            Nikos, that was clear to me. Thanks. And yes, there are.

            The letters written by the bishops don’t feel right. How can we be expected to trust them when they use such tactics?

    • I know everyone’s attention has turned elsewhere, but I would also like to say that I think that Nikos’s condemnation of the Safchuks is inappropriate. It sounds to me like they are just hospitable people. I’ve done nice things for Archbishop Benjamin myself (although certainly not to the extent of Matushka Safchuk’s kind deed), and that’s certainly not to say I like him or agree with him.

  25. Pravoslavnie says

    It’s true that all three have a longstanding friendship through their mutual connection to SVS, and Fr Gregory’s former position in the DOW, but Fr. Gregory is also the chancellor of the Diocese of Washington.

    • The takeover of the Diocese of Washington is underway. Fr john Perich served at SNC yesterday where there was a light turnout. Bp. Alexander arrives on Tuesday to reinforce the synod’s hold on the Carhedral. All systems are “Go” to wipe the Jonah days aside ASAP.

      EVERYTHING is fine in the OCA. Go about your business. There is nothing here to concern you. Move along. Move along.

      • Toby Smith says

        Everything you write is spin. What you say is part of the OCA cover-up could merely be proactive pastoral care on the part of the OCA. Is it better that the bishops leave the Cathedral dangling in the air, or to come personally to see them through this dark period? You choose to spin it according to you already firm conviction that the Synod is a group of evil men. Maybe that’s why you’re no longer in the OCA.

        • Toby,

          I hope that Bp. Alexander can help the people of the Cathedral in dealing with these current actions by the OCA. I don’t think the synod is evil. God forbid. However there are some on the synod who have acted in an evil way in the way they have disposed of their brother, like Joseph of old. Let us hope that they will not continue to justify their actions by more unloving acts.

          I am sure you would agree.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          What do you mean Nikos is no longer in the OCA? He sure writes as if he has highest-level access.

          • Carl, it has been suggested that “Nikos” is really Fr. Joseph Fester. Based on what I’ve been reading from “Nikos”, with so much inside information and similar tone, I’m beginning to think that’s closer to the truth than we realize. I believe time and the continuing spin “Nikos” puts out will eventually reveal his identity. The truth always comes out in the end.

          • Mike Myers says

            Good question. I was thinking the same thing. If Nikos in fact had the insider “source” or “sources” he’s clearly implied on this joke of a blog, then he’s been played bigtime. I take it even he now realizes that, if such is the case.

            But I strongly doubt it is. A far more likely scenario is that he was simply making it all up as he went along. What a field day someone with idle time on his or her hands could have, satirizing the delusional hysteria and myopia and hypocrisy so copiously excreted on this blog! Even so, y’all might yet provide a notable community service, in redemption of all the public folly on shameless display here: a cultural anthropologist researching the properties and phenomenololgy of irrational mob mentalities would have a rich mine of data to dig into here. As I’ve noted once or twice before.

            George, YOU are one of the prinicipal sources of the rot in the laughingstock that is the OCA. And the status of YOUR expressed opinions as indicators of reality is almost unimpeachable. Albeit in reverse.

            His Grace Mathias has clearly calculated that he dare not waste another minute before launching a major cover-his-ass campaign, as it were. Stokoe has been vindicated, obviously, and therefore HGM is gonna have lots of ‘splainin to do (to all just men and women, anyway) for having silenced him and then spearheaded his boot from the MC so unceremoniously and with such transparent deceitfulness and evident malice. No doubt, amid that low-down sub-constituency of your church represented so vocally on this scandalous blog, HGM’s pious pronuciamentos about “sodomy” and “sodomites” will provide a certain short-term cover and camouflage. That will vanish, however, sooner or later — if there is any hope for your church. It will be most instructive to see how his maneuverings play out, “politically.” I shall be observing that spectacle with profound interest. One is always fascinated by the doings of “holy” thugs in “high places.” Y’all have a huge problem with that, worldwide. Best of luck with it.

