What I Did on Spring Break

Met. Tikhon and Eric Tosi take in the sights in Rome.Click to enlarge

His Eminence Metropolitan Tikhon and Fr Eric Tosi take in the sights in Rome.
Click to enlarge

Well, that’s a better title than “our church got relegated to being ranked dead last, after ‘Other’ in the list of invitees to the Pope’s inauguration.”

So what are we up to now? How many more slights does the OCA have to suffer both here and abroad because of Syosset’s horrible defenestration of His Beatitude? Just think back to last January, when the American Catholic bishops asked Metropolitan Jonah to inauguate the annual March for Life. The OCA was temporarily vaulted to the first rank of Orthodox jurisdictions because of this gracious invitation. Is it a stretch therefore to believe that had none of the unpleasantness of the past year taken place that the OCA would have been treated better at the Vatican? One can only wonder.

In the meantime, please take the time to read the following press release. His Eminence (that’s what the Vatican called Metropolitan Tikhon) isn’t even mentioned in the list of Orthodox bishops who were invited to break bread with Pope Francis.

Yet another gaffe brought to us by the Wonderboys of Syosset.

Source: Catholic News Service | Cindy Wooden

Table time: Pope discusses, prays, dines with Orthodox representatives

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pastors and theologians involved in ecumenical dialogue emphasize the importance of “table time” — sharing meals — along with serious theological discussions, shared prayer and joint action.

Pope Francis spoke about his ecumenical vision March 20 and prayed with delegates from Orthodox and other Christian communities at his inaugural Mass March 19.

Since March 17, he’s also had breakfast, lunch and dinner with the Orthodox representatives who came to Rome for his inauguration. Pope Francis is still living at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse where the Orthodox delegates also were staying.

They all eat together and greet each other in the common dining room.

Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Tarasios of Buenos Aires and South America was one of the delegates who shared meals and prayers with the new pope. In fact, he’s been doing that since then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio attended his enthronement in Buenos Aires in 2001.

When they first saw each other March 17, they embraced.

“I said to him, ‘What have you done?’ He said, ‘Not I. They did it to me,’ pointing to the cardinals,” said the Orthodox leader, who was born in the United States.

During the more formal audience Pope Francis had with the ecumenical delegates, Metropolitan Tarasios presented the pope with two elegant, but very personalized gifts: an urn filled with soil from Argentina, “so he wouldn’t feel far away, he’d always feel close to us,” and a small chalice with the biblical inscription in Spanish, “That all would be one.”

In Pope Francis’ remarks to the ecumenical delegates, he focused on the common task of preaching the Gospel, defending human dignity and defending creation. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, in his remarks to the gathering, focused on the importance of continuing the formal theological dialogue so that “our Christian witness would be credible in the eyes of those near and far.”

Metropolitan Tarasios, who was part of the ecumenical patriarchate’s delegation to Pope Francis’ inauguration, said it is not a matter of either theological dialogue or practical cooperation: Christian unity requires both.

“The theological dialogue by itself cannot bring about Christian unity,” he said. It brings the churches closer, helps them understand each other more profoundly, and provides a serious tool for understanding where the churches agree and where they differ.

But efforts also are required to bring Christians together in common prayer and joint action.

“If, in the end, the people don’t accept the theological dialogue or what comes out of the theological dialogue, there won’t be any Christian unity,” he said.

For the past five years, the international Catholic-Orthodox dialogue has been focusing on one of thorniest topics dividing the two communities: the primacy of the pope and the way his ministry has been exercised since the Great Schism of 1054.

Theologians are looking first at the role of the bishop of Rome in the first millennium, hoping it will lay the foundation for a joint statement on the place and role of the pope in a reunited Christianity.

In the first week after his election, Pope Francis emphasized his position as “bishop of Rome,” his calling to preside in charity and his insistence that the power of the papacy is the “power of service” seen in Jesus’ charge to St. Peter: “Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep.”

For the Orthodox, “that’s how we see him — as the bishop of Rome,” Metropolitan Tarasios said. That the pope repeatedly referred to himself that way “is music to our ears.”

The early years of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue focused on baptism, the Eucharist and other issues the two churches basically already agreed on. The tough topic of the primacy of the pope was saved until a time when church leaders felt the relationship was strong enough to tackle it head on.

Metropolitan Tarasios said Patriarch Bartholomew’s presence at the pope’s inauguration wasn’t just the first time a patriarch of Constantinople came for the event since 1054, it was the first time ever. Even when the churches were united, a pope or patriarch sent his newly elected brother a letter delivered, perhaps, by a special emissary.

Patriarch Bartholomew, he said, thought “if we want to help Christian unity, then we have to make our presence felt, not just known.”

The patriarch knew the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, but he did not think about coming to Rome at the time.

“It’s a question of timing, of when the moment is right,” the metropolitan said.

“It’s time for the Christian churches to put aside some of the historical impediments to unity,” he said.

Catholics and Orthodox cannot ignore or deny the things in their history that have hurt each other, Metropolitan Tarasios said, but much of those hurts are “excess baggage” that prevent the churches from credibly proclaiming Christ today.

For the Orthodox, one of the issues still causing tension or pain is the existence and growth of the Byzantine-rite Eastern Catholic Churches that entered into full communion with Rome more than 400 years ago. The largest of the churches, the Ukrainian Catholic Church, was outlawed for almost 50 years by the Soviet Union, and its emergence from an underground existence has created serious problems in relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Metropolitan Tarasios said the people whose families have been Eastern Catholics for generations are one thing, but he denounced what he said were attempts to use the Byzantine Catholic Churches to convince Orthodox Christians to become Catholic while keeping their Byzantine liturgies and spiritualities.

“That’s an issue we can’t ignore,” he said. “Quite frankly, we resent it.”

On the positive side, Orthodox and Catholics are working more closely on environmental issues. Patriarch Bartholomew has been called “the green patriarch” and is one of the leading Christian proponents of a theological reflection on the moral obligation to safeguard creation.

The new pope’s choice of St. Francis of Assisi for his name and his repeated calls for respect for creation in his first week of ministry are important for the Orthodox because the patriarch and pope “can double their forces and their strength if they do it together,” Metropolitan Tarasios said.

