Turd Blossoms and Anonymity

“Turd blossom” was the term of endearment that George W Bush used for Karl Rove, almost from the first day they met when both were young men. I like it because like most Bushisms, it’s rather funny. As a Christian, I’ve tried to conform to the Church’s teachings on profanity (and fail miserably) but even if I were a holy man, the word “turd” wouldn’t bother me. It wouldn’t bother me if my priest used it once or twice in my presence.

It certainly doesn’t bother me that Fr Joseph Fester used it in a private e-mail with a friend of his. In fact, nothing in the now-famous e-mail exchange that OCANews obtained surreptiously surprises me or offends me at. What does offend me is that the account was hacked into in the first place.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the account wasn’t hacked, that Stokoe got the emails “legitimately” (if there is such a thing). Would anyone else find that troubling? I find it deeply troubling that a layperson would read the private emails of a priest and threaten to publish them — hacked or not. There’s something deeply off-putting about this, even abhorrent. Stokoe plays too fast and too loose with other people’s lives and livelihoods. What priest feels safe now? (Would you go into the priesthood now?)

A person could argue that the OCAT fellows did the same thing when they published Stokoe’s secret emails. It’s a sticky situation but I think the publication of those emails did the Church a service. We simply cannot have a handful of Metropolitan Council members form an internal clique to drive out a bishop. The plan, as the emails pointed out, called for a shock and awe strategy, and Stokoe’s blog was clearly part of the tactical maneuvering. There are canons against conspiring to remove bishops, and as impolitic as Fester’s e-mails were, he wasn’t trying to unseat a sitting bishop. (Irony alert: now even compromised bishops —and you know who you are–aren’t safe.)

Team Stokoe has failed although they haven’t stopped fighting. The Metropolitan Council meets this week and, if there is any real leadership there, Stokoe and cohorts should be called on the carpet and fired. They not only caused deep confusion in the Church, they also blackened the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council. Members of the MC should be outraged at what a handful of their colleagues did behind their backs.

Truth be told, Stokoe’s internal e-mails are far more damning than anything Fr. Fester wrote. Do a side-by-side comparison. On the one hand we have a clear consipiracy involving several people who were actively planning to topple a sitting Metropolitan. On the other we have a priest who was asking a retired bishop how he was feeling now that his cancer was in remission. Clear difference.

And Stokoe has yet to explain to the rest of us what he was doing planning a public relations putsch against a sitting Metropolitan. Is the Metropolitan Council down with that?

As for the anonymity squabble regarding OCAT, it was always non-issue. The whole notion that nothing can be trusted unless it is signed is specious from the start. I knew the anti-+Jonah forces were desperate when they went after OCATruth based on their wish to remain anonymous. This was reinforced when OCAT’s critics never once criticized the substance of OCAT’s reporting. Anonymity is not a moral fault in and of itself.

I was talking with one of the OCATs yesterday and we both agreed that OCAT’s strategy of anonymity was a brilliant tactical maneuver because it revealed that Team Stokoe had little substance to their arguments. Their obsession with the issue showed that they had no canonical justification for attempting to remove +Jonah in the first place.

So, what’s left? Nothing much unless the powers that be think it’s fine to make management decisions based on information gleaned by illegal or immoral means. It that’s the case, then the Holy Synod will have sealed the fate of the OCA as it is presently constituted. Expect mediocrity. (Memo from Syosset: Beatings will continue until morale improves!)

Nevertheless, ironies abound. For one thing, I think that the Traditionalists will be left to pick up the pieces of a “conciliar” OCA. Why? Because it becoming apparent a Metropolitan Council cannot lead the OCA. Stokoe proves that. His team used the MC as their staging ground putting the MC in an untenable situation. Maybe the MC has some real men on board that will throw the conspirators overboard. That certainly would help their credibility.

The bishops will begin to see that now. And who knows? the bishops may begin to start acting like bishops (I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one but the Lord is still on his throne).

I believe that +Jonah, by remaining our Metropolitan despite the best efforts of his detractors to unseat him (and taking his lumps) has shown the way that a real bishop behaves.

Eis polla eti Despota!


  1. A Remnant says


    Just a little clarification of this statement “A person could argue that the OCAT fellows did the same thing when they published Stokoe’s secret emails.”

    Retired Bishop Tikhon published the memo’s on orthodox@LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU. OCAT quoted the already posted emails. They did not conspire to acquire the emails.

    Just a statement of clarification, not a statement of support or disagreement!

    • Cathryn Tatusko says

      Dear Remnant–

      Thank you for making this point. I wanted to make the same, and I am glad that you’ve hit this nail on the head. There is absolutely NO moral equivalence between OCAT having re-posted emails that were already floating on the Internet and MS publishing the private emails between two people which he obtained–at a minimum—by unscrupulous means. Any attempt by MS or others to try to make this equivalence case should be shot down immediately.

      I hope that the issue of how MS obtained those emails will be fully investigated, and, if appropriate, prosecuted. What so many are overlooking in all of this is the multitude of emails that had nothing to do with this issue which the informant/hacker had to have read to cull the ones forwarded to MS. Who is this person who now has full knowledge of private emails between Fr. Fester and any number of people with whom he corresponded by email (think of the many innocent parishioners, etc., who have now had their privacy terribly violated by this person).

      Again, no attempts by MS or others to equate the re- posting of his emails to a handful of MC members on OCAT with what MS did in obtaining and publishing the emails obtained from Fr. Fester’s compromised email account should be countenanced for one second. I hope any who see such nonsense in print will be swift to make that point.

      BTW, perhaps this would be a good time to re-post those emails between MS and the MC members. People need to be reminded of just how manipulative and underhanded these people showed themselves to be in said emails. George?

      In Christ,
      Cathy Tatusko

      • George Michalopulos says

        thank you for the clarification. there was no moral equivalence there.

  2. Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

    Dear George,

    Christ is Risen!

    On March 12th, 2011, Muzhik posting on OCATruth, claimed that he had been shown confidential documents: the private minutes of the December 2007 Synod meeting, went on to describe the report to the Synod of Abp. Dmitri, and to describe the responses of various bishops. Then Muzhik actually posted a letter from Abp. Dmitri to the deacon, which was exactly pastor to penitent communication. I raised this issue once before and no one took the slightest notice of this breach.

    On April 9th, 2011 Muzhik wrote on OCATruth: “Insiders tell us that since Bishop Tikhon (ret.) leaked the emails exposing the plans to “rid” the OCA of Metropolitan Jonah, the cabal members have resorted to communicating by phone. Smart. Never put in e-mail something you would not want to see posted on a website.” No one until now has asked if the retired Bp Tikhon got those emails ethically.

    On May 3rd, 2011, Parishioner on OCATruth writes “Therefore, at this juncture, I am going scrap anything which I have written that can only be known according to these emails, since they can be classified as confidential and under the seal of the confessional. I ask that we all, out of respect for the sacred bond of trust between a priest and his spiritual children, show the same respect.”

    Well I am afraid that Parishioner’s new found sense of respect for confidentiality in May rings hollow after the other posts. Likewise, his appeal to the seal of confession whilst writing on the blog that has most clearly violated that seal in publishing an unethically obtained copy of pastor-penitent communication is just breath taking in its hypocrisy.

    There is some importance in the manner and ethics of this latest leak, but the sudden concern about how documents are leaked after months of discussion of leaked documents looks like a massive diversion to keep one from discussing what the newly documents show.

    You write “A person could argue that the OCAT fellows did the same thing when they published Stokoe’s secret emails. It’s a sticky situation but I think the publication of those emails did the Church a service.” Interesting situational ethics. So you think that that was a service, Stokoe thinks his leaks are a service, and someone else thinks that another link will be of service. I do hope you realize that anyone can make your justification work for them and their purposes.

    Your description of Fr. Fester’s leaked e-mails as being only or mostly “we have a priest who was asking a retired bishop how he was feeling now that his cancer was in remission.” is just silly. One of the many pertinent facts that you leave out is offering to make that bishop an active bishop again, with the seeming intimation of a quid pro quo. A little detail, I’m sure. Like his plotting preparation for Santa Fe. What was the ambush, that his plots didn’t work? Another “little detail” is not only does he call Bp. Mark a turd, but he plots against him, too.

    You can’t seem to deal with what is actually in those emails.
    This increases the impression there is an attempt to divert all attention to the manner of the leak rather than its substance.

    • Harry Coin says

      Fr., Yes, that’s it exactly. In further irony, if this were an anonymous blog, I doubt it would retain 20% of those who post here without hiding.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Harry, Father, I hope no one ever hacks into your e-mails and uses the contents therein to make management decisions.

        As for OCAT and the other alternative Traditionalist media, they are now out there and countering the Stokoe Spin Cycle and will be for a great period of time. As an aside, I’ve often wondered how the other people on the MC are going to treat Stokoe now. I imagine outside of the soon-to-be-closed Syosset (to pay the legal bills) it will just be BB and the two BMs. (not Michael or Matthias).

    • Michael Livosky says

      Fr Rassam, excuse me for butting in; but, you bring up a great discussion. Just one question, what about Mark Stokoe’s and Faith Skordinski and the Solodow guy email’s that were TRULY leaked?

      No where in Fr Fester’s email did I notice anything that concerned removing the Metropolitan or ANY other bishop(s). Did he call one a “worm” and another a “turd”? Yep. Oooooo sticks and stones may break my bones…..blah blah blah.

      Unlike the Stokoe crew, that clearly stated they wanted +Jonah removed. And if you read just a little deeper into it…….sooner rather than later. Clearly stated how they intended to do it and who was with them and who was against them. There “plan” was in place and NO ONE can contradict that email. It was typed in black and white in the Solodow email.

      As for Fr Fester’s emails concerning bringing back +Nikolai…..i just re-read them and I see nothing to that fact. Please provide the specific sentence you refer to?

      At this point you’re claiming nothing more than the semantics of it all. At the end of the day, if it was found to be OK to remove Fr Joe; then Mark Stokoe AND Faith Skordinski should be removed as well.

    • Rod Dreher says

      Father Yousuf, those e-mails leaked by Tikhon (ret.) were clearly leaked. Nobody ever has claimed otherwise. They were sent to a number of people. Fester’s e-mails, at least the ones between us, were not leaked. They were stolen, and were claimed to have been stolen from the very beginning. The Synod ought to have taken that into consideration. But they didn’t.

      I should have taken my own advice about never putting anything into e-mail that you don’t want made public.

      The correspondence between Dmitri and the deacon was a matter of church governance and discipline, as I recall. I will go back and look it over. What this deacon did that got him suspended was a public matter.

      You need to reflect on the difference between a “leaked” e-mail and stolen e-mail. If I send an e-mail to three people and one of them chooses to make it public, that may make me angry, but I ought not to have trusted one of my correspondents. E-mail gotten by felony theft, as I believe the Fester hack to have been, is a different matter.

      The substance of what was in those e-mails is a different matter. There’s no recalling information that’s out there in public, so I don’t blame people for discussing it. But it should very much matter to how the Church is governed that the Synod makes big decisions based on information that was very likely gathered through felony theft, or that they at the very least have strong reason to suspect was made by felony theft. It may have helped Team Stokoe/Benjamin/Melchizidek today, but rest assured, it will be used against them tomorrow. Not by me — I’m out of this; my activist days are over, because as far as I can tell, Stokoe has triumphed, and the issue has been settled, though if I were still in the DOS, I would be fighting to save my diocese and my cathedral parish — but they will be used by someone. The precedent has been set. You had better protect your own e-mail account, Father. You never know.

      • Someone should write a book about this whole affair especially about Mark S and how he brought down (or almost brought down-I hope) the OCA.

      • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

        Dear Rod,
        Christ is Risen!
        I think I need to restate some things, which I thought were clear.
        -I did not assert that the two leaks were ethically the same. I asserted that OCATruth and George M did not show the slightest evidence of caring how the first leak took place or its ethical implications until “their side” suffered an embarrassing leak. For the record, most of what has been said about how the leaks came to pass seems rampant speculation.
        -Secondly, when George M does turn his attention to the question he comes up with a justification for the first leak that anyone, anytime can use to justify any leak.
        -Thirdly, OCATruth had material which by its very nature could not have been ethically provided for publication and published it anyway, the act in all of this which is most clearly “violating the seal”.
        -Fourthly, given the above the very participants in the above are the last people to credibly take umbridge, if Fr. Fester’s emails were illegally or unethically gotten. BTW, not only do you advise discretion for users of email, but the way you did so seems to bear the implication that you were willing to post more leaks, with no caveats whatsoever about how they were gotten.
        You and George talk about prissy and sanctimonious! How prissy and sanctimonious is it to have arguments which amount to ‘we can use leaks and they can’t’? How sanctimonious and hypocritical is it to ask the general public to make judgments based on your own breaching of confidences, but expect the hierarchs of our Church to not make judgments based on knowledge that they now possess? You write “And by the way, George, I do think it is obvious that the OCA is now run by people who think it’s okay to make management decisions based on information illegally gotten, as long as it benefits power-holders.” And it is obvious that you want such decisions, management and otherwise, when you approve of the benefits and beneficiaries.
        To that I would now add that your justification for your breaching of confidence is also troubling. You do not deny that the letter was a pastoral letter to a penitent. (It so obviously is.) You state that the sin was public, and the letter involved Church governance and discipline. How does that nullify the confidential nature of the letter itself? And the same justification applies to the Fr. Fester emails, they involved Church governance and discipline, and often involved matters which were public, in fact better known and more public than an obscure deacon’s fall. The acceptance of repentance in this case was something which eventually had the approval not only of those you criticize but of Abp. Dmitri and Met. Jonah, as evinced in their blessing him to serve, so I don’t see how this case even had something to do with the issue of defending Met. Jonah or directly related issues.
        Those documents are the sort which are by nature confidential. No one with access to such files, (most likely diocesan personnel files) has the right to publicize them in most cases, hardly to score points in a blog war, because to quote your title, This is not a Game, it is real Life. The giving of them was not theft from an individual’s private email account, but theft from the body of the Church and against Her proper functioning. Why on earth would diocesan hard files be less sacrosanct than an individual’s email account? If there was something illegal or unethical in the leak of Fr Fester’s email I hope it is uncovered and dealt with. Meanwhile, if you choose to do so, you may clear up a few things yourself.
        Rod, How were those documents obtained?
        Who gave them to you?
        What makes you think you had a right to read them, let alone publicize them? Do you stand by your decision?
        You say that Fr. Fester did not approve of you publicizing the SMPAC report.
        If he had, would you have published it?
        Did you ask him about publishing the confidential letter from Abp. Dmitri to that deacon?
        Did Fr Fester bless or approve of your publishing it?
        Rod, I find it regrettable to write so sharply. You remain in my prayers.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          Father, your first point is absolutely galling and undercuts everything you say afterward. We are not talking about “two leaks”; we are talking about a leak and a THEFT. We are talking about a case of one person passing an email to another person who passes it to another person who passes it to OCAT, versus a case of one person to whom nothing has been passed violating federal law to access the Gmail account of another person and pass “scores” of the second person’s emails and chat to OCAN, causing the second person to be summarily fired from his job. If you can’t understand the difference, if the theft doesn’t bother you more than the leak, then you’ve lost all moral perspective in this matter. God help you.

        • Ian James says

          Fr. Yousuf,

          What a confused and tangled mess!

          I suggested earlier that if you want to make the case for Stokoe, make it! Quit the sophomoric moralizing. Quit the equivocation.

          Instead you return with seven more paragraphs and 10 questions mired even deeper in the turgid muck you inhabit.

          Here’s the distinction you keep missing: Stokoe was out to blacken and remove +Jonah. OCAT was created to counter Team Stokoe.

          Why is this so hard to understand?

          Sound moral evaluations require correct factual distinctions. Until you make them, your reasoning will get even more obtuse as your response above proves.

          • Ian, et. al., I really don’t get it. Your argument seems to be Mark Stokoe used unethical (and illegal?) means to achieve an unethical end, and that, on the other hand, Fr. Fester, Rod Dreher and co. have used unethical means to achieve an ethical end. Am I missing something here?

            Istm it is pretty much elementary Christian ethics to understand that the ends DO NOT justify the means. If you don’t do Christ’s will in Christ’s WAY, you are not, in fact, doing Christ’s will. Enough of the excuses! (I’m not intending here to make excuses for Mark Stokoe, either.)

            • Jesse Cone says


              The ends do not justify the means, but intention can make an action unethical. For instance, intent has to be proven in order to convict someone of burglary.

              I think what Ian is saying here is that there’s a difference between speaking up to harm someone and speaking to defend someone. Plotting and strategizing to remove someone from their position is a very different animal than strategizing to defend someone. Stokoe and Co. wanted Met. Jonah gone because they disagreed with him and tried to dig up dirt to make it happen — throwing ethics to the wind. We started an anonymous blog and asked they show canonical reason why he should be removed.

              Hope that difference is clear.

              • Ian James says

                Thank you Jesse. That is exactly what I am saying. Fr. Yousuf refuses to make the distinction between harming someone and defending someone.

                Let’s say that OCAT made some mistakes. I don’t think they did but for the sake of argument let’s say they did. Even if they made mistakes, it still does change the fact that Stokoe wanted to blacken and remove +Jonah, and OCAT was formed to fight him. OCAT’s wrong in other words, would not cancel out Stokoe’s wrong. They are two different things and Stokoe needs to be held accountable for his wrong.

                Fr. Yousuf doesn’t want to deal with this distinction. To avoid dealing with it he gets into increasingly arcane discussions about the emails because he wants to shift the focus there instead of on the distinction. He wants us to believe that OCAT is as wrong as Stokoe.

                It’s a failure of vision on his part. He is not comprehending the facts correctly. That’s why I keep reminding him of the distinction.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Fr. Yousuf,

      Stokoe’s dishonesty has been proved here and here. His marriage to another man is a matter of public record (marriage is after all the basis of most “in-law” relationships). Now he appears to have committed a crime (receiving stolen goods, publishing stolen information, if not actually stealing it). Yet all you can do is complain about George’s obvious overstatements and partisanship. When does your own partisanship end? How bad does your man have to get before you realize you are on the wrong side?

      • Chris Plourde says

        These guys set out to mimic a man whom they said had “no shred of integrity left,” and now are shocked, shocked that their own integrity lies in tatters.

        So, of course, to justify themselves they have to prove that he’s actually worse. Repentance is out of the question.

        The error was not in Fr. Fester and Rod Dreher and the rest of “Team Jonah” communicating via e-mail, it was in assuming that because Mark Stokoe engaged in internet porn they should go and do the same. “Fight fire with fire” was the expression used for climbing down into that cesspool.

        Once you stink it’s very hard to make the case that the other guy stinks more because he was in the cesspool longer or dove further into the sh*t. Those are differentiations without a difference to those who don’t love eating muck.

        But hey, have it your way. The sh*t that covers Rod and Fester et.al. is less sh*tty because Mark Stokoe’s is worse.

        Ego is as ego does.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          Doesn’t the irony that you’re doing the same right now occur to you? How blind can you be?

          • Chris Plourde says

            I know you think I’m a clever, cunning, underhanded and bad guy, Deacon Brian Patrick, but I’m really just an ordinary person struggling to live an Orthodox life. I have no pretense to be an insider, no desire to be a player, no wish to see anything other than the peace of Christ reign in our hearts and in our Church.

            What I have stated is this: The claim made here that one man’s sin justifies another’s is error. Everything else is an attempt to shift focus and drive our attentions even further from Christ.

            You find that sinful, and so I will take it up with my confessor.

            I pray for you daily, Deacon Bran, because I know that my posts here are offensive to you. I ask you to pray for me, as well.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says


              1. Where has anyone but Stokoe plainly lied?

              2. Where has anyone but Stokoe borne public witness against the Church through their immoral lifestyle?

              3. What crimes are Stokoe’s critics supposed to have committed?

              Until you can answer these questions reasonably, your charge that his critics have behaved no better than him is itself a despicable slander, and your accustomed pretension to humility and good will is a foolish vanity.

              • Chris Plourde says

                Deacon Brian,

                Rod Dreher denied on this site having anything to do with OCATruth but said he knew the two guys who ran it. We now know he was its inspiration and 50% (Muzhik) of it’s posters there.

                OCATruth claimed to have no connection to anyone in any position of authority in the Church. Turns out they were coordinated and fed from the inside.

                Those are lies. They were told in full knowledge that they were lies, they were told with the intent of misleading everyone who visited the OCATruth site.

                Mark Stokoe is a piss-poor marker against which to judge morality. I find it troubling that you and other defenders use him as the relativistic marker for whether-or-not lying by those you find agreeable is defensible. There’s nothing “traditional” about setting the bar so low a worm could step over it, and then using that mark to claim moral superiority.

                The rest of your rant says far more about you, Deacon, than about me. You clearly read more than English when you read my posts, what you write about me arises from your own imagination and projections.

                I pray for you daily. I ask your prayers in return.

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  I won’t quibble: I’ll give you full credit for answering question #1.

                  Now what about #2 and #3?

                  • Chris Plourde says

                    I dismissed those questions because, as I explained above, it’s an error to make Mark Stokoe the litmus test of right and wrong, as if being “better” than Mark meant one was not in the cesspool.

                    Like any sinner I’d love nothing more than for moral relativism to be true, and like any Orthodox Christian I am forced to reject it as fundamentally un-Orthodox.

                • Chris, would you please link to the statements made by the boys at ocatruth (compared to me they are probably boys, it seems like it anyway) that prove what you are saying? That way we can read the exact words and decide for ourselves rather taking your word for it that what you are saying is as absolutely true as you claim it to be. If they are outright lies as you say then the guys need to admit it.

                • Jesse Cone says

                  If we had set to mimic Stokoe the site would looke very different than it does.

                  Please go back and re-read our disclaimer:

                  This site was initiated and is currently run by a group of laymen. Other than what has been sent to us after the site and email address were initially set up (i.e. letters, emails, suggestions, etc.), none of the content on this site has been blessed or commissioned by clergy.

                  Metropolitan Jonah has not been consulted or interviewed regarding anything on this site, nor has he offered the site any suggestions or information. Though this site supports him as the Primate of the OCA, it is in no way affiliated with Metropolitan Jonah.

                  So I fail to see where our integrity is in tatters. The irony that some people want to crucify some clergy members for having ANY communication with us or OCAT while Stokoe and Co. have been going their merry way for some time is what I believe is being pointed out here. I, for one, don’t seek to justify myself by saying Stokoe is worse.

                  Please post where Rod lied, because I don’t remember such a thing. Misdirected, sure… cuz hey, we were anonymous! And let’s face it, it was/is simultaneously a gigantic distraction for Team Stokoe and the greatest hit to our credibility. So now, having named names, what’s been accomplished? How does me signing “Jesse” to the end of anything I have written change its substance?

                  I think the shock shock here is that there are now names and faces being pseudonyms. Let’s see how things are when the shock wears off.

                  • Why don’t you all stop trying to justify yourselves and simply say WE WERE WRONG – WE DECEIVED ALL OF YOU. If you have any decency left you will shut down your blog. I can’t believe you are still posting things, and under those fake names. It truly tells me what type of characters you all are. If you have the eyes to see, go back and read this thread- you will see all the excuses for the deception. Deception is deception. If something is truly of the light, there is no need for justification, excuses, explanations…just truth. Oh, but sorry, that is not something you understand. Truth, manipulated for your own end is no longer truth – it is malice.

                    What you are practicing is an old trick of those caught red-handed. While your hand is in the cookie jar, you are busy pointing at the other guy – trying to deflect the attention away from yourselves. Sorry, won’t work, except for on the gullible.

                    • Please do not stop posting. It is not over yet, not by a long shot and we need many web sites to get information from. There are many angles that need to be stated and I don’t think Mark will state them unless it fits his agenda.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Mona, get a grip.

                  • Chris Plourde says


                    Thanks for posting this.

                    The disclaimer is artfully worded, but no less false for such careful wordplay.

                    We now know that Fr. Fester approved the creation of the site, and ensured that it had a steady stream of fodder and views from the inside. We now know that Rod Dreher played a larger role than simply knowing you guys. And soon events will show that much of what OCATruth posted was nothing more than fearful hearsay, based on half-truths and full falsehoods. In this way it mimics a Russian news source that likewise calls itself “Truth.”

                    Misdirected, sure… cuz hey, we were anonymous!

                    One remains anonymous by saying nothing, not by saying false things.

                    The best thing you posted on your site was the report (by Deacon Brian?) of what it’s like to be in DC with Jonah. Because Jonah really is a good man, really is loving and kind, really is a good pastor of his sheep, even as he struggles to learn his job.

                    He’s not helped by posting rumors of Synodal misdeeds and incipient schism as if they were facts, especially not hearsay reports that arise from a man who considers bishops to be turds and worms. The only interests served by calling the faithfulness of every bishop in the OCA save Jonah into question, which your site has done, is the interests of hell.

                    In setting yourselves up as the anti-Stokoe’s, you managed to mimic Stokoe by trading in rumor, by seeking to get your shots in first and often, and by misleading your readers. Stokoe’s e-mails plotting Jonah’s ouster are offensive to any decent person, as are Fester and Rod/Muzhik’s efforts to coordinate a champaign to discredit Bishop Mark.

