Has Justice Been Served?


Not for Profit, Single Use, News Reporting & Commentary

Gail and I pride ourselves on trying to get as many things right as possible.  Every now and then, we make a mistake.  This may or may not be one of those times. 

Gail, however, will only admit to being “disappointed;” not mistaken.

As you all are no doubt aware, Patriarch John X of Antioch has received the resignation of Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North and South America.  

Because Metropolitan Joseph denies the accusations, we stood behind him.  Gail still does.  She knows him better than I do, as he was her bishop for 10 years in the Antiochian Archdiocese during the same timeframe all this was to have occurred.  This was also during her tête-à-tête with Metropolitan Philip who had to go all the way down to a deacon to verify her address.  It seems her bishop and her priest had no interest in putting her in harm’s way, although one can imagine the pressure Met. Philip put on them both. 

Philip, bless his heart, wanted her denied communion and to excommunicate her from the Church, permanently.  I mean, she challenged the Great Pumbaa!   

Other hierarchs took what Philip said seriously; seriously enough that Archbishop Nathaniel in the OCA (Romanians), unbeknownst to her at the time, wrote a letter taking her into his jurisdiction the second then Bishop Joseph (at the direction of Philip) kicked her out, which he never did. 

She has often told me that Metropolitan Joseph has a “monastic mindset,” words he, himself, used when Metropolitan Philip announced he was going to demote Antioch’s diocesan bishops in 2009.  Gail didn’t share his enthusiasm for “monastic obedience” and decided that if the bishops weren’t going to fight for themselves, she and others were going to do it for them.

Which begs the question:  Is this what Metropolitan Joseph is doing now?  Retiring out of obedience?  No where has he admitted he did anything. 

Frankly, if anyone should be retiring it should be the felons on the Board of Trustees, one of whom made sure this story got out to everybody and his brother by releasing it to all the board members in the Archdiocese saying, “it was common knowledge, but shush, please don’t tell.” 

Was it (common knowledge)?  Then why didn’t they do something about it?  Why didn’t they protect this poor woman when her husband reported it before they divorced?      

Another issue Gail has with this story is that she had a hard time pinning down who the woman in question was who catapulted herself into “public figure” status by releasing her “confession”.  Gail didn’t know her during her time in the Antiochian jurisdiction, although she attended several of the Northern CA retreats that were mentioned. 

The last thing Gail wanted to do is make this woman more of a spectacle than she already was, so rather than calling the people in the Archdiocese that she knew, she focused on the fact that this woman was a long time employee of the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health, (DMH) a company Gail also worked for as a contractor in 2010.

It seems there are two mentions of this woman, who are both long term employees of the DMH. 

One such woman, is a Prog Dir, Consumer Rights & Advocacy, a prominent executive who makes a $231,000.  To imagine she was once a damsel in distress is hard to believe.  https://opengovus.com/los-angeles-county-employee/helena-a-ditko-williams#employee-overview  

But there is another woman of the same name, the exact same name who may be the same person, who also “currently works at the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.”  This woman has “worked in the social service field for over 30 years and is proud to share her story of living with a serious mental health condition since she was a teenager. . . ”  She “holds a license in California as a clinical social worker and continues to use her own recovery journey to assist fellow coworkers, church members, family, and clients.”  https://copelandcenter.com/facilitators/helena-ditko

Did “The Fawz” concatenate these two women or are they the same person with two entirely different sides?  If they are not the same person, it is very odd that they are both long-term employees at the DMH with exactly the same name.  They certainly could be one person.  At least now Gail has a direct source(s) she can reach out to.  The Fawz’ word is worth about a wooden nickel.    

There is a lot more to this story so it’s premature to assume His Eminence is retiring in disgrace.   As Gail will tell you, we don’t know that.  We just know he’s retiring.

In addition, if the allegations are true, some would argue that simple retirement isn’t good enough.  The canons are very explicit about what should happen to hierarchs and clerics who transgress certain norms.  As far as we know, none of those are being applied in this case.


I for one do not wish to argue the point one way or the other but it begs the question:  Shouldn’t such a serious matter that was “common knowledge” over a decade ago been addressed before now?  

What is needed right now is healing:  healing for the Archdiocese, for His Eminence but especially for the injured party, if there indeed was one, and that can only come from the truth; the WHOLE truth.   

Having said that, I fear that other jurisdictions may take the wrong lesson from this scandal.

As uncomfortable as this imbroglio has been, some might argue it was resolved within a speedy manner and that’s a good thing. 

This is where Gail and I part company again when she asks:  “Was it?  Was it resolved in a speedy matter decades after the fact?”  

Many are saying it was also done as transparently as possible. 

Again, Gail:  “Really?  How do we know if Metropolitan Joseph, who is so big on “monastic obedience” that he would walk away from his own consecrated diocese if asked to do so, wouldn’t do the same in this case?  Retire at the request of a higher authority.  

It’s hard to argue it all seems delightfully “quick” after what we have witnessed in another jurisdiction where people came together and just decided to get rid of someone. 

Even the OCA was not above sacking its first two primates for moral and/or ethical transgressions.  The sacking of Metropolitan Jonah on the other hand was a complete travesty but it was the result of a clash of visions:  Jonah was removed  because there was a rift between his traditionalist views as well as his close ties to Moscow and the more worldly mindset that prevailed in Syosset at that time.  (Since then, it should be noted that some of Jonah’s initiatives which alarmed Syosset have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.)

Although the tidy way this is apparently being handled will allow the Antiochian Archdiocese a chance to choose a new primate and to move forward, Gail is not sure justice was served.  With at least two felons running the Board of Trustees, and the precarious challenges faced by Patriarch John who is purportedly surrounded by a Holy Synod comprised of ravenous metropolitans, it’s hard to know.

Whatever his faults, Metropolitan Joseph usually acted in a forthright and positive manner which is why Gail believes him when he said he didn’t do it.  Until she hears it from his lips, she will not believe it.        

We hope that Metropolitan Joseph’s successor is as courageous as he was when he stood up to the Greeks on behalf of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops.  Now is not the time for the other primates to sound an uncertain trumpet.

About GShep


  1. Great sleuthing. You found the name. OID hid the name. They are not forthcoming. One’s character stands by one’s transparent full name!

    • Gail Sheppard says


    • Mark E. Fisus says

      One’s character

      Well, two characters, apparently.

    • LOL. An easy search and 4 minutes after reading the OiD article I knew her name and spoke to people that knew her. OiD kept her name out for HER safety/privacy. Wow you people are pretty sick. But, let’s be honest, its VERY cult-like to blindly believe your leaders so I’m not surprised by these responses. Only surprised that they are FROM WOMEN. Amazingly sad.

  2. Ronda Wintheiser says

    When and where did he deny it?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      In the beginning. “The Fawz” said it in the note he gave to all the board members on Metropolitan Joseph’s stationary, of all things. That alone seemed strange. Why would an honorary board member (Philip brought him in) use a metropolitan’s stationary. Was it some kind of message, like “I got you now.”

      • Ronda Wintheiser says

        I’m still not clear about this. When and where did Metropolitan Joseph deny these allegations from this woman? Is there a document that is available that can confirm that?

        I am not about to believe this until I see more evidence than this woman’s say so. But I haven’t seen anything concrete to confirm that he denies it.

  3. Who knows what happened……this is a bishop who canceled Pascha because of the flu…….so whatever….another faithless servant does….whatever……

  4. I have known the Metropolitan for many years as a parishioner in the Diocese of LA & the West. He has visited my parish multiple times and I’ve had personal conversations with him. So I’m very much in agreement with Gail on this, innocent until proven guilty. Not to mention that multiple clergy, whom I trust, have confirmed my feelings. It was with great sadness & disappointment that I read about his retirement. It brought to mind the recent movie, “Man of God” . . . I couldn’t help but notice the similarities. The last thing that Met. Joseph wants is division and he felt that retirement was the only way to heal the wound inflicted upon the archdiocese. I hope the investigation will continue and the truth will come out. As with Gail, if these are proven true, I will be very “disappointed”. Now we are an Archdiocese without a leader and my fear is that his replacement will not have the same spine and willingness to rock the boat. Only time will tell. May God grant comfort to our archdiocese and bring to light the truth of the situation.

    • I was thinking the same thing about “Man of God” and numerous other such instances of false accusation in the history of the Church.

      A thought:

      Will Fawz, the board, and the rest be satisfied with his retirement alone? And if so, why? If it is all true (and mind you, it would surprise and sadden but in no way shock me if it is), why would they not turn their wrath on the Patriarchate for letting him off so easily instead of doing what the cannons require? In other words, do they want to see righteousness and good order prevail, or do they just want to be rid of him?

  5. Women lie, and women with motivations to advance a political cause lie the most. Kavanaugh proved this, so given the convenient timing I’m not convinced of the accusations.