The metropolitan said he, too, had read reports that Patriarch Bartholomew invited Pope Francis to go with him to Jerusalem in 2014 to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic first step in Catholic-Orthodox rapprochement: the 1964 meeting there between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras.

“I think it would be a great occasion,” he said.

For a more complete perspective of the complexities of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, please read the following essay by Terry Mattingly.

Terry Mattingly: Did ‘The’ Leader of the Orthodox Attend the Rome Rites?

Source: Patheos | Terry Mattingly

So, let’s assume that you are a Catholic leader and you pick up your morning newspaper and it contains a story in which Pope Francis is described as “a leader” of the world’s Catholic Christians.

What would you think? Is the phrase “a leader” — implying one among many equals — an accurate way to describe the unique, singular, authoritative role played in global Catholicism by the occupant of St. Peter’s throne? The answer, of course, is “no.”

So, let’s assume that you are an Anglican Christian, perhaps a leader in one of the rapidly growing churches of Africa, and you pick up your paper and it contains a story in which the Archbishop of Canterbury is described as “the leader of the world’s Anglican Christians.” Note the singular nature of the word “the.”

What would you think? Is the phrase “the leader” — implying a unique, singular, authoritative role over Anglicans around the world — an accurate way to describe the symbolic “first among equals (primus inter pares)” role that the Archbishop of Canterbury has historically played in Anglicanism? The answer, of course, is “no.”


Read the entire article on the Patheos website.


  1. Damage Control says


    What I found intriguing about the entire Roman Holiday of the OCA was how they walked right into the middle of the world Orthodox power play between Constantinople and Moscow. When it comes to relations with the Vatican, Constantinople has the upper hand. Russia has been insisting on making a point with Rome about Eastern Rite Catholics in the Ukraine and other places as a condition even a visit by Moscow to Rome, while Constantinople has discussed this with Rome but have found other ways to find common ground and build a better working relationship. That paid off in spades with the Pope Francis installation while Moscow was politely received but not much more.

    As for the OCA, well, they got another taste of reality that it is just not a group worth considering. It is just another Orthodox “sect” in the “Other” category and one cannot underestimate the Constantinople worldview on the decision of the Vatican to ignore the OCA.

    This is serious for the OCA because it will have a direct application to how the OCA relates to other Orthodox as part of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, or the Episcopal Assemblies set up around the world in regions where there are parallel Orthodox jurisdictions. Note that Moscow signed off on this process in Chambesy with the Greek bishops taking the role of first among equals in presiding at these gatherings. The OCA is barely part of this process, again like in Rome, in an “Other” category. Seen as canonical, but neither fish nor fowl when it comes to who they are. Constantinople insists that the so-called Orthodox Church in America must go back under its Mother Church (Moscow) and work out its status. Moscow can’t do this because it would make them look silly because they would be admitting that granting the OCA independent status in 1970 was a mistake.

    So, the OCA stumbles along living a life of trying to justify itself, in the latest instance, going to Rome to be seen. But like Rome and the ACOB (Assembly of Bishops) here in the USA, the OCA is not heard nor is their opinion really sought. Bishops are kind to them, they should be, but not really taken seriously. Yes, where there is common ground to promote the Faith, other jurisdictions cooperate, because in the end, it is not the faithful who should be punished because of the example of the OCA leadership.

    So, the Roman Holiday is just another example of the OCA trying to be somebody, anybody but as we now know in stark relief, the staring point for the OCA in 2013 is “Other.”

    • Fr. George Washburn says

      Hello friends:

      I am inclined to agree with part of Damage Control’s thesis, namely that the Vatican reception the OCA reps received (or did not receive) springs from Constantinople rather than Moscow having the inside track with Rome. As to the pokes taken at OCA leadership by Damage Control I am not expressing agreement.

      I find George’s opinion that these Vatican dealings were “…because of Syosset’s horrible defenestration of His Beatitude….” sadly myopic.

      We must remember that Papal elections, enthronements and “diplomacy” are Big League Church Politics in its purest form, and the EP, like it or not, in Roman brains is the Eastern analog of the Papacy and therefore the one with whom the Western Catholics are gonna deal unless some strong, countervailing consideration portends otherwise. When we add in that the Phanar was pretty annoyed with Met. Jonah over that stern speech he gave, I think you have a very bright line trail leading to why the OCA was not treated royally in the recent doings, and not some imagined Roman outrage over Met. Jonah.

      I think it is another example of how the backward-looking Jonah-centricity of George and his closest named and anonymous collaborators here is causing them to misconstrue reality in the present and mistake not only their own way forward into the future, but also that of those who treat their writings as Gospel.


      Fr. George

    • ProPravoslavie says

      “…and the EP, like it or not, in Roman brains is the Eastern analog of the Papacy and therefore the one with whom the Western Catholics are gonna deal unless some strong, countervailing consideration portends otherwise.”

      This is absolutely correct. In Catholic news agencies like RISU (whose Ukrainian-language version is more viciously anti-Russian than the more sanitized English version) and Italy-based “Vatican Insider” and AsiaNews the news reports about Orthodoxy are relentlessly slanted against Moscow and in favor of the Phanar. There is also the sizeable portion of conservative American, British and Italian Catholics who continue to be afflicted with russophobia (think George Weigel and Z. Brzezinski).

      The ecumenically-minded triumvirate of Patriarchates, Constantinople, Antioch and Alexandria are no threat to Rome. They are too small and too weak even when combined. Moscow is a different matter; it is no pushover, it has size and wealth, it has experience of mass martyrdom within living memory, and Rome knows it. The Catholic media likes to portray Moscow as the sole opponent of another mass “Unia” by the rest of Orthodoxy but Rome surely knows the reality that it is not just Moscow but all the Slavic Orthodox churches that oppose an easy reunion, as well as Jerusalem and the State Church of Greece.

      • “The ecumenically-minded triumvirate of Patriarchates, Constantinople, Antioch and Alexandria are no threat to Rome. They are too small and too weak even when combined. Moscow is a different matter; it is no pushover, it has size and wealth, it has experience of mass martyrdom within living memory, and Rome knows it. The Catholic media likes to portray Moscow as the sole opponent of another mass “Unia” by the rest of Orthodoxy but Rome surely knows the reality that it is not just Moscow but all the Slavic Orthodox churches that oppose an easy reunion, as well as Jerusalem and the State Church of Greece.”
        Exactly the state of play, PP.
        Question is, just whose side is Monomakhos on?

