Wait for It

George and I have been around a long time.  I’m guessing we’ve seen thousands of stories unfold and the one thing we’ve learned is not to reveal more than we know.

We “wait for it” to unfold.

We’re not quick to rush to judgement and if we tell you something it’s because we know it to be true.  (Except for George’s “satire” piece when he gave our readers a heart attack on April Fools day!)

We rarely pull punches.  When we know the truth, we publish it.  I doubt you’d be reading our blog if you didn’t already know this.  As a result, we’ve had a pretty good track record, which is why we’ve probably been around so long.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with other websites that have been in the news, as of late.  They think one side of the story is the whole story and they couldn’t be more wrong.  (However, if they cared about being wrong they wouldn’t put all this language on their website:  “Our decision to publish implies neither our agreement nor disagreement with an author, in whole or in part.”)

We don’t do that.  Neither do other respected publishers of information in our world. 

Another thing you get with us is lots and lots of experience with the different jurisdictions.  We have sort of an inside look because one story bleeds into another; good and bad.  We know the personalities but when something seems out of character for someone, we withhold judgement as we are doing in this case. 

Doesn’t mean we haven’t taken to task the same people in other circumstances when warranted.  We have.  

However, in the case of Metropolitan Joseph, his MO on record is “he says what he believes or you don’t hear from him”.  That’s just the way he is.  Even during Metropolitan Philip’s reign, the then Bishop Joseph went through the motions but would have no opinion on it.    

I, personally, never heard garbage from his lips.   Even when he was demoted to an auxiliary status with all his brother bishops, his response to our parish was this:  “Please don’t worry for me.  I will be alright.  I have a monastic mentality,” which I took to mean he could weather almost anything.  

Of course, I didn’t feel it was alright and said so emphatically, for him and the other bishops, and I got to know each of them pretty well in the process.  Not all personally, of course, but by watching them and learning about them. 

I have watched Metropolitan Joseph over the last two decades and I can tell you this:  I have never caught him in a lie.  He’s been criticized for being persnickety when it comes to liturgics.   He is ALWAYS on time and coming in late after he arrives is a big, “no, no.”   He doesn’t like people fussing around him.

But I think he truly loves the Church.  When he was speaking to us on a Saturday before the major event (Bishop’s Lunch) the next day, I could see that it genuinely pained how few came to Vespers.  Not because he was there that Saturday, but because he was concerned about what we were missing in not living the full life of the church. 

I have learned other things about him, too.  That’s he isn’t one for intrigue and drama.  He liked the parish I attended best because we didn’t call him up about someone not liking the color another person picked for the parish.

He acts extremely quickly when something is amiss.  He learned a long term priest, who most people loved, was (credibly) accused of molesting children.  At that time, he had to first discuss everything with Metropolitan Philip, but within something like 24 hours that priest was gone. 

And if he was interested in making a sexual connection with women, I didn’t see it nor did I experience it.  There was no sexual “vibe” about him.  I have been on the retreats that this woman mentions with my best friend who was very involved in Church life and we were pretty close.  If something were amiss, I would have heard about it.  It is extremely unlikely that one could keep an affair like that a secret, especially among woman.

Finally, if the jig was up, I think it’s unusual to be so public saying it wasn’t true.  That’s not his way.  He would just be silent about it.   

That’s my experience.

In addition, we have heard from people behind the scenes, some we know, some we don’t, telling us to withhold judgement and giving us information that suggests Patriarch John, and others we respect, have been meeting in Lebanon to sort through all this.  It’s certainly not an open and shut case to them.       

However, if the patriarch announces otherwise, we’ll report it, like everything else. 

But for now we only have this person’s unsigned, undated email letter “To:  Metropolitan Joseph”.  Not a salutation I would use to an old lover.  Nor would she have to tell him where she went to Church and some of the other details she mentions because if it happened HE WOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!  Especially over a 16 year period.   

Because she made her email public we can talk about the veracity, or lack there of, suggested by the details.  I personally think there are holes in her story and a BIG question mark about why it came out now, as I explained in an earlier post.  I can honestly say, that based on that letter alone, given all I know about the intrigues of that jurisdiction, having been a direct witness for 10 years, and having a best friend who was “in the know about everything” of that nature, it seems extremely unlikely that then Bishop Joseph was a party to any of it. 

So until we hear from the patriarch, we are not going to discuss his role in anything.  That goes for our readers, too.  

[gview file=”https://www.monomakhos.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/2022-09-02-Letter-from-His-Eminence-Metropolitan-JOSEPH.pdf”]

About GShep


  1. You might want to first try and talk to clergy who actually have been under +JOSEPH’s thumb and just how odd the man can be.

    And I don’t really see a man who owns a multi-million dollar home in Los Angeles and another home in Idaho as having a “monastic mentality.” The auxiliary bishop issue was really a serious issue within the Antiochian Archdiocese that proved flagrant disregard for canonical procedure. Just like the Joe Allen Affair.

    Either you and George have to be the most willfully ignorant people I have ever encountered on in Orthodox circles or you are just simply gullible.