            It’s been real, y’all. Real nauseating. Over and out.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Obviously Mike, because of your own laxity regarding standards you applaud a bishop who very likely has not followed normal procedures and thus exposed the OCA to a severe liability.

              • Mike Myers says

                You need professional help, George. My advice is to get it pronto. Is your remoter ancestry Cretan by any chance (Titus 1:12)?

                We know you lie and distort and BS like a champ, but can you even read? One begins to doubt it.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  George does not distort and never has.

                  It has been my experience that such prepared letters tend to witther on the vine after a while. Read the letter again, and pick up on all the inconsistencies. Jonah was made to be the scapegoat. It was quite excellent work by the synod by cliaming that ONLY Met. Jonah knew of this one fallen priest but none of the other nine (9) members of the synod did not.

                  Read this statement carefully. First comes the First allegation/accusation:

                  In slightly less than four years as our leader, Metropolitan Jonah has repeatedly
                  refused to act with prudence, in concert with his fellow bishops, in accordance with the Holy
                  Synod’s Policies, Standards and Procedures on Sexual Misconduct (PSPs), and in
                  compliance with advice of the Church’s lawyers and professionals in expertise in dealing
                  with cases of sexual misconduct.

                  OK, where is the proof? Where is the spiritual court? Why a forced resigation? This is a serious canonical as well as legal violation. Where is the evidence and the due process for the Metropolitan? I never saw or heared of any, just a “Forced” resignation. RED FLAG NUMBER ONE!

                  Then the Second allegation/accusation:

                  The most disturbing and serious matter, indeed the final matter that caused us to ask the Metropolitan to resign or take a leave of absence and enter a treatment program, involves the Metropolitan’s poor judgment in critical matters of Church governance, lack of adherence to the PSPs, and the risk of serious harm to at least one other person. While the names, dates and other details must be held in confidence to minimize the risk of further harm, we can say the following.

                  At some point after his enthronement as our Primate, Metropolitan Jonah unilaterally accepted into the OCA a priest known to him and to others to be actively and severely abusing alcohol, which more than once was coupled with episodes of violence and threats toward women. One of these episodes involved the brandishing of a knife, and the other the discharge of a firearm, the former resulting in the man’s arrest. The man was also incarcerated for three days in yet another incident, shortly after he was accepted into the OCA by Metropolitan Jonah. While under Metropolitan Jonah’s omophorion, this priest is alleged to have committed a rape against a woman in 2010.

                  At some point after his enthronment? So some time in 2008! Again, this would mean that only, and this letter intimates, ONLY Met. Jonah knew that this priest was bad news and had committed a Rape! Ok, where is the link to the criminal case? Where is the Criminal case number, court system, Dist. Atty’s name, office number to call and verify? This part about the RAPE is of Public Record and can be looked up and researched very easily. No reference is made to the Rape criminal case. RED FLAG NUMBER TWO.

                  Then we have “Know to him and others.” OK, who are the others and have they been desposed of if clerics and if laymen have their names been turned over to the District attorney in the Rape case? No mention. RED FLAG NUMBER THREE!

                  Then we have:

                  Metropolitan Jonah was later told of this allegation in February 2012, yet he neither investigated, nor told his brother bishops, nor notified the Church’s lawyers, nor reported the matter to the police, nor in any other way followed the mandatory, non-discretionary PSPs of the OCA. The alleged victim, however, did report the rape to the police. We know, too, that the alleged victim and a relative were encouraged by certain others not to mention the incident, and were told by them that their salvation depended on their silence. As recently as last week Metropolitan Jonah was regularly communicating with one of those who tried to discourage the reporting of this crime by the alleged victim and her relative. In addition, the Metropolitan counseled the priest to pursue a military chaplaincy, without informing the military recruiter of any of the priest’s problems. Finally, the Metropolitan attempted to transfer the priest to other Orthodox jurisdictions, and ultimately did permit him to transfer to another jurisdiction, in each case telling those jurisdictions there were no canonical impediments to a transfer.