                    I remain a fan of Metropolitan Jonah, but am no fan of those who style themselves as “Team Jonah.”

                    • Chris.

                      Fr. Joseph never “approved” the site (the rubber stamp sort of way). In my personal e-mail to him where as my spiritual father I asked him if it was ok for me to get involved and expressed my personal sentiments of missing him a lot (now the whole world gets to share in my personal correspondence) I never asked if it was ok for there to be a website just permission to help a couple guys out with it by creating it. Also, a point you won’t see Stokoe mention is that Fr. Joseph never replied to my e-mail. Never got back to me on it. Never “approved it”. Nothing ever came back from him on it to me. The other guys wanted to move ahead so I went ahead and helped them anyways. No approval from Fr. Fester on if we should or shouldn’t do it. We just did it anyways. If he had said no, we would have done it anyways. My e-mail to him about the creation of the site had nothing to do with anyone other than myself, my priest, and God. I was asking him as a spiritual adviser on getting involved in this conflict. Having that e-mail posted publicly is beyond infuriating, a huge violation of trust. My comrades would have moved along with their plans/ideas without me. My e-mail to Fr. Joe was never forwarded to anyone else, it was just between me and my priest. To think that somebody had the gall to sift through Fr. Josephs e-mails reading God knows what about anyone who’s ever e-mailed something confidential or deeply personal to him is disgusting. To think that the Holy Synod approves this kind of BS is revolting.

                    • Okay. I read what you wrote, Elijah, and I BELIEVE YOU. Now I’m mad. GRRRRR!!! I’m SO MAD!!!

                    • Chris Plourde says


                      The exchange I was thinking about was an exchange between Rod Dreher and Fr. Fester that preceded your e-mail to Fr. Fester.

                      Rod’s e-mail ends:

                      If I can help in anyway, let me know.


                      A few minutes later Father Fester offers a one sentence reply:

                      “You will now begin to get some background.”

                      Dreher then asks Fr. Fester:

                      “…Is it possible for you to start a blog and to post on it. You could set up a blog in 15 minutes. I could help you with it. Is there someone one step removed from you who could run it, and to whom you could feed background information? I would be pleased to help you shape the narrative from behind the scenes, if that helps the cause..

                      Your e-mail comes after that. While yours may have gone unanswered, Rod’s did not. It is Rod’s e-mail and Fester’s response that puts the lie to the disclaimer on your site.

                      Now you may have believed that what you were writing was true, in which case Rod is even more culpable because he misled you. But that doesn’t make the disclaimer any more true, does it?

                    • Other e-mails aside. The blog was going to happen with or without any help from any of the involved parties. All three of us had pretty much the same idea at the same time and same will to make it happen. The timeline of who said what first matters very little at this point.
                      Stokoe had to be countered, each one of us saw it individually, contacted each other independently and finally realized we were all talking to and about each other. Fr. Joseph is a side note on starting the blog from my firsthand view. It didn’t matter to me what Rod and Fr. Joseph said to each other, the ball was already rolling.

                    • Chris Plourde says

                      You’ve gone from “this isn’t true” to “well, the truth doesn’t really matter” when confronted with the facts.

                      That says more, and more succinctly, about you guys and your site than anything anyone else could say.

                    • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

                      Behind the issue of how the website started, of the four people being discussed here, (Fr. Fester, Rod, Jesse, and Jason), only Fr. Fester has been for a long time in the OCA, and only he actually knows most of the players. The other three seem to only know Met. Jonah, Abp. Dmitri, and Fr. Fester, and the one they were counting on was Fr. Fester, that is to say they naturally relied on his perspective, swallowed the narrative and propagated it.

        • Fr. and Chris,

          He is worse. Mark S. started from the intention of destroying a man (several people). Everyone on OCAT started with intention of defending a man-a good man. One action was born out of hate, the other out of love. The reason this doesn’t bother you is because you have in your mind that Stokoe is the “defender of truth” left over in your brain from the last sickening drama of the OCA. You want repentence?-so do I. And I want it from Mark. I will believe that he has repented when he resigns and stops smearing people.

          • Chris Plourde says


            I hold no brief for Mr. Stokoe. None. You will find no defense of him in any of my posts. To the contrary you will find I refer to his site as pornographic, in agreement with Metropolitan Jonah’s assessment. And, like you, I look forward to his repentance and the cessation of his dispensing of rumors and innuendo and his political plotting.

            But perfidy is perfidy, and gossip is gossip, no matter whose it is and no matter which “side” it’s deployed to support.

            I cannot see how pointing this out is in any sense a defense of Mark Stokoe, his site, or his activities past or present.

            • Glad to see you feel that way about Mark. I’m not sure I agree with or am sure of the rest of what you wrote . . . I do agree that if someone was wrong or misinformed or made a mistake they should apologise.

          • Ian James says

            Collete, you make an important point. I think the reluctance for accept Stokoe’s malfeasance is that he was critical in cleaning house during the last go around. I think his present malfeasance raises questions about the veracity of his earlier reporting but that has to be looked at down the road, not now. I think the more credible speculation (and that is all it is right now) is that Stokoe wasn’t quite the angel he made himself out to be.

            In any case, +Herman was the logical successor of +Theodosios, and +Theodosios’ rule will probably be seen as the weakest (and maybe worst) in OCA history. Stokoe helped to put an end to that and he deserves some credit for it.

            I can understand the reluctance to accept Stokoe’s malfeasance at face value. I can also understand the reluctance to turn over all operations to the bishops. They didn’t do that well in the last go-around.

            This is a turn-around moment for the OCA. It has to change if it is to survive. +Jonah may be the ticket (time will tell) along with the new bishops. +Jonah didn’t rise up through the system (no dirt on him, if there was Stokoe would have published it), and the newer bishops have track records of stability. If they fail, the church fails.

            One thing the present brouhaha has proven however is that Stokoe should not be in leadership. The house cleaning started under +Herman is continuing.

      • Harry Coin says

        Father Deacon, do you generally in your ministry, assuming you weren’t a first hand witness to events, find someone guilty of theft without the civil authority bringing any charges?

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          What did I write, Harry? Read it again. Stokoe “appears” to have committed a crime. He could of course dispell that appearance by telling us how he came by “scores” of someone else’s emails, but he hasn’t done that, and no one else has been able to explain how he got them legally, so it does look like a crime has been committed, and if Stokoe had reason to believe the emails were stolen, he may have committed a crime by publishing them. At least that’s some of the lawyers here say.

  3. Rod Dreher says

    That’s right. And there was never any claim that those e-mails had been stolen. Stokoe maintains that he received Father Fester’s e-mails via a “leak” — that is, they were revealed to him by someone who had a right to them. I can assure you that on my own correspondence with Father Fester, nobody else from either end was included in the discussion, nor were the e-mails forwarded. Somebody gained access to Fester’s account.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that Stokoe truly believes these e-mails were acquired via leak, not theft, the only way this makes sense to me is under a Garklavs-like situation. The Metropolitan had legal right to e-mails Fr. Garklavs sent on his OCA account. That is not remotely in dispute. It has been well-established in corporate law that e-mails sent on a business account are the property of the business. This is why employees are routinely warned not to use business accounts for private correspondence.

    What is less clear, at least to me, is the extent to which electronic communications made on devices (computers, smart phones) owned by a business belong to the business. If Father Fester used his private gmail account on a computer belonging to the Diocese of the South, in the chancery office, then does he have a legal right to privacy of those e-mails? I’m not sure. I think he does, but I’m not sure. Assuming that he does not, and that Stokoe genuinely believes he acquired his e-mail trove legally, then that can only mean that someone in the DOS chancery gained access to Fester’s e-mail account via a DOS computer where Fester may have unwisely left log-in information.

    If this is so, it will come out in the investigation. If Stokoe acquired this information via an old-fashioned hack, then I cannot think of even a theoretical sense in which the information was legally obtained by someone who had a right to it.

    Incidentally, I woke up one morning and found the SMPAC report in my in-box. I asked Fr. Fester what I should do with it, and he told me not to use it, because it was only supposed to be in the hands of the bishops. That information was supposed to be confidential, but to the best of my knowledge, there was no legal impediment to my having received it. I read it, and though His Beatitude does not come off great in it, the main lesson to me was how the report selectively cites facts and anecdotes to put the Synod in the clear, and to exaggerate the Metropolitan’s misjudgments. It is an extremely politicized document that reflects not the full truth, but a specific version of the truth designed to make the Synod look good and the Metropolitan look terrible. I was looking forward to fisking it on OCAT. But Fr. Fester told me not to, because I was not supposed to see that report.

    About the report, I may share it with my OCAT colleagues, who (unlike me) continue to blog, if they want to see it. I think many people know that the sex abuse scandal is what shattered my Catholic faith, and drove me to Orthodoxy. My sympathies in these matters are much more with POKROV. I don’t agree with everything they say and do, but I do take a hard line on these things. My judgment on the SMPAC report is that as much as I think it reflects a failure of leadership — a failure that I have conveyed privately to the Metropolitan — there is nothing in here remotely as horrifying as what was routine in the Catholic Church. There are no big, bad smoking guns, only routine (but unjustifiable!) tolerance for sexual misconduct that ought to have resulted in very serious penalties, even defrocking. The failure of the Metropolitan was in thinking that sexual sin among the clergy could be treated like any other sin. He wanted to do what he could to bring about the repentance of the sinner. While that is laudable in a purely pastoral sense, I think the report reflects a flawed vision of what sexual sin by clergy means to the wider church and its integrity, especially in light of the devastating revelations from the Catholic scandal. As was conveyed by my family to +Jonah after we digested the report, many of us Orthodox faithful are making real sacrifices, day in and day out, to live out the faith, and to raise our children in the faith. We have a right to expect integrity from our priests, and good judgment by the bishops. The SMPAC report reflects an episcopal attitude that fails to respect the laity in this regard. The Church does not consist only of the clerical class, nor does it exist for the clergy’s sake. The Divine Liturgy is not a therapeutic exercise for sexually compromised clergy, nor do such men have any kind of “right” to their priesthood, or diaconate. Sometimes the most merciful, and certainly the most morally responsible, thing to do is to cut these people off for the sake of the Church and indeed for the salvation of their souls. We all have a right to forgiveness if we are truly penitent — but we don’t have the right to serve as priests, depending on the nature of the sin.

    Having said that, the errors +Jonah made, at least as detailed in the SMPAC report, are by no means fatally compromising. They are mistakes that can be repented of and learned from, not deep and fundamental errors that show a judgment so deficient that he cannot plausibly remain as Metropolitan. Moreover, and more importantly, the behavior the SMPAC report accuses him is a) more complicated than the SMPAC report lets on, in a way that puts HB in a better light, and b) behavior that also characterizes the judgment of at least some bishops on the Holy Synod. The appalling thing about the SMPAC report as a political document is how it lets the Synod off scot-free, when the facts do not warrant it. The SMPAC process, at least in the drafting of the report, was highly politicized. These people took something as critically important as investigating sexual misconduct in the OCA, and used it as an instrument of political power. I had hoped to bring that out, chapter and verse, on OCAT, but Father Fester stayed my hand.

    About the anonymity thing, I just roll my eyes at the prissiness of the people who are so aggrieved by it. I’ve said before why I chose to be anonymous (to protect HB, and to make sure he didn’t feel compelled to ask me to stop blogging — though he might not have done, as I know for a fact that even though he has never had much regard for Mark Stokoe, he turned down a request from a high-level Orthodox bishop a couple of years ago that he try to shut Stokoe down; HB believed he didn’t have the right to tell Stokoe to quit blogging). Everything I wrote I did so with the possibility in mind that I could be exposed, or that I would choose to go public myself one day. I never said anything I wouldn’t have said under my own name. I naively figured this thing would be over after Lent, and that we could shut OCAT down when the danger to Jonah had passed — at which point we could go public, because by then we didn’t have to worry about His Beatitude intervening to ask us to stop blogging. People who expect activist blogs to operate according to the principles of The Washington Post or Time magazine are being silly. Somebody on George’s site the other day chastised OCAT for being pseudonymously written … and used a pseudonym to do it! It’s a silly charge. If we had used our names from the word go, the Stokoe followers would have discounted everything we said as the ravings of people who were close friends with Jonah and Father Fester. Six of one, half dozen of the other. Stick with the facts. If we argued things that were factually wrong, or our logic was faulty, then slam us. If not, then accept the fact that argumentum ad hominem is a logical fallacy.

    And by the way, George, I do think it is obvious that the OCA is now run by people who think it’s okay to make management decisions based on information illegally gotten, as long as it benefits power-holders. I think it’s also clear that, as others have said, if the MC ends today with Stokoe still holding his seat (as I expect it will), that being openly gay is no impediment to serving on the Metropolitan Council.

    It is useful to have gotten these clarifications about the situation we are in. People — and parishes, and perhaps even dioceses — will now have decisions to make.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Thank you, Rod. It would seem that the worst rumors I have heard about the SMPAC report are not true, and I’m back to believing that there are no grounds justifying the attempted coup and all the harm it has caused.

      We should wait and see, but if the worst happens and Stokoe is not disciplined and the Metropolitan is caged by the Synod, then I would urge you, for the sake of the Church, to tell us all you know about the SMPAC report.

    • Harry Coin says

      Has anyone actually involved in law enforcement asserted that the documents published by Mark Stokoe were obtained via illegality? Seems those who write here take that as a matter of certainty. If indeed the method used to obtain them was that an office computer in Syosset simply displayed them, seems if doing that was illegal the people who prosecute those things would have done it.

      I wish I understood better the basis upon which those supporting Fr. Fester and Met. Jonah feel as though those they don’t like permit a moral agenda different than the ones they do like. Certainly there is no doubt those who favor a traditional view of personal conduct cannot be pleased with what went on right under the noses of those they support for the +Herman and +Theodosius eras, which noses at best did nothing and if the record is to be believed were complicit.

      Generally across the Orthodox landscape when you see a group hoisting the flag of ‘Traditionalism’ in the context of supporting schism the leadership is the most guilty of the manner of misdoing decried, while sporting a very authoritarian guru-like loyalty-is-the-only-value quality among the few who depart to support him. Nobody else ‘really’ understands, the followers just refuse to really answer and cope with events and facts that disturbs their relationship with the authority figure. Look at the whole dust up in Queens, NY for the most recent example.

      Look for example in this case at the synod’s reply to the Washington Post article that bothered them so much that Rod helped craft. They affirm the same morality Jonah upheld, the disagreement doesn’t appear to have to do with policy.

      So I really would like someone who knows to walk me through the justifications as to how the moral agenda of those they don’t like is in fact different than the moral agenda of those they do.

      • It’s all over this web site. If you can’t see it I can’t help you. I hope you are not raising kids-trying to teach them right from wrong-you’ll just end up confusing them . . . .

      • FBI investigations take time.. Be patient..

      • A Remnant says

        Certainly there is no doubt those who favor a traditional view of personal conduct cannot be pleased with what went on right under the noses of those they support for the +Herman and +Theodosius eras, which noses at best did nothing and if the record is to be believed were complicit.


        would that be the people listed in the Table

    • Elizabeth says

      Please ask that the “short version” of the SMPAC report be published on OCA Truth tonight. Please state exactly how this document doesn’t not reflect the full truth. This knowledge is necessary so OCA members can see the true problems with our Synod and our Metropolitan. Names may not be important for parishioners to view so black them out when necessary, but if the Synod is exaggerating the Metropolitan’s misjudgments, this should be seen by all.

  4. Nick Katich says

    Fr. Yousuf Rassam: Your comments are right on point and it is refreshing to read them admidst all of the nonsense otherwise being posted here and elsewhere.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Nick, you lost all credibility among the truly Orthodox when you opined on another blog that the “hard sayings” of the Apostle Paul about women were later interpolations. If that’s where you’re coming from, then your compliments to Fr. Yousuf do him no honor.

      • Nick Katich says

        Deacon: Please stop misquoting me. All I said was that there was scholarly opinion based on exegesis and textual analysis that have given some scholars pause to believe that to be the case. When you get ordained, you should not close your mind to discussing the validity or lack thereof of other’s conclusions based on their research. The Lord gave me a mind to think with — not to bury it in the sand. I accept your apology in advance, especially your innuendo that I am not “truly Orthodox” somehow.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          Nick, I didn’t quote you and I didn’t misquote you. I accurately characterized your post, whereas you have not accurately characterized it. You didn’t just mention the scholarly opinion; you said that you thought it made a lot of sense, which was an expression of an opinion in favor of the interpolation theory. When I pointed out that that was not Orthodox teaching, you did not disavow it. If you would like to do so now, please do.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        OMG! What to do when the eminent Orthodox theologian and Membership Chairman, Father Deacon Brian Patrick Mitchell, has read Nick off of the Church rolls? As somebody who has not lost all respect for Nick, am I also not “truly Orthodox”? Am I quasi-Orthodox, half-formed-Orthodox, heretical-Orthodox, misguided Orthodox, looney-tunes Orthodox, Episcopalian-Orthodox, violet/magenta/fuchsia Orthodox, what? With great trepidation, I await the good deacon’s verdict.

        • Am I quasi-Orthodox, half-formed-Orthodox, heretical-Orthodox, misguided Orthodox, looney-tunes Orthodox, Episcopalian-Orthodox, violet/magenta/fuchsia Orthodox, what? With great trepidation, I await the good deacon’s verdict

          Want mine? 😉

          • Carl Kraeff says


            • apparently you missed the wink . . .

              • Carl Kraeff says

                Are you saying that you find me to be one of those hyphenated Orthodox that I enumerated? I am crestfallen…

            • Nick Katich says


              Until Carl made his post, I did not know of your stature as an “eminent Orthodox theologian and Membership Chairman”. I only knew of your political theories regarding rank and the juxtaposition of arche and kratos. But, of course, I should have realized that these were rationalized from the application of the Trinitarian model to the political model. My apologies.

              So, I guess your “gotcha” got me. I did indeed say that the scholarly opinion that I referred to made a lot of sense. And, I will say again, it does make a lot of sense. That does not mean that I endorse it, but it does mean that I think about it. On the subject of women, there does seem to be contradictions in the writings attributed to Paul and the historical records of Acts. I would like to study this in more detail and gain your insights. Perhaps we could compare our personal translations from the New Testament Greek as regards the contradictory passages and thereby I may become more enlightened.

              As membership chairman, please don’t act too hastily towards me. We have an even older theological dispute to clear up. Basil the Great believed the Hexaemorn to have been sequential while his brother Nyssa strongly disagreed and believed it to be simultaneous and not sequential as portrayed in Genesis. Basil supports the literal narrative of Genesis and Nyssa contradicts it. Pray tell, which is the Saint and thereby “truly Orthodox” and which is the non-Saint and “quasi Orthodox”? As membership chairman, please give this much thought so as not to severly injure the reputation of the “quasi” one.

              I eagerly await your edification!

              • Their sister Marina was the saint.

                • Nick Katich says


                  She certainly was. And, most scholarly opinion suggests that their mother (also a saint) and their sister were even smarter than them and taught them a lot. So much for dumbing down the ladies. Deacon: do you think they are dumber than we are?

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    Imagine that, women can be saints. Next you’ll ask me if women should drive cars. That’s the level of argumentation feminists (male and female) are accustomed to. Often it’s all they are capable of.

                    As to Sts. Basil and Gregory, the issue you raise is plainly irrelevant, as the lawyer in you should recognize. I could name you a dozen issues on which the Fathers disagreed. The problem for you is that on the issue of who wrote the hard sayings of Paul, ALL of them say Paul.

                    • Nick Katich says


                      That’s the level of argumentation feminists (male and female) are accustomed to. Often it’s all they are capable of.

                      That’s a sad commentary. They are often more capable than you and I. After all, they raised and nurtured us. Are you telling me if, during her life, the Theotokos, or Mary Magadelene or Martha or the other Mary, wanted to stand up in Church and say something, you would quote “Paul” and say “shut up”. Get real brother.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Nick, how can you possibly assume that all women are feminists or that all feminists are women? That kind of thinking is just what I’m talking about. It’s call “stupidity.”

                    • Nick Katich says


                      I’m responding to your #48 becaue there is no “reply” button at this point. I made no assumption that “all women are feminists or that all feminists are women”. I was responding to your comment that “That’s the level of argumentation feminists (male and female) are accustomed to. Often it’s all they are capable of.” I did not differentiate between male and female in my response..

                      That is your problem brother “deacon”. That is the problem with your posts on this blog and the problem with many other posts on this blog. You are brilliant at sophistry. You twist everything and then you character assissinate by “implying” that I or my arguments are “stupid”.

                      I will not dignify your comments by suggesting that there is any “stupidity” on your part. I don’t know whether there is or not. So I can’t say whether you are “stupid” or are not. I can only pray that you are not.

                      All I can say is that the fact that “brothers” (Basil and Gregory) can disagree gives you no license to take our disagreement to the personal level of implying that I am “stupid”. Gregory did not think that of Basil and Basil did not think that of Gregory.

                      All I can say is that, in reponse to my comments, you exhibit an intolerance unbefitting of the Church’s deacon. I will pray for your salvation at the next Liturgy. Will you pray for both your’s and mine?

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Nick, I disparaged the debating abilities of “feminists (male and female).” You then countered, “They are often more capable than you and I. After all, they raised and nurtured us.” Then you dragged in the Theotokos, Mary Magdalene, Martha, and the other Mary as if they were feminists, telling me to “get real.” So maybe you’re not stupid. Maybe you just weren’t paying attention.

                    • Nick,

                      You missed the sarcasm and Dn.B specific point. He knows women really run the show-ask his wife. For the record I would never call myself a Feminist. I am an Orthodox Christian. That is how I identify myself-not as a Feminist. And I am no ones door mat-but that has a lot to do with who I married, a man of God who understands Scripture and Tradition and is a humble and wise soul. We women have our strength in Christ (or its there to be had) we don’t need a secular definition to identify with.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Nick, I await your joining the ranks of the true reformers who will expect the entire Holy Synod (not just +Jonah) to act on the contents of the SMPAC report when it goes public. Furtherr, since I doubt you are a hypocrite, you will ask about the names that are not in the report and what we can do about them.

      • Nick Katich says

        George: I anxiously await reading the public report. I assume by now you are familiar with its contents while I am not. Until it is made public, I will not speculate on its contents, just as I have not speculated (as some others have) of this whole situation playing out over the last several months. I said at the beginning that we should all wait until the facts are in before proffering conclusions. And, for those that have concluded that I am in the Stokoe camp, my lack of attack against him should not be interpreted as support for him. My comments regarding OCAT should likewise not be interpreted as being against Jonah or anyone else. I have never written anything under a pen name, pseudonym or other than by my actual name. My only comments regard OCAT have been about its anonymous modus operandi.

        Having said that, I will say that anyone who wants to rehabilitate Soraich and bring him back to the OCA needs to check into Bellevue for therapy. I said the same when it appeared the Serbs might take him back. As a Serb, I am now proud to say that they regained there sanity and did not take him back.

  5. Ian James says

    Interesting situational ethics. So you think that that was a service, Stokoe thinks his leaks are a service, and someone else thinks that another link will be of service. I do hope you realize that anyone can make your justification work for them and their purposes.

    Fr. Yousuf, you are forgetting the essential distinction again: Stokoe and cohorts tried to blacken and remove +Jonah. OCAT was formed to counter Stokoe.

    That OCAT did things that you don’t approve of (anonymity and such), has no real bearing on the moral quality of Stokoe’s manipulations. Stokoe’s maneuverings have to be judged independent of OCAT’s responses.

    If you approve of unseating +Jonah, why not just say so? Why the implicit defense of Stokoe by arguing that OCAT, not Stokoe, is the primary antagonist?

    So yes, your counsel that “I do hope you realize that anyone can make your justification work for them and their purposes” is accurate — as far as it goes. But it does not follow that because anyone can make a justification “work for them” that they are actually justified in what they do.

    That’s where the distinction you keep overlooking comes in. I would rather see a cogent defense of Stokoe rather than the muddled “But look what they did!” that characterizes your response above.

    You may be surprised to discover that even if OCAT did something unethical — I am not arguing that they did! — Stokoe’s actions still have to be judged independently. If you agree with Stokoe, stop your sophomoric moralizing and make the case!

  6. This was reinforced when OCAT’s critics never once criticized the substance of OCAT’s reporting.

    To be fair, people constantly criticized the substance of OCAT’s articles. The anonymity was irksome, but the content would have been objectionable with names attached. I am quite concerned at the inability to process this criticism – it’s fine to disagree with it, of course, but to miss it…

    Anyway, I would be interested in seeing a response from the OCAT people to Fr Biberdorf’s criticisms. He seems to have a rather reasonable pair of articles and there is no shame in admitting that he is right about some things while defending yourself against certain other claims.

    • I think what George meant is that nobody has disproven things that only OCATruth has released.

      For example, OCATruth contends that Bishop Michael asked the rest of the Synod to reconcile with Metropolitan Jonah, who wanted that, but nobody else was willing. That seems like it would be an easy thing for any one of them to dispute if this were not true.

      • So the new standard is to make accusations without proof, expecting the accused to counter them with proof they’re untrue? What a twisted expectation that is.