    I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona, Gail. You and George interested in purchasing? Either way, +JOSEPH is in disgrace.

    Maybe +JOSEPH might be intrigued at being a co-owner too. He’s going to need a place to live out his “retirement” because between the vitamin waters and expensive gourmet nuts they pack in his gift baskets at Antiochian Village, he sure as heck ain’t gonna live the rest of his life in a monastery!

    • Gail Sheppard says

      You’re asking me to talk with clergy? Would it surprise you to learn that we talk with clergy, daily? Who do you think they come to with stuff like this?

      What I’m hearing is the same phrase that has been repeated from the board down. The exact same words. What are the chances? The clergy is repeating what they heard from other clergy who heard it from the bishops who are repeating what they heard from the board.

      If they all knew, why was it allowed to continue? Are you saying they all turned a blind eye? That even though George and I are in the business we’re in, they could keep that a secret? Not one of them breathed a word about it ever, and now they’re coming out in groves?

      Things don’t work like that, buddy. There’s a bigger story here and you just don’t want me to get to the punchline.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Believe it or not, Gail and I don’t always agree on everything. But we do agree on this: we never heard a word of this scandal until recently. We’re very well connected and people dish more than a little gossip our way on a fairly regular basis.

        We could be wrong. We ain’t perfect. But in my seven decades on this planet gossip this juicy just doesn’t stay quiet for long.

      • Metropolitan Joseph has resigned

  2. Mark E. Fisus says

    It’s hard to be objective with people you know well and have affection for. That’s one reason the archdiocese delegated the investigation to a third party, aside from the usual considerations.

    As preferable as it would have been for the Church to avoid public turmoil and for the investigation to be initiated and conducted discreetly, it might be that the allegation would have been ignored. It’s human nature – how many news stories have we read through the years about airlines not rectifying some situation until some passenger made a stink about it on social media? Squeaky wheel gets the oil. Furthermore, an investigation of the scope and magnitude would just be impossible to keep under wraps.

    Whatever form the public disclosure took, and inasmuch as I agree with the point you made in your other post that the accuser included detail (ex. her daughter, various name drops) in excess of what was necessary to trigger an investigation, that’s all water under the bridge now.

    One can both hold OiD in disdain and believe the allegations should be thoroughly investigated. So a grudging congrats to them on the scoop, but it’s one about a mere allegation, not a finding of fact.

  3. Thanks, Gail, it’s good to have the background perspective on that, being somewhat newer to the Orthodox world. I appreciate it.

  4. What a pleasure to click on Monomakhos this morning and see that you are back.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Thank you, Brian!!!

      • Ditto Gail!

      • Hope whatever fix was required wasn’t too costly.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          No, it wasn’t costly but it was a very interesting experience. I learn a lot and at the end of the day, I was gratified that when it comes down to it, people are good.

      • Yes, what a relief. Thank you guys. Had me worried for a minute!

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I wasn’t sure we’d ever work ourselves out of this mess. So glad it’s over.

          • Whatever the mess was, glad you are back! Have missed reading these pages over the past couple of weeks. You don’t realize how valuable it is until it’s gone….

            Our American land (and our American church) desperately needs the common sense approach that y’all bring here. You have grown into a significant unifying, grass-roots force in our American Church over the past decade – across all jurisdictions. Don’t know of any other entity that can say that.

    • I am so happy this page is back. I checked 2-3 times a day and was always so disappointed when I’d see the redirect.

      Thanks to Helleniscope for posting the notice. Hope all is well!

  5. Glad y’all are back up and going!

  6. Welcome back! 🙂

  7. Welcome back!

  8. Mark E. Fisus says

    Welcome back. I haven’t always agreed with this site on everything, but it would have been profoundly disturbing if the site was taken down because of its views.

  9. Welcome back! ?

  10. Welcome back Monomakhos!

    Great to have y’all back online again

  11. Welcome back, George and Gail!

    So glad you overcame whatever crap vexed you.

  12. Glad you’re back! Were you hacked/attacked, or was it something more benign?

  13. I am very thankful George and Gail are back. I missed them and all of you.

  14. Nicholas Sandoukas says
  15. A retirement that is as good as an admission.

  16. So next up what did Fr. Michael Habib know? Joseph’s long time assistant who was assigned to Idaho after seminary where Joseph owns a second house… Was Fr. Michael involved in helping or enabling Joseph.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      You mean the one that “Bishop G Joseph” owns? Who would use a name like that? It would be like me saying I own a house under, “Monomakhos’ Better Half” instead of my legal name.

      Only felons think like this: “Let’s buy a house and put his name on it so we can take him down.” They’re not even too clever, by half. They would screw it up with a name like “Bishop G Joseph.”

      • Bishop G Joseph is his legal name. He has been very open within his Diocese about his name change soon after 9/11. He said he always got flagged for having an Arabic name so he legally changed it. Taking him at his word, there’s nothing scandalous about it. It happened almost 20 years ago

        • Gail Sheppard says

          His real name is Al-Zehlaoui. Bishop is his position within the Church.

          I’m a healthcare consultant. Am I going to buy property under the name “Healthcare Consultant Gail”? No. But there are people that stupid in the Archdiocese.