  6. I have had it! says

    It’s time for the Antiochian and the Greek Orthodox Archdioceses to throw out everyone who is breaking the rules, those who are covering up for the offenders, and those who are enabling the violations of the rules of the Church. I am sick and tired of watching both Churches function in this manner. Enough!

  7. I was speaking with a priest about this earlier today. The short version is that in US law, the accused is innocent until proven guilty. However, in Orthodox Canon Law, that is not the case. He explained that when there’s an accusation, there’s an investigation, and that the accusation must be proven or disproven. If the accusation can not be disproven, then the mere fact there is an accusation is still considered a guilty verdict. Sometimes if there’s a certain degree of credibility to the accusation but it can not be disproven completely, then it’s still a guilty verdict.

    Regardless of all that, the moment an investigation started I didn’t see Metropolitan Joseph’s tenure lasting too much longer. Innocent or not, his continued presence as an active Metropolitan would have caused continued scandal no matter what; not too dissimilar to Archbishop Valerian’s own resigning after continued accusations of being a member of the Iron Guard in pre-WWII Romania.

    I do agree that every single member of the Antiochian Board of Trustees should also step down. They knew about this for years and sat on it. They did not report it. Would they have reported it if instead it was an affair with an adult woman, it was pedophilia? Or a homosexual relationship with some other man? Would they have reported it if human trafficking was involved? Whatever the degree of Metropolitan Joseph’s guilt, the guilt of the Board of Trustees is at least ten times that. I used to have a decent amount of respect for the Antiochians, but no more.

  8. Tom Wolenski says

    Am I the only thoroughly confused?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I would think with an accusation like this there would be a spiritual court of some kind. – Gone are the days that something like this only affects the Archdiocese. Taking Metropolitan Joseph out of the mix affects the Assembly of Bishops in a major way. There is no one left with the same authority to speak for them when the Greeks do something stupid which lately seems to be all the time. That letter Metropolitan Joseph sent on the Assembly’s stationary sure did wipe that disingenuous smile off of Elpi’s face, didn’t it? I can see the Greeks threatening the not so nice Antiochians they do business with: “Get rid of Joseph or else . . .”

  9. In Metropolitan Joseph’s retirement announcement, His Eminence states that a reason for his retirement is because he wants to the protect the Archdiocese and Church from any “potential finance damages.”

    If we all agree that Metropolitan Joseph is telling the truth and that he is truly an innocent man, there is no possibility of there ever being “potential financial damages” to the Archdiocese. In essence, Metropolitan Joseph admitted that he transgressed without actually saying it.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      If it’s true, the best thing he could do for the Archdiocese is admit it and let it be used as a cautionary tale.

      How is he supposed to protect the Archdiocese from “potential financial damage?” If people only knew what an ironic statement this is after two chancellors quit, with some 40 some years between them, under Philip.

      I think it’s highly unlikely a court would award her damages if this “confession” is for real. She was 38 and made a stupid decision. Millions of people make bad decisions, but it’s not a crime to be stupid.

      If this is really about financial damages, he may be talking about something else entirely. What if the Archdiocese is being blackmailed unless he retires? Naw, that’s too far fetched, right? The Greeks wouldn’t do that would they?

      There’s more to this story.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I think it’s long past time to rethink the specific canons When it comes to accusations. I prefer the American model of innocent till proven guilty.

    • These are two consenting adults. The woman has not accused him of criminal activity. Why should she be entitled to monetary compensation? If the accusations are true, then both people need to repent and be reconciled to The Church. The only consideration should be the healing of their souls.

    • Regarding financial risk, California’s statutory rape code includes clergy sexual relationships with those they are spiritually responsible for, in which case there is no true consent due to the power imbalance in the relationship, similar to between a therapist and a client. So if MJ is guilty and she sues, there could indeed be financial risk. I don’t know what the window is for going to court, but some states are lifting statutes of limitations so old cases can be brought forward, in recognition that it sometimes takes victims decades to come to terms with their abuse and have the courage to come forward.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        At 38, she was far from under the age of consent. He isn’t under a Board of Metropolitans or anything. It’s not like anyone could pull his license. The State doesn’t get involved in things that have to do with the Church as a rule. She says she just wants him to stop calling after a 5+ year hiatus. That she doesn’t know about call blocking is a mystery.

        The problem with all this is too many people are going to believe he has been set up and I don’t think they’re going to let this go.

        I also wonder if another shoe is going to drop.

        Remember Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Church? Bartholomew wanted him to go so the Greek Church could blame all the malfeasance they knew was soon to be made public on him. One NGO after another was blowing up in their faces and the St. Nicholas fraud was either uncovered or about to be uncovered. Yet he refused to retire until he couldn’t anymore. The guy may not have kept close enough tabs on his expenses, but he didn’t orchestrate problems like St. Nicholas. (Notice, in spite of all their noise to the contrary, another 9/11 came and went and St Nicholas is still not up. They can’t blame their money woes on the Good Archbishop this time.)

        So is this what we can expect to have to live with going forward? A bunch of scoundrels who pick off good bishops? Because it’s beginning to seem that way.

        • The State doesn’t get involved in things that have to do with the Church as a rule.

          Well, not exactly. Set aside for a moment the question of MJ’s innocence or guilt. I’m coming from the Catholic Church where the State has very much gotten involved, attorney general investigations ongoing or completed in many states around the country, with much criminal malfeasance uncovered including in my own Archdiocese, which was long considered very solid and above all that. Including the manipulation, grooming and sexual abuse of adults – not only lay men and women but seminarians – which is entirely possible for those who are immature, psychologically damaged, or vulnerable in some other way. That is why states are now passing laws making sexual relationships between clergy and adult members of their congregations, or those they are counseling or have spiritual authority over, statutory rape.

          For example, and this was a really bad case, a priest was found to have used material from both confession and spiritual direction to manipulate a woman into having sex with him. He was removed, defrocked and prosecuted under the law. And btw, it’s not easy for victims to come forward. They are embarrassed and very frightened of not being believed, of being rejected by their families or parishes, of public humiliation, etc.

          Again, this is not about MJ, I don’t know his innocence or guilt. But more largely, never underestimate the power of a predator to expertly identify the vulnerable and exploit them regardless of their age.

          I remember the Abp. Demetrious/St. Nicholas thing was blowing up around the time I started reading this blog as a new Orthodox Christian. And I too am skeptical of the EP’s motives. I’m presently in the Antiochian jurisdiction, and for other reasons disappointed by the Antiochian bishops. But I don’t know anything about MJ, have never met him, only what I can glean from others. But my experience in the Catholic Church makes me cautious and not easily trusting. When sex abuse scandals started coming out there, people automatically discounted them, called it a conspiracy to damage the church, etc. I thought so too, until more and more came out and I could no longer ignore or excuse it.

          Frankly, I don’t put my trust in any bishop. They have proven themselves far too fallible for that. I mean yes, obviously we want good ones, and is it extremely painful to see the weakness and laxity and feel so betrayed, I went through that in spades in my final years in RC, including talking to my own bishop directly. But in times like these, we have to remember there is only one Head of the Church, only one Person really in charge, and that is Jesus Christ. We need to get our faith and prayer life straight and focused on Him.

          Anyway, that’s why I won’t pick sides and make no assumptions, while hoping we will eventually know the truth of the matter with MJ.

    • Strike my comments about CA statutory rape law, I misread a document that listed them for several states and thought CA was on it. A second reading showed CA does not include clergy or therapist relationships as statutory rape. More states have been enacting such laws in recent years, but not yet all. Personally, and this has nothing to do with MJ, I support such laws.

    • Potential financial damages could very well mean loss of donors.

    • steve knowlton says

      I took his comment about financial damages to indicate the cost of a libel suit against her and against websites spreading her story.

      Reading between the lines, it seems to me that the Met successfully showed this to be a he said/she said scenario, but lacked any ability, short of discovery of documents through a lawsuit, to definitively disprove her. He was cornered and had to resign. It’s hard to believe that he could have been so naive to allow anyone to have this kind of private access to him, given the fact that every other clergyman in America has long since protected himself by installing windows in offices, and many other means to ensure that a crazy person can’t make an accusation.

      Also with respect to co-signing on a house, there are many fine distinctions in real estate. It is quite possible for a person with means to co-sign a loan in order to allow a buyer to pass underwriting for said loan, which could be not only innocent but even meritorious. I realize I’m reaching at straws here, I hope that the people that reviewed these materials ruled out innocent explanations. I noticed that the woman in her email did not mention these properties, which also seems odd.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Aren’t libel and slander suits over things a website publishes that they know to be untrue but publish anyway?

        At what point does something become news?

        If someone writes a letter that first goes through the hands of the Board of Trustees, the bishops, the Vicar General, the clergy and bloggers and no one disputes it exists, even the Patriarchate, and there are damages, is it libel to talk about it?