                  OK. so the Rape was reported. When? Was it followed up? Was the Priest (Fr. Symeon) arrested? If so was the Rape charge dropped? If not it must have been prosecuted, if so where and by who? No mention. RED FLAG NUMBER FOUR!

                  Now others, NOT Met. Jonah otherwise Bp.Mathias would have named him, encouraged the alleged Rape victum to stay quite as her salvation depended on it. OK, who were these others? Clergy? Laity? Both? Have they been deposed or sanctioned or reported to local authorities for aiding and abetting or at least covering up a Rape? You Do NOT have to name names unless they are part of the Public Criminal Record. So if they are who are they? if not keep their names secret, but tell us what happened to them. No Mention, RED FLAG NUMBER FIVE.

                  Now what were Nathaniel, Nikon, Tikon, Benjamin, Melchisedek, Michael, Mathaias, Alejo and Alexander doing during the time Met. Jonah was letting this Priest go allegedly into the Military Chaplainry or another Orthodox Jurisdiction? Well, according to the Letter, ONLY Met. Jonah KNew what was going on with this Priest, Over Four Years, or at least since February of this Year (2012). The Synod Knew Nothing. Right.

                  Well, what about the SMPAC report that came out last year and had Fr. Symeon’s situation WELL RESEARCHED? Presumable the synod knew, at least, in February of 2011. Yet the Letter makes it sound like they knew nothing, even though they, along with OCA attorneys, encouraged the Mettropolitan to take action against thei priest? Huh?

                  At the very least, no clear timeline is given and the facts are increadible scattered and incoherent. No dates are present as to who knew what and when. The SMPAC report had these allegations, but the synod did nothing? Only Met. Jonah knew? Santa Fe was Well-After these supposed events, and the reason given for Met. Jonah’s “Leave” was never given as this specific incident of Instuitutional Negligence and incompetence.

                  Too Many Red Flags. Maybe if a clear-time line was given of specific events then some clarity could come into focus. However, my gut and years of legal expertience are telling me that no clear time line of events will be forth coming because to do so would inplicate the synod in ALSO knowing of this “BAD” priest and they as well did nothing to remove him or stop him from coming into the OCA.

                  So far, unless more specific information is forth coming, Met. Jonah is the scapegoat for maybe the synod’s malfeasence and not necessarily Met. Jonah’s.


                  • Nicely done, Peter!

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Thank you for your kind words, Peter. Also, for taking this synodal missive apart. I’m not a lawyer but I saw inconsistencies and redundancies from the get-go. Did anybody else notice how many times Nescott used the word “unilaterally” in just one paragraph alone? Three times.

                    The gist of it is that Jonah “unilaterally accepted this priest in the OCA” because he “unilaterally did so,” because he acts “unilaterally.”

                    This tells me two things: they don’t know simple logic (this fallacy is called a tautology) and they need a thesaurus.

                  • I certainly like Peter’s focus on the substance (such as it is) of the anonymous letter on a stationery with an imprinted Holy Synod letterhead. I humbly reprint another comment I made today on another list. I realize there’s something comical about quoting oneself, but I’m moved to put it here nevertheless:

                    There is no reason to think that letter comes from ANY Orthodox Holy Synod (or any other Christian entity) except for the stationery it is printed on, which might have been produced on anybody’s home computer.
                    Synodal letters, i.e., letters from a Holy Synod, are customarily signed by: The First Hierarch (“Primate”), The Secretary of the Holy Synod, or All Members of the Holy Synod.
                    Not only is the absence of any evidence in this document of anyone taking responsibility for it a cause of “astonishment,” one is also taken aback by there being no indication the letter was written by Orthodox Christians, that is, believers in the All-Holy Trinity, our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, who invoke the same in every communication, saving only for the totally pro forma remark at the end that the writers are praying to someone and ask for prayers to someone.