        There are times when the bishops of the OCA really have owed some explanations, or clarifications, of what is going on. Responding to every nuisance suggestion of impropriety made without any basis isn’t one of them.

        • Michael Bauman says

          So Father, where is the proof that Met. Jonah has done anything that could possibly justify the vicious attacks on him? Where’s the proof that he has done anything uncanonical, illegal or immoral?

          The attackers of Met. Jonah have from day one displayed the classic approach of those who want to scapegoat a person (or persons) out of the community. They have no rational reason for it nor do they want one. They just want the person out (for the good of the community of course).

          Until there is proof, the support of the Met. is required.

          Where’s the proof? Without any the dispute devolves into oppositional confrontations about secondary matters and ad hominum attacks. That is really the goal of the scapegoaters. That is the way they “win”. It is one of the most destructive things that can happen in any commuity, espeically a community that is founded upon trust such as the Church.

          By visciously, actively and continuosly attacking the trust, they are likely to get their way but then what? Usually, they just go after someone else. The blood lust is upon them.

          Even if one intensely dislikes Met. Jonah–until there is actual proof of what he has done that is so wrong. Support your hierarch. You can insist on proof all you want without demeaning anyone else. However, at some point, if no proof is produced, you have to conclude that the whol attack was nothing more than a viscious lie fabricated for a personal/political agenda that has nothing to do with the mission of the Church.

          The tone and the tactics of the ‘get Met. Jonah’ crowd convinced me that they were viscious liars from the beginning because I’ve been through the scapegoat scenario. Anyone who has recognizes it immediately as Um above. The fascinating thing is that so many don’t recognize it. They are too busy being fair and rational

          Only one question needs to be asked repeatedly: Why? followed by the demand to show the proof.

          Anything else including the desire to be fair and rational merely adds fuel to their fire . They stopped being rational a long time ago believe me (although they can give an excellent appearence of still being so).

          • Chris Plourde says

            Until there is proof, the support of the Met. is required.

            You’re absolutely right that the “get Jonah” crowd is not rational, and what slight evidence gets cited is not evidence of malfeasance but of youth in management. The good news is that generally people grow out of youth.

            And like you, Michael, I need not be a fan of any hierarch to give him my prayers and obedience, though like many I am impressed by Metropolitan Jonah’s many gifts.

            That said, how is it that it’s wrong to attack the Metropolitan for something he hasn’t done, while it’s fair to attack the entire Synod for something it hasn’t done? The one seems as irrational as the other.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              Are we actually converging upon agreement here? Hallelujah!

              Really, I could make a few criticisms of the Metropolitan, but you don’t kick a man when he’s down. And so far he’s been down and his enemies have been up.

              • Chris Plourde says

                I’ve never been against Jonah, or any other Bishop, Deacon Brian.

                All along I’ve been focused on what we have been given to know, and my view given the few things we actually know has been that everything would work out.

                It’s Friday night, nearly 8pm Eastern, and there has been no schism, no deposing, no uprising. All predictions to the contrary appear to have come to nothing, thank God.

                But that doesn’t mean I won’t stop praying….

  7. Ivan Vasiliev says


    We are playing hardball by Byzantine/Russian/Soviet rules. That means tackling, punching, kicking, and biting are all part of the game! What Mark Stockoe did with Fr. Fester’s emails is morally reprehensible, but if we are going to apply that standard we have to admit that publishing the SMP Committee members internal emails was also a reprehensible act. So much for Latin/Anglo-Saxon rules. Sorry, but the sword cuts both ways. We can’t ask one side to play by one set of rules and the other to play by another set. And there ARE sides here.

    Mark Stockoe is a politically adept “player”; if the OCAT folks didn’t know that already, it was to their own discredit. You are quite right to point out that anonymity was never an issue in terms of the content of the conflict, and you are equally correct when you say that the Metropolitan’s opponents staged a coup by making it an issue. They could not and cannot fault HB Jonah on any canonical grounds so they have attacked him for not being a good business manager and for not being “obedient” to the people who work for him. Again, a wonderful turn of the table.

    In the meantime, OCAT has essentially let OCA News take control of the game. The moaning and wailing about the Fr. Fester emails is a distraction. The real issues are canonical, moral, ecclesiastical, and, ultimately, theological order–not federal laws about email hacking. In truth, I rather doubt that Mr. Stockoe is stupid enough to openly break federal hacking laws. But, even if he were, that is NOT the primary issue we are struggling with here. Our Church is in a serious crisis. In fact, as I have said in a number of places, it is so serious that the only real solution (I think) is for the Mother Church to step in.

    At any rate, the OCAT boys (and girls) had better start playing by the brutal rules I spelled out above if they want to get back into the “game”. If I were a Las Vegas odds maker, I would not be betting on OCAT right now. Stockoe pulled a major coup. His opponents have taken a huge hit and the person they most wanted to protect and uphold is in an even more precarious position. Let’s hope a Higher Power will intervene.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Ivan, in a way, you’re right. When crime becomes the basis of Synod decisions, we have a problem that goes well beyond the crime itself. But you minimize that problem when you discount the likelihood that a crime has been committed. I am just as daunted as everyone else by Stokoe’s bold insistence that he came by Fr. Fester’s emails honestly, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how.

      Can anyone here offer a plausible explanation for how a crime has not been committed by someone? Even if Fr. Fester left his gmail password carved into his desk in Syosset and Dallas, it is still a crime to use that password to access his gmail account without his permission. Stokoe himself may still get a pass for using the stolen emails because the courts have carved out a “public interest” exception to the rule, but Stokoe’s source would still be guilty of a crime.

      • I am just as daunted as everyone else by Stokoe’s bold insistence that he came by Fr. Fester’s emails honestly, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how.

        Chinese hackers-seriously

        • gregory varney says

          I say he got those emails through Kishkovsky. They have written books together and have closely collaborated on things.

    • Harry Coin says

      Where in the Christian way of looking at things is this manner of escalation justified?

      Never respond in kind? Turn the other cheek? He who lives by the sword dies by it? An arm for a tooth? An eye for an eye?

      I offer this justification for how it is a crime has not been committed by someone: Those who prosecute crimes, and who follow the evidence absent care about church and career agendas, haven’t so much as charged anyone with a crime.. Moreover, being charged with a crime is a much lower standard than being found guilty of having done a crime.

      So, maybe the whole matter of illegality is not more than a bunch of dust being thrown in the faces of those who are really shocked at the content there.

      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

        Harry, you are the one throwing the dust. Any child can see that we call the police because a crime has already been committed, not to make an act a crime.

      • Ivan Vasiliev says


        When Jesus overthrew the money-changers tables in the Temple and hearkened back to the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah in saying “My house will be called a House of Prayer, but you have turned it into a den of robbers”, He was playing rough.

        The applicable reference in this case is, “Zeal for your House (Church) has eaten me up!”

        We turn the other cheek when we are personally insulted. There is no turning of the cheek when the Church is assaulted. St. Nicholas was perhaps too impetuous when he slapped Arius, St. Cyril held no (rhetorical) punches when he wrote to Nestorius. This is the hardball I am referring to and I stand by it.

        Of course, if there is literal biting, punching and/or kicking, I would expect that both the law enforcement agencies and the church courts would intervene. Likewise, if there is actual law-breaking with regards to emails on either side, I would expect similar action. Otherwise, the rules of engagement are not pretty.

  8. Brendan says

    What is less clear, at least to me, is the extent to which electronic communications made on devices (computers, smart phones) owned by a business belong to the business. If Father Fester used his private gmail account on a computer belonging to the Diocese of the South, in the chancery office, then does he have a legal right to privacy of those e-mails? I’m not sure. I think he does, but I’m not sure.

    It’s not really a very well-settled question as to whether an employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to emails that are sent from a work computer but *not* using the company’s internal email system. There have been some cases that have held that an employee *does* have a right to privacy with respect to web-based, password-protected emails that are not “on the company’s email system”. There are conflicting cases, at the moment, but there is some precedent out there that distinguishes between use of the company email system, for which one has no expectation of privacy, and use of the internet to access a web-based, password-protected private email account that is not on the company’s system. It’s also important what the company policy specifically says about this (although most company policies simply refer to the “company’s systems”, which is broad and there is some precedent that says that this does not cover private emails using the internet). So, it’s murky. It gets murkier, of course, if the business has no company email system, and its employees all use personal web-based emails for company business (not sure if that is the case here).

    My guess is that MS et al will take the position that accessing the Gmail account from Dallas was not illegal because (1) it was a work computer, (2) employees have no right to privacy with respect to emails sent from a work computer (despite some of the precedent to the contrary) and (3) even if there would have been a right to privacy, in general, it didn’t apply here because Fr. Fester used the same email for business and personal reasons, thereby eliminating his right to privacy with respect to that account. It’s not clear how this would stand up in court, because there isn’t all that much precedent about this specific issue (yet) — most of the cases deal with people sending personal emails using the company’s email system (which are clearly not private).

    And by the way, George, I do think it is obvious that the OCA is now run by people who think it’s okay to make management decisions based on information illegally gotten, as long as it benefits power-holders. I think it’s also clear that, as others have said, if the MC ends today with Stokoe still holding his seat (as I expect it will), that being openly gay is no impediment to serving on the Metropolitan Council.

    It is useful to have gotten these clarifications about the situation we are in. People — and parishes, and perhaps even dioceses — will now have decisions to make.


    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Your guess about what Stokoe will claim is probably right, but my guess is his claim won’t stand up in court. For one thing, Fr. Joseph wasn’t employed in Dallas when all these emails were sent, so his emails were none of Dallas’s business even if he talked about Dallas in them. And just leaving his password on a Dallas computer doesn’t mean that his gmail account belongs to Dallas.

      • Brendan says

        Indeed, and this is a serious problem with the most likely “theory” in defense of what appears to be the most likely scenario of how these emails came into the possession of Mark Stokoe.

        The emails were created after he left the DOS, were personal in nature, and were not relating to any work he was currently doing for the DOS. All of that makes it quite problematic for current employees of the DOS to access a web-based email of someone who no longer works there on the grounds that he has no privacy rights with respect to personal emails he is sending with that account after he left Dallas, based on the rather flimsy justification that he used to access that web-based email from a DOS-owned computer in Dallas when he worked for the DOS. It’s a serious weakness in the position — and the position, even without this weakness, isn’t itself rock-solid either (that is, even if he had been still employed by the DOS when the emails were sent and viewed by unauthorized third parties).

  9. A better headline for this post would be, “OCAT, Dreher: Our Turds Don’t Stink.”

  10. Rod Dreher’s comments are right to the point; especially with regard to clericalism, which I think is apropos to the personal parallel universe he outlined, one that I would summarize as “One face for the church to see; another that I know is me”. Have any Russophiles who publish here thought it odd that the same political heros in Russia who so assidiously make the sign of the cross in church and have their picture snapped with the Patriarch, were somehow not involved in the murder of hundreds of journalists who criticized them?

    I don’t consider Fr. Yousuf’s comments the “Aha moment” where we finally see the OCAT pot calling the kettle black. That’s the problem with this entire affair. Trying to find the “one size fits all” truth that thereby negates another. Not so fast. I don’t think so. The degree of hardball I’ve seen played on this playing field, especially by Stokoe, and the way the leadership throughout the OCA seems to treat itself and its adminstrators – like turds (as has been already stated) – leaves very little to doubt that “win at all costs” seems to be the modus operandi. But that begs the question, “Win what?” There is an astonishing smallness of soul on display in these leaked emails.

    The OCAT bloggers got involved with this affair the same way I did. I had known Metropolitan Jonah for many years and was appalled at the level of unjustified character assassination I thought was going down. Now that I have informed myself by what’s transpired, I can honestly say that almost everyone in this has had something valuable to say – even Stokoe.

    But at the end of the day, do I want a recreation of the Episcopal church in the OCA?


    If having three or four members of the Synod be actively or surreptitiously gay; allowing co-habitating gay deacons to serve at the altar; and married gay couples to receive communion; does not take us down the road to the Episcopal church, then what am I missing? This is the elephant in the room. All the bitching about who did what when procedurally in other matters is just a sideshow, divertimento.

    There’s a battle for the soul of our church going on here. And our Metropolitan, with all his administrative flaws, is central to the issue of where we go from here. You can’t have it both ways in church leadership – gay and straight. The canons of the church make that really clear.

    Look at this way. Is informational carpet-bombing the medium or the message? If a dedicated person persistently blogs that Obama is a Muslim and he publishes this a million times in a million ways, does that make Obama muslim? And if Stokoe publishes, implies, supports or abets the notion that the Metropolitan is an idiot a million times in a million ways, does that make him one too?

    • And further, I agree with others who have posted here. A lay blogger sitting on the Metropolitan Council has actively plotted with several other members to depose the Primate. If he is not removed from that Council, then we may as well pack it in with the leadership issue.

      Stokoe BTW is not the real issue. I’m sure that stuff ends up in his email in box in the same way that the SMPAC report ended up in Rod Dreher’s. Who on that synod or in the administrative staff is perpetrating this culture of mistrust, tattling, and backstabbing?

      That’s the real question.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Also, the SMCAP report which ended up in Rod’s in-box wasn’t published.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I can think of a few folks who have stirred the pot, “perpetrating this culture of mistrust, tattling, and backstabbing.” Retired Bishops Tikhon and Nikolai, former priest Kondratick and his acolyte Protopresbyter Fester come to mind, aided and abetted by George and the folks at OCAT.

        • oh and not Mark and his goonies? Be consistant. oh and-try being honest.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Can I be honestly inconsistent and partisan in this melee? Or, let me put it this way, I will comply with your obviously sincere wishes if and when the persons that I named quit misrepresenting private emails (like Faith Skordinski’s) and official documents (like the Holy Synod’s Santa Fe Minutes). Deal?

            • You will only be consistent and honest if others are? What?!! Don’t worry about others brother, worry about your own salvation.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                Well, you got me there. I have been too quick with sarcasm, a rhetorical tool that does not really suit me. So, Collette: are you now or have you ever been part of the Team Jonah? (There I go again–ten lashes!!!)

    • George Michalopulos says

      very well put, John.

    • Ivan Vasiliev says


    • If having three or four members of the Synod be actively or surreptitiously gay; allowing co-habitating gay deacons to serve at the altar; and married gay couples to receive communion; does not take us down the road to the Episcopal church, then what am I missing? This is the elephant in the room. All the bitching about who did what when procedurally in other matters is just a sideshow, divertimento.

      There’s a battle for the soul of our church going on here. And our Metropolitan, with all his administrative flaws, is central to the issue of where we go from here. You can’t have it both ways in church leadership – gay and straight. The canons of the church make that really clear.

      Amen, Amen, Amen…..

  11. As for the anonymity squabble regardng OCAT, it was always non-issue. The whole notion that nothing can be trusted unless it is signed is specious from the start. I knew the anti-+Jonah forces were desperate when they went after OCATruth based on their wish to remain anonymous. This was reinforced when OCAT’s critics never once criticized the substance of OCAT’s reporting.

    The italicized portion is untrue. You certainly know about my own site, even if it lacks the renown of so many others. I wrote on March 24, again on March 24, on March 31, a bit later on March 31, and on April 7, in addition to the comments I’ve made since the confidential emails were posted elsewhere.

    As for the anonymity issue, considering the gravity of the charges they were making, their anonymity was in violation of the Christian spirit, not to mention Scripture and the canons of the Church. “Against an elder [presbyter] receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.” 1 Timothy 5:19 It’s not an isolated perspective, either.

    I’m not an anti-Jonah force. I’m an anti-slander force.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fr, I’ve read those postings on your website and the criticisms contained therein are more of an opinion rather than an “A-HA, caught you in a lie!” moment. Having said that, I never implied or stated that everything that they wrote (or I wrote) was compeletly, 100% accurate. That’s impossible and I hold nobody to that bar, not even the secular media. What I do find objectionable is the slanders and manipulation of facts that are Stokoe’s stock-in-trade. Using your own criteria about not “receiving a slander against a presbyter,” then I take it you will train your ire on OCANews now, which it is obvious and has been for a long time, that false, baseless, and hurtful accusations have long been made against bishops who MS doesn’t like.

      Indeed, your own closing words mandate that you do so immediately.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fr, I will say that your opinions do matter to me and if you will allow me to quote you specifically, I think that you have an excellent handle on what has transpired over the last several years (before +Jonah).


      (I’m specifically talking about the paragraph right by the picture of the family kneeling before icon corner.)

    • Father Basil,

      The fair play you advocate seems to have been left behind years ago by the OCA. Your standards of deportment are probably the ones that most lay people believe in, too. If more priests were publicly bothered by these shenanigans, and said enough was enough, maybe it would put a stop to it.

      • Ivan Vasiliev says

        John, you are right.

        I suspect that the rules of engagement between the angelic powers, when Michael and the Lord’s hosts expelled Lucifer and his minions from heaven, were not nearly so “nice” as the rules for playing bridge.
        Please do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating meanness, and certainly not treachery, but this is a REAL battle for Orthodoxy on our continent. In actual combat the rules are quite brutal–because what is at stake is both grand and personal. We need to get over the sandbox rules our kindergarten teacher gave us; what is being fought for….what is being fought over now….is far more important.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Father, if you’re just an “anti-slander force,” here’s a target for you. Have at it.

      • Fr, Dn. I just read through the interaction between you and Chris on a former discussion-I know I’ve said this before, but Mark doesn’t post our entries. I have talked with several people whose posts are not displayed as well as many of my own. Just that is so dishonst-and I’m not swearing or anything in them there is no reason not to post them except Mark just doesn’t want the argument to go there and it makes it appear that more people agree with him on his site than not.

        Further more, we really are at war, as stated above. I have said out loud that I will leave the church if the MJ is taken out or silenced. But I feel now that not only will I stay, but I will fight. I abhor politics, but I need to find a way to get involved to help turn the tides. The world has crept into our church and we were looking the other way. ( I write this sobbing into a kleenex) My children will not grow up in a church that is safe-Look at how we treat one another, look at those who want to change our precepts, who question morality, who think it’s ok to destroy people . . . people who say, ” ha! my side has won!” Really!? won? won what? “You will know that they are Christians by their love . . . ” know the verse? I’m not saying we can’t fight, we have a lot to be angry about, but we MUST do it in love. Jesus got mad, but He was never snide about it. If Mark stays the battle begins.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          I grieve for the pain this fight causes you and many others. I would not want anyone to leave the Church. There is so much saving grace offered to us through the Church, I can’t imagine going back and giving all that grace up. But we must remember who the Church truly is. The Church is us when we live as Christ, not when we sin. Our traditions, our organization, our institutions, our sacraments even, are not themselves the Church but gifts from God to help us live as Christ and become His Church. If some people misuse these gifts and partake of them unworthily, that is no reason for us to give up our gifts. It is only a reason for us to bear witness to the truth and to separate ourselves (if need be) from the impostors among us — from the wolves Our Lord warned us about. That time may come. It has not come yet, but when and if it does our choice should be not to leave the Church but to join it somewhere else. That choice is always there, wherever three or more are gathered in His name.

          • Dear Fr. Dn.,

            I know you to be a good and decent man, thank you for your response. I am not the most careful of writers-I meant to say “the OCA” when talking of leaving. I would never walk out on Christ. My life is devoted to His service. I know where I stand but I fear for my children and others with the future of the Church.
            And I should have been more clear that my second paragraph was not in response to your post.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              I’m sorry I misunderstood you. I was also thinking about other people who are tempted to leave the Church, and mostly writing for them. I’m glad to hear you aren’t among them. I didn’t expect you would be.

  12. Slander is only slander if what is said is untrue and defamatory. Look it up. Did OCAT say anything untrue? If they did, and didn’t correct themselves as soon as it was pointed out to them, then it’s slander, or probably libel (written slander).

    Anonymity doesn’t have anything to do with slander. An anonymous person does not commit slander because he says what he says anonymously. A person who speaks or writes under his own name may commit slander even though his identity is known. This is basic.

    • Well, for starters, who is it that suggested the Holy Synod was ever trying to depose the Metropolitan ?
      That would be OCAT.

      “You can’t depose a Primate because of some quacking on the internet.”

      “[With regard to Herman, this] is not a Synod that is eager to cause turmoil in the church by deposing the metropolitan. Why they are so eager to overthrow Jonah, not for corruption or criminality, but because they don’t like his management style, is a mystery to me. ”

      [Dreher clarifies:] “The piece was always was scheduled for mid-March, as far as I know. Santa Fe happened with only days before the final deadline, beyond which nothing could be changed in the text. Julia Duin and her editors were understandably concerned because of the possibility that something major could happen (e.g., +Jonah deposed) before the story ran.”

      No one has produced a single thing that says deposition was being pursued (making the statement untrue). To suggest that the Holy Synod was pursuing that course from impure motives makes it defamatory.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Well, no Fr. The people who actually manufactured a plan to depose the Metropolitan were Team Stokoe. Look it up, it’s in their e-mails.

        • Harry Coin says

          George, Is the reason you don’t offer it from their emails is it isn’t there– but only a matter of inference and supposition?

          The first I read of any such agenda was the dark musings of the retired bishop of ‘The West’, Tikhon on the Indiana list. Generally he was speculating that such would happen as it happened to his friend from Alaska Bp. Nikolai, and that the synod was going to show that they who picked Herman and Theodosius to dubious conclusion– well they weren’tt any worse a picker of Metropolitan than the AAC which chose Met. Jonah.

          • Michael Livosky says

            Harry, here ya go….enjoy.

            “However, the emerging consensus of the appalled four, seems to be that Jonah should be placed on a Leave of Absence immediately, and left there while an Administrator takes over in the interim until after the AAC. (Ala Ireney Bekish, who had an administrator for four years…) They do not want to retire him now, because that would trigger the Statute, which would require an election at the AAC, and none of them want that. So, he would be ordered by the Synod to a monastery – probably Santa Fe is the only option really possible – and ordered to stay there. (Personal note: Of course he can’t stay in one spot for three weeks, let alone 9 months, and should he leave, he could be retired immediately for synodal disobedience.) The point is he has to be removed, and this avoids the immediate problem till after the AAC. They would take turns being adminstator for six months each.” This would be from Mark Stokoe’s leaked email. And yes, it clearly states what they would like to do.

            • I’ve searched that text using my editor (Vim all the way), and I can’t see any mention of “depose” or “deposition”. “Depose” is a technical word, referring to a specific outcome (the removal of a man from the ranks of clergy, with concomitant spiritual damage, and the mandated cessation of all clerical acts). If one doesn’t know what a term means, one shouldn’t use it.

              • Brendan says

                Father —

                Why focus on the semantics?

                The substance of what George wrote, and the way most people would read it, is that, according to Mark Stokoe’s own email, there was a plan afoot to remove the Metropolitan (whether this would be “deposing” him, technically, or not), and to do so in such a way as to subvert the role of the All-American Council in selecting a new Metropolitan. This is, in substance, the way most of us would have understood what George wrote. To the extent that the word “depose” has a specific technical meaning which does not apply here, fair point — but it doesn’t change the underlying substance very much at all.

                • Seraphimista says

                  Fr. Basil is technically right that they shouldn’t have said “depose” — but the OCAT guys are not theologians, but laymen. They probably were using “depose” in the sense that ordinary people understand it to mean (“get rid of”). That’s how I read it, but I’m a layman too. I never got any sense from reading OCAT that HB’s enemies wanted to strip him of his priesthood and I doubt anybody at OCAT thought so. I know lots of passionate Jonah supporters, and none of us ever thought that was a possibility.

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  Yes, yes. Priest Basil is merely quibbling.

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    Pot: meet kettle. Although, I completely agree with Father B and disagree with you–just pointing out a bit logical inconsistency on your part.

              • Ian James says

                Fr. Basil, you know as well as anyone that the attempt to categorize +Jonah as mentally unstable was meant to remove him from active service. Call it a nefarious ejection if you want. Better yet, call it what it really was — a putsch (in perfect Soviet style I might add). Either way it amounts to the same thing.

                The putsch was engineered by Stokoe and his crew. Read the email again. This time concentrate on the meaning.

              • Fr, I don’t expect such Talmudic wheedling from a priest in the Christian Church. Our Lord and Savior knew that there was no difference between adultery involving the heart and adultery involving other organs.

                Such semantic quibbling is uncalled for. It’s clear what it is that +Jonah’s haters wanted: the removal of HB at all costs, whether it took two days, two months or two years.

                • I wish Father Basil would address your reply. I agree that they shouldn’t have used the word “depose” but I think it is a red herring to concentrate on the words used, unless Father Basil has a point to make about this, and if so, I am very interested in his thoughts.

          • Harry, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you if you really believe that all Team Stokoe was doing in those e-mails was strategery.

      • I’m posting here, just so folks see the reply.

        The term “depose” (and its ancillary forms) has a specific meaning. With the knowledge that a senior clergyman was actively involved with the strategy and message of OCAT, one can’t discount its use, as said clergyman would certainly know the distinction. Issues of the OCA’s Orthodox Church newsletter/magazine make this clear also when they have the personnel changes indicating those who have been “Deposed” from time to time. Everyone here knows what it means for Kondratick to have been deposed, and how that differs from mere “suspension.” The more common English term is “defrock.”