        • George Michalopulos says

          Good question, and a fair one. I am against any false unia. However, provided that the RCs renounce the filioque, then I personally see no bar to an authentic reunification. It appears to me that the RCs under Benedict repudiated the concept of Limbo, and under John Paul II agreed to reimagine the office of Pope. I hope the present pope takes up the title “patriarch of the West.” That would go a long way to proving his bona fides regarding the idea that the Bishop of Rome is the first among equals.

          • Michael Bauman says

            George, if the question on the extent and nature of the papal authority is really addressed and settled, the rest of the differences can be much more easily settled. Unfortunately, if it were settled as we Orthodox had always held, the RCC’s identity and place in the world would change drastically. If it is settled as the RCC has always held, the Orthdoox Church as we know it would cease to exist.

            You put too much emphasis on the filioque. The filioque, the Pope as Vicar of Christ having universal authorty are tied together, but the Vicar of Christ nonesense is the more important.

            • George,

              You say Rome agreed to “reimagine” the office of the Pope.
              On the contrary, the official Catechism published during JPII’s papacy and under the direction of the subsequent pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger, reiterated all the usual prerogatives, including universal jurisdiction over the church. Most recently, Pope Francis alluded to his universal jurisdcition in his post-election speech from the balcony of St Peter’s.

              The title ‘Patriarch of the West’, was never understood by Rome in the sense of it being equal to the ancient eastern patriarchates. Rome understood by that term that it was the “Apostolic See”. When Ratzinger did away with it, he was only addressing its redundancy given the title “Vicar of Christ” expresses everything Rome understood “Patriarch of the West” (i.e. of the old Roman empire) to indicate and removing a cause of confusion that would place ROme on the same level as the ancient patriarchates. Thus Ratzinger, “The principle of patriarchy is post-Constantinian, it has an administrative sense. …The Roman claim undertands itself from the original theological motive of the sedes apostolica (apostolic see; i.e. Rome). To the same extent that the “New Rome” (i.e. Constantinople) made unclear the old idea of the sedes apostolica in favour of the notion of patriarchy, the “Old Rome” strenghened the reference to the totally different origin and character of its own authority. This authority is in fact totally different from a primacy of honour among patriarchs, because it is situated on a different level, which is completely independent from such administrative concepts.” Ratzinger, Episkopat und Primat, Quaestiones disputatae 11 (Herder 1961).

              This is all, of course, directly related to the objectionable and dishonest (and ongoing) phenomena of the Unia, in which the OCA has its roots but mercifully escaped thanks to St Alexis Toth et al. Regrettably, many present day Orthodox seem to be afflicted with either wilfull ignorance, historical amnesia or outright denial when it comes to the history, character and claims of the papacy.

              • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

                “This is all, of course, directly related to the objectionable and dishonest (and ongoing) phenomena of the Unia, in which the OCA has its roots but mercifully escaped thanks to St Alexis Toth et al. Regrettably, many present day Orthodox seem to be afflicted with either wilfull ignorance, historical amnesia or outright denial when it comes to the history, character and claims of the papacy.”

                Our saints (St. Ignatius in The Arena for instance) consider the Life of Francis of Assisi to a textbook case of prelest (spiritual delusion). That’s who the current leader of the Roman church said he named himself after (not Francis Xavier of the Jesuits as some thought). Fr. Seraphim Rose (below is a transcript I made from an 1981 audio recording of Fr. Seraphim Rose’s lecture on the End of the World) on Francis of Assisi:

                “There are several elements in his life that does not ring true from the Orthodox point of view. The time he made the great fuss about he was sick, and he ate meat. And when he got well, he made a big point of going through the streets and telling them that, ‘You all think I’m a holy man, look at me, I ate meat!’ Someone was running after him, whipping him, pouring ashes on his head, and making a big demonstration. And that’s not sober. Because you’re showing off your evil, which means you’re proud. Some type of pride is involved. Or, especially when he got the stigmata. He was the first one to receive the stigmata. He received those by asking Christ to let him suffer just like He did. And an Orthodox person simply could not ask something like that. If you are wholely 100% in the spirit of Orthodox worship, you do not ask to suffer like Christ. Because He did it once, that’s not your doing. It would never occur to you, but he wanted to be like Christ. And therefore he got some type of thing on his hands. Apparently it was some type of psychic phenomena. And there some other things in there. Some of the writers of his life go even further. ‘When Francis died, God the Father didn’t know with which to more pleased, his first son Christ, or his second son, Francis.’ The writer of the life goes way beyond Francis himself. I think there is showing already an element of deception entered into him, his life. There is enough already that you can see a beginning and later on it becomes more developed [in Roman Catholicism].”

                So keep the above in mind as we see the apparent humility of Francis as he makes a public point of washing feet, but in a prideful and lawless manner that breaks liturgical law and undermines his church’s authority and tradition (paving way for ordination of women, and then of course open sodomites).


                “There were certainly none of those trappings on display Thursday at the Casal del Marmo juvenile detention facility in Rome, where the 76-year-old Francis got down on his knees to wash and kiss the feet of 12 inmates, two of them women. The rite re-enacts Jesus’ washing of the feet of his 12 apostles during the Last Supper before his crucifixion, a sign of his love and service to them.

                “The church’s liturgical law holds that only men can participate in the rite, given that Jesus’ apostles were all male. Priests and bishops have routinely petitioned for exemptions to include women, but the law is clear.

                “Francis, however, is the church’s chief lawmaker, so in theory he can do whatever he wants.

                ” ‘The pope does not need anybody’s permission to make exceptions to how ecclesiastical law relates to him,’ noted conservative columnist Jimmy Akin in the National Catholic Register. But Akin echoed concerns raised by canon lawyer Edward Peters, an adviser to the Vatican’s high court, that Francis was setting a ‘questionable example’ by simply ignoring the church’s own rules.

                ” ‘People naturally imitate their leader. That’s the whole point behind Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. He was explicitly and intentionally setting an example for them,’ he said. ‘Pope Francis knows that he is setting an example.’