        You say that he couldn’t prove what she’s saying isn’t true. If she was going to sue, wouldn’t the onerous be on her to prove that it is true?

        Questions, questions, questions!

        I agree: “It’s hard to believe that he could have been so naive to allow anyone to have this kind of private access to him, given the fact that every other clergyman in America has long since protected himself by installing windows in offices, and many other means to ensure that a crazy person can’t make an accusation.”

        During the same timeframe, when I was in the Archdiocese, it was a rule that you couldn’t meet with your priest privately. Confessions and problems you might have wanted to discuss had to be done with the office door open (which in my case, was adjacent to the kitchen) because of some case I no longer remember. This was under then Bishop Joseph. He is the last person one would expect to be so ignorant.

        She may have not mentioned the properties because of the question on many people’s minds: How did a divorced woman manage to put herself through a masters program at an expensive Southern California school, while supporting 4 kids, living in what was generally thought to be an upscale neighborhood? In addition to financing property, one can turn around and quick claim it to someone else, right?

        Again, when I heard about property in the name of “Bishop G Joseph”, I had to laugh because if he really financed something for her, I would think he would have put it under a name that wasn’t quite so revealing. Unless he’s an idiot and I know for a fact, he’s not.

        To me, it seems like The Fawz, et al, were too “Johnny on the spot” with all this information that was uncovered. If they think the whole thing is going to go away, they’re mistaken. People will continue to ask questions.

        Can an ex-metropolitan sue a specific individual or an entire archdiocese for libel and slander if the whole thing was made up? Because if he’s innocent, that’s what I’d want him to do. Money isn’t the “be all or end all”. Having a decent bishop is far more important.

        If he’s guilty, he should say it, straight out, and put an end to our misery.

        (BTW, nice talking to you, Steve. Hope all is well.)

        • steve knowlton says

          The latest from OID (The “Fawz”?) shows 4 documents that in my mind prove that he bought a house in Post Falls ID. One appears to show that the property is part of a trust, and the beneficiary of the trust is someone with his last name, likely a nephew or something.

          No mention of the woman on these documents that I can see. Seems like the topic of your next post.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            You know. Like “The Fonz.” “The Fawz”

            Steve, I can’t remember how to spell these names! I still struggle with Michalopulos which is why I’m still Gail Sheppard. For the longest time I called Elpidophoros of Bursa, “epidural of bursitis.”

            People got tired of hearing me say it so someone made the wise decision to shorten it to Elpi.

          • So he or his trust purchased a property in Idaho. What is the connection, if any, to the woman? Her name appears nowhere on the documents.

            I’m trying to be objective. I don’t hold any leader on a pedestal so high as to believe he is incapable of sinning in such a way. Anyone who has even the slightest insight into his/her own capacity to succumb to temptation knows better than to believe it is impossible.

            But what do these documents prove other than that he purchased a house for a sum that, while it might seem large to many who live in middle America, is in reality about the cost of an average middle class home in much of California?

            Can anyone here who claims to be “in the know” please explain how the purchase of this home is understood to be connected to the woman?

            • Steve Knowlton says

              Same question here. There is a note today on the OID website that someone has forwarded these property records to the District Attorney. Nothing to see here, certainly no connection to any women mentioned so far. Even if he had cosigned for a woman, why on earth do they think the District Attorney would care?? I wonder if the guy at OID has ever seen a home for $600K on the West Coast. At a stretch you might call it a starter mansion, certainly nothing like his LA chancery pad ($4M).

              I sure hope they have better evidence than this of the alleged financial wrongdoing.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                I moved into a home in Southern California (Orange County) in 1983 and it cost $160,000. Track home but nice in one of the top 3 school districts. It now sells for $1,221,600.

                Back in the 2001 timeframe, $600,000 would have bought you a pretty nice house.

  10. George,
    3 things:
    1) I’m tardy to the party here. What happened with Gail that gained her the ire of Metr. Philip? I guess I feel like I always tended to hear positive things about him.
    2) I hope Metr. Joseph is innocent.
    3) What the hell is going on with our bishops??? Seems like we have a handful of good ones in the world and the rest are morally compromised, if not downright sleezy!

  11. I was under MetropolitanJoseph’s omophorion for about 10 years. I appreciated him from the very beginning because he was serious about the faith and was traditional. Coming to the U.S., Met. Joseph did not understand
    what the Orthodox were like in America and how, as Fr Thomas Hopko had written back on 1982, that the Orthodox Church did not follow many of the traditions of the Church as the Catholics and Protestants no longer followed many of the traditions of the church. And we Antiochian Orthodox likewise did not understand a lot about Met. Joseph. And there was a tension simply in the difference between Arab and American culture. But that was worked out over time.
    Not that everything was perfect and not that problems never arose. But like many others in the Antiochian western diocese, I came to love him and appreciated his serious faith and leading the flock on the Godly narrow way.
    So I don’t believe the accusations against him, especially the circumstances, the time and manner in which they came about.
    In the Orthodox Church, when someone makes an accusation against clergy, then there is suppose to be a Church trial. And there are suppose to be at least two witnesses to the accusation in order to find the accused guilty. But when a woman makes an accusation against a clergyman, it is not unusual to be a she said, he said situation in which the accuser is not able to prove their accusation. However, in our society today, if a man is accused by a woman, he is assumed to be guilty and is judged that way even if he can prove himself innocent.
    If theChurch then has a trial and finds the accused innocent; then the accuser and their mob will yell cover up and cause as much damage as possible anyway. And if Patriarch John had conducted his investigation and then declared
    that he had not found Met Joseph guilty of anything, the accuser and mob would still be yelling, Crucify him,.
    Crucify him.
    A number of years ago, I remember Met. Joseph saying, “Politics (i.e Church politics) is a dirty thing.
    And sadly many Godly and faithful clergymen have been falsely accused and persecuted. The Lord even said
    that we faithful Orthodox Christians would suffer in this life and be persecuted. And yet I am still very sad to have seen it happen to Met. Joseph. And in the final end, God will judge. The truth will be made known and we will all be held accountable for all that we have done. May God have mercy on all.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      RE: “So I don’t believe the accusations against him, especially the circumstances, the time and manner in which they came about.”

      Thank you. It’s encouraging to know there are still some Orthodox Christians out there who need more than an “open and shut case; nothing to see here” sort of process when it comes to removing a hierarch.

      • Stratos Fotopoulos says

        Whether he’s guilty or not, I do note that his letter and the Patriarch’s letter (both on the antiochian.org website) reveal a level of godly conscience in terms of their positions as shepherds, making their priory the safety of the flock and the life of the Church in continuity. Metropolitan Joseph’s measured words are delivered with such a degree of mature dispassion that I’m inclined to believe in his innocence. His words are measured and thoughtful, not predictable and perfunctory. Together with Patriarch John, he reveals a level of forthrightness and transparency that is refreshing and so highly unusual for hierarchical response to a scandal, especially when placed against the backdrop of the Patriarch of Istanbul’s demeanor and way of relating, using his shameful self as a standard for other hierarchs to follow. As such, both these Antiochian hierarchs demonstrate a “no one has ever spoken as this man” quality and elevates the method and tenor of handling the situation in a way that preserves the dignity of their respective offices.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          These Godly men do not always deal in Godly realities. Too often they are pulled into things they would not choose to be part of like most of 2009.

      • “In the Orthodox Church, when someone makes an accusation against clergy, then there is supposed to be a Church trial. And there are supposed to be at least two witnesses to the accusation in order to find the accused guilty.”

        That is my understanding as well.

        However, as “R U Sure” points out, we live in a society where women are allowed to perjure themselves with absolute impunity, secure in the knowledge that even if their charges are proven false, they will not be punished for their crimes, making their crimes “risk-free.”

        I was twice the victim of such women. In the first instance, I was accused of :sexual harassment” by a woman I had not only never been alone with, but had never even so much as spoken to. Fortunately, my boss (unlike my accuser) was clinically sane and did not take the charge seriously. More recently, I was subject to police interrogation and threats, because a woman I knew said my attentions was “unwelcome” (apparently, that is now a criminal offense in the Anglosphere!).

        I have now decided that, if I am ever subjected to such behavior again, that I will mount what is called a “private prosecution” for false accusation against any such perjurer. In New Zealand, where I now live, you can hire a lawyer and file a criminal compliant against someone without waiting for the Police or a public prosecutor to act. The judge must decide if there is a “case to answer,” but if there is, then an arrest warrant can be issued, and the trial can proceed.

        Some may say that such an attitude is un-Christian. Perhaps so, but I can not bear to live in a society where half of the population is privileged to perjure the other half without consequence. You simply cannot have a functioning civil society on that basis.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I agree with you completely.

          One of my son’s girlfriends caught him talking to another girl and told the police he had abused her in a parking lot. There had actually been witnesses (a family of 5) who said this wasn’t the case, but they locked him up in jail anyway until my daughter saw on her Facebook page where she said: “I would lie all over again to keep him in jail for talking to that girl.”