                    Tangentially, it’s astounding and “astonishing” to me that the horrible narrative put forth in the letter relative to, I believe, a Father Symeon Kharon, whom I met when he was a very young man in San Francisco, in the family of Igumen Gedeon (Kharon), Alexander Kharon (Father Symeon’s father) and his wife, then residing at the Russian Women’s Home of Mercy, refers to a nun having reported a rape or attempted rape to the police. Then, according to the letter’s narrative, AFTER that, Metropolitan Jonah strove to PREVENT the nun from reporting the rape!!!! (First: “did report the rape to the police”; Second: “the alleged victim and a relative were encouraged by certain others not to mention the incident, and were told by them that their salvation depended on their silence.”)
                    A reference to “certain others” by the author(s) of the letter sounds like yellow journalism in its melodramatic insinuation, not typical of the writings of Christian hierarchs, Orthodox or not.

                    For any matters as serious as those described in this letter, it is baffling to me that neither the time nor the money could be found for a Holy Synod to meet, as is Orthodox and traditional and wise, in a Church or Chapel, with the Holy Gospel in the midst of the Synod as indicating WHO is presiding over the deliberations there; the members looking each other in the eye, then fervently praying for the presence and guidance of the All-Holy Spirit of God, before discussing ANYTHING at all, and most certainly before any common, i.e., conciliar action, such as the composition, approval, and dispatch of a letter, which they might then sign with their own hands, also in the presence of the Holy Gospel

                    I can’t personally imagine a letter like this one being composed in any atmosphere but something like the busy law offices in the TV series “Mad Men,” ‘Damages”, or “The Good Wife”.

                    Lest anyone object that I am too much concerned with matters of style and form, I’d like to point out that we are all careful to make the sign of the cross on ourselves very carefully, and that a Holy Synod can be no less careful in exercising its stewardship than any of us in that act. Ergo: I pray to our Lord and His All-Holy Mother to watch over and protect us in all we say and do, lest we be run over by a spirit of disorder, contention and sow character assassination before the world.

                    On a human and wistful note, I recall how disturbed my own father used to get, raising me, whenever I would cry out in mitigation of bad behavior: ‘I couldn’t HELP it!” Doesn’t this letter, surely NOT coming from any Holy Synod, sound like a wordy version of that cry?

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  As near as I know I’m 50% Messenian and 50% Imbrian. I’ve heard from my sisters that Crete is lovely though. (I did have a great-great-grandfather from Catania, Sicily though.)

              • Mike Myers says

                Another thing, George: I note with clinical interest that readers are no longer able with a single click to review posters’ past contributions to the slanderfest and marathon of hysteria that you host. Any reason for that, to which you’d care to own up honestly? Not that I blame you, I hasten to add, given . . .

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Well, then he (Bp Mastthias) calculated wrong. And no, I have not beclowned the OCA, the Synod did that themselves with this egregious and uncanonical action.

              I know you’re not going to believe this, but if there are credible allegations against a bishop, even a primate, there are approved protocols for investigating him and trying the evidence. And if need be, turning him over the secular courts. Nothing of the sort was followed here. That’s why the OCA just became a laughing stock in world Orthodoxy.

              For what it’s worth, we follow these procedures in the secular courts.

  26. Theodore says

    Our priest did not mention the issue specifically, which I think was right since we usually have visitors who are not Orthodox. He did ask us to pray for the assembly in Miami this week. Then he discouraged us from any action by saying, “God works best when we stay out of His way.” When we were Protestants that kind of bumper sticker/billboard platitude was sufficient as a synopsis of our faith. Clever, pithy, perhaps even witty, oh so profound, and ultimately not committing us to any action. The Orthodox faith is deeper than the thickness of a bumper sticker and bigger than a billboard. I agree that the time for bold action by the laity is now. (“When in the course of human events…”)

    Most common response I heard yesterday was sadness, dismay, righteous indignation, and readiness to do battle with the forces of evil, God willing.