                “The inclusion of women in the rite is problematic for some because it could be seen as an opening of sorts to women’s ordination. The Catholic Church restricts the priesthood to men, arguing that Jesus and his 12 apostles were male.

                “Francis is clearly opposed to women’s ordination. But by washing the feet of women, he jolted traditionalists who for years have been unbending in insisting that the ritual is for men only and proudly holding up as evidence documentation from the Vatican’s liturgy office saying so.

                ” ‘If someone is washing the feet of any females … he is in violation of the Holy Thursday rubrics,’ Peters wrote in a 2006 article that he reposted earlier this month on his blog.

                “In the face of the pope doing that very thing, Peters and many conservative and traditionalist commentators have found themselves trying to put the best face on a situation they clearly don’t like yet can’t do much about lest they be openly voicing dissent with the pope.

                “By Thursday evening, Peters was saying that Francis had merely ‘disregarded’ the law – not violated it.

                “The Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a traditionalist blogger who has never shied from picking fights with priests, bishops or cardinals when liturgical abuses are concerned, had to measure his comments when the purported abuser was the pope himself.”

                Thankfully, in Orthodoxy one is never in the absurb position of being “more Catholic than the [infallible] Pope.” I really pity the traditionalists in the “Roman Catholic Church,” trying to soldier on like the sect that was born in 1054 didn’t die at Vatican II, it did, there’s no way to retreat from the current universalistic pan heresy without disproving Papal infallibility (and all the 900-1100 years of development behind it, proving Rome lost grace through heresy and schism), accept it, get over it, get out of it and convert to Orthodoxy.

                And I wonder what new apostasies the below could entail since Francis and the [Roman] Catholic Catechism already have Muslims worshipping the same God as Christians and the Catechism states they are included in the plan of salvation (the former “Pope” Benedict was even more clear than the Catechism in his various teaching over his career that Muslims, Jews, and even pagans will be saved without Christ):


                “In the days since, he has called for ‘intensified’ dialogue with Islam – a gesture that rubs traditionalists the wrong way because they view such a heavy focus on interfaith dialogue as a sign of religious relativism.”

                There is no central authority in Islam to negotiate anything with, so I can only see more one sided appeasement coming from “intensified” dialogue. But anyway, all Orthodox should see the absurdity of thinking that we should look for any help from Rome against secularism, Rome’s post Vatican II apostasy is THE source of the secularization of the West: (for several reasons but most importantly that) nobody can take a Christian group seriously that claims salvation outside of belief in Christ when Christ Himself said differently, over and over again.

      • nit picker says

        ProPravoslavie you write:

        The ecumenically-minded triumvirate of Patriarchates, Constantinople, Antioch and Alexandria

        I am aware of the mind set of the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Antioch but not of Alexandria. Please, be so kind as to elaborate how you place the Patriarchate of Alexandria in the same class. Thank you.

    • Francis Frost says

      The assertions made by Mr. Michaelopulos as a basis for this discussion are absurd. The assertions made by “Damage Control” are demonstrably false.

      First, the seating arrangement at a Roman Catholic event, even the installation of a new Pope of Rome, has absolutely no significance as regards the authenticity, canonicity or the spiritual vitality of the OCA. None.

      “Damage Control” asserts that he OCA is somehow shunted aside from the work of the ECOB. Damage Control states: ” The OCA is barely part of this process, again like in Rome, in an “Other” category. Seen as canonical, but neither fish nor fowl when it comes to who they are. Constantinople insists that the so-called Orthodox Church in America must go back under its Mother Church (Moscow) and work out its status.”

      This assertion is demonstrably false as can be demonstrated from a quick view of the ECOB website. First, the OCA bishops are listed as full members of the Assembly. Second, they are represented on the committees. By the way, there is a video posted on YouTube about 1 year ago in which Bishop Basil of Wichita explained the work of the Assembly including committee assignments. Those assignments were made based on the bishops’ own stated preferences. Third, despite the EC’s stated position, the OCA is listed as a separate jurisdiction apart from the Moscow Patriarchate. This is a tacit acknowledgement of the OCA’s independence, if not its autocephaly.

      In fact, His Grace Bishop Basil and Father Mark Arey have gone to great lengths to insure that the Episcopal Assembly is maximally inclusive of all the Orthodox communities. Saidna Basil has made extraordinary efforts to reach out to the Patriarchate of Georgia, despite the fact that the Georgian Patriarchate has only 10 parishes in America. Saidna Basil sent a personal message to Patriarch Ilya and the Holy Synod via Archbishop Antony of Baghdati and Vani asking for the Georgians participation in the ECOB. Meupe Antony was Bishop Basil’s guest at our Cathedral in Wichita 3 years ago over the Fourth of July weekend. Meupe Antony presided at the Holy Liturgy from the throne in Bishop Basil’s presence. A year ago in November, Bishop Basil again met with Archbishop Antony here in Oklahoma City. At that time, Saidna Basil again sent a heartfelt invitation to the Georgian Patriarchate to participate fully in the ECOB. A photo of that meeting was published on the DOWAMA clergy newsletter for December 2012. Perhaps, Father Patrick or Father John could share a copy.

      Some of your respondents have likened the OCA’s autocephaly to a “seed”. Perhaps, we have forgotten the Savior’s teaching that a seed must die and be buried in the ground in order to bear much fruit. Those of us old enough to remember 1970, also remember that the OCA’s autocephaly was never meant to be an “end in itself” but rather a stepping-stone to a united Orthodox Church in North America. As I recall, it was precisely for this reason that the autocephalous Metropolia was titled “The Orthodox Church in America” rather than “ The Orthodox Church of America”. Metropolitan Theodosius on more than one occasion declared the OCA’s readiness to surrender its autocephaly to a united Orthodox Church in the Americas. I am sure that some of your readers might have access to old copies of the “The Orthodox Church” newspaper from those days that had lengthy articles on the purpose and the meaning ascribed to the OCA’s autocephaly.

      Recently you chided Senator Feinstein for “hysteria”. This posting demonstrates a manufactured hysteria. I somehow remember that the Slavonic word for ‘chastity’ in the Lenten Prayer is tselomudrie or “healthy mindedness”. Indeed, a healthy mindedness and trust in God’s providence are worthy goals for our Lenten journey.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Mr Frost, your assessment is roseate at best.