          They let him out but nothing happened to her. He was in jail on domestic violence charges which were felonies and not just for a few days either; it was a few months and lots of money for an attorney.

        • Ronda Wintheiser says

          Our family has had the very life sucked out of it for decades by a hideous accusation one of my sisters made in 1994, against my father and his father as well. The accusation was made even though my sister said she did not remember any such thing had happened — but based on grotesque dreams and *feelings* she had.

          She publicly accused him, cut him out of her life and cut anyone who did not “believe” her out of her life as well. Dad flatly denied these accusations, but Grandpa wasn’t alive to defend himself.

          Then she proceeded to craft an entire new identity and our family history based on that accusation. She presented herself to the larger Orthodox community here in the Twin Cities a a “survivor of incest”.

          As time went by, she “infected” three of her six children with that belief, and they eventually claimed that indeed their Grandpa had molested them as well. Her oldest son committed suicide when he was in his 20s, and my sister had infected her own priest with the belief that his suicide was a result of my nephew’s anguish over having been molested by Dad in spite of the fact that his suicide note said nothing of the sort. That priest announced that my nephew had been molested as a child by a family member *during the homily at the funeral*, so then my own daughters were exposed to the lie as well.

          My mother and I attempted, over the years, to find Orthodox clergy who would be willing to at least attempt to confront my sister about these baseless allegations, to no avail. Meanwhile, my sister “infected” her daughters’ boyfriends, one of whom has married one of her daughters and is an Orthodox priest himself, and they all persist in this destructive belief to this day.

          Over the years, my sister has traveled around the country visiting extended family and informing them of this “news”, and was successful at convincing some of them to believe her, against all good sense, even to the point of “infecting” one of our other younger sisters with the belief, and in turn, one of that her sons has recently said he believes his great Grandpa molested him as well.

          My father died two weeks ago, so that travesty can never be resolved properly, this side of death.

          All this to say that it will take far more than what I have seen so far to convince me that Metropolitan Joseph is guilty. I am forever skeptical, now, of any woman who comes forward with an allegation that is based on decades old information. There is no way to know if, perhaps, the woman who has made these elaborate accusations against Metropolitan Joseph based on absolutely nothing but her own delusions.

  12. I was in the Antiochian Archdiocese during a time that overlapped with Gail’s. I don’t agree with everything his Eminence has done or how he’s used his episcopal authority in the past, but I have trouble believing this for a number of reasons. Forgive me for generalizing, but I have quite a number of Arab friends and Arabs talk. I have heard all manner of crap spoken against his Eminence and NEVER once heard a rumor about him sleeping around. I spoke about this with another Arab friend pointing this out and asking if my view was perhaps incomplete because I am not Arab and he likewise said that there is absolutely no way this wouldn’t have spread everywhere and he wouldn’t have heard anything about it. I have also spent time among the Palestinians and Jordanians who left the Antiochian Archdiocese and as much ire as they have for his Eminence, they also never included this “open secret” in their criticisms of him. Houses co-owned by a Bishop G. Joseph likewise are not the smoking gun that Cacodoxy in Monologue claims it is because that is obviously NOT his name but close enough to confirm the suspicions of those who would like to believe this. If he did co-sign with a fake name then why use one that would immediately point people to him? Why use an episcopal title when a legal name or any other number of names would do? It’s not as if there are any people in the Antiochian Archdiocese with the disposable income to likewise co-sign on a house with a fake name that would immediately arouse suspicion in anyone.

    All that said, Arabs talk. After all this nonsense- even if all the accusations are completely false- he could never effectively lead the Archdiocese again with all of these accusations floating around. He’s lost peoples’ confidence no matter what. This would be the only course of action left to him.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Thank you for coming forward.

      And on the convert side of the fence, I was close friends with a woman who was very much in the know. This simply would not have escaped her notice. If it was “common knowledge” then why did the woman have to provide all those names she listed as if they knew what was going on? Why aren’t we hearing from them in the blogosphere?

      • George Michalopulos says

        That’s one of the main things I can’t wrap my head around: that there was never any word whispered about this. People talk. Something just doesn’t add up.

        • You’re right George. People do talk which is why a lot of people knew from 20-30 years ago about his history before he was sent to America. Why wasn’t anything said? Because that’s how it was done back then, and to a degree still is.

          • People keep talking about how some people have known for all of this time but nobody I ask who says that had actually heard that until OID started saying this was an open secret. Have YOU known for years?

            • I had known about his personal history before coming to America. Sadly he’s not the only one. And most people don’t speak up because it’s so common, you get used to it. This case with Helena, is the first I hear of one pursuing a woman not interested, which for her I guess amounted to harassment.
              I did not know about the co-owning of properties, and finances which has come to light.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Your statements sound more like, “yeah, I heard this or that” but you don’t know if what you heard was true.

                When you said you knew about his personal history is that because you were told about it or you saw evidence of it?

                Are you saying it is common for bishops to have women? I would love to hear this from one of the deacons who follow them around.

                I think she had to be interested to carry on a relationship with him for 16 years. She even sounds a little jealous when she accuses him of having other women in his life.

                I missed the part of co-owning properties. I only heard about a property under the name Bishop G. Joseph which is a ridiculous name to use if you’re trying to be stealth about a secret affair.

                So if this woman benefited all these years, which is seemingly true because she had the resources to live a pretty decent life, what does she want from the Archdiocese now that she has outed a popular bishop who apparently enabled her to get an education and wind up with a $200,000+ a year job?

                • Devil is in the details.

                  [Editor Note: Please provide evidence.]

                  Looks at the docs and tell me something im missing. [Therein lies the problem. You haven’t posed any docs for us to look at.]

                  Maybe I am! This IMO warrants an explanation, at the very, very least.

                • Yes i will post the documents for evidence. How do I attach the PDF files?

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Thanks, Cindy, but because he retired, it changes things. If he were going to remain a Metropolitan, then he would be accountable to the Church. Because he retired, he is only accountable to God.

                    With PDF files you have to upload them on the Internet somewhere and then post the link. With WordPress (at least the version we have) you can’t do too much in comments. I wish we could at least post pictures like you can on other social media sites.)

                    • No other profession (or legal system) treats culpability based on present employment. Christian leaders no less should set an example and be held to an even higher standard. Imagine a police chief absolved from crimes committed under the color of the law because he is “retired, and he is only accountable to God.” What, Gail??

                    • Cindy, as I understand it,
                      he has been found ‘guilty’ of nothing.
                      He has resigned to spare the Church the media circus
                      that would surely arise from his defending the case.

                      Of course, lacking knowledge,
                      I may be wrong.
                      But so also might you be.

            • Certain members of the board knew not the whole board. They kept the details from the whole board. Y’all need to demand accountability. Palm Springs 2.0 this time don’t let them bully y’all into silence.

  13. I’m with Gail on this one as well, innocent until proven guilty.

    I still think this accusation, which most of us have never heard of, miraculously appears after Met. Joseph decides to step up against Elpi, and by extension the Fordhamites. My gut tells me this was no coincidence.

    But I agree with other comments, even if the accusation is not true there are going to be people within the AAOA who would make it difficult for Met. Joseph to continue his tenure as Metropolitan.

    My hope is that he did not step down just for the Archdiocese will be thrown to the wolves. Not to speak ill of the dead, but, the worst possible thing the Archdiocese needs is a Met. Phillip 2.0. Hopefully Patriarch John has the wherewithal to know this and to also place someone who will continue to stand up against the Greeks. Given the number of converts the Antiochians are getting it would be very unwise.

    I don’t know much about the Antiochian bishops in America other than a little about Bishop Basil and Bishop Nicholas, but, if the current crop can’t handle the job I would much rather they send a holy monastic from Hamatoura than just another “company man.” Though I know many are against old world bishops.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      You know Metropolitan Philip survived an episode like this. Same story. An out of the blue accusation about him fathering a child, as I recall. That person just slinked away never to be heard from again.

      Something these people haven’t considered is that someone is going to get to the bottom of this. If it turns out that it’s a hoax, we have a name connected to it and that person will have to answer for it. (I’m not talking about the woman.)

  14. I remember the fracas that Gail was a part of and I am well aware of how Metropolitan Phillip and the Antiochian Archdiocese played very dirty and nasty against Gail and other people who were only asking questions about church order and financial issues.There was a lot of skulking around and shadowy sneaking about outside of people’s houses.I remember how frightened you were Gail.Having said that ;it is pretty obvious that none of that has happened in this matter.It appears that the Archdiocese no long wants or needs to intimidate or the allegations are not true.

  15. Son of Antioch says

    Has anyone looked into the private meeting that former Chancellor Charles Ajalat had with Patriarch John at Balamand the same week that the allegation was made public? He is not on the Board of Trustees but knew which week to schedule the meeting. He admitted to his fellow parishioners that he talked with the patriarch about this matter. Follow the money….