    • I hate what your priest told you, Theodore. I don’t expect a priest to encourage his flock to insurrection, but this attitude so many Orthodox have of quietism being a virtue drives me crazy. Where would we be if every time in Orthodox history the laity had met foolish or immoral actions by the bishops with docility? We the laity, and our parish priests, have a right to know what is going on, and we are pious fools if we think the only acceptable Orthodox response is to sit silently and take it for our own good.

      This is the main problem I have with the way Metropolitan Jonah conducted his business. He was unwilling to fight for anything. He wouldn’t fight for the DOS, that’s for sure. That Synod and his Syosset enemies had his number from the beginning.

      I am not going to Miami this week, but I pray that our parish’s delegates will have a fighting spirit, and will be intelligent about it, not just angry without a point. If a smart resistance movement doesn’t come out of Miami, and if the DOS is willing to roll over, then the OCA is finished.

      • Toby Smith says

        What can you speak up about when you don’t even know the details yet. It is okay to demand that the Synod give some inkling of the reason behind the resignation, even if they cannot legally release all the details. But to get angry and disrupt the OCA in ignorance is lunacy.

  27. Alethia Bringer says

    Caiaphas succeeded Annas, and both were guilty of crucifying the Lord of Glory. Now they are both gone, and the legions of the ruler of this world are at the gates, ready to raze the Temple to the ground. But a remnant will remain who do not bend the knee before Baal. These will inherit the earth, for they bridled the tongue, and through patience possessed their souls.

  28. Alethia Bringer says

    Actually, someone on Team Jonah hacked into my site and it was compromised. But with Bishop Matthias’ letter, it looks like the truth cannot be detained any longer:

    • Yes the truth came out and now there is egg on the face of Team Jonah. After all the harm +MJ has caused will you now stand with the Holy Synod?

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I don’t think that’s fair “George.” We don’t know that Metropolitan Jonah has caused any harm. What we have is a well crafted letter with little collaborating evidence. If the Holy Synod had a better track record, I would accept it at face value, but they don’t. HOW they went about securing Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation was appalling and on that basis alone, I am suspicious. They’ve had considerable time to put this letter together and were careful to mitigate every concern, without acknowledging any liability on their part. It’s unbalanced and therefore not entirely credible.

        There is a back story here, but I’m not convinced we know what it is. They use the history of this priest (I’m not familiar with the story) to frame ALL of Metropolitan Jonah’s failings, but heck, EVERY hierarch I can name has protected someone with an addiction. With treatment, addictions can be managed. Just ask Archbishop Benjamin. He, too, put other people at risk when he chose to drive while intoxicated only he was CONVICTED, I believe. This other priest was *accused.* If a rape happened in 2010, as was alleged, why no conviction? If there was no conviction, why mention it? Based on this single instance of (perhaps misguided; I don’t know) pastoral compassion, they want us to believe that Metropolitan Jonah has a propensity to protect abusers, putting the entire OCA at risk. Is this reasonable? I don’t know. Just asking the question.

        • Gail,

          I know he has caused harm, the Holy Synod knows, the Metropolitan Council knows, the Trustees and officers of the CA and the Seminaries know, et al. Time to stop being under Jonah’s prelest. The so called monk (exactly how long was he a monk before he decided to play abbott?) that is by far the most spiritually immature person I have ever seen. Good riddance.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Just asking questions, George, and telling you how it reads from my perspective. Because I’m not in the OCA, I’m not under anyone’s “prelest.” I admire Metropolitan Jonah’s traditional values and I was hopeful for the OCA, but admit there is probably a back story. Not convinced we’ve heard it, though. Not all of it.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Maybe the Metropolitan is at fault, but maybe the synod is as well? Maybe the metropolitan is NOT at fault, maybe the Synod is NOT at fault. This is why due process exists to get to the bottom of these this, but with the Metropolitans forced resignation there will be no spiritual or any other court. No due Process, not airing of facts and allegations to the light of day and the synod is in COMPLETE CONTROL as to the flow of information.