        If someone starts using terms like “amicus curiae,” “mandamus,” “ex parte,” “voir dire” and other legal terms, we assume that person has some legal background and therefore knows what the words mean. Mr. Dreher is an experienced journalist. Mr. Cone appears to be well-educated. I figure both men are more than capable of using words in well-considered fashion. It’s not quibbling to suggest that precise words, used by literate men, mean what, well, they mean.

        For the rest of it, the use of this term was not the sum total of it. I list the other examples under my own hand (you know where to find them). OCAT was the first to introduce any mention of mental disturbances as an accusation against the Metropolitan, and to suggest that the Manhattan Declaration played any part in the Holy Synod’s decisions. (*I* signed the MD, and I don’t feel persecuted for having done so.) Yet all of these accusations were made without any basis to support them. So, George, how are your wives doing these days? Did they get their issues sorted out?

        In recognition of the restrictions on my own time (there aren’t enough hours in the day to reply to the folks here, especially when they might very well be shills for the OCAT machine), I don’t plan to follow-up on this issue here. Readers are invited to participate at my own blog (with some semblance of a real name, of course) if they like.

        • Chris Plourde says

          I’m reminded of this exhange from The Last Emperor

          Reginald Fleming ‘R.J.’ Johnston: Words are important.

          Pu Yi, at 15: Why are words important?

          Reginald Fleming ‘R.J.’ Johnston: If you cannot say what you mean, your majesty, you will never mean what you say and a gentleman should always mean what he says.

          • I’m a big fan of precise writing, but I’m having a hard time seeing much practical difference between “deposing” our Metropolitan and merely stripping him of all the powers and prerogatives of his office and compelling him to go to a monastery.

  13. Rod Dreher wrote:

    My judgment on the SMPAC report is that as much as I think it reflects a failure of leadership — a failure that I have conveyed privately to the Metropolitan — there is nothing in here remotely as horrifying as what was routine in the Catholic Church. There are no big, bad smoking guns, only routine (but unjustifiable!) tolerance for sexual misconduct that ought to have resulted in very serious penalties, even defrocking. The failure of the Metropolitan was in thinking that sexual sin among the clergy could be treated like any other sin.

    Rod, I have a great deal of respect for the many articles you’ve written regarding clericalism and the nature of clergy abuse in hierarchical churchs.

    Since you’ve seen the short version of the SMPAC report (I presume the 650 page version now being discussed is in line with the shorter, earlier version) perhaps you could enlighten me regarding a couple of questions:

    1) For two years after Bp. Seraphim Storheim had a complaint lodged against him, my understanding is that he was never suspended pending investigation, nor was a formal investigation launched (despite +Jonah’s letter to Cappy Larson of Pokrov), nor were the statutes of the OCA regarding investigation of abuse allegations followed. Were children therefore not endangered during this time? Did +Jonah really handle this correctly?

    2) You mention there being “serious penalties, even defrocking” necessary in conjunction with these abuse issues — do you mean there are Bishops or Clergy who mishandled abuse who need to be disciplined? Is +Jonah one of them? Who are the others?

    Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this difficult topic. My email is stan@rareclarity.com if you’d rather take the conversation offline.

  14. Mark from the DOS says

    I, for one, cannot get away from the incredible moral and possibly legal issues wrapped up in the forwarding of e-mails from Fr. Joseph Fester’s computer to Mark Stokoe. I also cannot get around how willingly Stokoe supporters are to gloss over the issue because the uproar over the e-mails helps further their agenda. Let’s look at some basic issues.

    G-mail is a cloud based e-mail service. The e-mails reside on a Google owned server. They do not reside independently on the users server or local computer. A cached copy of the e-mail may exist locally until it is deleted or erased.

    Access to Google is governed by a user agreement. Access to an e-mail account by someone other than a party to the agreement is a violation of the agreement.

    It may also be a violation of federal law. The Stored Communications Act makes it a crime if somebody “intentionally accesses without authorization a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided or… intentionally exceeds an authorization to access that facility; and thereby obtains, alters, or prevents authorize access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage in such system.”

    So if somebody accessed Fr. Joseph’s Gmail account, without his authorization, for the purpose of printing or forwarding those e-mails (not to mention the Gmail chat), there could well be criminal liability.

    This issue is being clouded by people talking about the use of a work computer, or the rights of the employer to data on the computer. A fair point. An employer does own the information on the computer provided for use by the employee. Thus if cached copies of the e-mails reside on Fr. Joseph’s computer, and the computer is owned by the employer, the employer thereby owns the cached copies. The employer may contemporaneously monitor and record all keystrokes or web traffic from the employee’s computer. However, if an employee sends, let’s say, a personal photo out, that is then deleted and erased from the employer’s computer, the employer has no right to go to another computer system, not owned by the employer, and retrieve the photo.

    Let’s look at some of the proposed explanations for Stokoe’s receipt of the e-mails:

    1. A recipient forwarded them on to Stokoe, having been shocked by what was going on.

    Why this explanation fails: Stokoe cites e-mails involving Fr. Joseph and at least 4 other people (one of whom he refuses to name). For this to be true, either all four had to be copied on every e-mail or more than one person must have decided to forward them on so that Stokoe had his complete set. Rod Dreher denies anyone besides he and Fr. Fester were on their e-mails and states that he did not forward them. This also means that the only person that could have forwarded the Gmail chat, would have had to have been given it by Bishop Mark. No, the only rational explanation is that all the e-mails were obtained from Fr. Joseph’s e-mail.

    2. Fester left a stored password in Dallas, so his employer had the right to access the computer and retrieve the e-mails.

    Why this explanation fails: The e-mails could certainly have been obtained this way. There are a lot of logical gaps in this explanation though, to wit:

    Remember these dates:

    Fr. Fester Moves to D.C. Mid-February
    OCA Truth E-mails cited by Stokoe: March 2 and later

    A. A number of the e-mails published by Stokoe post-date Fester’s transfer to Washington and St. Nicholas. This means that neither the DOS or St. Seraphim’s are his employer. We know from the Kristi Koumentakos case that the OCA takes the position that priests are not employees of the OCA. Thus, if the e-mails were obtained from Dallas after Fr. Joseph’s transfer, they were not obtained by his employer. Also it means no cached copies which legitimately would belong to the employer could have been on that computer.

    B. The fact that Fr. Joseph may have stored a Gmail password on his work computer does not authorize the employer to access Gmail. Unless theemployer is a party to the agreement with Gmail, the access requires the permission of Fr. Joseph. The employer may own the electronic data that reveals the password, but they obtain no contractual rights to the agreement between Fr. Fester and Gmail. In other words, even if they know the password, it doesn’t mean they have a right to USE it.

    Now these are admittedly fine points, and one that a layman could easily confuse. An employer might legitimately not understand the difference between owning the data that reveals a password and using the password. In other words, I can fully accept that if the e-mails were accessed from Dallas, the person doing it felt they were entirely within their rights to do that. Stokoe may not understand that difference. But the Stored Communications Act is pretty darn clear and should give everyone pause. And as a so called journalist, Stokoe had an obligation to figure out the answer before publishing. What due diligence did he undertake? He has not published that. Only his fiat statement that all is well.

    3. Fr. Fester forwarded the e-mails to Stokoe. Well this would be unassailably legal. Does anyone believe it?

    Discussing the moral issues is even more troubling. Let’s assume that Fr. Joseph and those at OCATruth are evil and have an evil purpose. Does this justify using illegally obtained e-mails to thwart them? Does the end justify the means? Assume the e-mails were legally obtained (although I have yet to hear a convincing explanation of how). If disclosure of the e-mails to the Holy Synod would have resulted in the same outcome as publication to the world, is it morally correct to do this, embarrassing people who thought they were speaking privately, imperiling people’s reputations and employment, to achieve nothing more than could have been achieved before the Holy Synod? What does the publication of the e-mails gain Stokoe, that is not a material worldly reward of ego, acclamation and notoriety? Is this the example of Orthodox leadership we should look for in our MC members?

    As we wait to hear the outcome of all of this, I am convinced that more than South versus NE, more than traditional versus liberal, more than gay versus straight – the greatest and most clear statement that will emerge is this: at what price, victory?

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Bravo! Fine work. Thank you, Mark.

      Now can Priest Basil, Fr. Yousuf, Chris Plourde, Harry Coin, Nick Katich, and anyone else passing judgment on OCAT please show us that they care whether a crime has been committed by someone on Team Stokoe?

      • Nick Katich says


        As an attorny for 39 years, I find it not in my place to pontificate on whether someone committed a crime or not. I need to know all of the facts and not just your abject speculations. As an Orthodox Christian, I greatly pause to reach any conclusion or judgment, whether it be concerning you, Stokoe, Jonah, George or anyone else until I know all of the facts.

        However, I do have one question. I must admit that sometimes Stoke reminds me of Max von Sydow in the movie “Needful Things”. But why do you guys always seem to remind me of Rod Blagojevich in his defense of himself?

        • Chris Plourde says


          I nearly did a spit take at your Blagojevich reference.

        • Nick,

          wasn’t Blago found Not Guilty? I imagine he got off on the same type of technicality that Stokoe is using to say he did not “obtain” Fester’s e-mails “illegally.”

      • Chris Plourde says

        Deacon Brian,

        If you have read my posts here you know I organize information into three classes:

        °Things I know
        °Things I think I know but don’t actually know
        °Things I don’t know

        With regards to Fr. Fester’s e-mails:

        I know is that they wound up with Stokoe.

        I think I know (from the headers I’ve seen) that they were sent directly to Stoke from Fester’s account, but as headers are easily doctored I don’t actually know that without further information.

        I’ve read that Fr. Fester denies sending the e-mails, and so I think I know that he didn’t, but I don’t actually know that Fr. Fester did or did not send them in knowledge or in ignorance.

        There are theories galore about how the emails may have been sent without Fr. Fester’s sending them, but these are theories, not facts, and they encompass everything from hacking to “someone” sitting “somewhere” at a computer that may have been used by Fr. Fester to access his account and send those e-mails. One theory is not more rationally entertained than the other, all are dangerously short on facts.

        Does it concern me that people might be hacking each other’s online accounts? Of course!
        Have I seen proof of that? No, and not all proffered theories require it.
        Does it concern me that information reasonably considered confidential is made public? Always!
        Has a crime has necessarily been committed? No.

        In every trial the judge cautions the jury not to reach any conclusions until all the facts are on the table, and not to consider argument as evidence. I know it’s secular, but it’s still a good example to follow.

    • A Remnant says


      Your article raises several interesting and debatable question.

      My real question is how can you “trust or respect” people working in the DOS Chancery willing to compromise the integrity of an individual’s email? I believe the ethics of this are bigger than the legal issues. The legal question is important and may render the ethical question mute but it is not important as the question of behavior.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I believe that Father Garklav’s emails were compromised after the Metropolitan left Santa Fe on his “leave of absence.” Has anybody asked how that happened?

        • Mark from the DOS says


          That is certainly a fair question to be asked. All sides must play by the same moral, ethical and legal rules. I note that most Syosset central staff list their e-mail addresses as oca.org

          Now if that oca.org mail domain is owned by the OCA, the OCA owns the e-mails. If it is simply a forwarding account to a private e-mail such as Gmail or Hotmail, the OCA probably does not have the right to access the Gmail or Hotmail account of the individual.

          If the e-mails were saved (electronically stored) on an OCA computer, the OCA has the right to access them. If the e-mails were on a cloud server in a private account of Fr. Garklav’s, I would assume they do not have that right.

          That’s my take, for what it’s worth on the legal end. Has anyone published Fr. Garklav’s emails? I honestly don’t know the answer to that. As I said above, even with a legal right to access them, I hesitate to conclude that their publication to the world is either moral or ethical.

          • Mark from the DOS says

            I meant to say if oca.org is an email domain with actual e-mail accounts, inboxes, etc. I apologize for the lack of clarity

          • Carl Kraeff says

            A lawyer friend of mine on Orthodox Christianity Net has posted on this issue and I believe his conclusions are correct. Nobody can expect to have emails protected if they were sent from a company computer (even if on one’s free time) or on company time (even if from a private computer or account, such as gmail). The other side of the coin is that only fools do not realize that any email may be aired at any time. I do agree with you that publication of emails is neither moral or ethical, no matter who does the dirty deed. In this respect, I would classify the writers of the emails as fools, and the publishers of the emails as knaves. Whew, that just about covers everyone, doesn’t it?

            • Mark from the DOS says

              Your lawyer friend is correct as to expectation of privacy when you use a company computer. A different question though is whether the company can retrieve emails from your private account that are not stored on their computers. I believe the answer to that is unequivocally no.

              • Harry Coin says

                How many days can go by without charges being filed before folk here who’ve got ’em pegged dead to rights and strung up by the heels think again?

              • Brendan says

                Exactly, Mark — that’s where the rubber hits the road here.

                We don’t know what computer the emails were sent from, or what computer the emails were retrieved from. We do know that they post-date Fr. Fester’s employment by the DOS, such that anyone from the DOS accessing them in late April (the time frame that appears relevant here) would have a very flimsy basis for doing so on the theory of being his employer — the DOS no longer was his employer, and these emails were sent from a web-based, non-employer email account *after* he was no longer employed by the DOS. Therefore, if the emails were indeed forwarded from a computer located in Dallas (perhaps the one formerly used by Fr. Fester), I think that the DOS doesn’t have a strong case that its access of these was authorized because they were proprietary to the DOS.

                If they weren’t sent from the DOS in Dallas, however, it would be hard to see how any employer-related exception to the general unauthorized access laws would apply, unless they were forwarded by someone in the Diocese of Washington. That’s a possibility, even if an unlikely one.

                How many days can go by without charges being filed before folk here who’ve got ‘em pegged dead to rights and strung up by the heels think again?

                Prosecutors have broad discretion as to whether to bring a case in any given situation. That doesn’t mean a crime was not committed, however — it simply means they choose not to pursue the case. They have limited resources, and generally are focused more on certain kinds of cases than others. And, in any case, if you would have expected criminal charges to have been filed this fast in a case that requires some factual investigation, I’m not sure what to tell you, really.

                The same thing holds for a civil complaint about what happened. Things are in the investigation/fact-finding stage of things, not the filing of a complaint stage of things — yet.

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  Y’all are not reading what I said:: no expectation of privacy if one emails from a private computer or using an online account if one is on company time. I should have added that the same would apply if one acts in an official capacity. So, the question is not the gmail account but whether these emails were produced on company time or reflect official capacity. If you object that a priest’s time is 24/7 company time, I would agree that his time is always the company’s and that only communications dealing with confessions must accorded privacy and confidentiality. I would of course add that any priest who puts confessional material on an email ought to be fired for terminal stupidity.

                  • Brendan says

                    Who is “the company” here? Hint: it isn’t “The OCA”.

                    • Of course, the elephant in the room is using immoral means for an evil end –the termination of a man’s employment. The standard in the OCA now is that extortion is going to drive policy. Under these conditions, I pray that Stokoe and his ilk remaining on the Titanic which they are in the process of destroying. Legal bills are going to get very expensive. (I wonder what the property in Syosset is worth?)

                  • Mark from the DOS says

                    Respectfully Carl, you aren’t reading what I said. I did answer you. Expectation of privacy is not any part of the test for the legality of the retrieval of these e-mails. Authorization or ownership is, depending on where they were retrieved from. I may have absolutely not expectation of privacy in a Gmail I send out. But that does not permit you to access my Gmail account and take it.

                    If the claim was invasion of privacy, you are right. If the question is violation of the Stored Communications Act, then expectation of privacy is irrelevant. Either the person accessing the stored e-mails had ownership or authorization, or they didn’t. Period.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Even on the invasion of privacy point, Carl’s info is not completely accurate. If a company allows employees to use company computers on company time for limited personal use (as many do), the company has a right to monitor the email traffic but not to use personal information revealed in emails unrelated to company business. For example, if an employee tells a friend by email that his wife is having an affair, his employer is not free to share this information with anyone inside or outside the company unless sharing it serves some legitimate business purpose.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      I agree with both Mark and Father Deacon. Sorry for talking past you.

            • Several confounding issues with that – what exactly is “company time” for a priest? Also, you must ask, even if a company has access to an employees emails then who exactly has the access and what process must they go through to obtain them. I assume it would have to have been one of Fr Fester’s superiors in the Diocese of Washington since these emails were written after he moved to DC. It does not seem like someone in the DOS would have the legal ability to open his email.

              Also, Fr Fester uses his iphone and mac, which I believe (assume) are his personal devices..

              Well, no one’s raised the possibility that Mr Templeton opened Rod’s emails and sent them to Mark Stokoe:)

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                It wasn’t just Rod’s emails that were stolen. The stolen emails all involved Fr. Fester communicating by email and chat with four other people, only three of which were named by Stokoe. So who was the unnamed person? Was he the thief? Was that why Stokoe protected him?

        • I believe that Father Garklav’s emails were compromised after the Metropolitan left Santa Fe on his “leave of absence.” Has anybody asked how that happened?

          Fr. Garklavs used an OCA email address, making his emails as an employee their property. Metropolitan Jonah accessed his former employee’s email for reasons related to Fr. Garklavs’s actions as an employee of the OCA.

          So, Metropolitan Jonah was accessing OCA property for work-related reasons, that disobedient bastard! Somebody call the feds!

    • Elizabeth says

      From the following page, one can see that there is a federal prosecutor on the Metropolitan Council from the Diocese of W. Pennsylvania. Want the answer on whether the emails were obtained illegally? Ask the federal prosecutor.

      • Seraphimista says

        No lawyer could offer a legal opinion worth anything until we find out for sure how the e-mails were obtained. First we have to know the mechanism before we can figure out if it was legal.

  15. I have a request for Fr. Yousuf R.
    (I invite Fr. Basil B. to weigh in also, if he so wishes.)
    My request is this:
    I am a dunce (and I am not being facetious when I say that) when it comes to understanding many of St. Paul’s teachings in his epistles to the churches under his care.
    That being the case, I want to ask you if you would explain to me his teachings in Romans 1:26-32.
    Please know that I merely seek your enlightment of the subject, with no wish whatsoever to drag you into futher discussion, debate, or argument about it.
    I thank you very much if you should care to respond.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Romans 1:26-32 (King James Version)

      26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

      27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

      28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

      29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

      30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

      31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

      32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

      When combined with the warning earlier in the same chapter against worshiping the created thing more than the creator it seems pretty clear to me: Lust of power, lust for sexual pleasure, lust for riches are not to be tolerated.

      But of course, the modern, enlightened view sees such things in a more sophisticated, scientific and compassionate manner. St. Paul, after all was nothing more than an closeted homosexual and mysanthrope (as–by extension–all celibates). So nice that we have been freed from such archaic, harsh and ‘un-Chrisitan’ teaching isn’t it? It’s all above luuuuuuuuuuuv after all–just ask Elmer Gantry.

      • Chris Plourde says


        Have you seen the book Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time by Sarah Rudin?

        It puts the “modern, enlightened view” of Paul into sharp relief.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      No, you are not a dunce or facetious; you are as tricky as Tricky Dick or slippery as Horn Dog Bill , that’s all. There are obviously many issues here but the biggest problem that we have right now is the deliberate misdirection ploy practiced to divert attention from the issue of a Metropolitan, who has been adjudged by even OCAT to have made some errors. So, instead of arguing that the Metropolitan, whatever his faults and errors, does not need to be disciplined more than he has been already, you and your ilk have embarked on a misinformation, disinformation and character assassination campaign to destroy the Metropolitan’s critics. The tragedy is that y’all truly believe that the mean and evil things that you say and do are actually righteous.

      • No one is being told what +MJ has done wrong so we can’t talk about it. However, there are things we can talk about that need to be addressed and so that is being talked about until more is given on +MJ. Don’t look for things that aren’t there. Let the Frs. answer if they so wish.

      • No, it is a sincere question.
        (You’ve twisted the meaning of it around to suite your own purpose.)

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I took your question in the context of your posts to date. I apologize if I made an unwarrented conclusion regarding your motive. Regarding your question, I thought Michael had a good answer. Now would you mind answering a question of mine: what is the relevance pf your question to the accusations that Stokoe has made against the Metropolitan? Keep in mind please, that Stokoe has been proven correct time nd again since he started OCAN. Also, please keep in mind that the Holy Synod took loving, but nonetheless disciplinary actions against the Metropolitan, and that +Joanhs’ subsequent actions do not in themselves disprove the veracity of Stokoe’s accusations. Finally, please do yourself a favor and read both the OCA Statute and Apostolic canon 34 and ask yourself if the Metropolitan ahs fallen short in observing either.

          • what is the relevance pf your question … ?

            I believe, as our holy fathers have taught, that holy scripture is the basis for all truth about fallen human nature and the human person. Since I have never (and I am very old) heard any Orthodox clergy preach or expound on that particular teaching of St. Paul, I thought I would ask the priests participating in this blog to do so, if they so wished, since homosexuality is a major element in the so many commenters underlying thoughts.

            To put the question more simply, I guess I would ask the Fr.s how they would answer my question if it were asked by one of their students in one of their bible study classes.

      • George Michalopulos says

        “Some errors” Carl but nothing uncanonical. Big difference. But in your hatred you’ve lost all perspective.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Apostolic Canon 34.

          • yeah, that’s the one that says bishops and their metropolitan should do all things in consultation with each other. I take it that doesn’t include forcing the metropolitan to check himself into a psychiatric ward.

            • That’s forcing the *sane* metropolitan to check himself into a psychiatric ward. Or, was it a rehab facility for addictions he doesn’t suffer from?

              • Carl Kraeff says

                Nicholas and Helga–It is not up to me to bring any canonical charge against anyone. Please take my input as an answer to proclamations that the Metropolitan’s actions could not possibly be uncanonical. What I have been doing is to point out the possibility that his actions may indeed be uncanonical. I also believe, naively perhaps, that bishops ought to conduct themselves in accorance with their own rules and regulations and not act capriciously. Finally, this crisis brings forth serious questions of ecclesiology; just what kind of an Orthodox Church is my beloved OCA will become?

                In any case, the Apostolic Canon 34 ought to be the bedrock principle of how or bishops conduct themselves. I stand eady to be corrected but this canon essentially mandates consensus amongst the bishops when it comes to matters that affect all. Indeed, this canon restricts the authority of the presiding bishop (called Metropoitan in the canon, but essentially the head of the local church) more so than any individual diocesan. It is thus an Orthodox rule that the Metropolitan act like a spokesman for the Holy Synod and its presiding officer. Our metropolitans are not free to say and do anything that they please. When they act contrary to Canon 34 (that is free lance or act in conravention of the wishes of the Holy Synod), it is a serious matter–no matter what the underlying issue is.

                As a conservative, I think that process is very important and cannot be trumped by anything short of life or death situations. The one example that we have that comes solely from official sources is the matter of +Jonah’s leave of absence, which I cannot place in the category of a life-or-death exception to the rule. A dispassionate review of the Santa Fe minutes and +Jonah’s conduct after the retreat reveals an essential fact: the Metropolitan chose to disregard the decision of the Holy Synod. What is done about this apparent breach of Canon 34, OCA Statute and a specific decision is up to those bishops that we nominated and their fellow bishops elected and installed. They have the God-given authority to apply the Canons and may the Holy Spirit guide them.

                On my part, I did not enter the frey to accuse the Metropolitan. I have posted on OCAN once early on to caution fellow posters against jumping to conclusions (in respnse to Stokoe’s initial salvo back in January I think). I have refrained from posting on any blog, except this one. I did so because I saw an effort to denigrate process and to elevate personal likes and dislikes above the good order of the Church. I may have been wrong in my interpretation of what has been happening here and at OCAT, but that’s the way that I saw it and I pushed back. I was intemperate at times and I do apologize.

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  Nothing intemperate about your post, Carl, or about the question you raise. Canon 34 states:

                  “The bishops of each province [ethnos] must recognize the one who is first [protos] amongst them, and consider him to be their head [kephale], and not do anything important without his consent [gnome]; each bishop may only do what concerns his own diocese [paroikia] and its dependent territories. But the first [protos] cannot do anything without the consent of all. For in this way concord [homonoia] will prevail, and God will be praised through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.” [Source]

                  Note the key word gnome, translated as “consent” here. I found three other renderings of the canon online, translating gnome as “consent,” “agreement,” and “opinion.” An online Greek lexicon gives these as possible translations:

                  “advice, agree, judgment, mind, purpose, will, consent, decided, opinion”

                  So we have a range from advice or opinion at one end and consent or will at the other. Perhaps someone else can tell us how this canon has been regarded through the ages, but it’s hard to imagine the many very active primates in Church history (not to mention present primates) doing nothing without the expressed consent of their synods.

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    I agree that this canon has been applied differently over the centuries. Nothing unusual in this as we do not consider them to be rigid laws but general rules that may be applied in various ways, depending on the circumstances. Nonetheless, the plain meaning of the words are sufficiently clear so that action by consensus is one of the probable interpretations of the canon. BTW, the precedent of active metropolitans acting or saying things without prior approval of the Holy Synod is indeed a historical fact and is almost a given when you modify “metropolitan” by “active.” The trick here is for the metropolitan to know the minds of his fellow bishops enough so that he can do and say things on behalf of all without pre-coordination. The wise metropolitan will also be attuned to the reactions of his fellow bishops so that he will sense when he has misjudged their post facto approval. I hope that +Jonah wises up to the reality that, however you define “gnome,” it doers not mean that he has the authority to act in opposition to the Holy Synod and that he will refrain from acting unilaterally in the future until he and his fellow bishops achieve a measure of trust amongst them.