          • He legally changed his name to “Bishop G Joseph” as in first name: Bishop last name: Joseph. MI: G.
            Yes, his given name is Joseph Al-Zehlaoui but he legally changed it. This has been well known and he has publicly said this for 20ish years
            Back when clergy booked rooms or airfare for him, Bishop G Joseph was the name to use

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I’ve been around 20ish years and I never heard it. You’re going to have to prove that one.

              • Feel free to contact me privately and I can put you in contact with many who have heard the same thing

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  Again, not interested in chasing anything you say down. I have enough to do!

                  • You asked Anon to prove it and when they did offer information you say you’re not interested. I’ve told you the same, information can be found by doing a background check which is a click away on a website, and again you’re not interested. Seems like you want to run away from the truth so that your bubble isn’t burst.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      I, too, did the same research and visited the same sites, as they pop up immediately when you Google someone. It’s not that I’m not interested. It’s that nothing turned up on these pages that is relevant to what we are discussing.

                      This goes for all of you (or one of you): We have a rule here. No needling. I normally delete people after one or two posts but I’ve been generous today.

                • “…many who have heard the same thing”
                  may have heard it from the same ultimate source;
                  which source may not necessarily be honest or accurate.

  17. Are your heads still in the sand about Met Joseph ? Sadly you think what you see on the outside is what is on the inside. Those who know, knew from day 1 this was going to be the result because it’s all true.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      So, Ani, why didn’t you do something about it, “day 1?”

      • Because I see, but I do not speak. I am not pleased at all this happened. However Met Joseph’s behavior is abhorrent. If you’ve heard the voice message, he’s contacted a woman who wants nothing to do with him anymore, just to say I’m in town and dtf (as the teenagers say). Regardless of his status or their previous relationship, he’s harassing her. She didn’t go public, someone in the archdiocese leaked it to the blogs. And if you had the ability to look in clergy files here and anywhere you’d be surprised what is in there. Yes the owner of the blog publishing everything is an angry man on the hunt and his own opinions are worthless. But facts are facts, and there is more that people don’t know ( it looks like some some other slighted people are looking to publish it) which is going to be a tragedy for the church.
        Also regarding his name, he did legally change it in 2001 which he has said himself. The “G” is for Girgi- his fathers name. His legal name was Yousef Girgri Zahlawi.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I’d be curious if other bishops out there legally change their name’s to “Bishop” so-and-so. We’ve got a lot of readers out there. Someone (we know) will be able to vouch for this if it’s true. You Anons aren’t ones we count on, one way or the other. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. The only Bishop G Joseph that comes up on Google is some guy on FB. Legally, I would think that name would come up in the legal dealings of the Archdiocese.

          That doesn’t mean one of the felons wouldn’t create that name and do whatever felons do.

          • I am unable to post a screenshot of a file I was sent but if you do a background check you will see that Joseph G. Al Zehaloui links directly to Bishop G. Joseph and has all necessary info to confirm that it is in fact him.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I really don’t have a vested interest in proving you wrong; however, that doesn’t make you right.

        • hello Ani, where can i find the voice mail he left on the woman’s phone

  18. The weakness of the Antiochian Archdiocese is that it lacks monasteries here in the US. A bishop is automatically on the frontline of the spiritual battlefield under heavy demonic attack. Not building monasteries is akin to not building training barracks in a war. The Archdiocese should build monasteries and encourage monastics for their own salvation.

    The other jurisdictions have a mess of problems, but at least they have monasteries to fall back on. Monastics are the heart and soul of the Church. It is the holy monastics that the laity have rallied around when bishops or priests get too worldly and corrupt. The corrupt bishops or priests are then held to account. (And vice versa for corrupt monastics).

    I pray and hope that the people of the Antiochian Archdiocese encourage monastics and build monasteries.

    Glad to have you both back George and Gail!

  19. Sad to say, that’s my take as well.

    As a wise friend told me once, never underestimate the ability of seemingly upstanding people to do stupid things. And always, always be wary of those whom you trust and of those whom you entrust to care for your soul.

    Protestantism may be silly, but they are onto something when they talk about not blindly trusting leaders, which it seems we Orthodox may due to easily, to blindly trust. Of course Protestants also have a history of blindly trusting ridiculous, charismatic leaders, so it’s not like they’re immune.

    I don’t think Christ calls us to blindly trust. He calls us to obey, which is different than blindly trusting. Over more than two decades in the military, I had to obey plenty of bad leaders. But I didn’t trust them.

    Can you tell that I have trust issues? 🙂

    I’ve learned over the years that the only place to not try to get milk from a dead cow is from Christ Himself. He has entrusted the sacramental life in Him here, in our Orthodox faith, messy as it is. So here I stay.

  20. An Orthodox bishop living in the lap of luxury while we peons go to work; pay taxes for other peons that don’t want to work; and get sent to die in false flag, fabricated wars?! NO! Imagine that! Incredulous am I. Not a red cent for these whited sepulchers as they continue to sadly manifest a disconnect with the common plebe. “And the band played on.”