            That in and of itself is very troubling to me and it should be to you as well. Because the vaulted goals and vitrues of OCAN of accountability and transparency went right out the window when Met. Jonah signed that letter. Now we will never now the whole story.

            Even to this day and year of 2012 facts about Abp Spyridon are still coming out as bishops retire, people in the know get sick and certain things that used to be held over their head no longer control and the truth slowly comes out and the guilty are eventually revealed.

            So with metropolitan Jonah he may have not been a saint, but maybe the synod was not one either. Their maybe enough fault to go around, or none, or some. The synod made sure that there was going to be no court, no trial, no nothing but a retired Metropolitan that for the sake of his family and maybe a non-disclosure form that he made have to sign, simply goes away and sin goes back to being “handled” all over again.

            So this happened in the GOA, this has now happened in the OCA, the Antiocheans have their “Controlled” and “Defined” Self-Rule and all of our triumpalisms are laid waste. I just hope that’s the one good thing that can be taken from all this. Humility. I hope for more in the future. Let’s wait and see.


      • Geo Michalopulos says

        George, I like my eggs over easy. The Synod is getting Hollandaise sauce all over their faces though.

  29. Some further thoughts on the OCA crisis here:

    • Daniel E. Fall says

      So, let me understand one thing Mr. DeVille, are you suggesting on your blog that you believe a canon that demotes the victim of child sodomy rape to permanent laity? You seem to justify such nonsense by falling back on their damaged psyche. I think pokrov ought to do a link to your essay just to stop such villany. I bet you’d like that, eh?

      I wonder what Christ would say about such foolishness. Given He preached forgiveness, I doubt he would have been inclined to suggest a raped child would be unfit later in life to preach the Word. Just a guess, otherwise his argument would be bullkaka.

      On the notion you are correct and the canons are correct on such crap, might you be willing to suggest where someone raped as a child would be employable? I can’t imagine them useful anywhere. I suppose they ought to become beggars and live on welfare. Can we get them a food card after the rape? I sure wouldn’t want a damaged psyche in my employ. Anyone here would not qualify either I suppose, though, so I can’t work for me either! Yikes!

      The interesting thing about the Canons. It might be unorthodox, but as I have said before regarding the ‘diaspora’, some rules need revising periodically, and so do those. Maybe Jonah’s interpretation of the Canons is the ultimate cause of the problem. You also seem to incline in your essay the canons are strict on this matter, but it seems as though they are talking about the actions of the bishop himself (or am I wrong?). If that were true, then a bishop or Metropolitan wouldn’t need to follow any rules of good order if he only followed the canons? I know I’m speculating here, but I’m trying to understand. I think your essay raises more questions than it answers, by the way..which would be good fiction, but…

      No disrespect intended..

  30. Alexander says
  31. Did anyone else get the impression from the Holy Synod’s letter, that no bishop signed, that they are in a desperate state and they are losing the battle to control the message.

    It is clear they are reading Monomahkos. What a colossal mistake on their part to issue this letter. It creates more questions and exposes them to potential legal ramifications.

    I can’t help but feel sorry for the bishops who are out of their league and getting some bad legal advice.

    • Surely no one thinks that Metropolitan Jonah could have learned anything or improved based on the example of hierarchs that allow such a tawdry letter out on their letterhead stationery!!!

      If any one them opined that leaders of other Local Churches will through that scurrilous letter excuse their remarkable conduct, they were very mistaken. Talk about displaying dirty shorts!

  32. After reading all these comments, one common thread I must inquire more about is pointed to those who would say that this act by the synod was uncanonical. How so? I ask out of ignorance and the desire to learn.
    Also, no matter how much anger we may feel, is it not Christ who is the head? Should we then question whether or not this was corrupt? If it was, does it change anything? +JONAH is gone. Stepped down even, without a fight.
    In his defense as an administrator, if this is the case for his dismissal, Blessed +PAVLE was no better at it and still worked to evangelize and bring sanctity to his jurisdiction.