      • Carl, your pietistic nonsense in defense of the putsch does not, nor cannot detach one from the truth of what Paul taught in Romans. You are simply using a legalism to have to avoid answering questions about that which you do not believe and have no desire to have your infidelity exposed. That’s all. I give the homosexual lobby credit for the courage of their convictions in this regard. They say what they believe and believe what they say. You can’t. Therefore you hide behind an administrative error.

        • Mark Stokoe is on the Metropolitan Council. Try this on for size. If the Holy Apostle Paul were here, he wouldn’t be.

        • George:
          Allow me to make a small change in your wording. You wrote:

          the truth of what Paul taught in Romans

          “taught” should have been “teaches.”
          A small change in wording, but an enormous change in meaning!
          because the teachings of holy scripture are eternally “up to date.”

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I am a life long conservative and Republican (Eisenhower, Goldwater and Reagan are my political heroes while Bill Buckley is my ideological guru). I have signed the Manhattan Declaration. I rose to defend the Metropolitan in January, only to be denounced by many. I rose to condemn the Chief Secretary and to laud +Jonah’s response. I have defended true American autocephaly at all times. I defended Saint Ignatius’ concept of ecclesiology against the onslaught of Metropolitan Philip and fans of monarchical episcopacy alike. My theology is based on the Paris School’s so that we can shed the Latin and Lutheran influences.There is no way that you can pin any motive to me but an earnest desire for the best for Orthodoxy in North America.

          • Me, too!, really.

            • But my personal intuition leads me to believe that OCAT is much more creditable than OCAN and MS.

              • Nikos, with respect, our human intuition can fail us. Really. Take a look at my post at #15. Your comment and those of many others just show how muddied up we ALL are by our fallen human condition, IMO. Pray for all. The work of the Holy Spirit within and through the Holy Synod is our only hope for the OCA’s survival. OCATruth and George’s blog will have had nothing to do with that (except by providing ample illustration, in addition to OCANews, of our highly spiritually disordered condition, which may, Lord willing, motivate more earnest struggle in prayer for discernment, purity, and courage on the part of our leaders and concerned laity)–if anything, it has just given further evidence of how much work is yet to be done within the OCA.

          • Carl, then I owe you an apology.

    • “And as [Jesus] said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.” Luke 11:53-54

      I don’t believe for a moment that this question is asked without intent beyond interpreting the passage.

      What I will say is that those of “debased mind” (Rom 1:28) really need a lot of pastoral guidance, and many hours spent in consultation with a father confessor, to address the challenges of covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murderous thoughts, deceitfulness, gossip and backbiting, pride and violence, evil intent, lack of discernment, untrustworthiness, and the lack of love, forgiveness, and mercy. And if they’re dealing with homosexual or other destructive and lustful temptations and actions, they’ll need similar help.

      • Michael Bauman says

        So, if Mr. Stokoe really is involved in a homosexual partnership, should he be serving on the MC or in any other capacity in the Church accept those of a normal parishoner under penance?

        If his motivation is as Um describes with such clarity, should we not question him, his motives and desires?

        What do you want, why do you want it? Where is the proof of your allegations (not just ad naseum recitation of all the reaons you don’t like Met. Jonah).

        Apparently Rod and others were drawn into the trap. That is unfortunate, but they don’t have to stay there and it seems to me as if they are realizing that. It is a caution we all should hear (George).

        However, the point remains that the attackers have shown nothing accept the viscious big lie approach. Peoples various disconents move them toward the haters.

        I made the mistake of getting drawn into a similar situation with the Met. Philip mess (still on-going BTW). I finally realized that as much as I dislike the man and his friends and his pastoral style–he is my bishop. I owe him no obedience when he is wrong, but he is still my bishop. I’m lucky, I’ve got a really good one in between him and me, but Met. Philip is still the head guy.

        Earlier in my life I was involved in a much worse situation that destroyed the community of which I was apart, and the spiritual lives of several of the people at the heart of the controversy which was all about ‘style’ of leadership.

        So, Mark et. al.: What do you want; why do you want it and where’s the proof of your allegations?

      • When I zero in on my ulterior motive for my question, I find that it was/is to “provoke” others, including priests who “sit in seats of authority” so to speak, into dialoguing about that particular teaching of St. Paul and what we may learn from it and apply it to our benefit in this day and age.

        Judging by the comments above, and those below in 274 thru 280, if I can claim some credit for them I may have achieved some degree of success.

        • Scratch “274 thru 80.”
          The comment numbers have changed since I wrote that.

    • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

      Dear Nikos,

      Christ is Risen!

      Sorry, it has taken me a bit of time to compose my answer.

      This past year I have tried to preach the Epistles, as they often get insufficient attention.

      It is good when reading scripture to read the whole book, and the whole passage. This is especially true of St. Paul and of St. Paul to the Romans. St. Paul’s style keeps going from one point to another in almost a stream of consciousness style of writing. It is hard to extract one or two verses. The Protestants like to go over verse by verse, and dwell an a few “money quotes” from Romans and Galatians, with interpretations that often don’t match a reading of the epistle as a whole. I like to try to read Romans in one sitting, though that can be hard. I think this is key before going on to go over an individual verse.

      I would draw you attention to the fact that Abp. Dmitri has an exhaustive verse by verse, nearly word by word commentary, available from SVS press. Other scripture studies I recommend is “The Bible and the Holy Fathers for Orthodox”. It seems that the conciliar press series on the New Testament books by Fr Lawrence Farley seem good, though I haven’t had the time to investigate them. For scholarly sources, I can not think of anyone better to recommend than N.T.Wright, who writes some very scholarly tomes, but who also writes popular commentaries on each book of the New Testament, a series called “for everyone”. Search for that author’s name and “Romans for Everyone”. I would very much like to read Luke Timothy Johnson, both his introduction to the New Testament, and his commentary on Romans. What I have read of both Wright and Johnson seem to me worthwhile, though far from infallible guides. So if you want to delve into it, there is a reading list.

      While it is hard in Romans to divide out a passage when each sentence leads to the next, I think the easiest way to read those verses in context is read all of Romans 1: 18 – 2: 11.

      It seems to me that the Apostle describes the spiritual disaster of idolatry, refusing the True God for idols, by pointing to the moral failings of the pagan society. He then goes on to establish that if we judge all this we are judging ourselves because we all have fallen and without God will continue in sin, it is only by God that we may escape this sinful condition. At least that seems as good as I can make of a Cliff’s notes version of the passage.

      If you meant to ask if I affirm the teaching that homosexual acts are dishonorable and shameless, (and that sodomy in particular is “abomination” as taught in Leviticus), the answer is, of course, yes, I affirm that teaching.

      If you are asking about a teaching on “orientation” I would say that there is no teaching on orientation here, as the concept of orientation as we know and use it in modernity did not exist until the 19th C. I prefer to avoid the concept of orientation. What Orthodox Christian would want anyone to define themselves by their passions?

      If you are asking if “God makes people Gay”, I would say no, A) because it is extremely unlikely that St. Paul had an orientation concept like “gay”. B) in the verse, God abandons idolaters to their own sinful impulses. He doesn’t implant the impulses. One might conclude that anyone with out the Grace of God is in danger of such sins, or at least in danger of sins that will have the same disastrous effect.

      Properly read Romans 1-2 will lead any and every soul to repentance.

      • Dear Fr. Yousuf:
        Indeed He is risen!
        I greatly appreciate and thank you so much for taking the time to reply in such a thoughtful and priestly manner. I believe I was able to understand and to absorb properly everything you wrote.
        I guess my last question would be:
        If “Gays” and Lesbians do not abandon their sexual idolatry and God so abandons them to a depraved mind, can/should we expect the kind of sins presented in Romans 1:29-40 to be the natural consequence for them, and should we, the “unafflicted,” therefore be “vigilant”?

  16. George Mutzel says

    As an average lay person trying to catch up on all this, I must say that I am terribly confused by this situation, and I can’t make heads or tails of all the back and forth involved with detached internet conversations. I am posting here because, of the other two sites mentioned by this one, one doesn’t seem to allow comments at all and the other seems to have a comments filter (and hasn’t posted my comment)… and I feel like I MUST be missing something.

    Here’s what I know:
    – I know that Met. Jonah is a good man… I knew him when he was an abbot. I cannot get my head around the idea that he would do something maliciously evil, or that doing something he shouldn’t have done, that he wouldn’t immediately repent given the chance. I cannot prove that he is a good man, but that doesn’t mean I cannot know it myself.
    – I know that homosexuality is a sin, and that practicing homosexuals should not be in church leadership.
    – I know that both sides of this internet fight seem to have acted, at one time or another, with a great lack of charity toward one another, posting things that it was in bad taste to post, insulting one another, and using personal/private information to hurt their brothers. Alas, I have been guilty of this sin before, speaking about others behind their backs. I have also said things about people in private that probably ought not to have been said… I think most of us have.

    Here’s what I don’t know, and have nearly given up hope trying to figure out for sure:
    – I don’t know why there is REALLY so much unrest between Met. Jonah and the Synod
    – I don’t know why practicing homosexuals are being allowed to serve in leadership roles
    – I don’t know why we haven’t heard from his Beatitude about all of this
    – I don’t know why there is so much violent FEAR involved here. This makes me think that the issues of legality and administration are just distractions.

    • It’s like I can hear the Church as Bride of Christ in your post. Not trying to make it super spiritual, but thanks, you have put it as clear as it can be put. Leaders, are you going to continue to ignore us?

    • A Remnant says

      Question 2 answers question 1

      – I don’t know why there is REALLY so much unrest between Met. Jonah and the Synod
      – I don’t know why practicing homosexuals are being allowed to serve in leadership roles

    • Fred C. Dobbs says

      This has been a while coming, George. The election of +Jonah probably sent shock waves throughout certain dark and murky precincts of the OCA–regions under the complacent control of homosexual priests and their supporters.

      The problem is that Met. Jonah–earnest and naive fellow that he is– actually believes all that nonsense in the Bible about homosexuality being the sign of disordered desire, and a sin. He also believes–get this–that Christians, straight and otherwise, are called upon to set aside their baser desires and aspire to live their lives in imitation of Christ. Asceticism–that’s so last year!

      He also missed the part about Eastern Orthodoxy being the ‘Living Church”–you know, the church that continuously updates its beliefs to stay in step with the times, the church where it’s okay for active–active–homosexuals to serve as priests and officials in the church. He missed that part. Obviously, he thought he belonged to the church as Christ founded it in 33AD. Wherever did he get that idea?

      And then–what really ticked them off–Jonah lent his name to the Manhattan Declaration, suggesting that the state could only abrogate the observance of traditional Christian sacraments over his dead body! How long? Oh, Lord, how long? So the Lavender Hill Mob eventually clustered together like white blood cells to evict this foreign substance from its body. All the rest: the emails, the rumors, the accusations, that character assassination– the theatre–is pretence: the point is to banish this troglodyte, +Jonah, from their beautiful, modern, Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, innocent people are being hurt and their names being dragged through the mud, but–hey–they’ve already invested in the robes. They’re not leaving for the Episcopalians.

      On a more serious note, we have to realize that Stokoe would never have gained admittance to the MC unless a sympathetic associate had allowed him in. As he has, undoubtedly, an excellent idea of where all the bodies are buried, it will be difficult to dislodge him from his position of power, even were there any desire to do so.

      I can’t see this ending in anything but schism.

      • A Remnant says

        On a more serious note, we have to realize that Stokoe would never have gained admittance to the MC unless a sympathetic associate had allowed him in.

        Uh that would be the Parish Priest wouldn’t it

        • Fred C. Dobbs says

          Possibly; I don’t know how these things are managed. It doesn’t necessarily mean his priest is a homosexual; he could just be of a very liberal mind. Regardless, whoever permitted Stokoe to attain his position used very poor judgement if they realized that he was actively homosexual when they put his name forward.

      • Harry Coin says

        1. How is it everyone here “just knows” that +Jonah will make the differences you suggest given he didn’t do along those same lines while in the past having the authority? How is this not more a matter of projecting personal hopes than actually in evidence? Hang around this world a few years and you’ll see folk sweep bishops from auxiliaries to “self ruled w/diocesan bishops” — and back.

        2. How is it you know that all those new faces on the synod are as they were — back in the bad old days when it took a Deacon (and not Fr. Fester!! who’s leading this parade also there at the time) to draw the line?

        This is why the ‘ocatruth’ site cannot stand to have comments, because there exists history that just can’t fit the emotionally satisfying narrative.

        Last, and more important, those who want schism and a broken OCA just LOVE this site and OCATruth. You think you’ve got issues in the OCA, try all that and add overseas patriarchs — explain that to those thinking of joining.

        Get the house in order, breaking it up or burning it down will leave you all measuring the extent of your losses, there will be no winners– none in this country and (indeed though they don’t see it and disagree) none overseas either.

  17. No one ever suggested that Fester’s stolen emails were sent from Dallas or that they were ever on any “company” computer there before someone illegally used his username and password to download them from Google’s servers. Google, Fester, Dreher, and anyone else potentially harmed personally or professionally by these illegal acts have a strong case in court. Unless the emails themselves were stored in cache or elsewhere on the hard drive of a company computer and accessed from that computer, then no boss has a right to them without a court subpoena. Now that Fester has been forced to resign, real harm has been done by the illegal acts, not just potential. As an outsider it would seem to me all wronged parties have an obligation to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible and contact appropriate law enforcement officials as per that counsel. My non-legal counsel is to act quickly, each wronged party seeking their own counsel initially.

    As an outsider I’m surprised MS & Co. were willing to go as far as illegal activity to support their activism. But now that they have, do not assume it was stupidity that led them to do it. You have been violated and are traumatized. Recognize this psychological reality, seek legal counsel and protection for you and your families immediately. Then consider seriously mental health counseling for you and your families (many marriages have failed under less serious circumstances). Advise all other potentially harmed parties to do the same, and then stop discussing it in public. Let legal representatives do the talking. Move on with your life for now.

    This blog should do the same. The legal and moral issues have been spelled out for all people of goodwill. The webmaster should put an end to trolling on this issue. No more posts on this email issue please, webmaster, unless there is new factual information or legal developments.

  18. Matt Gates says

    Just think about it for five minutes. It’s fairly obvious who the leaker is. The OCATs themselves have almost certainly figured it out. I won’t beat you over the head with it I don’t need to spread rumor or innuendo, but that person was well within both his legal rights and professional obligations to do what he did, and may conceivably not even have needed access to Fester’s email.
    There’s no gay cabal, George. Just a would-be cabal of sex-obsessed man-children with the emotional maturity of four-graders, who apparently can’t sit down at a keyboard without speculating on what other people do with their plumbing. As for the FBI crap, no one can seriously believe the FBI has nothing better to do than babysit a bunch of Gandolf impersonators who won’t stop calling each other names. I’m sure they’ll be right on it.
    You really are a good writer. I mean that. If your greatest fear for the health of the Church is that somewhere, someone might be gay, then you’re going to be a very frightened person no matter where in the world you go. So grow up, stop worrying about other people’s piping, and remember what I sincerely hope your mother told you what was and was not polite conversation before age ten, and find something else to do in your spare time. I find gardening to be a fun and fulfilling pastime, but I suspect that fishing might be more up your alley.

    • Mark from the DOS says

      Are you saying Metropolitan Jonah is the leaker? Because if not, nothing you write makes sense.

    • Yes, Matt. Clearly the leaker was Osama bin Laden. “SEAL Team 6” is just a cover for the OCATruth Crack Assassination Squad.

    • …..So grow up, stop worrying about other people’s piping,

      Isn’t that exactly what the lavenders want us to do? Either you are one of them, or you haven’t got the foggiest idea why we are so upset about them infiltrating the church.

      • What’s forgotten in all this is that among all the sins that St Paul preached about, the only one that’s doing real, physical damage to children, people and (as if that’s not bad enough) church property is homosexuality in the episcopate and priesthood. The Catholic Church can afford to take the financial hit, the OCA can’t.

        • George M wrote:
          “What’s forgotten in all this is that among all the sins that St Paul preached about, the only one that’s doing real, physical damage to children, people and (as if that’s not bad enough) church property is homosexuality in the episcopate and priesthood. The Catholic Church can afford to take the financial hit, the OCA can’t.”

          You cannot be serious. This is risible.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Mike, I’ve never been more serious in all my life. And you’ll be serious to when your church has to sell the only real estate they own when the legal bills come due. You’ll be singing a different tune then.

            • I do believe you’re quite serious in your second sentence. It’s probably true enough. But that first one reads to me as absurd, hysterical, textbook scapegoating. One moment’s reflection should persuade you to withdraw it.

              If this is mostly about the money, really — which is the strong impression I get sometimes—than why not just say so? It’s a legitimate and rational concern. Perfectly respectable…

              • Michael Bauman says

                Mike, the money is just the most obvious way to measure the damage.

                Sexual activity of any type outside of marriage is not in accord with the Gospel. Homoerotic behavior is worse. The whole idea of ‘consenting adults’ is just culture speak for shut up you bigot, IMAO.

                Homosexual ideation represents a clear distortion of Christian anthropology and therefore a major impediment to salavation. It makes such people unsuitable for office in the Church. Period. The failure to address it and other such situations is an act of hypocrisy that merely compounds the problem. The failure to uphold traditional standards of Christian morality is also hypocrisy but the major sin is not the hypocrisy, it is the moral failure in the first place. It is the failure to uphold the teachings on sexual purity that is causing damage to our children, our mission and our pocket book. However, only the acceptance of homoerotic ideation and activity strikes at the very heart of the salvation message itself: what it means to be human and the nature of our communion with God.

                The intersection of the culture and the sin of homosexual behavior makes it much more dangerous than it otherwise would be. It does not matter how rare it is. One committed person could make a mess of the entire corpus. Perhaps we are already seeing that.

                As I read it MS is mad primarily because of the reduction in power that Met. Jonah has purposed for the MC. Whether he intends to use the MC to push the acceptance of the homoerotic agenda I don’t know, but it clearly frosted him when the proposal first came out.

                Lust in all its forms: lust for self (physical/material); lust for power; lust for fame is the ruination of many. We fall easily into idolatry rather than seeking communion with the living and ever present savior.

                • “Mike, the money is just the most obvious way to measure the damage.

                  Sexual activity of any type outside of marriage is not in accord with the Gospel. Homoerotic behavior is worse. The whole idea of ‘consenting adults’ is just culture speak for shut up you bigot, IMAO.

                  Homosexual ideation represents a clear distortion of Christian anthropology and therefore a major impediment to salavation. ”

                  Right off the bat I’m not following you. What exactly do you mean by “homosexual ideation?” Sexual fantasy?

                  “It makes such people unsuitable for office in the Church. Period.”

                  I can’t respond to this apparently quite draconian assertion until I get a definition of your term. But I am getting visions of neo-Inquisition, already. Or Geneva, with high-tech updates.

                  “The failure to address it…”

                  It = what, exactly?

                  “and other such situations…”

                  Elaborate, please?

                  “is an act of hypocrisy that merely compounds the problem. The failure to uphold traditional standards of Christian morality…”

                  “Traditional standards of Christian morality” is a very, very broad and inspecific phrase. But I’d point out that morality is about much, much more than sexual purity, important though that is.

                  “is also hypocrisy but the major sin is not the hypocrisy, it is the moral failure in the first place.”

                  IYHO. Many might disagree. But because your language is sometimes broad-brush, and sometimes vague and inspecific, it’s hard to be sure what you’re really saying here.

                  “It is the failure to uphold the teachings on sexual purity…”

                  Michael, there are many kinds of purity. What is your confessional background, if I could ask?

                  “that is causing damage to our children, our mission and our pocket book.”

                  The failure to uphold lots of other aspects of solid, time-proven Christian teaching is contributing to all of that, as well.

                  “However, only the acceptance of homoerotic ideation and activity strikes at the very heart of the salvation message itself: what it means to be human and the nature of our communion with God.”

                  Again, I don’t know exactly what you mean with this “homoerotic ideation.” You sound like someone who wants to dehumanize “homoerotic
                  ideation,” whatever that may be, precisely. Is there a human “heteroerotic ideation” vs. a subhuman “homoerotic ideation?” Is that your claim?

                  But whatever you mean, exactly, a categorical, exclusive assertion such as this is clearly false, even absurd. This is witch-hunt speak. Are you from a Calvinist or Reformed background by any chance?

                  After you’ve clarified your terminology I’ll dialogue with you further, if you wish. While holding my nose, I fear.

                  • John, same thing. Went into spam because of all the links. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. My apologies. Geo.


                    The article is called, “Child Molestation by Homosexuals and Heterosexuals“, written by Dr. Brian Clowes, director or research and training at HLI (Human Life International), along with co-author Prof. David Sonnier.

                    It was originally published in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, pp. 44-54, Ignatius Press, May 2005 and excerpted for the website CatholicCulture.org. Both men are married. Each has 7 children. I only mention the 14 children because of the experience and the commitment that comes from raising such a large family.

                    Probably the best article I have ever read on the gay experience is “The Truth about the Homosexual Rights Movement” by Ronald G. Lee. Mr. Lee is a retired gay academic. The article is a reflection on his 30+ years involvement with the gay life. He is currently a member of a conservative Catholic congregation in Houston, TX.

                    The article was originally published in the New Oxford Review in February, 2006, and re-published with permission by Orthodoxytoday.org on July 6, 2008.


                    Anyone who reads these two articles, or goes through the long list of anecdotal news articles on accused and convicted clergy pedophiles in the USA at BishopAccountability.org – thousands of them – will be astonished at both the pervasiveness and sheer number of cases. It is easy to see how the behavior of these priests – many of whom had direct supervisory roles over children – broke the faith of thousands and cost the Catholic Church billions of dollars in settlements.

                    This is a serious matter; not just a tit for tat argument on our obscure website. The relevance for our discussion is that this could become a foregone conclusion for the OCA if we don’t do something about it in principle now.

                    For many years, I was a member of Christ the Saviour Brotherhood, a group that was misled by a tiny duo of homosexual monastic leaders. When the final parting of ways occurred – after almost 18 years – two incidents brought the relationship to end in a matter of weeks. The metropolitan was arrested for pedophilia (again), and the abbot lost his monastery because a young monk refused to sleep with him anymore.

                    This stuff had gone on for years – the evidence was clearly there for anyone who wished to see it – but loyalty and heterosexual orientation blinded the brotherhood from seeing it. The leader of our Brotherhood approached it as an attack on these men’s integrity, rather than a revelation of their impropriety. The priests considered available evidence as gossip, nothing more. They were loyal. Too loyal. It took a legal scandal for their ears to open.

                    During those 18 years, a perfectly decent but conservative group of families endured pariah status in the Orthodox Church because of the reputations of these two monastics. The organization stood by them rather than leave them. The young men who were sexually preyed-upon were damaged, and all of this could have been prevented if someone had acted on available evidence early on.

                    Those 18 years were a sojourn in a parallel universe. The two monastics had been de-frocked by their synods long ago. But their case records were kept private so the details would not be released. Their histories were seen as a confidential church matter, not a public threat.

                    In essence, they were given a free pass to move on, just not within those jurisdictions. The Greek Orthodox Church of America was furious at the deception. The Russian Church Outside Russia was dismayed. But that’s as far as it got. Priests were silent who shouldn’t have been. Even in the 1980s and 90s I couldn’t get a straight answer out of people who actually had been there and who had first hand knowledge of what had happened. Nobody wanted to talk about it.

                    In the CSB, these two men re-invented their personal biographies – falsifying the facts to appear innocent. They wanted the faithful to believe that they had been spiritually persecuted by their former synods as charismatic leaders, not because they were gay and had abused young men. They lied. And a lot of sincere, innocent people were misled because of it. CSB was their opera on a grand stage – dozens of ordinations, consecrating of churches, vestments, pomp and circumstance – all looking like the real thing. There was even a miraculous icon in NY which supposedly wept myrrh each night; but really it was just rose oil applied on the sly.

                    This hoax was pulled off by two counterfeits pretending to be something they weren’t – a priest and a hierarch in good standing. Yes, it “looked” like the real thing, but it wasn’t. That’s what a con is all about. Believability is the pre-condition for fooling someone.

                    So this leads us to today.

                    The church can be compassionate about indiscretion on a personal level; but not with church administrators. The Metropolitan or his designee should directly question each hierarch regarding his viewpoint on this matter, and, if necessary, his personal sexual orientation. Sound extreme? It’s better to know than to not know. I don’t think a gay bishop will make reasonable decisions concerning other gay clergy, nor make appropriate decisions in prosecuting matters of sexual indiscretion in the church.

                    The Sexual Misconduct Committee is a professional committee with a job to do. It’s worth it to know the truth. My experience with the Christ the Savior Brotherhood proves to me that sexual orientation affects decisions. You can’t have it both ways. The pressure to dissemble is too great. The quid pro quo is always there. At some point the church must be more about the sheep and less about the rights of shepherds.