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Charles Ajalat is one of the good guys. He is an advocate for the administrative unity of the various Orthodox jurisdictions in North America and used to be the Chancellor of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese until he quit because of some of the problematics decisions made by Metropolitan Philip at the time. The biggest, of course, was his intent to relegate the diocesan bishops in the Holy Synod to an auxiliary status.

      The other chancellor, Robert Koory, quit as well. Also a good guy, from what I’ve heard.

      They both gave up their combined 40+ years with the Archdiocese.

      According to Mark Stokoe at the time, “that left Deacon Emile Paul Sayegh of Yonkers, NY [to represent the Archdiocese]. Sayegh, who is in practice with his brother, is a personal injury lawyer whose website (here) lists the following practice areas: “Personal Injury, Auto Accidents, Slip and Fall, Construction Site Accidents, Medical Malpractice, Criminal Law, Felonies, Misdemeanors, Drug Crimes, Driving While Intoxicated, Traffic Violations, Bankruptcy, Real Estate, Divorce, Matrimonial Law, Child Custody, Child Support and Business Law.”

      It was around this time I first heard of “The Fawz.” Met. Philip made him an honorary board member, and before he passed, put him in charge of managing the recommendations and on-boarding of members to the Board of Trusties around the time he made Antony Gabriel “Economos” by Metropolitan Philip, and Great Economos by Metropolitan Joseph.

      With respect to who will replace Met. Joseph, there were (perhaps still are) two different constitutions (one in Antioch and a different one in New York). Antioch’s constitution said Antioch is to provide 3 candidates and the Archdiocese will choose one of the three; however, the archdiocese’s constitution in New York says just the opposite, i.e. that the Archdiocese gets to select three candidates and Antioch gets to choose one of the three. It was also true that Antioch could throw out all three recommended candidates and choose one of their own.

      After Met. Philip passed, however, the top 3 candidates came from recommendations from the parishes more in line with the American constitution in NY.

      Prior to that, however, replacing a metropolitan used to be a dicey proposition. Hopefully, this is no longer the case.

      It doesn’t surprise me at all that Ajalat was asked to meet with Patriarch John as this story was unfolding. In spite of stepping down as chancellor under Met. Philip, Ajalat remained very loyal to the Antiochian Archdiocese and because he is so well-respected, I suspect he is often called to weigh in on important legal matters, as a “friend of the Archdiocese”.

      • Stratos Fotopoulos says

        Most likely the New York version is correct. The three names (“Trisprosopon” in Greek) go from the Archdiocese to the Patriarch, who (or whose synod) has the final say and can choose someone else (as happened in the GOA and the current not-asked-for Archbishop). The Antiochian Archdiocese may be “Self-Ruled” (autonomous) but the Patriarch picks the Ruler.

  16. I personally have to suspect it’s still true. After publicly available records revealed Met. Joseph’s alleged alias “Joseph G. Bishop” owns a house with Helena Ditko Williams, for me the game was up.

    Nevertheless I do appreciate the liturgical renewal under Met. Joseph’s leadership, and his vision for the future of Antiochian Village was inspirational. And whatever his personal moral failings may be, his public stances have been critical and necessary for the Church in our times. That is why OID is still in the wrong: they have an anti-Christian agenda and they think that the messenger’s moral failings make the message false. It doesn’t. It just means the messenger is a fallen human being, like the rest of us.

    Met. Joseph’s apparent mistake does not negate the good things he accomplished. But as Mikhail V posted, he has lost the confidence of the Church and he can no longer effectively lead, whether it’s true or not. I hope there is an ecclesiastical trial and the truth is found out.

    We need to pray for the next Metropolitan. I personally pray that Bishop John of Worcester, a widower, is in the running. My priest addressed the situation during coffee hour yesterday, and he is hearing word that the bishops may be restored to full diocesan authority so one man doesn’t run the whole show. We shall see. Lord have mercy.

  17. Whether the accusations are true or not, the worst thing for me is the sense of smug self-righteousness that “Orthodoxy” in Dialogue is going to have going forward. They will be emboldened to continue their slanders and attacks on other decent men.

  18. “The last thing Gail wanted to do is make this woman more of a spectacle than she already was…” Are you kidding? You have made her a complete spectacle, outing her by name, exposing her place of work and income, casting aspersions on her character (as if victims of sexual predators, if her story is true, should not be able to do well professionally) and before any investigation has been completed. I begin to feel I am reading a gossip tabloid.

    And you report selectively. I did a simple search of her name and found her 2007 divorce records, and also a tribute written in 2008 to her by her daughter, both of which confirm details in her story. The daughter’s tribute includes how her mother after the divorce went to school and got a master’s degree in social work. The site that details her income also shows her work history from the time of her degree and associated income, which has gradually improved as she advanced professionally. That’s hardly an indictment of character, actually speaks in her favor if you ask me.

    As for financial risk, California’s statutory rape code includes clergy sexual relationships with those they are spiritually responsible for, so if MJ is guilty and she decides to sue, there may well be a risk.

    There is also the factor of emerging allegations – which again we don’t know the truth of – from three other women, one married and two from before he came to the US. Will there be more? Guilty or innocent, in light of this I do think it right that he stepped down.

    At any rate, I am very disappointed by this biased article, which basically does what OiD did only on the other side. Remember that God shows no partiality, no respect of persons, and no one knows for a fact whether MJ is guilty or innocent.

    And frankly, there are many clergy and people in general who were considered fine, upstanding people by everyone who knew them – until it came out they were having affairs, committing sexual abuse or embezzlement, etc. Some people are just really good actors and tell people what they want to hear. I know that in spades from the Catholic Church, some of the best, strongest, most conservative bishops everyone looked up to outed for committing, covering up and enabling serious sexual abuse of all kinds.

    Personally, I assume nothing and am not picking sides as I don’t know the truth, though having seen so much of this sort of stuff you’ll have to forgive me if I lean a bit toward “Where there’s smoke…” Either way, I do hope and pray the Patriarch will conduct a full investigation and release the results so all this confusion, accusation and counteraccusation can go away. It is unseemly and beneath us all.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Something tells me you haven’t read the letter because if you had you would know it was her stated intention that the whole Church know her “secret” because it had a “rippling down affect on the Church and the community” (paraphrasing).

      She also said she didn’t want to “carry the burden of keeping the secret to herself any longer” so she told hundreds of people who told hundreds of other people and so on and so forth.

      She outed herself, on purpose, putting her name on the letter. Interestingly, it wasn’t signed which is kind of weird. Where she works, when she was divorced, who her kids are, etc. is all public information on the Internet.

      She sent her letter to the board and copied her letter to all the bishops in Antioch, including the Vicar General, and then presumably, they handed it down to the clergy/laity, and from the clergy/laity it went to other jurisdictions. And someone (perhaps even her) sent her letter to the OiD and they ran with the story because frankly we wouldn’t, although we (and perhaps other bloggers) had it too.

      The minute OiD made it available, her name was in the public domain along with all the other mundane information the Internet collects on people including where she works.

      You may have first seen her name here, but that’s only because you landed here and not some other place where that information was made available. You’ll notice in the article that disappointed you (TMI), I didn’t mention her name because I hadn’t yet been told her name had been released.

      After her name was released, I mentioned her employment because I found it interesting that there appears to be two people with the same name at the same place doing vastly different things for a very long time. They almost sound like two different people.

      Sorry you were disappointed.

      • The minute OiD made it available, her name was in the public domain.

        No it wasn’t. I read the OiD post when the story first came out, it only has her first name and he stated up front he withheld her last name. I only saw her full name the first time in this post I am commenting on now, and was very taken aback. Was her name first made public elsewhere? By that I mean beyond the private recipients of her letter, in a news story or blog intended for public consumption.

        You’ve been clear in your belief in MJ’s innocence, which explains your hostility to the woman, and of course you can think what you like. But I don’t see incriminating evidence in anything I see about her online – and I do believe it inappropriate to expose her here in the way it was done.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I don’t frequent the OiD site. I heard they published her letter and that’s all. Her name was on the letter. Good on the them for leaving it off, if that’s what they did.

          On August 18, her letter (w/ her name) took on a life of it’s own. Within hours of being presented to the Board of Trustees, that letter was released to most of Antioch, the OCA, and ROCOR, from whom we got our copy.

          August 23, is when OiD released the letter on their website (withholding her name, from what you’re saying; thank you for the information), but the original letter name and all had circulated far and wide at this point; everybody was talking about it.

          Blogs aren’t the only means of communication.

          It wasn’t until August 31, after the story appeared on OiD, that I mentioned the story also without her name in the article you didn’t like.

          We did not want to be the first to break this story in the blogosphere, the same position held by at least two other bloggers that we know.

          September 18, one day after Metropolitan submitted his request for retirement, and one month after her name had been circulated hither and yond, is when we said her name for the first time in an attempt to unravel her story.