        1. To say that there is “no significance” at all based on seating arrangements is false. Why wasn’t Tikhon called “His Beatitude” then?

        2. As for the ACOB process, the OCA was only invited in because of Jonah and even then given last place in seating arrangments. And we’re the autocephalous Church of North America! Clearly the other jurisdictions –yours included–don’t believe that.

        3. Your reference to the “seed” and that it must “die” is essentially correct. Unfortunately the Syosset Triumphalists don’t see things your way.

        Basically you and the Syossetolatrists are talking past each other.

  2. George:

    Good grief! It was respectful to go to Rome. Who bloody cares about who was mentioned where? Who was seated where? Not me. Unlike Damage Control, my sense of self-worth as a member of the OCA is not predicated on other people’s opinion of the OCA. I am glad we were represented. It was a joyful and hopeful occasion.

    So, George and Damage Control, cheer up and get a grip!


    • Anyone want to guess want the financial cost of this junket was to the faithful? I say in the range of $10,000-$12,000.

      Now think of what this size of donation would do in the hands of a group like FOCUS North America.

      The OCA would have gotten much more good press with a large donation in honor of the new Pope than with this bloated and waste filled junket.

      More and more we see that a spiritual mature expression of the Orthodox faith means defunding the OCA bureaucracy.

      • George Michalopulos says

        FOCUS isn’t a priority. Neither is the prison ministry. Newsflash: Syosset! Pope Francis is going to serve Mass in a jail for juveniles on Holy Thursday! Complete with a foot-washing ceremony. I wonder how many ACOB bishops will be so occupied.

        • Funny you should mention it, George. Since July one of the recipients of our tithes has been an Orthodox prison ministry. There are many such worthy recipients of tithes outside the bloated bureaucracy of the OCA. I had not heard previously of FOCUS, but will be checking it out.

      • Haven’t posted in many a day,
        Since Parma not much to say,
        It’s not haiku, it’s doggerel.
        No tithes to the OCA.

    • “Good grief! It was respectful to go to Rome.”
      You’re assuming that Rome either wants or needs the respct of the OCA, Sam.

    • Damage Control says


      These trips like the one to Rome are full of connections that you may wish to ignore, and I don’t blame you considering how puny the OCA now is, but if the OCA was so sure of itself, why go to Rome at all? Why would they go in the past?

      The fact is they went there to promote themselves in their own self-defintion as a authocehplous Church. There is no other reason. Sadly, once they got there they were reminded once again that their status is ambiguous at best.

      It is time for the OCA to give up their pretentious of a self-governing Church and give way to the greater good of a united Orthodox Church in the USA. A Church of many backgrounds but one committed to the spreading of the Orthodox Faith in this land.

      Or, would you rather the present exclusivity of self-promotion of the OCA? A self-promotion that goes no further then the walls of Syosset?

      • Damage Control:

        I don’t understand your argument. The OCA is puny, so it should not have gone to Rome? I am not sure what size has to do with anything. Size of what exactly?

        You write that the OCA went to (1) promote themselves as self-defined (2) autocephalous church. This is just factually inaccurate.

        (1) I have seen nothing to suggest that this trip was a self-promoting tour. Perhaps you are a more accomplished Syosset-gazer than I am. Frankly, I have other things to do. Only the needlessly negative types on this blog portray the Rome trip as a some sort of self-promotion gone bad. Some times it isn’t all about us.

        (2)Descriptively, the OCA is autocephalous. It conducts its own affairs, elects its own bishops, etc. It is also recognized as such by other local, autocephalous Orthodox Churches. Not all, which is problematic and will need to be resolved.

        It is time, Damage Control, to cheer up! Your relentless negativity may be somewhat justified, but it is in no way helpful moving forward.


        • Damage Control says


          I am a very cheery person. Ask those who know me, but I am also a realist and when the two cross paths reality presents itself no matter my personal mood. But, thanks for thinking I need cheering up!

          The OCA was invited to Rome, why? Because they were on a list. That list honored them in a category as “Other.” That is a descriptive fact. Right? Now you may argue who cares what Rome thinks, but the fact is that Rome was informed by Constantinople about the OCA, and that matters. It does not take too much to understand this, even if you don’t have that much time to consider it.

          As for moving forward, a sober gut check of what is real and what is fanciful (autocephaly) does make for a sure forward direction, if the OCA leadership is willing to accept what is concrete reality. But, iff the OCA is only living off reading its own press clippings (and daily musings of its Chancellor), well, I suppose that it will be you who will need the cheering up and not me.

          Don’t mistake my critical assessments as sour grapes. That would be the easy man’s way to discount my posts. However, I think, SAM, that you are much smarter than to play that simpleton’s game.

          • Damage Control:

            You are welcome. And I pleased for your friends and relations. I suppose that it comes down to the fact that I don’t really care about the OCA’s autocephaly. It exists, so the OCA acting like a local church doesn’t bother me. I suspect there will come a time that OCA will be absorbed into a new American administrative framework. I am fine with that. What I don’t care for, Damage, is complaining about the OCA acting like a local church.

            I find hard to understand why you critise the OCA for being “othered” in Rome, whilst simultaneously complaining about the OCA wrong headed assertion of autocephaly. If you we’re a autocephaly true believer, I can understand being upset about the “othering”. If you were against the OCA’s assertion of autocephaly, I can understand how the label “other” would confirmation of your views. If you are like me, and don’t care, you might look past this kasha and see a delightful event. But, I have hard time understanding your view, Damage. Perhaps you could square this circle for me?

            So, I won’t mistake your criticism as sour grapes. Nor, I hope, will you mistake mine for a simpleton’s game.


            • Damage Control says


              I am glad that I understand where you are coming from and I hope what follows will help you better understand where I am coming from.

              When the OCA was granted its current status by Moscow in 1970, the world was different place and Orthodoxy in this land was in a different place. Moscow having a loyal coworker in America during the depths of the cold war was an asset for them. The main shaker and mover in Moscow pushing for the OCA Authocephaly was Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov) of Leningrad and Novgorod. On the OCA side was Protopresbyter Alexander Schememann. +Nikodim was a Soviet agent for the KGB, I don’t say this as a slam, just a known fact then and now. So one can conclude that Moscow was not going to give its daughter Church independence unless it was to Moscow’s benefit.