                    I know this can be very painful for some. If there’s to be a parting of ways with a hierarch or cleric or anyone in authority, and they’ve done no harm, it needs to be discreet, by mutual consent, a quiet but dignified retreat back into the life of a lay monk. I am not for persecuting an innocent gay man, but I think a gay orientation is incompatible with leadership in the Orthodox church.

                    Because of this, I don’t think there should be any rush to ordain new hierarchs. After all this chaos, where’s the imperative? We should not assume an individual will ardently choose the church’s high standards as his own matter of course. Hence the parallel universe I spoke of earlier: one person that I know is me; another for the world to see. The current crisis is directly related to personhood. Candidates for this position should be vetted extensively by experienced human resource people.

                    • John, I thought I had thanked you for this post at the time it went up; I found I had not. Your links amount to a lot to read, but thanks for posting the sources. This story you shared is a troubling one, but it’s not surprising to me, sadly. Concrete histories such as this (presuming it’s accurate and factual, which I have no reason to doubt from the quality of your account) are important additions to these discussions.

                      The whole issue of “gay orientation” and Church leadership is much vexed, from the perspective of Orthodox Christian anthropology as I understand it (not much, relatively speaking). I admit to a lot of confusion here.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Mike, sorry for my rambling, my father taught me the principal of thinking and acting from the general to the specific. Unfortunately, sometimes the specifics get lost

                    1. My entire Christian life has been in the Orthodox Church although I was baptized as an adult.

                    2. Homoerotic ideation: the fixation a person holds that he/she is defined as a person by their sexual desire for people of their own gender, e.g. I am a homosexual trumps everything else.

                    3. Not all attraction to others need be defined in an erotic manner. However due to the cultural impertive that all feelings are sexual, that is the way such attractions tend to be interpreted. Equally unfortunate is that, often, the only way the culture recognizes the expression of deep feelings for someone of the same gender is in sexual terms. Same gender relationships then often become shallow.

                    4. Clearly the Biblical, patristic and natural standard is for the male/female sexual bonding for procreation. However, the male/female synergy goes far beyond that and extends into the realm of being able to fulfill our God given mandate to dress and keep the earth and as an icon of the Incarnation. Anything that departs from that is an abberation. We must be quite careful in our Biblical interpretations to avoid the fallacy of presentism.

                    5. The disorder that results from identifing one’s sexual desire with one’s personhood leaves people unfit for clerical office. It is not the only disorder that excludes or should exclude folks, but it is one of great concern. Any lustful preoccupation should disqualify especially lust for power; anger issues, etc (Anyone who really wants to be a bishop should be carefully examined before elevating him).

                    6. All such spiritual disorder should be treated with pastoral love, concern and direction. No witch hunt here. Before I became Christian I spent quite a few years in the theater and dance world. I have known and been friends with a number of homosexual folks over the years and have no fear or hatred of them. What that means to me, in part, is the recognition that homoerotic behavior is sinful. Minor excursions into that behavior can occur for some without becoming fixated on ‘being a homosexual’.

                    7. The process of self-identification as homosexual is complicated and I’m sure different for different folks. However, I watched a theater friend of mine go through it for over a year. He got up every morning (or so he said), looked in the mirror and said: I am a homosexual. He inundated himself with homosexual porn and began excluding women from his life. Eventually he got into the crusing scene. The reason: he had had (at 19) several unhappy and failed relationships with women so he decided if he can’t have women, he’d go for men. The result: self torture. I left town about that time and never saw him again but I’ve often wondered about him and prayed for him.

                    • “…5. The disorder that results from identifing one’s sexual desire with one’s personhood leaves people unfit for clerical office. It is not the only disorder that excludes or should exclude folks, but it is one of great concern. Any lustful preoccupation should disqualify especially lust for power; anger issues, etc (Anyone who really wants to be a bishop should be carefully examined before elevating him).”

                      Got it. I don’t disagree.

                  • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                    Lots of good stuff Michael.

                    A couple of years ago I was at Borders (my second office at the time) and on leaving saw a young man, maybe 21 or so, obviously very troubled and obviously homosexual. I discerned I should talk to him but I was preoccupied and the discernment was faint so I couldn’t tell if was natural empathy and just called for a prayer or if I should go and introduce myself and have a talk with him. I chose the prayer.

                    I get back to church the Lord speaks again, “Turn around and go talk to him.” So I turned the car around figuring he had to be there if I was told to go talk to him. He was.

                    We talked for over an hour. It was a bit awkward at first but after a few minutes he was at ease. I asked him what was troubling him and he told me just broke up with his boyfriend. I saw deep emotional and spiritual confusion in the man and a boatload of pain. But the Lord calls us to comfort the afflicted so there I was.

                    It got deep. I told him the Lord did not create him homosexual (He didn’t) but I am well aware that his homosexual desires were not chosen. Descarte taught that “I think, therefore I am” (itself a truncated vision of human anthropology) which in our day has devolved to “I feel, therefore I am.” What you feel is what you are, and you posit self-identity by acting out on the feelings, the reasoning goes.

                    Sexual energy is very powerful primarily because it is unitive, it brings together the body, mind, and soul into a singular focus. When the object of sexual desire is illicit (and any sexual activity outside of marriage is illicit) but acted upon, the immediate desire is satisfied but the deeper longing for integration and communion with another living being cannot be met. Hence sorrow, anguish, discord, confusion, all the things that the young man was experiencing.

                    The scripture says the adulterer despises his own soul. Homosexuality is different I think. There the person is actually seeking self-integration, a kind of internal healing of a split-self, a longing to discover his own masculine self-identity. He thinks he will find it through genital contact with a same-sex partner, but other homosexuals cannot give the man what he needs. Deficits cannot fill deficits. Only a father (or mother for females) can do that.

                    Our age is highly charged sexually and politically, and nowhere is sex and politics more tightly welded than in the homosexual lobby. That makes things really difficult. The efforts to normalize homosexual behavior are relentless. The moral prohibitions are given to us for a reason but when you have to defend them in the Church too (and risk censure for doing so), you know things are worse than you want to believe.

                    The threat of the homosexualization of the Church is not an idle one in my view. And some of the rationales you hear justifying homosexuality (or at least softening the traditional prohibitions against it) draw from that well of truncated anthropology I mentioned above. (This is Fr. Bobosh’s error in my view.) I call it the Oprahization of moral theology.

                    Did any miracles happen when I talked to the young man? No. But that wasn’t the purpose. The light that penetrates the fog of confusion is a word spoken in truth, and the Word of God is truth. But it takes time for that word to be comprehended; for the seed to germinate on the good soil and finally blossom — years sometimes. And by the way he was listening and responding, the heart of the man may have some good soil. That our Lord directed me to him counts for something too. Only God knows what the end will be.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Fr, wonderfully said. You know, recently I came upon this insight about Papal Infallibility. And that is that if the pope speaks the truth, he is speaking infallibly because the truth is infallible. And that goes for any discerning priest or bishop in my opinion. What do you think?

          • “Care to name another sin that has caused as much damage in the Church?”

            Hypocrisy. False, or gravely distorted, uncharitable accusations. Malicious slander. “Holy” lies. The dynamics of scapegoating in general. Pharmakos. Greed in all its forms, but especially the confusion of Mammon with God. Child abuse of all kinds. Idolatry. False prophecy.

            Arguably, each of these is vastly more destructive, net, than one particular, relatively rare (apparently) and distinctly unpopular type of sexual addiction, which broadly speaking is pandemic in this country. One of the things I find so disturbing about many of the comments on this list is how seldom (if ever?) anyone distinguishes between the sexual abuse of minors and same-sex activity as such. I cannot recall one instance where this conflation, when explicitly or implicitly made in a poster’s text, was called out by anyone else and rebuked. I certainly hope that no one here is so pathologically and maliciously undiscerning as to be oblivious to the chasm between those outcomes of sinful passion and the sexual molestation of small children.

            • You are right that thre is little reason to fear that sexually-active gay clergy will sexually molest “small children”, to use your term. Still I gather that, at least in the Catholic Church, the problem is that gay clergy get involved with teenaged boys, who are sexually maturing but below the age of consent. Given how rampant that problem became in the Catholic Church, the “chasm” you speak of is too narrow for my comfort.

              • And in Protestant denominations, clergy get involved with teenage girls below the age of consent, as well as with unmarried and even married women; it happens in the RCC too, of course. I think it’s not even unheard of among the Orthodox?

                Anyway, the deep concern about extra-marital and pre-marital sexual activity between clergy and teenagers is obviously rational and well-founded. I hope the chasm I mentioned is clear, though. It’s not a narrow one. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by the last part of your final sentence.

                • I took your prior comment to mean that you do not think that sexually active gay priests are any more likely than heterosexual ones to engage in misconduct with a teen. If that is facutally correct, then it would be wrong to link homosexuality with clerical abuse of teens. On the other hand, if such abuse is disproportionlly done by gay priests, it makes perfect sense to point out the connection.

                  It boils down to an empirical question: what percentage of clerical sex with minors is same-sex versus opposite-sex? If you know of some hard data, I will be glad to look at it.

                  • I actually don’t think that. Intuitively, I think primarily homoerotic male clergy probably are more likely than primarily heteroerotic ones to get entangled in this sinfulness and abuse, because of the intrinsic nature of male sexuality. So I would expect sound empirical studies to corroborate that hypothesis.

                    The primary issue to me, however, is the uncritical demonization of homoerotic attraction as such, in all of its complexity, in light of this simple fact about the human condition: the chaff of epithymia and porneia is often associated with, mixed up with, the wheat of phileo, philadelphia and agape, in all of us fallen sinners. An atmosphere of the witch hunt that singles out certain convenient scapegoats could uproot a lot of the wheat while obstructing or preventing the cure of the former diseases of the soul, and even feeding them. That would be a monumental lose-lose disaster for the Body of Christ. And there are lots of reasons to dread that outcome in this country. And anyone who is in synergy with that direction is in grave spiritual crisis, IMAO.

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    Hard empirical data from the New York City school system is available by link from my comment #18 above to Fr. Yousuf. Homosexual pedophilia is statistically more common than it should be given the much smaller population of homosexuals in the general population. Stokoe could not bear to admit this and so suppressed the evidence.

                  • “Speak Greek Mike?”

                    Studied Attic Greek years ago. At one time I could read NT Koine easily; I’m rusty now. I could resurrect it without much trouble. Been meaning to find the time.

                    “Everytime you are challenged you fly off into deeper intellectual abstractions …”

                    Examples, please? Chapter and verse, in context.

                    Flying off ‘into deeper intellectual abstractions’ is just what I’m not doing, with all due respect. I’m trying hard to be concrete, accurate, substantial and lucid. I’m sorry if I don’t meet your standards, John.

                    “and lace it with more personal contempt.”

                    I hope I confine contempt to bad ideas and shallow “reasoning” and ignorant opinionating masquerading as statements of fact and malicious herd mentalities and rushing to judgment without adequate facts. Never contempt for souls, I hope.

                    “The problem is that many commentators here brush off political correctness. We don’t really care if you personally approve or disapprove of what is said.”

                    Couldn’t care less about ‘political correctness,’ which is situational anyway. Lots of brands of that.

                    “It’s not brain surgery. Catholic priests who abused went for adolescent boys. They are homosexuals.”

                    Roger tower. I do grasp this.

                    “OK, believe that sexual attraction has nothing to do with the abuse if you want (“it’s about power, not sex!”)”

                    Unadulterated straw man obfuscation. Never said that, don’t think it.

                    “…but the Catholic Church is screening out homosexual seminarians nonetheless. They might know something you don’t.”

                    Please. Is this the sort of ‘argument’ that usually works for you? So happens that I know a thing or two about the RCC.

                    “They’re not known for bowing to political correctness either.”

                    No comment.

                    “And no, criticism of homosexuality is not a “witch-hunt.”

                    Another straw man. Somewhat less egregious than the earlier one I noted.
                    The way one goes about confronting the problem of sexual impropriety among ordained Church leadership can take on the atmosphere and injustice of a witch hunt, is the gist of what I’ve written, here and there.

                    “Liberals always warn against the dangers that will never reach them.”


                    “It helps maintain the status quo and excuses them from dealing with the real problems. They don’t have to listen to their critics either. Trouble is, once they get into leadership, they never know what to do.”

                    Too vague to get a handle on or else not responsive and therefore irrelevant to anything I’ve had to say.

                    “So let me put in English what you are really trying to say. Criticizing active homosexuality might deter homosexuals from being healed of their homosexuality (“obstructing or preventing the cure of the former diseases of the soul”). Is this correct?”

                    I do think it would save us both a lot of time if you’d just stop reading me. You aren’t doing a good job of that, and I don’t have time to be your reading comprehension coach.

                    “But why should “the cure of the souls” even be an issue if we have active homosexuals in leadership? Isn’t that a contradiction or worse – hypocrisy! Aren’t we sending the wrong message? And why then are you criticizing the critics?”

                    You get the last word, John. Nolo contendre.

                    Christ is risen!

            • That’s a long and very dense analysis. I hadn’t heard of it and so haven’t read it, yet. I promise that I will, very carefully.

              You appear to be endorsing it strongly, as representing “the facts.” So, I presume you have read it, that you understand it thoroughly and have digested its contents.

              Do you know when it was published (there’s no date on the page besides a copyright 2011 at the bottom)? I ask, because it looks brand new, and based on a quick scan appears to be highly provocative to say the least. Therefore, I expect a lot of vehement, closely reasoned responses and peer review from experts in this field. Has there been enough time since its publication for these to have appeared? Doesn’t look like it to me.

              But if I’m mistaken about that and they have already begun to appear, have you factored into your clear endorsement a careful reading of some at least of these critiques or rebuttals, by competent, qualified experts, of the quality of the evidence and methodology in this analysis? I presume that, as a responsible Christian, you’ve done your due diligence before issuing your own personal nihil obstat on this analysis of such an incendiary phenomenon.

              • Mike — No one has said you should not express your opinions, just becuase you did not cite peer-reviewed studies to support them. Why must John shoulder that burden? This is the Internet — if you want to link a study that supports your views and rebuts John, have at it.

                • Because he characterized it as representing “the facts,” that’s why — not his opinion. Facts and opinions are very different. In this country, that cardinal distinction is eroding more and more. That is intellectual corruption.

            • Mike, all those sins you name are pernicious, abominable, and destructive. Yes, we all agree. I don’t want a sorcerer as my priest, nor a porn addict as my bishop. Anybody with two intact brain cells left functioning believes that.

              Having said that, there is no rash of sorcerers, murderers, prostitutes, or gamblers in any of the Christian denominations. The Catholic Diocese of Dallas did not go into receivership because the seminarians had Sheep Shag Sundays at the farm.

              In the real world, people have to make decisions based on their intuition. That’s why daycare centers have people do background checks on potential employees. If they find that some person admitted to smoking pot in high school but is otherwise presentable, they’ll choose that woman over a man who sports a NAMBLA button.

              These are called no-brainers.

              • You cite the real world. If the RCC chooses 1) to keep a celibate priesthood and 2) implement a successful screening to exclude all homoerotically inclined candidates, that’s only going to trade one problem for another. Then the Catholic faithful will need to worry about their daughters and wives. That’s a no-brainer, too. Is that what Benedict XVI wants? I take it many around here would view that as a relative improvement, spiritually, judging from many comments I’ve read. It begs a question.

                Earlier I wrote something that’s been completely ignored so far. I’ll repeat it:

                “I actually don’t think that. Intuitively, I think primarily homoerotic male clergy probably are more likely than primarily heteroerotic ones to get entangled in this sinfulness and abuse, because of the intrinsic nature of male sexuality. So I would expect sound empirical studies to corroborate that hypothesis.

                The primary issue to me, however, is the uncritical demonization of homoerotic attraction as such, in all of its complexity, in light of this simple fact about the human condition: the chaff of epithymia and porneia is often associated with, mixed up with, the wheat of phileo, philadelphia and agape, in all of us fallen sinners. An atmosphere of the witch hunt that singles out certain convenient scapegoats could uproot a lot of the wheat while obstructing or preventing the cure of the former diseases of the soul, and even feeding them. That would be a monumental lose-lose disaster for the Body of Christ. And there are lots of reasons to dread that outcome in this country. And anyone who is in synergy with that direction is in grave spiritual crisis, IMAO.”

                The scapegoat I refer to is firstly the homoerotic element in the human soul (which is by no means confined to “homosexuals”) and secondly and more concretely those men whose souls contain more of it than the other kind. Written comments here seem almost unanimous that this element is pathological, and one or two have more or less said it was subhuman. I’m not sure about the pathological part — I’m open-minded but very conflicted about that. I am nearly certain that to teach that it is subhuman is malicious and very dangerous. And probably dead wrong, too, if that even matters to such people. It’s also skirting genuine, actionable hate speech.

                There may be a way to read Gen. 1:27 and 1 Corinthians 11:7 that enriches and deepens them both, I don’t know. But no conventional Christian anthropology that I’ve ever encountered reconciles them. All conventional interpretations of these two pericopes set them at odds. Until they are harmonized, it seems to me that the nature of the homoerotic element in the human soul must remain an open question. Maybe, together with much else that is human, it needs purification and proper direction, rather than extirpation. I don’t claim to know, unlike most of you, evidently. In the few days I’ve been around here I’ve been constantly struck by how presumptuous and hasty many of you can be, on this and other issues.

          • Harry Coin says

            Worse — Astoria wasn’t ever going to be our problem until the EP and Spyridon took them and by the extra special charter now looks to us to pay for it. And, our bishops are now Turkish citizens, I know that __Really_ will help bring in the people thinking about supporting all this. Sure.

            So, OCA, you want the joys of foreign patriarchs? Just have a schism and buckle up.

            • Trouble is Harry, the foreign patriarchate that many traditionalists want to join i(ROC)is firmly wedded to the Gospel, the OCA as presently constituted with its weird congregationalism isn’t.

              Personally, I treasure the OCA’s autocephaly, but I would leave it in a heartbeat if it turns into an Orthodox ECUSA. Why? because the Gospel trumps all churches, dioceses, and episcopates. The ministries of the Church lack salvific grace if they lose their fidelity.

              Remember Jesus’ admonition in the Book of Revelation to the church in Laodicea: “you were neither hot nor cold, so I vomited you out.” There is no church in Laodicea presently, is there?

          • I’ve never been more serious in all my life.

    • Matt, I have no fear of gays. I love Broadway musicals just as much as the next guy. And beauty pageants –don’t get me started. If it wasn’t for gay men, the contestants would look like Hooter’s waitresses.

      I just don’t want them to set themselves up as a clandestine cabal in my Church, where they can play their little games destroying peoples lives.

      Ironically some of the people who they destroy are gay themselves, this is what happens when you countenance evil, they eventually destroy themselves. The names that Stokoe leaked out of the SMPAC report for example were all homosexual. Isn’t that ironic? Why did Stokoe mention these three homosexuals but not the many others who are still serving at the Altar? Does this not strike you as inconsistent?

      As for your ad hominem attacks on OCAT, I must assume that you are associating them with literary characters because your tack against anonynimity has failed.

      I guess next you’ll be criticizing them for their looks.

      In the meantime, we still wait for any substantive arguments against them.

  19. Anonymous since it's all the rage says

    Ah, spring. When, indeed, the “turd blossoms” bloom with all their fragrance.

    Rod Dreher says: Incidentally, I woke up one morning and found the SMPAC report in my in-box.

    Why, that’s practically the passive voice. “It just appeared!”. Nonsense. It was sent, of course, and I can’t believe you junior Sherlocks and Watsons let that slip by. How, just how, did it “appear”? You all know, of course, that this was a confidential document. Why, oh why, did this simple layman receive (anonymously of course) this confidential document?

    Well, who had it to begin with? Let’s see, there were the member of SMPAC, of course, and the Bishops of the Synod, including His Beatitude. But His Beatitude would never release a report like this to unauthorized personnel, such as Fr. Fester. Such would be a betrayal, and be beneath the dignity of his Holy Office. Besides, his integrity has been amply and emphatically defended here on these very pages, and I have no reason to disbelieve you all. Also, “Rod Dreher” was not a person known to be involved in this dust-up, but to a very few. OH MY! I HAVE IT! The only conceivable thing that could have happened is that Fr. Fester, while His Beatitude was absent, HACKED INTO HIS ACCOUNT! Only Fr. Fester, of all people, knew that Rod was Muzhik. Only Fr. Fester, of all people, had access to His Beatitude’s computer! Oh, it’s so clear. But it can’t be proven.

    BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Let’s look at the psychology of Mr. Dreher, and his history. Mr. Dreher has a history of projection. He has a track record of attributing to his arch-nemesis, Mr. Stokoe, the very things of which he himself is guilty. To wit: possession of the SMPAC report. It’s much like the Democrats’ reaction to the Tea Party demonstrations: “It has to be astroturf, because that’s what we do!”

    Clearly, Fr. Fester hacked the Metropolitan’s email account. His Beatitude would NEVER betray the Church by distributing this confidential document himself, so it’s the only possible explanation. I’m sure that Joe Friday, Elliot Ness, and the cast of CSI: Dallas are speeding their way to the appropriate scene of the crime as we speak.

    So simple, it is. It takes merely brilliant (ahem) deduction and a moment of thought. However, if I’m wrong here, it is not for lack of effort, and I can certainly be proven the fool that all of you will call me.

    Rod, who gave you the report? It’s right there in the header.

    I know, I know. “But Rod didn’t release it!”. Oh, useful idiots, that’s the jewel in the crown isn’t it? But that jewel is tarnished. You see, the reason Rod didn’t release it is that, unlike the emails that miraculously appeared in Stokoe’s hands, the SMPAC doesn’t fit Mr. Dreher’s narrative. It is, in fact, certainly damaging to His Beatitude. Agendas, remember?

    Oh, and those screen shots of Fr. Fester’s G-Mail account which you trumpet? They prove emphatically that Mark Stokoe did not hack Fr. Fester’s email account. Why? Because if he had, he would have merely printed out the emails. There would have been no reason to forward them. There would have been access records, with IP addresses, deep in the bowels of the servers at Google, but nothing so obvious as emails in the “Sent” box. But it’s moot, because the folks on that side have lied so much that giving them any credibility is foolish. I do not “trust, honor, or support” such foolishness, as a wise man once advised me to avoid.

    Please, please. I do not wish for accolades, nor filthy lucre, only a pint of fine bitters at George’s expense with which to toast my own brilliance in stinking, sinful pride.

    So Rod, in the interest of transparency, accountability, and “OCA Truth”, who sent you the report?

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Two-Headed Ale? (mighty good American IPA).

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        Oooh, oooh! Try Stone’s IPA. A true treat.

      • Ivan Vasiliev says

        So, are you (ASIATR and Carl) suggesting that we should all just go out and get drunk–I mean EVERYONE—Team Stockoe and Team OCAT? Together?

        Well, at this point that might not be a bad idea… but I would suggest a nice clean vodka, interspersed with plenty of water (NEVER mixed, God forbid!, my Russian grandpa would do spins in his grave over that!). The hangover from too many ales is just awful…. Yes, better vodka… Stoli (or, if class trumps ethnic, Kettle One)….Everyone crying into each others shoulders….and saying, “How did we let ourselves get into this silly mess, anyhow?”

        On the other hand, it could turn into quite a brawl–with real biting, kicking, punching, and screaming

        Anyone know of a good bar near the hotel where the Politburo, Metropolitan Soviet, and HB are meeting?

        I’ll book my flight.

        • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

          Sadly, that’s the best idea thus proposed, brother Ivan. A vodka for every tooth in your head! I’ll bring my Finnish friend.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I could not possibly suggest that anyone gets drunk for any reason (due to conviction and professional ethics). However, I would enjoy a glass of alcoholic beverage with y’all. If not beer, how about a nice glass of wine (D’Arenberg’s Stump Jump is good) or some Slivovitsa (so much better than any vodka)?

    • JDWatton says

      I think I read somewhere that the report was sent to Rod in hard copy format- via US Post. Thus truly anonymous.

    • Why, that’s practically the passive voice. “It just appeared!”. Nonsense. It was sent, of course, and I can’t believe you junior Sherlocks and Watsons let that slip by. How, just how, did it “appear”? You all know, of course, that this was a confidential document. Why, oh why, did this simple layman receive (anonymously of course) this confidential document?

      I think Dreher’s point was that he did not ask for the report, but that someone sent it to him unsolicited. We don’t know who that person was or what their motives may have been. But I think it would be enormously hypocritical to criticize Dreher and his source for breaking the report’s confidentiality, when Stokoe has publicly named the people involved. Not only has this violated their privacy, it was a way of defaming them without actually putting forth any evidence or specific charges.

      As to the question of the identity of Dreher’s source for the SMCAP report, it’s very hard to say. It has occurred to me that perhaps the source is not even on “Team Jonah” but sent it in an effort to get Dreher to drop his defense of Metropolitan Jonah, as Dreher’s sensitivity to sexual abuse is widely known. His OCAT involvement was not publicly known then, but there were suspicions (I know I did), and Dreher’s own identity is high-profile enough that someone would have been willing to send it to him even without knowing about his OCAT involvement.

      Metropolitan Jonah’s response was more than likely sent by someone close to the Metropolitan, but we don’t even know if they were sent by the same people, so that says nothing.