          I respect your opinions but I do not agree that it is wrong to publish the name of someone at the crux of a major scandal one month after her name was released.

          When a bishop pre-maturely retires, in disgrace, it becomes news.

          I have told you all I know. I’ve taken the time to address you each and every time you’ve raised concerns. You’re entitled to your opinion. But I’m asking you to move on. I don’t have the time to spend on this anymore.

        • Antiochene Son says

          She exposed herself by writing essentially an open letter to the whole American Orthodox world.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            She could have written but one letter to the patriarch.

          • Indeed, she brought the attention on herself. Moreover, she exposed Metr. Joseph to the whole world. There seems to be an unfortunate trend in modern culture according to which we should be able to scrutinize the accused, but not the accuser.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Oh, but if you do that, you are a calloused, cold hearted person, especially if you’re a man.

              • As President Biden would have us agree:
                “The woman must be believed – always!”
                …except when she is accusing him!
                Or Hunter…

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Besides appearing as a child molester, Tara Reid has credibly accused him of sexual assault.

                  The world’s response? Yawn!

                  • “Go Brandon” made some comments about him and a twelve year old a few days ago. Very concerning. The crowd just laughed,

              • So I have often been told…

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  It weird how focused the world has become on women. I ran across and article confirming Adam Levine was still going to perform in Las Vegas even though he had an emotional affair with some woman. This is big news apparently.

                  There was a time when these things were worked out between two people behind closed doors. The whole world did not need to know about it and you could be assured you could continue with your job during the healing process with your wife.

                  But not today. You do a woman wrong and you have to grovel to the world.

  19. I don’t know the parties from atom, and I pray that the allegations are false, but I’ve been around the American Orthodox world long enough to know that this sort of stuff can and does happen and that these sort of allegations *could* certainly be true.

    Plus, it’s well known that the temptation of those in high echelons of church administration to “keep things like this quiet” is very strong — they probably think they are doing an overall good — but “keeping things like this quiet” is terrible leadership and lacks courage. The courageous thing is to not enable an abuser. I’m not saying that Met. Joseph is an abuser or is guilty — I have no idea, honestly — but we’ve seen this play out before, and no one should be shamed for thinking that the veracity of these allegations is within the realm of possibility. I’m having flashbacks to other American Orthodox hierarch sexual peccadillos from 15-20 years ago. Ugh.

    People are very uncomfortable talking about this sort of stuff, but the fact of the matter is that sexual urges are among the strongest that many/most people have, following only our needs for food, shelter, clothing, water. God designed us that way, but He also designed us to marry and begin having babies in our mid/late teens. Post-enlightenment society has messed all of that up to the point that those who want to marry in their mid/late teens in order to use their sexuality as God intended are told they’re crazy, plus there’s hardly any societal support for that approach. No wonder sexual sin is everywhere these days — and in our public culture, it’s celebrated. Insane.

    Just recently the Biden administration appointed a former Orthodox Christian man — who is now an avowed satanist and homosexual deviant/sex addict — to a high level position in the Biden administration. He’s a physician with degrees from Columbia and Harvard. Are we at the point where we American Orthodox Christians value “academic credentials” like these so much that we don’t care if life in Christ — and our precious faith — is lost along the way? Here’s the article on this man (warning: it’s not for the faint of heart): https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dr-devil-worshiper-vs-monkeypox/

    Metropolitan Jonah has mentioned several times in his talks that there are only two life states blessed by the Church: marriage and monasticism. I’m guessing that this is because, in Her wisdom, the church knows the difficulty of maintaining sexual chastity “alone in the world.” It’s fairly impossible for most, particularly in today’s sex-crazed world.

    It’s been said on these pages before: all bishops must be monastics within the context of a healthy monastic community. It’s one of the reasons I have so much respect for ROCOR, including our new First Hierarch, Metropolitan Nicholas. The “businessman bishop” (which sadly came to be a thing in American Orthodoxy over the past century) is nonexistent and condemned in the Russian Orthodox Church, as far as I’m aware.

    I pray that the allegations against Met. Joseph are false, but I don’t fault or shame those who see their veracity within the realm of possibility. This sort of thing will continue happening in Orthodoxy in the sex-crazed West until: (a) we make it mandatory that all of our bishops are full-fledged monastics, formed within the context of a healthy monastic community, and (b) until we cultivate our own Christian communities that foster the healthy practice of sexuality, i.e., encouraging younger marriage and making babies when God intended men and women to make babies! Being OK with our young people being porn addicts for 10-15 years until they graduate from Yale or decide to get married in their 30s just doesn’t cut it, in my opinion.

    • I pray that the allegations against Met. Joseph are false, but I don’t fault or shame those who see their veracity within the realm of possibility.

      Amen. Thank you.

  20. Although, there IS another way to look at all of this:
    The bishop is getting his comeuppance for attacking/persecuting/hating (not loving) the LGBTQ+ community (including those who were born into Orthodoxy).
    You can’t open your mind to that possibility, huh?
    Look for Trenham of Riverside to be next. And, then Salamy of AZ after that.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Is that what they call smearing a bishop these days? Comeuppance??? We don’t hate anyone, Mark. We’re not tearing down anyone’s edifices.

      What lovely people you all are, Mark. Do you ever look in the mirror? You can’t have the Church change for you so you’re going to run in into the grounds. Why? The reason? Because you must have your way just because.

      Like toddlers in the sand, you’ll step on another kid’s sand castle because you can’t make one yourself. Go start another Church if you don’t aspire to the tenets of the Orthodox Faith.

      Thank God the majority of the LGBTXYZ community isn’t like you. That you don’t know this doesn’t surprise me. Turn around and look behind you: Do you see anyone following you? Nobody made you that important, Mark. Trust me on this.

    • Love the open threats Mr Nasser. Oops….by chance is it Ms. Nasser? I mean , who knows these days with folks like you.
      Do us all a favor and get lost. I’m sure the atheists over at “O” ID would be happy to have you comment there.

    • Mr. Nasser:

      Precisely how did the metropolitan “attack”, “persecute” or “hate” the sexually deviant so-called “community” of which you speak? That is quite a bold allegation, and as such, certainly requires proof. Would you please respond with a direct quotation or citation of a verified action on the metropolitan’s part? I am suspicious, and what is likely true, is that the metropolitan simply spoke and acted in defense of Orthodox sexual morality. It is a bishop’s duty, after all, to be a guardian of the Faith. Further, I find your veiled threat against Frs. Trenham and Salamy to be shockingly irresponsible. Fr. Josiah has already been persecuted by that scoundrel Sanfilipo at Orthodoxy in Dialog. A court found in favor of Fr. Josiah and ordered that the public allegations be withdrawn from the internet. Do you plan to reopen a shut case, sir?

      I am good friends with an Orthodox cleric who has a gay past. When he converted to the Faith, he put that former life away because he knew that he had to decide whom he loved more: his boyfriend or his Lord and Savior. Those are his words. He chose the latter and has been celibate ever since. Furthermore, he finds the recent transgender agenda to be a deep betrayal of the original gay movement.

      No one is “born into Orthodoxy”. That holds true even for those of the historically Orthodox ethnic groups who may have been raised in the Church. All of us, without exception, are reborn into the Faith by means of the baptismal rites of initiation – baptism, chrismation and first communion. That’s not all. God provides “second baptisms” for the washing away of sins through frequent confession. If you find the strict Orthodox guidelines for sexual unions to be confounding, then I’m sure that there is a priest near you who will hear your confession and pastor you along the straight and narrow. However, if in the end, you cannot bring yourself to accept the Church’s teachings on these things, then as their signs say, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You”. In any event, don’t you dare, sir, try to change that which must not and will not change for your convenience. The Church is not here to modify its teachings to suit your proclivities or those of the so-called “community” of which you speak. On the contrary, pray that God will change you.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        They equate “traditional” with hate.

      • Furthermore, he finds the recent transgender agenda to be a deep betrayal of the original gay movement.

        What does this mean? An Orthodox “cleric” believes that the gay movement has been betrayed? It sounds like he is sympathetic to an abomination that started the moral catastrophe that keeps accelerating in its perversion.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Katherine, leaving aside for the moment your perceptive insight, the facts on the ground indicate that the internal contradictions of the Alphabet ideology is exactly what is happening right now.

          Consider what the Trans thing is doing to women (including lesbians) in many aspects of life, especially sports.

          Consider also that what’s been drummed in our heads for 3 decades now is that the LG part of the Alphabet People “have no choice,” that “God created them this way.” OK, then tell me all about the T people: they do believe that “God made a mistake,” don’t they? (As for the B people, they’re just straight men who prey on effeminate men for immediate sexual gratification for the most part.)

          As for the Q people? I thought “queer” was a derogatory word, like the N-word. (Somebody please help me out here.)

          And I don’t know what the + people are.