              That being said, the OCA in the 70’s and early 80’s before the untimely death of Fr. Alexander was a positive Orthodox presence here. Even though the hoped for unity of all Orthodox under the OCA did not take place, the OCA did embrace the Romanians, Bulgarian and Albanian dioceses. But that was then and since then the OCA has, at best, stagnated if not gone backwards.

              Some have argued here that the OCA is still young (40 years) and thus we should not be too hard on them. However there is little doubt that in recent years the OCA has fumbled and stumbled with the result that it is losing members and raising up leaders that are not of the highest caliber, signs that their internal health is suffering. I should add here that these mistakes are not in a vacuum, they do spill over into the overall Orthodox experience of other Churches. I think if the OCA leadership had a better appreciate of this, they would not have made so many, dare I say, immature decisions.

              The question thus becomes will the OCA realize that its future as a “go it alone” jurisdiction is futile? The advent of the Episcopal Assemblies have ushered in a new dynamic to directly deal with the anomalous Orthodox church structures here in the USA. The OCA is part of this structure in the “Other” category. They are there because Archbishop Demitrios of the GOA has gone out on a limb to include them. The OCA should be part of the process, I think we both agree, but there is still a great deal of dysfunction in the OCA. Look at the statement by Fr. Hatfield at the recent Metropolitan Council meeting. That was as clear a statement and insight that things are not over as the OCA tries to recover.

              I suppose my deepest concern still is reflected in the manner in which they have treated its former Primate and then trying to justify their actions with pious platitudes by Met. Tikhon. It just doesn’t pass the “smell” test to me and I think many others. A true Local Church would act with much more compassion and patience. I continue to believe that it was the duty of the OCA Synod who elected +Jonah as their Primate to work things out, no matter what. That is what a true Local Church would have done with her bishops putting aside their own personal biases and feelings for the good stability of the OCA. Instead, they did what they did and sadly continue to stick it to +Jonah whenever they can.

              So my once optimism for the OCA which I saw and lived in real time, and in real time since, has turned into great disappointment and now I see the OCA as not a means to Orthodox unity here but an obstacle .

              So, that is where I am coming from, SAM. I am still a happy person, but one who now sees the Orthodox life here with a realistic appreciation.

              • Damage Control:

                Thanks for your response. I am not sure that it squares the circle, but it does certainly help me understand where you are coming from. I think the gloss you give to Metropolitan Nikodim and the Russian Church’s motivations for granting autocephaly to the Metropolia is a bit unfair. Certainly not a fulsome account of either the man–who deserves better–or the objectives of the Russian Church.
                As for the rest of your points. I don’t find them compelling. That is just my opinion, and I don’t think I have the time or energy to write an extensive blog post about why. I have never met anyone who became convinced of a hitherto disagreeable idea by reading a blog post.

                But still the circle remains unsquared. You fault the OCA for not-acting like a “true” local church. Then criticize them for acting like a local church. Which is it? Perhaps the OCA is in the unhappy position of failing in every possible way.

                Stay happy,


  3. M. Stankovich says

    Mr. Michalopulos,

    с праздником!

    Might I point out again that the Orthodox Church in America is exactly forty years in existence as a local autocephalous Church, unacknowledged and unrecognized by all the patriarchates save Moscow, and has always exaggerated its membership (or because of the issues related to “yearly assessment” never actually knew). Please extrapolate as you will, but, “What is [the OCA], that you are mindful of him? and the [OCA], that you visit him? (Ps. 8:4, and likewise identically Ps. 143:3, Job 7:17, and you can laugh heartily as St. Paul can’t even remember, “But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is [the OCA]…” (Heb. 2:6) Seriously, in the context of “world religion,” “world Christianity,” “world Orthodoxy,” and “American Orthodoxy,” how is it possible for you, with a straight face, to suggest that the OCA commands anything but “Other” after only forty years of unacknowledged, unrecognized existence? And Jonah Paufhausen would have made a difference? With all due respect, Mr. Michalopulos, Alexander Schmemann would have made a difference, and frequently did so in Rome.

    Damage Control, you are missing vital and essential communications & historical details as to the motivation for “granting autocephaly.” It was no “mistake.” They were not “doing favours” for the Metropolia – and it obviously caused more problems and divisions than the Metropolia ever imagined. But as Fr. Vitaly Borovoy, then Dean of the Patriarchal Cathedral in Moscow explained to us through tears, autocephaly was a “seed planted in America and in Russia.” Perhaps what was so cryptic then begins to make sense now? The history of autocephaly in America is considerably more complex than you appear to understand.

    It seems to me, Mr. Michalopulos, there are at least two viable options of viewing the OCA’s “Other” participation in Rome: one would be your customary, cynical ascription of head-wagging at the “Wonderboys of Syosset,” or one might be to re-read the account of the Canaanite woman begging the Lord to heal her daughter, humbling herself to say, “Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” (Mt. 15:27) I believe you will find the Lord was moved by the latter: “Great is your faith!” (15:28)

    I know I’ve written it before, but it seems important to repeat the words of beloved SS Verhovskoy, Professor of Dogmatic Theology and Ethics, and Provost of SVS, spoken to the Papal Legate and his delegation visiting from Rome, honored at dinner by the faculty (at which I was the maitre de):

    Well, my dears. God is our Father, and the Holy Spirit goes wherever He wishes. But inclination is such that, at times, we may actually say something is impossible. The Pope is in heresy. The Pope engages in deceptive attempts to convert our people, in our native countries, by “posing” as Orthodox. It is disgusting. So, by your description, Pope seems to be nice fellow, but by inclination, Pope is heretic and will not repent. Until Pope repents, we cannot discuss much with Pope but his heresy. Therefore, reconciling with Rome is impossible.

    • Veliko Vam hvala, Gospodine Stankovicu -Thank you very much, Mr. Stankovic.
      Very good comment, Professor Verhovskoy told them the truth.
      Again, thank you for sharing.

    • Catholic Observer says

      The Pope engages in deceptive attempts to convert our people, in our native countries, by “posing” as Orthodox.

      What on earth is this guy talking about? LOL, the mind boggles.

      • Michael Bauman says

        CO: Uniates, uhhhh Eastern Catholics

        In Lebanon the Marionites buy famlies away from their anscestral faith while claiming to be in communion with we Orthodox.