      One thing’s for sure, to me, though: Fr. Fester did not leak the SMCAP report. Not only is Fr. Fester not party to the report, Dreher’s email speaks of his possession of the report as new information to Fr. Fester. Stokoe’s analysis is way off there.

      Oh, and those screen shots of Fr. Fester’s G-Mail account which you trumpet? They prove emphatically that Mark Stokoe did not hack Fr. Fester’s email account. Why? Because if he had, he would have merely printed out the emails. There would have been no reason to forward them.

      I don’t think anyone thinks Mark Stokoe actually hacked the account himself. One look at his blink-taggy website shows he is not the most computer-savvy individual. He’s no more a computer hacker than Metropolitan Jonah is a ballet dancer. If the account was hacked, it was surely done by somebody else. My guess is that this person copy-pasted the email text and sent it to Stokoe, Stokoe asked for authentication, which the hacker provided by forwarding them from the account. I’m willing to bet the hacker used a proxy server or some other way of covering his tracks whenever accessing the account, but those things are not infallible.

      • But I think it would be enormously hypocritical to criticize Dreher and his source for breaking the report’s confidentiality, when Stokoe has publicly named the people involved.

        I suppose it might be hypocritical of Mr. Stokoe to criticize Dreher’s source for breaching confidentiality, since he did the same, to some extent. I don’t see how it is hypocritical for other opponents of OCAT, such as Anonymous, to criticize the leaker if they themselves are not guilty of leaking.

        It is just another form of ad hominem to say that I don’t have to listen to someone on the other side of a debate, just because he has not denounced to my satisfaction every bit of wrongdoing by anyone on his side. It two wrongs do not make a right, then one may validly criticize any wrong without being obliged to criticize some other wrong by those on one’s own “team”.

        • I don’t see how it is hypocritical for other opponents of OCAT, such as Anonymous, to criticize the leaker if they themselves are not guilty of leaking.

          They would be hypocritical if they think it’s wrong for Dreher’s source to have given him the report, but are fine with Stokoe publishing the names.

          • But Anonymouns didn’t say he was “fine with” MS publishing the names. Who says Anonymous is not allowed to criticize Dreher unless he has first denounced Stokoe? Am I disqualified from voicing my disdain from Stokoe’s muckraking if I have not first codemned everything Rod or Fr. Fester ever did wrong? I don’t think so. It cuts both ways.

            • But Anonymouns didn’t say he was “fine with” MS publishing the names. Who says Anonymous is not allowed to criticize Dreher unless he has first denounced Stokoe?

              Well, I sure didn’t. Take a look at my first post again. I said it would be hypocritical. Take a look at those italicized words again: would be. In other words, now that I’ve brought up the fact that Stokoe did the same thing, it would be hypocritical to continue criticizing Dreher’s source for breaching the report’s confidentiality without ever calling Stokoe to account for revealing the names.

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                Touche. Point Helga.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Helga, I actually do hope that the tainted SMPAC report comes out in time. As well as +Jonah’s version which shows that it was a ham-fisted attack piece against him. And I hope that we go after all miscreants in the clergy and hierarchy as well. I’m sure Stokoe will be on board. (Crickets chirping.)

              • Helga, there is a German saying: Wenn der Hund nicht geschissen hätte, hätte er den Hasen gefangen…! I will refrain from translating, out of utter fear of George kicking me off the site. Let me just say, I think we are being purposely side-tracked by some here. Like the poor dog, we should better concentrate on catching the rabbit…

      • A Remnant says

        He’s no more a computer hacker than Metropolitan Jonah is a ballet dancer.


        More comment like this and I will need a new keyboard!

        Diet coke through the nose hurts.

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        Excellent. I have sown discord, Master.

        Whoops. Did I say that out loud?

        • No. I think you said you were an incarnation of vanity. Or was it naricissism? The site’s very own theological gummi bear.

    • I know, I know. “But Rod didn’t release it!”. Oh, useful idiots, that’s the jewel in the crown isn’t it? But that jewel is tarnished. You see, the reason Rod didn’t release it is that, unlike the emails that miraculously appeared in Stokoe’s hands, the SMPAC doesn’t fit Mr. Dreher’s narrative.

      Anonymous — Dreher says he proposed to publish the report, and did not do so only because Fr. Fester urged him not to. His story seems plausible to me. How can you say so categorically that he is misrepresenting his motives? How do you make the jump from “he could be lying” to “anyone but a useful idiot can see he must be lying”?

      • George Michalopulos says

        good point, Mark. The SMPAC report certainly does not “fit the narrative” of being pro-+Jonah but that’s because it was intended as a hatchet-job to put +Jonah in a bad light. Even Skordinski saw that when she slapped Garklavs on the wrist for tampering with it.

        And lest we forget, there are names not in the report as already pointed out by others. It’s certainly got facts in it, but not all the facts and probably llittle context.

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        Then publish it. Some things talk, and other things walk.

        Let’s see it. Tell it to the Church. I’ve said so many time before.

        Rod? Oh, Rod? Where art thou, Captain Muzhik, Caped Crusader?

    • You are so full of loooooooove brother. Do you think you can tone down your arrogance just a little your glee is poking my eye. Again intention. Your intention is to win a ball game. Not to care about the Church! You could have stated this whole posting so differently and made your point.

      I know, I know we are Byzantine and this is a Byzantine fight with Byzantine rules yada yada . . . enough all ready. We can fight but fight with honor and decency. Stop being slimy and stop trying to win.

      • What’s the point of fighting, except to win?

      • Michael Bauman says

        Colette, that’s a bit like asking for a blessing on our soldiers but (GOD FORBID) we actually pray for a victory (’cause that’s just evil don’t you know).

        If we are fighting just to fight we all need to go out for that drink get hammered, fess up and drop it or have a brawl and drop it (That really is a guy thing, don’t expect a woman to get it at all.)

        If, however, there is something crucial at stake (like maintaining a fidelity to the Gospel) then, I’d vote not only for fighting up –you guessed it–winning. Now we need not use sinful tactics to win (but we will), that is just human.

        Orthodox are not really into pacifism. We fight all the time. Part of it is we actually care, part is just plain cussedness that seems to be in the ethos (regardless of the ethnic background). We need to be careful what we fight about and how we fight, but fight we will. If we are going to fight, winning is important, necessary and proper.

        So back to the only point that makes any difference: Has Met. Jonah done anything un-canoncial or illegal? If so, where is the proof. If not, obey your hierarch and learn to work with him (adjustment resonsibility is primarily the Synod’s).

        The continuing fact that everybody wants to bloviate about secondary matters ad nauseum is proof positive to me that there is no reason at all for Met. Jonah to be retired, removed, put on leave of absence whatever.

        BTW, IMAO this just as much about the reduction in power of the MC that Met. Jonah has proposed as it is about homosexuality and on that point I suspect there are many on the MC who will support Mr. Stokoe no matter what. Ah–lust of power, I love the smell of adreneline in the morning and if feels sooooooooooo good when it hits doesn’t it?

        • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

          In the main, Michael, I agree with you. We fight because, well, we fight. (And indeed, the ladies, the fairer sex, may not get that completely. It’s God’s blessing on them, I think).

        • Michael,

          I agree with the latter part of your post but-No we don’t need to use sinful tactics to win and don’t tell me it’s human because that’s an excuse! It matters how you fight. Don’t get me wrong-I’m in for a good fight, (and a drink) but how we go about it-matters. Are you married? Do you fight to win with your wife?

          I am also pushing how we fight because I think we’ve gotten out of hand. No one has put a damper on tempers. I think the bishops should have. Actually I think the Bishops should have had an emergency meeting with +MJ before Pascha and jointly put an end to the blog wars. For the sake of the Church they should have exercised pastoral care to the Body of Christ.

          • Michael Bauman says

            I didn’t say we should use sinful tactics–just that it will happen–need to catch when it happens and do everything to prevent it, but it will happen.

            My wife is too intelligent, too gentle and too sexy for me ever to think about attempting to fight with her. Not only that she is on really good terms with the Theotokos AND our bishop. It is a forgone conclusion that I’d loose, but were talking about guys here aren’t we?

            Don’t discount that entirely in the equation.

            Plus, apparently a peaceful solution is not desired. Since this whole thing began as a scapegoat like attack on Met. Jonah I’ve never felt the slightest inclination to agree with anything Stokoe has said. Scapegoating is not about fighting or winning or reaching the truth. Scapegoating is about one thing: destruction of the choosen victim (for the good of the whole of course). If you think this is anything else, you are being too generous.

            So, I’ll say again: where’s the proof (my aplogizes to Wendy’s)!

          • George Michalopulos says

            Colette, I agree with you. The bishops could have put this to bed 6 weeks ago. A simple press release like this:

            “We, the undersigned members of the Holy Synod, condemn without reservation and equivocation these slanders against our primate and members by all. If any one of us had offended anybody on this body, the Metropolitan Council, or the body of believers, we ask forgiveness. Let us now get back to the task at hand: the path of repentance.”

            But no, OCAN is too valuable an outlet for leaking info that pushes the agenda of certain bishops.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              This is large part of the problem. When the whole thing blew up after Santa Fe, the faithful were left to wonder and rumor and argue, without any public explanations, admissions, or assurances from our bishops.

            • Yeah, that would have been good on their part. yes, it does seem like MS blog is allowed to exist for some others agenda

            • Chris Plourde says

              If only, George. If only….

    • I guess it just “appeared” in the same way that Fester’s e-mails “appeared” in Stokoe’s inbox. I personally would love to get my hands on it and publish it. But I doubt that you’d like what it revealed. I have a feeling that the more traditional types wouldn’t have too much to worry.

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        Uh, George, I’ve called for Rod to publish it on this very blog. Contents be damned.

        But who reads his own blog?

        • A Remnant says

          Geez, you just up the page you implied he couldn’t figure out who sent the report, now you are going to hold him accountable for “truth justice and the America way”? But Rod told me in confidence the report is Mark Stokoe’s copy!

    • I’m not bitter, why do you say that? I still think +Jonah was in the right. You’ve never said anything to prove OCAT or me wrong. Your obsession with anonymity long sealed it for me that that’s all y’all had. Still waiting….

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        I said “bitters”, George. A pint of ale. I’ve put that bet in front of you a number of times.

        • I said “bitters”, George. A pint of ale. I’ve put that bet in front of you a number of times.

          Don’t bet him, George, ’cause it sounds to me like he’s had too much to drink already.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Niko, I like bitters and tonic. It’s really good for an upset stomach. I don’t put too much stock in the guys who are obsessed with anonymity. It’s all they got.

            • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

              I don’t really like bitters and tonic.

              A little bitters in a Bloody Mary, of course, is a must.

              So can I see the SMPAC report now?

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        Your obsession with anonymity long sealed it for me that that’s all y’all had.

        What’s wrong with anonymity, George?

        • George Michalopulos says

          you’re talking to the wrong guy. Obviously confused. You’re the one that’s obsessed, not me. I take arguments on their substance. Now if it’s a baseless accusation, that’s something else completely.

  20. I just heard that at yesterday’s holy synod meeting, Bp +Benjamin left in a rage and slammed the door as he left the room. I wonder what that was about?

    • In the end, what difference does it make who got mad or slammed a door? I take it as an article of faith that all of our bishops are sinners, the same as the rest of us. I want to hear what measures the Synod, including our Metropolitan, come up with to make the OCA function properly and lay to rest all the conspiracy theorizing.

    • Deacon Antony says

      Sadly, this is the first (and only) actual information about what has been happening at the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council meetings that I’ve heard all week. Maybe it would be a good idea for George to post an “open comments” thread where people can share what they hear. Certainly no updates have been forthcoming from any other source.

    • On further reflection, I am in fact avid to hear about every little detail from the Synod, and to spculate what it all means. I should not be, but I am. My apologies for the holier than thou tone of the last comment.

      • Heracleides says

        Who are you and what have you done with the real Mark G?

      • George Michalopulos says

        Mark G, I believe Nicholas V’s point was not whether BB is a sinner (I am the chief of sinners) but whether he has the temperment to be a bishop. In Timothy St Paul gives the qualificaitons: temperate, able to control his family, married to one wife, sober, reflective, not given to riot, slow to anger, etc.

        I’m in the secular world, and in all my business and professional dealings I’ve never seen such actions by my colleagues. Customers, robbers, yes, but never professionals or tradesmen. If true (and I also heard it from someone who was there), then we have yet another example of The Dumping Ground, of putting men of inferior character in positions of leadership.

        I”m curious, is Stokoe gonna put this incident in his “official” report on OCAN? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

        • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

          This on a thread dedicated to defending an archpriest calling hierarchs turds.

  21. A. Rymlianin says

    We have focussed to much on the specific issue of homosexuality in the OCA and in it’s clergy. The greater question is whether we will proclaim the coming of our Lord or will succumb to the spirit of the age.

    This is not about a gaggle of queers, but rather about how we live our lives and to whom we dedicate those lives. The internet, television and the media in general can all be seen as tools or they can be worshipped. We can devoutly attend vespers on Saturday evening or stay home and watch the tube. There are members of the Metropolitan Council who haven’t darkened the door of an Orthodox church in two years. How do we explain this at the Dread Judgement. We , after all, let it happen.

    Folks, we are all culpable and need to repent, not just the homosexuals among us. We have all , piecemeal ,abandoned Our Lord and look at what it has led us to.

  22. Anonymous since it's all the rage says

    Man, this is all great!!

    Now, who sent Rod the report?

    I mean, he’s sitting here reading it and not answering. Courage of the Martyrs, I tells ya!!

    • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

      OK, that wasn’t fair. Let me answer that question on Rod’s behalf:

      “I refuse to reveal my sources.”

      See? By your logic, proof positive that a felony was committed.


      • Still pulling you hair out about, I see.
        Aren’t you getting close to being completely bald by now?

        • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

          Still following me around, like a puppy, looking for someplace to pee I see.

          C’mon, dude. If you think my schtick is tired, look at your own. Jeez…..

          • George Michalopulos says

            You’ve grown tiresome now. Keep it up, otherwise I might forget why I’m a supporer of HB.

            • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

              Challenging your own thinking IS tiresome, George. Trust me.

              Now. About that beer you’re going to owe me. (It always comes back to free beer with me(.

          • How does it feel to have a dog following YOU around and peeing on YOU?
            (Luv ya anyway, Dude.)

          • C’mon, dude. If you think my schtick is tired,

            It isn’t tired, it is expired, dead, it is a dead parrot. E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

  23. Jacobus says

    This week, I saw a door close for me, but I am a lucky man. I have been thinking about the possibility of going to seminary for the OCA. I was getting close to making a decision, had talked to my bishop about it, had prayed about it, and was coming toward a decision. The Holy Synod decided for me. I can’t have anything to do with the OCA as a priest. It is too risky. If it was just me, I could maybe stick it out, endure whatever I had to. But I have a wife and children, and I can’t put them at risk in such a crazy, unstable church.

    I do not want to serve in a church that is being homosexualized. Maybe there is more news to come out of Chicago, but my friend who is there tells me that Mark Stokoe’s situation doesn’t matter to anybody in this church. It is not the church I thought it was. It scares me to think that as a priest, somebody who hated me could break into my e-mail account and steal information, and it could cost me my vocation.

    It’s just real sad. As sad as it makes me, I thank God for the mercy of having all this revealed to me before I quit my job and took out loans to go to seminary, and moved my family. I can serve God as a layman in my parish, and that will be enough. I feel so much pity for the men in seminary now, who will come out into this foul mess.

    • Elizabeth says

      God may still be calling you to enter seminary, Jacobus. Keep praying about this. A huge percentage of OCA parishioners will resist the lavender mafia. Thank you for serving as a laymen in the Church.

    • John Panos says


      Maybe you weren’t as ready as you thought you were, or as strong as you thought you were.

      Truth is, discerning a vocation is important work. Best that you found out now that you don’t have what it takes. After all, the Church has always had corruption – going back to Judas Iscariot.

      It’s okay, though. Like St. John Chrysostom says:

      “the priesthood is forbidden for all women, and most men.”

      • You’re right that I don’t have what it takes, not to survive in the OCA as we now know it to be. I would be incapable of trusting my bishop. Without that trust, what does a priest have?

        You can judge me harshly, John Panos, and I do not call you unjust in your judgment, but you should consider that there are probably a lot of men like me who have been discerning a call, and who might have had what it takes, or who might have been given what it takes while in seminary exploring that call, but who will now not even test that vocation because we have seen what the hierarchy of this Church is capable of. If it was just me, I would probably take that risk anyway. I can’t do that to my family though. I was so inspired by Metropolitan Jonah when he came along. I thought it was the Holy Spirit speaking to the OCA. I still do. We see what the OCA’s response has been.

        I choose to see this as God’s answer to my prayers for His direction for me and my vocation. I did not expect to get this answer, or to get this answer in this way, so it’s a shock.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Jacobus’ plight to me reveals yet another layer of The Dumping Ground. Here we see (whether rightly or wrongly it is not for me to judge) yet another fine young family man of some attainment in the secular world deciding that he cannot subject his family to such a situation.

          So who will be left to pursue the priesthood? Certainly it is possible that a few courageous and holy men will still be willing to subjugate themselves to such arbitrary bishops but I doubt that they will be many in number. Instead, only oblivious, undiscerning, and quite frankly mediocre men who lack vision and evangelism will enter the priesthood. Or crafty, devious fellows who recognize kindred souls in the upper echelons of the OCA (and this means the MC/Syosset as well as the HS) and know how to play the gayme.

          Expect mediocrity.

          • Ian James says

            Arbitrary bishops are not the only problem. Arbitrary lay people do their share of damage too. Look at the cabal going after +Jonah. It’s a public lynching. I have seen lay people go after priests like this too.

          • seminarian wife says

            Meanwhile decent, Godly men are in our seminaries, fully aware of the strife, and STILL seeking ordination. I’m somewhat offended to think anyone would call us mediocre because we have not run from this difficult thing. Women like me are fully supporting these men. We seminarian families are in the thick of things and sticking around to spread the Gospel and fight the good fight. We have placed our hope and trust not in any one man but in God. Pray for us. And yes, only the brave need apply.

            • colette says

              I will pray for you. I remember those days (I was the seminarian) and ironically there was a horrible scandle when I was there too-the Fr. Alan scandle . . . It’s never easy, this walk with God.

        • Heracleides says

          Jacobus – perhaps you might prayerfully consider Holy Trinity Seminary (ROCOR) in upstate New York? Cost of living there – particularly off-monastery housing for your family – is fairly inexpensive and I have heard nothing but good things about the monks themselves. Certainly beats anything you’ll find in the OCA at present.

        • Jacobus:

          Do not give up on this. The church needs godly men and their families. It may just mean that the OCA, in particular, is not for you. Explore the possibility of working at another jurisdiction.

          Orthodoxy is no less beautiful because of this hateful nonsense, and it is no less God’s church; it does contain the fulness of the faith. You won’t find anything comparable anywhere else.

          This struggle was bound to happen. We live in a decadent society where, for decades, secularism, moral relativism, utilitarianism and marxism have been determinedly undermining Christianity. See what it’s done to the Roman Catholics and the Church in the UK. Apparently, the modern secular state will not be happy until it has razed every countervailing philosophy to the ground. When the Church dies, the people die with it.

          More than ever, there is a need for strong Christian men to stand up against the morass of relativity that threatens to dehumanize us. Being a Christian in this life is incredibly difficult, and being a priest is most assuredly not a profession for wimps. For those who are genuinely called, it is not a ‘dumping ground’. I thank God for those men. We all thank God for those men.

  24. Anonymous since it's all the rage says

    You know what would be really sweet? Rod Dreher revealing where he got the SMPAC report.

    Have I mentioned that particular interest of mine?

    • Dictionary:
      insistent |inˈsistənt|
      insisting or demanding something; not allowing refusal
      • regular and repeated, and demanding attention
      1 persistent, determined, adamant, importunate, tenacious, unyielding, dogged, unrelenting, tireless, inexorable; demanding, pushy, forceful, urgent; clamorous, vociferous; emphatic, firm, assertive.
      2 incessant, constant, unremitting, repetitive; obtrusive, intrusive, loud.

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        I admit it all.

        Who sent Rod the report?

        • Why don’t you ask OCANews?
          You may finally get an answer there.
          It may be an unreliable one, but heck, it would be better than no answer at all (and save the remaining hair you may have left).

  25. Anonymous since it's all the rage says

    200 Comments!! Whhooooohoooooo!!!!

    So, uh, who sent Rod that report?

  26. Is there a moderator on this site who can give Anonymous since it’s all the rage the axe? He’s a serial baiter and should have been placed on ignore about 50 posts ago.

    • Ivan Vasiliev says


      ASIATR plays the role of the local agent provocateur–though who he “works” for is up for grabs! I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing to have someone poking us into asking ourselves whether OCAT releases of emails and names is any better (or worse) than OCA News releases and that, if there is a moral question (I leave out legal) about Mark Stokoe’s release of Fr. Fester’s emails, then there is also one about the OCAT releases and any potential release of the SMPAC report that Rod Dreher has.

      Ultimately though, I think this is all a diversion–and not just by ASIATR. The real issue is “the Church” and it far transcends the tactics of this particular battle. In a much larger and eons old “war” we are in a struggle for Truth (Christ). The problem is that the smoke of the battle often clouds that greater Light and at any given moment we human beings may be on the right or wrong side. We have to keep in mind that all of us are human and fallible. On the particulars of issues we have the Church’s teachings and the Holy Tradition (Scripture and the right teachings of the saints). So, we know what the Church teaches about sexual morality–but there is much more to what is happening right now than that. I think that we may have a defective understanding of Church order on the most basic level in the OCA, that our much vaunted concept of “conciliarity” is just plain wrong as it has been enunciated by some. We have turned a spiritual concept into a political rule that gives rise to unnecessary and evil factions. Much of the so called movement to bring the laity into church government, I think, perversely fosters clericalism because it divides the Church into “us” and “them” categories.

      The traditional structure of a Church led by its bishops (whose Synod elects a real and true Leader), advised by its presbyters, and confirmed/affirmed by the whole people is a spiritual reality–not merely political. The people–the laity–in Russia refused to accept the betrayal of Orthodoxy by all but one of the hierarchy at the Council of Florence. They refused, in Constantinople, to acknowledge the false union imposed by the last emperor . So, the spirit infused “voice of the people” is real. What has happened here, though, is the creation of false political structures–the Metropolitan Soviet is the best example–in which laity and lower clergy are almost naturally pitted against the bishops. The bishops, in turn, use the Soviet to push their own agendas within the Synod. It is sick all the way through! It also allows for the introduction of issues that would be unthinkable in traditional Orthodox societies.

      This is as true in the GOAA as in the OCA, even though there is no formal structure quite like the MS, so far as I know. It the end, it seems to be a uniquely American (maybe West European) misapprehension that democratic political processes actually correspond with the KINGDOM of heaven! (Emphasis on the “Imperial” image of the Kingdom).

    • A Remnant says


      ASTIR is not a serial baiter!

      No, he is a master at it 😛

    • Is there a moderator on this site who can give Anonymous since it’s all the rage the axe?

      I’ll vote for that! because his mind is definitely on “play again.”

    • I suspect it’s Stokoe himself. Why chase him out?

  27. Anonymous is Stokoe.

    Or possibly a close personal friend. But it doesn’t matter.

    No laws were broken to bring you this information.

  28. For what it is worth, I knew nothing about the OCA or any individuals involved in the effort to “get rid” of Jonah until I read the Washington Post article a while back and immediately suspected a gay cabal like the one that destroyed so many lives, families, and communities in the Episcopal Church (something I witnessed and experienced first hand, not something I’ve just read about — thought it doesn’t help that most of those stories will never be told).

    The problems with the cabal have nothing to do with “pipes” or how they are used. The problem is the subjugation of the common good and mutually-agreed mechanisms for shared decision making to a private set of priorities and values. Sex aside, activists of this sort have sold out to an ethical system that is foreign to the common person, and it leaves most people numb and often somewhat dysfunctional when they finally realize how they have been used and abused by another human being.

    They do not honor Kant’s categorical imperative, and have no qualms about using other people as a means to their end. On the contrary, all such “social constructs” including traditional ethical systems must be subjugated to the supreme goal of normalizing homogenital sex in society at large. In their world view only the most marginalized individuals can speak or understand truth and so there is no point in working through a shared discernment process. What they fail to understand is that the philosophy they serve is antithetical to any kind of community over time. It starts with the problem of how one objectively identifies prophets (the system itself does not allow for an objective criterion that can be universally recognized) and continues with the incapacity of nonmarginalized to comprehend the prophetic word (If they could, then there is no reason why they couldn’t be prophets, no reason why they could not have understand the truth in the first place; hence the impossibility of respecting “the other” during shared decision making). The ethical system itself has nothing to do with sex. The problems with it have nothing to do with sex. Its guaranteed destructiveness has nothing to do with sex. Not in the abstract anyway.

    On the other hand, if Paul is correct in his letter to the Roman church, the connection between this unsustainable ethical system and sexual perversion may be more than historical coincidence.

    • I share Um’s analysis, because like him/her, I have seen it work itself out in exactly the same way, among my friends and in religious institutions I’ve been a part of. I’m so pained to see the OCA make the same mistakes as others, but I understand exactly why the church is making them.