    May God sort this out! What hides in the dark will come to the light!

    In peace+

    • Michael Bauman says

      I can almost guarantee you that most folks who are good at what is called ‘administration’ are rarely any good at evangelization. There are a few, but they are quite rare and should not be expected.

      Just sounds as if no one knows what a bishop’s job is or how he is suppoed to act. Are they supposed to
      1. Do office work?
      2. Be a corporate manager?
      3. Take pastoral care of the priests in their charge so that the priests may feed their flocks?
      4. Evangelize
      5. Attend as many boring banquets as possible so they get fat, lazy and ill?
      6. Be a saint or else…….?

      It seems to me that Met. Jonah has a different chrism than to be a managing bishop. He should have been let go to evangelize and preach and teach while those with the skill to manage do that. Those who pastor, let them pastor. By all means, avoid the banquets.

      Mostly the problem is there is no common vision or understanding of what the OCA is or should be, what it means to be Orthodox or even Christian.

      Or so it seems to me. Without a vison, the people perish.

  33. The Holy Synod should have resigned, if what they write is true. If what they write is true, how could they have elected such a person as their First Hierarch=Primate?
    Did they actually elect someone whom they didn’t know? When has a Holy Synod anywhere done that? They failed miserable in the most fundamental task they have, one on which their own functioning as a Synod depends?
    The delegates to the All American Council did not elect Metropolitan Jonah. They can’t. They are not authorized to do so. ONLY the Holy Synod may elect the Primate, according to Holy Tradition, the Holy Canons, and the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America.

    The Holy Synod elected Metropolitan Jonah.
    Theit letter today DEMONSTRATES that they elected the most junior bishop in the Church WITHOUT KNOWING HIM AT ALL!!! What’s their excuse for that? Why shouldn’t they all resign without being coaxed? Why didn’t they write ONE word of apology to the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy and People of the Orthodox Church in America?
    On what basis did they elect Metropolitan Jonah?
    No, they only have the energy to hold teleconferences during which a letter written for them by some third party is approved as THEIR letter, and its content is a shame to its signers. A full-court press of character assassination.
    As Joseph Welch, Counsel of the United States Army told Senator McCarthy: “Have you no shame, sir? Have you at last no shame?”
    I repeat they should be apologizing to all.
    But no. Their plans are to investigate a RAPE!!!!!! What are the police and the district attorney for?
    If they claim on very very shakey bases that Metropolitan Jonah should go, their conduct, in particular this letter, means they should go, but first, above all, APOLOGIZE.

    • Gregg Gerasimon says

      Your Grace,

      I must say that I wholeheartedly agree with you. It is now clear that the Holy Synod had no idea whom they were electing as Metropolitan back in 2008. Indeed, how could they? Then-Bishop Jonah had only been a bishop for 11 days or so before he was elected as Metropolitan. I remember at the time how it was hailed as “guided by the Holy Spirit,” etc, etc. Was the Holy Spirit wrong, then?

      And yes, you are absolutely correct — the Holy Synod has no business investigating a rape!! That is insanely ludicrous. That is the job of the police, medical professionals to collect data, etc, etc.

      And it does bother me that the PDF of the letter that appears on the website is signed by no bishop — only “The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America” appears in bold type at the end of the letter.

      I think it’s important to remember that we, as Orthodox Christians, are concerned about this stuff because we love our church and we want Her to thrive and grow in America. If we didn’t love our church, why would we waste time reading about these things and posting thoughts here. But it is difficult to have confidence in the leadership when things like this are going on.

      Many are rejoicing that this letter put out today by the Holy Synod “answers all the questions” as to why Met. Jonah was forcibly resigned. I disagree — I think that it raises so many more unanswered questions and merely clouds the water further, as others have pointed on on these pages better than I.