        “Hey, bro, everything is the same, we just acknowledge the Pope as our bishop, no big deal bro, come here and have a taste man, you’ll see it’s no big deal.”

        Between the Moslems, the Jews and the Catholics, its amazing there are any Orthodox left in the land in which we were first called Christians.

        • Catholic Observer says

          Oh brother.

          Umm, just ask the Ukrainian Catholics how they feel about all the churches that were violently seized from them during the Soviet era and given to the Orthodox. And never given back.

          Things are tough all over. And guess what? We can all dig up plenty of past grievances (real or imagined) if we try hard enough.

          But that does not serve the cause of unity, does it? And unity is what Our Lord prayed for so fervently on the most solemn night of His life.

          If y’all have issues with the whole notion of unity, take it up with Jesus. 😉


          Catholic Observer, waiting for someone to bring up 1204 😀

          • Catholic Observer says

            Also: Since when are “Uniates” the pope?

            The Pope engages in deceptive attempts to convert our people, in our native countries, by “posing” as Orthodox.

            The pope does this? WTH?

            Good holy grief. I’m sorry, but the person who made the comment quoted above sounds as if he was as crazy as a bedbug. What’s next? Charges of Jesuit-Vatican-Illuminati conspiracies to take over the world?

            Jack Chick, call your office.

            • Michael Bauman says

              CO: Jack Chick? Come on.

              That indicates that you don’t understand the fundamental dynamic of Orthodox/RCC interrelationships and simply want us poor benighted ‘separated brethren’ (i.e. schismatics) to return to Rome.

              I get that. Ain’t gonna happen Drop the fantasy. Calling us ridiculous names does not help us get along. I don’t expect the Pope (or the Catholic faithful if he did) to drop the papal claims and become Orthodox.

              You see the Apostolic Faith more faithfully taught in the RCC. Great! We Orthodox do not.

              In a somewhat reductionistic evaluation: The papal claims are the thing that separates us, has always separated us. The Uniates have been used for a long time as a political pawn by many Popes to suppress Orthodox worship and confuse simple Orthodox folks. There have been abuses by Orthodox too.

              The history is real. Open to interpretation, but real.

          • Johann Sebastian says

            All the Ukrainian and Ruthenian Catholic churches seized by the Soviets were, once upon a time, Orthodox.

            People like you conveniently forget that those churches were forcibly liquidated by Poland and Austria-Hungary and subsumed into the Greek Catholic Church during a time when and in a place where the Orthodox Church was an illegal institution. Let’s see, all in all 1596 to ca. 1914…that’s a damn long time. The Greek Catholic Church became the de facto church for the Orthodox Ruthenian. The average believer did not ponder the finer points of theology and, as the Church was the repository of our culture, compliance was necessary for our survival as a distinct people.

            BTW, can we bring up Talerhof? I had relatives executed there.

          • ProPravoslavie says

            “Umm, just ask the Ukrainian Catholics how they feel about all the churches that were violently seized from them during the Soviet era and given to the Orthodox. And never given back.”

            NEVER given back?

            From an interview with Lubomyr Cardinal Husar (LH in this interview) in 2004:


            LH: … The Soviet government gave to the Patriarchate of Moscow a great number or churches. It was the only church that was permitted to exist. People who wanted to go to church had to go to the Russian Orthodox Church. And many did go. In 1989, the Soviet government permits the Greek Catholic Church to register again. And then in 1990 and 1991, many of those communities that went to the Russian Orthodox Church said: “There is no need for us anymore. Let us be what we were before, Greek Catholic.” And over one thousand communities registered as Greek Catholic. Then there were difficulties about church buildings. Some of these difficulties have remained up to today.

            AA: How many churches are still discussed?

            LH: I would say that in western Ukraine there are over 300 localities that are in conflict.

            AA: With the Moscow Patriarchate?

            LH: Especially with the [Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the] Patriarchate of Kyiv and the [Ukrainian] Autocephalous [Orthodox] Church. There is none with Moscow in the Lviv region, for example. I would say that there are about 25 localities where conflicts are pretty strong.

            You’re living in the 1980’s, Mr. Catholic Observer. Most of the churches given to the Russian Orthodox iin 1946 were given back by the local officials in Perestroika-era USSR and (after 1991) by the Ukrainian State in the late 1980’s and ’90’s to the Greek Catholics. If anything, the remaining property disputes are with “Orthodox churches” that no canonical Orthodox Church recognizes. The current dispute between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Vatican over Western Ukraine is not over the return of property, but over the treatment of the remaining followers of the Moscow Patriarchate in Western Ukraine, who are not even being given adequate land where they can build churches, and often have to worship in out of the way places.

            More on the very real persecution of those who clung to Orthodoxy (both canonical and not) in Western Ukraine in the aftermath of the return of the Unia in the 80’s and ’90’s: http://wwrn.org/articles/589/?&place=belarus-ukraine&section=catholic

            Speaking of confiscated churches, has the Roman Catholic Church in Poland returned the Greek Catholic churches given to it by the Polish Communists?

            Anyway, thank you for disproving, with your very comment, the malarkey often peddled by Catholic apologists that in the interaction between Catholics and Orthodox, it is only the Orthodox who are uncharitable and ignorant.

            • Johann Sebastian says

              Even Cardinal Husar admits, “If we take Uniatism in this classical way of trying to re-establish unity, we as well do not accept it. We were tricked into it. It was not the intention of our bishops at the end of the 16th century. But this was the political situation within the Polish kingdom of that time.”


              With many in the UGCC freely using the term “Patriarch” to refer to their Metropolitan, the establishment of a canonical Orthodox Kievan patriarchate may be the only way to solve the Ukrainian mess and diminish the influence of the UGCC.

        • Johann Sebastian says

          The impetus for the 12th century Maronite union was an endogenous one, and while it was certainly facilitated by Crusader contact, I don’t believe that church owes its existence to colonial persecution.

          Absorption of the local Orthodox population was the objective when the Jesuits set up the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in the 17th century.

          Such was also the motivation for the Ruthenian unions of Brest-Litovsk and of Uzhhorod. As these were territories of the Catholic Polish and Austrian crowns at the time, the methods by which these unions were enforced were, shall we say, more “forward.”