          See what I mean by “internal contradictions”? Wouldn’t it have been better if sometime back in the 60s during the rise of emancipatory politics that this is insane? That homosexuality was not an “identity” but a “compulsion,” One that can be overcome?

          Anyway, God bless Dave Chapelle for cracking the nut last year on the whole LGBTQ+ nonsense and just calling them “Alphabet People.”

          • Well said, George. Your so much kinder than I am. I was wondering about the B people, too. Shouldn’t they be allowed to marry one person of each sex? After all, this is all about human rights and personal fulfillment. It’s strange how quiet they are. You would think buzzing about discrimination.

          • The ‘+’ is shorthand for the perversions
            that they dare not yet celebrate publicly;
            such as: bestiality, necrophilia, paedophilia etc…

    • Typical modernist dribble, equating non-acceptance of a sinful lifestyle with “hate” and acceptance of it with “love”, which definitions were entirely unknown to the Church Fathers.

      The Church doesn’t change with the mores of secular culture. Insert sin here doesn’t become acceptable to God merely because many people have gotten so used to it that it no longer shocks and scandalizes them as it once did.

    • I see the issue. It should have said “Looking” for Trenham and Salamy to be next. Apologies for the typo.

    • “hating the LGBTQ+ community”

      How could any bishop have more contempt for the fruit salad community than God does? Have you never read the Bible?

    • You can look at it that way, but you’d be wrong….which usually the alphabet crew and their enablers usually are.

  21. Gail (and all women) should know I’d come out in support of you if YOU ever came out with similar allegations. Even if they were against my priest brother! That’s just me. ??‍♂️

    • Gail Sheppard says

      If I plaster the Church with some fantastic story that results in a good bishop standing down, I hope you would rip apart every word I said to get at the truth. This is about protecting the Church. Not a “woman.”

      The only thing that bothers me is there is no signature on her letter; only the word of a man who has few to no scruples, IMO. I’m going to have to figure out a way to contact her which is the last thing I want to do.

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      Mr. Nasser???

      Why would you support someone making allegations?

      That’s a dumb idea. You’re saying that if I decided to make similar allegations against YOU, people should support me?


  22. Well it was easy to see this coming from a mile away:


    • Isn’t it interesting how state involvement in the Church and Church involvement with the state is only condemned when the state in question happens to be Russia?

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Interesting observation. In both cases, there is something about the State catching up with the Church and the Church catching up with the State that make people nervous.

  23. A few notes based on multiple comments:
    1.) It is my understanding that a house was purchased in Idaho to be used after he retired from episcopal duties as bishop of the West.
    2.) I have heard that Met Joseph was extremely careful about how he interacted with people (1 on 1), as he knew he had a target on his back. While in LA he had an assistant who monitored who visited him and was in charge of the chancery. Not to mention the logistics that everywhere he goes he has an assistant with him. So, maintaining a long term affair would be extremely challenging.
    3.) Met Joseph has always been quick to address accusations and root out corruption. One of the churches in Northern CA had a priest who was assaulting the altar boys. Once Met Joseph found out, he was quickly defrocked and turned over to law enforcement to be held to account. So there’s no comparison between the Catholic church and the Antiochain Archdiocese under Met. Joseph. He cleaned house and, now, is paying the price.
    4.) I go back to my comparison to St. Nectarios. His motivation throughout was not to cause division. He was accused of improprities and suffered throughout his life because of them. He didn’t want people trying to “clear his name” if it meant the Church was negatively impacted. At this point, having known Met. Joseph for many years, I very strongly believe that is where he is at. Whether or not the accusations are true, he sees the negative impact it is having and removing himself from the equation is the only option he sees to restore balance.
    5.) As was mentioned above, I pray that God puts someone with a spine in place to speak for true Orthodoxy in America, in opposition to the message the GOA provides on Amerian Orthodoxy. The Antiochians in America don’t have many bishops that could easily replace him (hence why Met. Joseph was locum tenens of the West). However, it is my fervent prayer that Bp. John be strongly considered as someone who can step in and start the healing.
    6.) My biggest fear is that it is now “open season” on Orthodox clergy. Fr. Josiah was the opening salvo . . . but OiD took down a whale. Now every time a clergy member speaks against society, he will be putting himself as risk of being accused of something without any proof.

    I continue to pray for everyone involved. If this is not true, may God have mercy upon her soul. If it is true, may Met. Joseph repent of his actions and may this woman find healing. At this point, only God, and this woman, knows the truth. With time, may the truth prevail and the light shine in the darkness.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Nice job. – I kind of liked the “balance” of having him where he was.

      Among the other things I remember, he was the only bishop during my years with the Antiochians that didn’t get upset if we went to monasteries, which he visited himself.

      He was the first to write to us (all of us) about going back to Church when they lifted the lockdowns.

      As you mentioned, he was decisive. He shut down that operation with the priest within 24 hours of talking with Met. Philip, as the bishops were auxiliary by that time and Philip had to make all the decisions.

      He made some mistakes, too. Some of which I have mentioned here, but they were never mistakes of the heart. In other words, he wasn’t a malicious bishop.

      He followed Met. Philip’s orders which sometimes resulted in poor outcomes, IMO. For example, although Met. Joseph never made a distinction between converts and Arabs, (I honestly believe he loved us all), that was not a universal sentiment at the time and I think he was told to do things that if it were up to him, he wouldn’t have done.

      But like I’ve said in the past, he has a monastic mindset.

      I remember thinking I would have liked to have had a conversation with him about obedience. It mystified me that he could have that virtue down pat. I don’t. But I should. I would have liked to know how one goes about acquiring it in the world.

      I never got to have that conversation.

      I would have fought for him, too, regardless. Unlike others, I don’t expect perfection from anyone; I expect correction. There’s a huge difference.

      Above reproach to me means erring on the side of good. That Met. Joseph graciously bowed out rather than put the Church through more trauma shows that he qualifies on that front.

      There is not one person mentioned in Scripture, other than Christ, who was good in the sense of being perfect. Why do we expect that from our bishops? That’s not even realistic.

      The Greeks will probably have something to say about who will fill his shoes on the Assembly. It’s not going to be anyone who would write the kind of letter that Met. Joseph did to Elpi. I thought everything about that letter and the one that followed it was perfect. He drew a line in a pointed, but I thought, gentle, straightforward way without sounding judgmental. That Elpi didn’t take it that way says more about Elpi than Met. Joseph.

      He was evenhanded in “retiring” (defrocking) priests when it was required. Where possible, he would set the expectation before going right to getting rid of someone.

      And some things he could do nothing about. He had one foot in America and another in the Middle East. That would not be easy to navigate for most people but because he understood both worlds I think he was helpful in that regard.

      I’m sorry that he’s retiring. I’ll just have to pray extra hard that whoever replaces him is a good bishop. I don’t know much about Bishop John, but maybe he’s that man. I think we’re lucky to have Pat. John in the position he’s in, because he will be able to protect us from some of the more unsavory metropolitans that I have only heard about.

      • The Greeks will probably have something to say about who will fill his shoes on the Assembly. It’s not going to be anyone who would write the kind of letter that Met. Joseph did to Elpi.

        Legit question,
        Why would the Greeks have any say on who would replace Met. Joseph? It’s not their Jurisdiction or their patriarchate, a patriarchate which indeed seems to have no love for Constantinople. If anything I would expect the new Metropolitan to be even more Russian-aligned, anti-EP than Met. Joseph was given the politically pro-Russian stance of Syria and the Antiochian Patriarchate and the amount of support they receive from Russia.

        Even if they wanted to block whoever replaces Met. Joseph they couldn’t, they have been reprimanded by everyone on the Assembly minus their fellow Greeks, Elpi should be lucky he was even allowed to stay on the Assembly.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Because the Assembly of Canonical Bishops was created by the Greeks to address the unique needs of what they consider to be the diaspora in North America under them. It’s their group. It doesn’t belong to the bishops.

          • If they don’t allow the new Antiochan Metropolitan on the Assembly then it’s over for them anyways. TBH its days are probably numbered anyways.

            I’m really interested to see how things go with the election of Met. Nicholas of ROCOR. He seems to be well connected in American Orthodoxy and is almost undoubtedly more well liked among the various bishops of the other jurisdictions than Elpi.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Oh they will. I think it would be hard to step into that role without having the experience behind you. Sadly, I wonder if the Antioch board was paid off to get rid of Met. Joseph. If they believe it’s true. The sat on their hand for decades first allowing it to happen and then allowing it to hurt the archdiocese and unity in the country.

              There can be no unity in the Church in this country with the GOA in charge. Not at this juncture. Not under this archbishop.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Personally, I don’t think that the Greeks will have any “say” in who Joseph’s replacement is. As far as the ACOB is concerned, it’s days are numbered IMHO.

                At first I thought that LP’s duplicitous speech at the March for Life was going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Then, the “Slavic vicariate”. Then the Kardashian Baptism.