      But yes, Your Grace — it does seem clear that the Holy Synod had no idea who they were electing as our First Hierarch back in 2008. And investigating a rape is not in the purview of a Synod of Bishops!

      Lord have mercy!

    • Your Grace,

      Be careful, the synod may come after you next!. And be extra careful because, apparently from the synod letter, the thought police are out there taking down every word +Jonah is saying. They might be copying down every word here?

      If they thought their letter would make their case vs. Jonah, boy did they get some bad advice. It only proves in clear contrast what a bunch of unloving angry men he had to work with. He is blessed to be free of them.

      They fired him and turned him into a hero. Now they kill him and have turned him into a martyr.

      Remind me not to hire the OCA Crisis Team………..EVER.

  34. As in the days of the ‘iron curtain’ the true church may no longer be visible. Those who are interested in Christ need to unite or fall underground apart from corrupt institutions.

  35. Anam Cara says

    This whole thing makes me sick.

    I don’t understand it all, but I know this: SOMEONE is wrong and no matter who it is the way this is all playing out is wicked.

    I am a convert. I have spent 10 years in the Orthodox Church, defending my chrismation to those who remained behind in the Episcopal (now Anglican) church. They have tried to get me to come back – to commune with them now that they have left TEC. I am already weary of the battle and then this happens. This only gives them more fodder for their arguments. All the good, the possible bridge building to Orthodoxy has been wiped out.

    God help me to remain faithful!

    • Anam Cara says

      After I posted this I remembered something I heard years ago:

      Remember, the Church is the Ark of Salvation — if it weren’t for the flood on the outside, very few of us would put up with the smell on the inside.

  36. Jane Rachel says

    George M,

    Is there any way to bring back the “Read All Comments By…” feature? It’s hard to read all the comments now that there are so many coming in. Maybe I’m not the only one who has trouble keeping up? The blog was much easier to read with that feature in place. Now comments disappear and get lost in the fray, and it takes too much time to scroll down through the pages to find them. Wish you would bring it back, George.Can your webmaster find a way to fix the problems with it?

  37. There is a Google custom search box in the upper right. Try searching by name (and key words if relevant). Then offer George your feedback. In theory a name search should return all postings by that author plus all postings in which that author is addressed by name. In practice I don’t find the search results easy to navigate, so I’m not confident the search results are accurate, but that was true of the old feature as well.

    Perhaps the greatest difficulty with these search results is that they are not presented in chronological order. Instead they are organized according Google’s determination of relevance. Adding an option to view results in chronological order would be nice, if it is feasible.

  38. Sorry, I can’t find the proper heading under which to place this link, but it’s relative to the sometimes wretched attacks on Orthodox Antiochene ;positions in and on Syria. This is from the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch and it should be given wide distribution as possible:

  39. I must say, as a lot as I enjoyed reading what you had to say, I couldnt help but lose interest after a while. Its as if you had a wonderful grasp on the subject matter, but you forgot to include your readers. Perhaps you should think about this from far more than one angle. Or maybe you shouldnt generalise so considerably. Its better if you think about what others may have to say instead of just going for a gut reaction to the subject. Think about adjusting your own believed process and giving others who may read this the benefit of the doubt.

  40. How do I follow your blog? This seems nice

  41. Certainly with your thoughts here and that i love your blog! I’ve bookmarked it making sure that I can come back & read more in the foreseeable future.

  42. I must say, as a lot as I enjoyed reading what you had to say, I couldnt help but lose interest after a while. Its as if you had a wonderful grasp on the subject matter, but you forgot to include your readers. Perhaps you should think about this from far more than one angle. Or maybe you shouldnt generalise so considerably. Its better if you think about what others may have to say instead of just going for a gut reaction to the subject. Think about adjusting your own believed process and giving others who may read this the benefit of the doubt.