      It is impossible to know what people like Stokoe, Bobosh, and their group are thinking, but my guess is that they are divided into two camps: those who know exactly what they’re doing, and going about it strategically (by not openly advocating what they want until they know they’re in a position to get it); and “useful idiots” who want to be kind and tolerant, and who probably don’t approve of homosexuality, but don’t want controversy, or to be identified as “bigots.” Over time, what ends up happening is the issue of homosexuality becomes neutralized in the Church’s teaching (not the official teaching, but as a practical matter), and when it becomes optional to call it a sin, it will soon become mandatory to denounce and punish those who call it a sin.

      Think of the role that the Boboshes play. If my memory is accurate, Fr. Bobosh, who is Stokoe’s pastor, wrote an online essay saying that yes, homosexual activity is a sin, but that there are lots of sins we have to struggle with, so we shouldn’t single this one out. He is correct, to a certain extent. There are surely more people in Hell today over greed than over homosexuality. But whether or not Bobosh understands what he’s doing, the function of statements like this, and his signing off on his parishioner Stokoe, who is living in a de facto gay marriage, being on the Metropolitan Council, is to minimize the significance of homosexuality as a sin. If he were only asking for mercy on the homosexual Christian struggling to live in truth, there would be nothing wrong with what he writes, and we could all recognize it as true and important. The real effect, though, in our culture at this moment in our history, is to minimize the seriousness of the sin itself.

      I don’t for one minute believe that most of our bishops actively want to promote homosexuality in the OCA. There are two I believe have this goal, but most of them don’t. I think more than anything else, they want to avoid controversy. They don’t want to have to confront things that make them uncomfortable. I am firmly convinced that this is the main reason they hate +Jonah: he makes them face what they do not want to face.

      It’s probably true that more souls are lost to Hell through the sin of greed than through the sin of homosexuality, but you do not see churches (most churches) trying to change the ancient and Scriptural Christian witness against greed. Those churches that do flirt with this, like the “prosperity Gospel” churches, stand strongly condemned by many in the older Christian traditions. There is no chance you will see a pastor, even at those churches, stand up in the pulpit and say, like Gordon Gekko, “Greed is good.” But this is happening all over the Christian West with homosexuality, and it is powerfully reinforced by the popular culture. Different cultures at different times are susceptible to different sins. We happen to live in an era in our civilization in which all the rules governing sexuality are being thrown overboard. It’s been like this for at least 50 years, and we’re seeing the churches collaborate in this. After this week, I sadly conclude that the OCA is well on its way down this road of destruction.

      Having seen the Episcopal Church’s debacle, and observing the same dynamic in other churches, I have thought for years why things end up this way, and why the homosexualists and their allies work with such Machiavellian effectiveness. The only thing I can add to Um’s analysis is my own sense that many gay people feel such a deep and genuine sense of injustice and pain over their condition that they conclude that nothing — not Scripture, not Tradition, nothing — has a right to stand in the way of them getting the affirmation they crave. You cannot reason with this thing. It is purely destructive, and it says, “Non serviam” to the Truth, because what it wants to serve is sexual desire, which they have placed at the center of their understanding of themselves as human beings. To deny their sexual desire is to deny themselves, as they think. So to deny their desire would be in a sense to murder themselves. We must all die to ourselves, as Christians, to live in Christ! But they do not wish to deny that part of themselves, which they have made essential to their own identity. So the entire Christian Church and tradition must be remade, and their sense of justice clothes their crusade in a mantle of morality. The commenter who mentioned Saul Alinsky advising exactly this strategy was on target. I had not thought about it in that way, but Alinsky’s advice fits perfectly the very successful strategy gay activists in the churches have followed, consciously or not, for the past 20 or 30 years.

      It’s not an accident that Alinsky, who had no religious beliefs, dedicated his “Rules for Radicals” to Lucifer, “the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom.” That’s from Alinsky’s dedication page. Lucifer made big gains in the OCA this week, but I’m not afraid, because Christ promised us that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church. He didn’t promise that Hell’s gates would not prevail against one small sect of Orthodox Christianity in North America, though.

      • Gregory says

        I thought hell was harrowed and is empty. What souls are there?

        • Its gates have been demolished, yet still there are those who choose to abide there.

          Pray for them. And for me, as well!

      • I could easily say that you have been the last word on this whole affair, and that after reading you, we need to write no more. You have summed it up perfectly.

        I would add only one tangential point: heterosexual families are not tuned in to gays the way that gays are tuned in to themselves. There is a hyper alertness in the gay community as to who is in the closet and who is not. Call it necessary experience for survival in a heterosexual world.

        When families wake up, and much much too late I might add, to the fact that their faith has been hijacked by a political movement focused on a particular sin as its core value, they are completely surprised. They didn’t see it coming. That’s how foreign and how emotionally invisible the persistent pursuit of homosexual self-justification is to those who don’t pursue it.

        I was a member of a particular church for many years, and this is exactly how it went down. A rogue monastic and a counterfeit hierarch completely hoodwinked well-meaning Christians into supporting one thing while they actively lived out something else. The whole idea is to force the faithful to live in a mutually-exclusive parallel universe – “One person that I know is me, another for the world to see.”

        In the good old days we called that hypocrisy.

      • Um Fan,

        I wish all our priests and hierarchs could read especially your second to last paragraph because my sense is your analysis is quite cogent and relevant here and I think, quite likely, not many of them are wise enough to this dynamic. I especially want to highlight where you state:

        “The only thing I can add to Um’s analysis is my own sense that many gay people feel such a deep and genuine sense of injustice and pain over their condition that they conclude that nothing — not Scripture, not Tradition, nothing — has a right to stand in the way of them getting the affirmation they crave. You cannot reason with this thing.”

        This also suggests to me that there is but one real solution to this problem, and it is not outsmarting our opponents in games with words and politics, neither is it a cheap or naive forgiveness and forbearance, but rather making a profound commitment to love, even the worst of sinners, in a courageous and meaningful way. By this I do not mean a sentimental, permissive love (though I would like to emphasize that love without a deep and genuine heartfelt empathy is nothing of the sort), but the self-sacrificial commitment demonstrated by our Lord on the Cross that was equally a refusal to compromise truth.

        I deplore the fact that so many of the most vocal of us who are convinced of the real danger compromising Christian sexual ethics in the Church have allowed our impassioned fears to drive us to compromise Christian ethics in so many other ways (which equally endangers the Church). Others have said it better than I–only Satan wins where that is the case. I believe it only makes the road to healing that much more difficult.

    • Fantastic clarity in your entire post. Thank you, Um.

      On the other hand, if Paul is correct in his letter to the Roman church, the connection between this unsustainable ethical system and sexual perversion may be more than historical coincidence.

    • This is spot on-Thank you Um.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Excellent. Thank you.

    • Thank you Um..!

  29. A. Rymlianin says

    I hope that this meeting of the Synod,MC does not turn out to be another Cleveland Sobor, 1946.All of the worst elements of the Church crawled out from under the woodwork and forced an unnecessary schism upon the hierarchy.

  30. Dean Arnold says

    Point of order, George.

    I can’t figure out how to read the latest comments. Seems like it would be easiest to have them listed chronologically.

    Am I missing something?

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      If you click on “Recent Comments” tab, you can sort of get the chronological order, from the latest posted before you loaded this page on down. Still not quite as easy, but a bit more manageable.

  31. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    I am impressed, George, that you are getting so much traffic.

    OCANEWS.ORG rarely got so much on-line comment, if memory serves.

    • Heracleides says

      That’s because Stokoe and his crew of anonymous editors pick and choose which posts submitted do and do not appear in his comments section.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Don’t forget that OCAN is heavily and sinisterly edited and censored by its propagandist-in-chief.

  32. Pox on All Houses says

    Pathetic. This is what happens when a bunch of Calvinistic converts are allowed to run anything. They foul everything up, and then you wind up with dueling internet turd stirrers.

    1. The Calvinistic converts come from a culture where they’re conditioned from birth to be scornful and accusatory in their quest for temporal (not spiritual) power. Sure, they mewl the right words about wanting a better society, but what they crave most is authority, and aren’t adverse to personal hypocrisy.

    2. The world has always been full of “seekers”, those always searching for their next spiritual high – when they come from the traditions of American Calvinism into the hirarchial and autocratic structure of Orthodoxy, the results can never be pretty, as they have not been acculturated in the ethnic family, where family is more important on the immediate level than it is in the Western world.

    3. The attention span of the seeker is fleeting – when he gets irritated with you, he bolts and his next church becomes the most awesomest thing EVAR.

    4. Are you surprised that a guy who wasn’t brought up from childhood in a church and had no great training in his administrative skills would have trouble doing the nuts and bolts operation of the business end of the archdiocese?

    5. Jonah’s focus would be on making the OCA another branch of right wing nutso Christian Dominionism with a heavy and scornful presence in DC. That nets nightly news mention, but it doesn’t get babies baptised, homes blessed, the sick comforted, weddings performed or funerals held. Don’t know what all those heavy politics achieve in terms of walking folks into the fold – redneck ‘Murka already has megachurch pastors by the dozens railing about throwing homersechshul and fornicatin’ kids out of your house. It isn’t like that’s going to resonate converts into the church.

    6. Stokoe is an internet turd stirrer in league with Maymon and Moretti. As was speculated here, it may appear that Moretti may have had an opportunity to stumble into Fester’s open gmail account. I’ll let the morality of looking into and disseminating those emails swirl around in the febrile brains of Maymon and Moretti, neither of whom I’ll dignify with an ecclesiastic title, as they seem to have a tendency to incite, divide and attract trouble no matter where they go. Wonder why that could be?

    7. Dreher is an internet turd stirrer serving the interest of (and probably in the pay of) hard core fascist Dominionists. For all I know, he’s also hoovering up some Koch money. If this accomplishes nothing more than getting him to shut his smarmily pious mouth for about 10 years AND to making him go find real work, it is so worth it.

    8. OCA needs to fold into ROCOR. It has long been a joke in search of a punchline.

    Now, you may commence berating me.

    • OCA needs to fold into ROCOR. It has long been a joke in search of a punchline.

      Thanks, very inviting. You seem to be a sincere and equal-insulter of all and a lefty on top of it. Are there any more like you in ROCOR? I feel the warmth of the welcome already, folded or not folded.

      “It isn’t like that’s (your warmth and attitude) going to resonate converts into the church” and I am not even a former Calvinist….. Pox on you…!

    • Pox — I’m acquainted with Fr. Moretti and he seems like a good guy to me. Do you have some reliable, specific information that he has done something wrong? If not, why not ease off the mud-slinging a little, if only for the sake of the Pascha season?

    • eeeuuuwah! Did you just fly in from Mark’s web site?

      Not all connected to OCAT are converts-Fr. Fester is not.

      This posting deserves my posting above for ASIATR. Where is the love, Brother, where is the love . . .

      • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

        Beholding, assuming that Stokoe is behind everything they don’t like takes a new high into the absurd for the denizens of Monomakhos. Yeah, Stokoe sends people out to call him turd stirrers on other websites. It’s all part of the master plan! Yeah, right.
        If this post were to be matched to a website perhaps Voices from within the slavic enclave of Albany …

        • I didn’t say Mark sent him. My point was he sounds like the ugliness found on Mark’s blog. You sure jump to your own conclusions . . . .

    • The Calvinistic converts come from a culture where they’re conditioned from birth to be scornful and accusatory in their quest for temporal (not spiritual) power.

      If you want us converts to resist the urge to be scornful and accusatory, why not lead by example? 😉

      The church has two options: avoid taking in converts and wither away, or take in converts and deal with their baggage. Isn’t dealing with parishioners’ baggage what Church is supposed to be about?

    • Re: #5, and worldly politics, I sure hope and pray that MJ isn’t lining up with them. But if he is moving in that direction, I wonder if that may be the real reason behind the Synod’s, and Fr. Hopko’s, concern. That’s a beast I hope he knows better than trying to ride.

      Re: Calvinism, I’m pretty sure MJ has at minimum an intellectual understanding of the dangers of that heretical direction in Western Christendom. If he doesn’t have a spiritual apprehension, then Lord have mercy on us all.

    • Would you like us to call for an ambulance?

    • Elizabeth says

      She (Pox) is likely that anti-OCA turd stirrer who had his sexual identity problem “fixed” through a dramatic surgery. She has been predicting the imminent demise of the OCA for almost a decade. This fits well with her blog’s theme which is that the OCA should immediately return to the Patriarch of Russia.

  33. George,

    Just wanted to let you know I appreciated your editorial decision to not post my 3rd and final post from last night. It was the right decision on your part.

    Given your role in this crisis now, I would encourage you to avoid extraneous posts on national and international politics. I think they diminish your effectiveness. At the very least you should create separate sections of the blog. But I’d refrain from those less important mattes for now if it was my choice. I’ve searched the web and there are lots of political blogs, but only one that does what yours does.

    Obviously this note is not meant to be published, but I trust your judgment.

  34. Well I’ve laughed and wept reading all this.
    There are a couple of reasons I can think of why Fr. Fester would be relieved of duty at this time besides,
    Turd and Worm references. This is a man who told us himself that he would be minding his own business at the Cathedral. As caring as he may be,. he has wraped himself rather unadvisably in the coat worn by the Met. A coat that is not his to wear. We need to focus on the fact that his e-mails refered to HOW the Met. felt — what he would probably DO and who would do it. He also set himself up as a kind of power behind the throne as if +Met Jonah needed spiritual and strategic instruction from him.

    This role was not his to assume and I can imagine the chagrin of +HB at realizing the latitude Fr. Fester has taken stepping outside his boundaries by discussing his private conversations with the +Met with whomever.
    Fr. FESTERS opinions are not the +METS they are just that Fr. FESTERS.
    +Met Jonah has the patience and wisdom to listen to anyone. It doesn’t mean he is in line to be easily led as we have seen.
    It also seems to me, while indulging in a covert role of self-importance he very well might have compromised his own parish stability at present.
    If he is as good as you folks from the south think he is then he is probably weeping with humiliation and needs a rest at this moment

  35. lexcaritas says

    Um, Um Fan, and many others, I can hardly add to your cogent analysis, except perhaps to suggest that the disorder which goes by the moniker of homosexuality is but a presenting sexual symptom of a deeper problem of hedonism, narcissism and eogism that is in a way charateristic to our fallen human condition, but which should not characterize the lives of us who have been born from above of water and Spirit and are not to live as sarkikoi or psychikoi but as pneumatikoi. But hedonism, narcissicm and egoism are endemic to modern Western culture and our consumerist perspective. I was just reviewing a glossy rather large and expensive four color alumni magazine put out by the Universty where I attended law school and am amazed to see not a single page devoted to academics and learning (which one woudl think college would be primarily about); rather the whole publication, with amazingly vibrant , high definition photos appears to be a long add for a holiday result: reminds me of Pleasure Island in Disney’s version of Pinnochio where boys went to be turned into asses instead of men. Can such a such a society and its culture long endure?

    The activist wing of those espousing the legitimization (and sacralization) of same-sex unions is composed in large part of well-educated, articulate professional people with high incomes and few of the family-related expenses that arise from birthing and rearing children and grandchildren. Indeed, the lifestyle itself is far-more self-centered and self-gratifying. However, it does not differ all that much from the lifestyle pictured in the alumni mag–which is destined to produce rather self-centered pleasure-seeking young men and women who, though they may marry, will each seek a high-powered, energy-consuing career, divroce when necessary, and limit the number of children who may interere with it to few or none. In that case, their ultimate values and life-style will differ little from that of peole who seek gratification in “committed” same-sex relationship. In fact, it is the death of sacramental, fruitful, faithful Christian matrimony that has paved the way for confusion about marriage and sexual communion itself and paved the way for the growing decadencewhich can only end in our destrcution as it always has in every culture which has come before us.

    I pray that Christ will show us the way to repentance and humility and will save us from our folly.


    P.S. By the way, I truly sympathize with Jacobus and share his agnst about seminary. When, however, did we convince ourselves that such an institution is really the best training ground for effective priests and bishops? Of course, like other professional classes (to one of which I belong), the members, once having “paid their dues” and been admitted to practice,” would have us believe that such an education is indispensable–especially since they invested three years and many thousands of dollars in it. But the best lawyers of old were formed in an apprentice system, not in academe; and the apostles were formed through discipelship with Christ Himself and their successors were personally formed in their shadows and at their feet. One does not learn holiness, humility, and wisdom seated in a classroom by hearing, reading and talking about it, but through training in ascetism, including regular and rigourous fasting, constant and continual prayer, and personal works of mercy. Both law schools and seminaries, as currently constituted, are recent inventions of the twilight of a moribund culture where institutionalize religion counterfeits the real thing.

    Still Christ is risen. Let us glory and confess Him.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Interesting question about the origin of the Orthodox seminary.

      But on homosexuality, surely it’s not just hedonism, narcissism, and egoism. It is also mistaken identity, or gender confusion as it’s called.

      • Yes, and surely those same foundational vices of narcissism, egoism, etc., are the ones with which we ALL struggle and which manifest in a multitude of ways. I don’t think the one who suffers SSA is more narcissistic or selfish than the next person, but because of the type of wound he/she has sustained (and we know quite often this sort of temptation is the result of having been the victim of childhood/adolescent sexual abuse) his level of shame and isolation may make it much harder for him/her to seek healing and support for recovery/sobriety than those of us whose narcissism takes more subtle or socially acceptable forms.

    • Heracleides says

      I’m betting that this Pox troll is simply ASIATR under another guise. The Stan/Vara mimic is only fair-to-middling, but I’ll give him an A- for effort.

  36. George, Help! says

    George, please, you’ve got to drive these trolls (ASIATR, Pox) off this site. They make it impossible for people on both (or all) sides of this issue to talk to each other. Nothing will drive good people who contribute interesting comments to your fast-growing blog away faster than garbage like this. If it’s censorship to ban mud-slingers, then we need that kind of censorship for the same reason good hosts show loudmouth drunks the door. I don’t care if you’re pro-Jonah or anti-Jonah, if you don’t know how to have a civil conversation, you need to be banned.

    • On: ASIATR, Pox

      I completely agree. It seems like some of the posters here find these commentators “cute”. They are not. They undermine the intention of the site and their witticisms are sly, abusive and demeaning. They are good at tit for tat. So what?

      BTW…does everyone here know that Pox is Varvara? She/he has her/his own website. I’m not sure why she’s even lurking around here.

      See: http://02varvara.wordpress.com/

  37. A. Rymlianin says

    In my travels throughout North America, I have had experience of meeting dozens of gay Russians ,Greeks and Arabs, all baptized in the Orthodox Church and all raised as Orthodox . Remember , Theodosius Lazor was raised in the Orthodox Church. The “afterglow”of the immigrant experience has sufficiently worn off that I think that you can probably find this problem in ROCOR. I think that if you were to ask ROCOR hierarchs, they would agree. It’s a matter of standing up for the Teachings of the Holy Fathers of Orthodoxy , unashamedly and , with God’s grace, projecting that two thousand year old way of life into the twenty-first century.

    • It’s a matter of standing up for the Teachings of the Holy Fathers of Orthodoxy , unashamedly and , with God’s grace, projecting that two thousand year old way of life into the twenty-first century.

      That is it, in a nutshell.

  38. The minutes from the Synod meeting were published this evening on oca.org. On the last page, it mentions the Synod has instituted a spiritual court to investigate unauthorized distribution of the sensitive and confidential documents to unauthorized folks. I assume this means Rod Dreher being sent the SMPAC report.

  39. For anyone interested, the Synod meeting minutes are now posted on oca.org, as well as a charming description of the Metropolitan Council meeting.

    I’m quite disappointed, but it wasn’t as awful as it could have been.

    A few summarizing points:

    – Bishop Melchisedek remains “Interim Chancellor”; I presume this means Fr. Garklavs will remain in his free Syosset office space.

    – On the other hand, Fr. Garklavs is not reinstated. So much for the “Hieromartyr of Syosset” narrative in which he was persecuted and fired by the Metropolitan. Although the Metropolitan Council is said to have offered him a “standing ovation”, I can presume Metropolitan Jonah did not participate. If he did participate, I can only assume it was ironically, as when I used a child’s lunchbox as a purse during college.

    – Metropolitan Jonah has agreed to take “definitive action” with respect to “concerns” about an unnamed monastic community. I can only assume this means the DC community. Not knowing what’s in the SMPACCAPACAwhatever acronym they’re using this week report about them, I can only hope this is a step in the right direction. On the other hand, this may mean New Skete is finally going to get its clock cleaned, which I’d also call a step in the right direction. But my money is on the DC nuns.

    – A number of facts have been clarified, like the fact that the national Chancery is located at 6850 N. Hempstead Turnpike, Syosset, NY 11791. (I had to laugh when I saw they threw in the chancery zip code there. I like to picture Metropolitan Jonah saying, “So you’re telling me the national chancery has been in New York all this time?! When did that happen?! What have I been doing thinking it was in DC?!”)

    – The Lesser Synod has been established as the Synod’s permanent executive body, consisting of the Primate (Met. J), the secretary (Bp. Tikhon), and two other members, elected for one-year terms (Bps. Nikon and Benjamin).

    – This very interesting line under the heading “SMPAC Report”: “The Holy Synod instituted a spiritual court to investigate the alleged distribution of confidential and sensitive documents to unauthorized recipients.” Zoinks, Scooby Synod! I think it was time to get on that case, like, a month ago.

    I suppose they could mean:

    1. Mark Stokoe’s public divulging of the names and institutions involved in the report

    2. Stokoe’s source for that information.

    3. Rod Dreher’s private possession of the report.

    4. Dreher’s source’s divulging of the same.

    My money’s on #4 and #3, and I hope possibly #2. #1 cries out for investigation, but I always knew that was a bit of a pipe dream. Which means of course,

    – The Synod and Metropolitan Council have not yet decided to examine the question of the deportment of certain members of the administration.

    So, if you’re hoping for a career in OCA administration, it’s fine if you don’t feel like going to liturgy for five years, or if you want to marry someone outside the church, or even marry someone who happens to be the same gender as you. It ain’t no thang, as long as you don’t call anyone a turd or a worm in a private email. The Orthodox Church in America doesn’t set much store by its own moral teachings, but it really frowns upon e-scatological discussions.*

    Hey, if I were Metropolitan Jonah, you know what I’d do? I’d make Fr. Garklavs my new cathedral dean in DC. He is already attached to that altar, and is under Met. Jonah’s omophorion. This would shoehorn Fr. Garklavs out of Syosset by getting him to move down to DC, and hopefully keep him busy and out of shenanigans. I assume the rest of the clergy at the cathedral could help keep an eye on him.

    * Offered with apologies to Alex Riggle.

  40. George.

    I posted something rather long, earlier, about an hour ago, but with some very good links at the beginning. You chose to reject the entire thing – that’s okay – but at least post the first half before the CSB comments which contain these valuable links. I don’t think many of our posters realize the depth these issues have driven the Catholic Church to in soul-searching. We are at the beginning of that journey. They are more at the end, their church in financial tatters, after mopping up billions in abuse lawsuits.

    This is what happens when the spiritual leadership of the church is also the governor of the purse strings and the abritrator of the their own conduct. The laity – the financial support of the church – become completely disenfranchised, and yet they end up paying the bill for it.

    • George Michalopulos says

      John, it went into the spam bin because of the number of links it contained. I read your message here and retrieved and posted it. Thanks for letting me know. All comments are pre-approved once I approve the first one. It’s automatic.

  41. I am also glad to se the former Baptists and Calvinists’ (and the culture war refugees’ from the Episcopalians) asses kicked this public way. Why don’t they go back to the Southern Baptist sect and hunt homosexuals, Communists and whatnot there.

  42. Michael Bauman says

    RE #230 Fr. Hans,

    I’d like to go one step further: the lack of personal integration you refer to is also a product of our culture that goes back to DeCartes (and before). The dictum “I think, therefore I am” presupposes a bifurcation of the human soul that is simply wrong. It is mirrored in (largely) Western theology with the distictintion between the rationalists and the pietists (I forget the technical names). It has many theological ramifications that are reflected in today’s ‘liberal’ Christian vs. ‘conservative’ Christian. Real, authentic, tradition gets lost in the process and many spiritual lives are still born.

    My own experience in college was a profound longing for a unification of my mind and heart. The tempation of the world (then as now) was to find that sexually. Since the longing was internal and therefore essentially masculine the temptation to homosexualize and eroticise those longings and feelings was there too. Although the temptation was real and I still remember it and its first occurence quite vividly, I immediately and firmly rejected it. I did not however take the next step of rejecting as firmly the temptation to eroticise the feelings.

    Ultimately, it was my approach to the Church that really put the bifurcation into context and gave me a way forward into healing.

  43. Sickened by it all says

    I am so glad I left the Orthodox Church, which seems increasingly filled with small-minded, petty people. I do, though, take heart at seeing some justice done. Rod Dreher has over extended himself in a rather pathetic attempt to look important. Fr. Joseph Fester has been smoked out as the slimy opportunist that he is. In their sick attempts at spin (and you think Stokoe is the problem? Puhleeease!) both have found themselves sidelined and insignificant. May they continue to be so.