                But now, regarding the Kardashian event, LP is acting like Steve Reeves in Hercules Unchained and poking his finger in the eye of all his critics.

                I can’t see how the other bishops and primates of ACOB are going to continue to continue to walk along the primrose path of Phanariote globalism at his point.

                Nor should we forget that things aren’t going all that well for the schismatic outfit Bart created in the Ukraine. FWIW, Metropolitan Onuphriy was the first out of the gate to congratulate Metropolitan Nicholas upon his accession to the primatial throne of ROCOR.


  24. Man undone by hate?
    Son of Man undone by same.
    Still the same old game…

  25. I think it is as unhealthy for Orthodox bishops to be celibate as it is for Roman Catholic priests to be celibate. Apostle Peter, himself a great Bishop (or first Pope as Catholics consider him) was married, but modern clergy have to be holier than him by being celibate? Bollocks! God put healthy desires in every person, which if not allowed to be channeled in matrimony, will lead to church leaders failing these man-made celibacy standards.

    • Is this the only purpose of marriage? To provide an outlet for male desire? If true, no married man would commit adultery. It seems to diminish the value of women as wives. What did the husband of the Theotokos do? We are called to a higher standard. Human nature is what we struggle to rise above.

      • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

        The Theotokos was betrothed, not married. Joseph is identified as Mary’s “betrothed”, not husband, and the hymns all talk about Jesus as being born without a father, meaning that Mary was a virgin and remained a virgin.

        • Betrothed meant married. In fact, St Joseph wanted to divorce (gr.apolusai) the Theotokos when the angel came to him in a dream. They traveled as man and wife and were registered as a family. Of course, the Theotokos was ever-virgin. What I meant to say (as an old married woman, that is) is I don’t accept that marriage is a bulwark against sexual indiscretions. Catholic Priests abuse little boys because they have easy access to their prey. If they were married, they would still be predators.

          • I think you are right, Katherine.

            Plus Bishops are older men. They are in some cases, widower Priests and traditionally seasoned monks, who should have themselves under control with the help of the Holy Spirit.

            Those who abuse children are IMO spiritual imposters and not even true Christians, predators who seek power in churches and other respected institutions like schools to acquire prey.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Perhaps what I’m about to say is naive but I will say it anyway: if a man has the right spiritual formation that can be found in a Godly (note the adjective) monastery, then the passions can be overcome more easily than not. The vast majority of our bishops here in America do not live in monasteries –nor came from them. And a two-man monastery on an island is no monastery.

              • steve knowlton says

                It’s a little late to respond to this, but Orthodox bishops have not come from monasteries in many many centuries, if they ever did. It’s no different in Russia or the Levant. Check out the life of Bp. Raphael Hawaweeny, the first bishop consecrated in North America.

          • Ever wondered why sexual perversions are percentage-wise so much more common in the ranks of Roman Catholic priests than in the ranks of Orthodox priests, fundamentalist evangelical pastors or even Orthodox Jewish rabbis? Think about it: any God-fearing man who’s got all his parts and his head screwed on straight will not be willing to forgo his birthright of having a family or be willing to ignore God’s commandment to be fruitful and multiply. Instead, you have a bunch of deviants joining Roman Catholic seminaries who figure they’ll get plenty of hanky panky with their fellow seminarians and then later with their fawning congregants.

            The same argument unfortunately applies to monasteries and convents. Remember Shakespeare’s famous quote “Get thee to a nunnery!”

            >> Is this the only purpose of marriage? To provide an outlet for male desire?

            One of the purposes, but certainly not the only one. The desire I refer to encompasses not just sexual pleasure, but the entire gamut of benefits that marriage provides: companionship, children, cooking together, changing each others bandages in inaccessible areas, scratching each other’s backs, etc.

            >> It seems to diminish the value of women as wives.

            It’s funny how in the age of feminism, the argument quickly turns to “diminish the value of women”. I very carefully wrote “every person” because desire is symmetric and applies equally to both genders. If you think that saying “men need women and women need men” is degrading to one gender or another, then I’m sorry, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

            It was obviously God’s plan for Saint Joseph to be beside the Theotokos and to help her in a variety of ways, so this falls into the non-sexual benefits of being “betrothed”.

            • In fact, there’s a report somewhere that states emphatically that child sexual abuse is more common – as a percentage – among Jewish rabbis and Muslim Imams than RC clergy. I will look for it and try to link through. The guy who compiled the report, IIRC, is a secular Jew, so not a Vatican apologist. In terms of sheer numbers, RCs probably win hands down, because they are the biggest religion on earth.

              As for the rest of your post… nonsense. I’ll suppose that, from your point of view, the Lord himself, Saint John the Baptist, the Prophet Elias, the Apostle John, and pretty much the vast majority of saints who “became eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake” don’t have their heads screwed on properly.

              A passionate man sees the world through his own vices. Assuming that everyone who devotes their entire lives to God is a deviant simply places a mirror right in front of you.

            • If you think desire is symmetric then I don’t think you know women very well. Women and men are different in too many ways to count. Marriage gives women protection, security, stability, etc. In short, A wife receives a crown and has the value to her husband that the Church has to Christ. This is not feminism, it is the Divine order of life.

  26. Patriarch John supported Islamic heresy being preached in an Orthodox temple. Doesn’t surprise me he refuses to stand by his Bishop. It’s all about optics, folks. https://russian-faith.com/news/patriarch-john-x-invites-muslim-grand-mufti-speak-blasphemy-church-n3425

  27. Unfortunately, I have to withdraw my support for Met Joseph, after hearing from some people whom I trust. It does appear the accusation may be true, which opens up quite a few questions. While I will withhold judgment until the investigation is complete, it may be that OiD may have actually gotten something right. Only time will tell.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      What investigation?

    • Unfortunately, I have to agree with OrthoCA, but for different reasons.

      When Metr. Joseph was elected, I had (and expressed) high hopes for him. A priest friend of mine was skeptical, but I gave the Metropolitan the benefit of the doubt.

      But that was until he betrayed everybody by re-installing the disgraced Demetri Khoury as a Bishop, in LA no less!

      I can only imagine what Fr. Josiah Trenham must have thought about all of this. If I were in his position, I would have felt that my hierarchy had stabbed me in the back.

      As for me, I had to eat heaps of crow in front of my priest friend, and admit that I had been deceived.

      If there is anything I find hard to forgive, it is recommending someone, and then having the person I recommended make me look like a fool, a rube and a dupe for doing so. I am sorry to have to say, that I still hold this against Metr. Joseph. I acknowledge that this a sinful passion I will have to work on.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Correction: it was Metropolitan Philip who reinstated Bishop Demetrius Khouri (was it not?).

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Yes and no. Met. Philip tried to do this before and was booed down.

          Demetrius was then a bishop in Mexico, Central or South America somewhere.

          Joseph brought him back as an auxiliary. (I wonder if the other bishops are still auxiliary or if he lifted that). In any case, that didn’t fly either. – I’ve noticed that some of these people, Antony Gabriel would be another example, seem to have connections in the Middle East that made it hard for Met. Joseph to get rid of them in spite of the many things they did.

          For example, Gabriel stole $10,000 that was supposed to go to an iconographer in Lebanon from an Icon Committee in a parish in Tucson and when Met. Joseph said he could no longer step foot in the parish, he took some icons with him. He also tried to take over the priest’s position, forged the priest’s name to help first-cousins marry in Hawaii, and lied to the police about even being in Tucson when all that damage happened to my parent’s home. The poor priest in this case even suffered a home invasion, where a gun was pointed at his wife’s head. The police thought it had to have been a hit job because incidents like this were practically non-existent where they lived. The priest and his wife left the state. Gabriel has a lot of friends.

          He subsequently popped up in the Greek Church on the other side of town. He then occupied a school room on an air force base (under whom, I don’t know), and finally on YouTube telling stories about the old days.

          I notice he no longer uses the name “Father.”

          Met. Joseph is not one to put up with nonsense like this but as far as I know, he didn’t publicly depose him ass he has done with other people.

          The Board of Trustees is another example. Met. Philip put some unsavory fellows in honorary, air-tight positions before he died. “The Fawz,” was made an honorary Board Member and then the guy who manages who gets on the Board in the first place.

          Met. Joseph probably could do nothing about this.

          I would be careful to assume anything a priest with Middle Eastern ties says to you is true. Many of them have to tow the party line. The question is not whether or not what was said was true, but why the Board never did anything about it.

          • Was this Fr. Phil Nixon who all that stuff happened to? I cannot find him in the Antiochian directories or find anything online about him anymore other than old articles from when the Church in Tucson was being built. I wondered what happened to him

  28. Anonymous 2.0 says

    What is needed here . . . [is to allow him to] go quietly and tell his supporters [and detractors who want to drag him through the mud] to accept his retirement.