      • Johann Sebastian says

        He’s talking about Unia. Regardless of how its adherents may view it now, the fact remains that Unia was conceived as an underhanded attempt to eradicate Orthodoxy in Catholic principalities.

        When Uniates from the old country speak of “katolichki” and the Pope as if they were Satan and refer to themselves as “pravoslavny,” something wasn’t communicated to (or, rather kept from) them in Sunday school. Or, perhaps they’re the Ruthenian equivalent of the Spanish marrano.

        At least the Ottomans were more transparent about their treatment of the Orthodox.

        • Catholic Observer says

          When Uniates from the old country speak of “katolichki” and the Pope as if they were Satan and refer to themselves as “pravoslavny,”

          Yeah, I bet that happens every day. All my Eastern Catholic friends talk like that. 😉

          • Johann Sebastian says

            My Eastern Catholic relatives did, in fact, talk like that.

            • Catholic Observer says

              And they were the pope? Who knew?

              I stand by my initial assertion. The claim that the POPE — any recent pope, much less the current one — poses as Orthodox in order to deceive the Orthodox into becoming Catholic is sheer lunacy. And that’s putting it charitably.

              Good grief. Does this even need to be stated? The person quoted above said nothing about the Unia per se or about your Eastern Catholic relatives. He said “the pope.” If he thinks the pope is posing as Orthodox in order to lure the Orthodox into Catholicism, then he is as crazy as a bedbug.

              • Johann Sebastian says

                Pars pro toto. We call this synecdoche.

                It finds its boldest expression in the idea that the successor of St. Peter is the Vicar of Christ on Earth.

                How exactly does “upon this rock I will build my Church” justify that?

                • Catholic Observer says

                  Good grief. Talk about not answering the question.

                  Can you show me where the POPE poses as an Eastern Orthodox in order to lure Eastern Orthodox “home to Rome”?

                  If you cannot show me this, then please admit that it is patently absurd.

                  It has nothing to do with the papal claims (Vicar of Christ, etc.), which, BTW, rest on multiple Scriptural, patristic, and historic data points, not simply on one verse.

                  It has to do with a very specific charge made waaaaay up above in this thread — to wit: the charge that the pope deceptively poses as an Orthodox in order to lure the Orthodox into conversion.

                  This very specific charge is completely nuts. And yes, it does smack of Jack Chick. It’s a conspiracy theory, much like the silly conspiracy theories the Chickites spew involving alleged Jesuit plots to take over the world.

                  Seriously. Can you not concede how nutty this is?

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Good Grief CO; Since when is the RCC have a congregationalist ecclesiology.

                    Everything the RCC does is in the lap of the pope one way or ‘tother.

                    The creation and the promotion of the Unia began in the Vatican and would not continue if the Vatican really didn’t want it to.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    BTW, you need to take a chicklet and calm down.

                    • nit picker says

                      you need to take a chicklet and calm down

                      I haven’t heard that phrase in ages!! Laughed so hard coffee squirted out my nose (quite painful actually…but well worth it). Thanks.

      • M. Stankovich says

        “I’ll take ‘Payback” for $800, Alex.”

        “The answer is, “This is the reason His Holiness Patriarch Alexey II influenced President Putin to forbid Pope John Paul II from ever setting his red shoes on the soil of Holy Mother Russia and in the Third Rome.”

        “The cruel and devious activity of the Collegium Russicum, created with the express purpose of deceiving the Orthodox: ‘If it looks, and sounds, and smells like Orthodoxy, it must be Orthodoxy.’ Except for the small matter of commemorating Папа Римский (pope of rome) and singing the filioque. The OCA canonized Fr. Alexis Toth for returning thousands from this deceptive heresy to the Orthodox Faith. And brothers, the blood of the New Martyrs of Russia cry out against these deceivers who did not suffer the same persecution as the Russians, but were even “promoted” by the godless Soviets as an attempt to further compound the deception and manipulation.”

        Beloved SS Verhovskoy was the only one to politely speak the truth that evening. He said nothing before, and he said nothing after. He asked me for a cup of tea and assistance walking across the circular drive home, as it was dark. I am happy it boggles your mind. Memory eternal, Serge.

    • I gave you a thumbs up, Dr Stankovich.
      The quote from Verhovskoy is the best thing you have ever posted here.

    • Here's the Problem says

      Here’s the problem: Mr. Stankovich admirably remembers the context of the granting of the Autocephaly with useful anecdotes such as these:

      … as Fr. Vitaly Borovoy, then Dean of the Patriarchal Cathedral in Moscow explained to us through tears, autocephaly was a “seed planted in America and in Russia.” Perhaps what was so cryptic then begins to make sense now? The history of autocephaly in America is considerably more complex than you appear to understand.

      The complexities of 1970 have given way to the complexities of 2013.

      He forgets that Fr. Vitaly made that comment 40 years ago in the context of a very different Russian Orthodox Church. In 1970 the ROC, under the thumb of the Soviet regime, needed such an American presence. They needed the OCA. Today, that is no longer the case. Today’s ROC is a world powerhouse. It regularly receives the calls of foreign political dignitaries and world religious leaders. The ROC has an incredibly strong presence throughout the world. The ROC of 1970 is a far cry from today. The rules and the reasons have changed, Mr Stankovich.

      What’s more, the OCA of 2013 has proven itself to be a far cry from the OCA of 1970. Indeed, the OCA of 1970 was a heady time of theological luminaries and visionaries. The OCA of 1970 published ground breaking material in religious education. Today’s OCA features articles on their website about painting bedrooms at Syosset and the Metropolitan’s dog. Today’s OCA hires a full time sex Czarina while ministries languish for financial support. The OCA of 1970 was growing and vibrant. The OCA of 2013 is in a precipitous decline and is strangled by internal turmoil and weak leadership.

      Mr. Stankovich is apparently the Rip Van Winkle of American Orthodoxy. Mr. Stankovich, I’m very sorry to be the one to break this to you: it’s not 1970, and no one is impressed by or needs the OCA anymore. The times have changed. The reasons you cite are no longer valid. There is a new vision, a new reality, and appealing to the anecdotes of 1970 won’t change that. The entire American Orthodox presence, no, the world of Orthodoxy, has moved on.

      • The OCA is comprised of 30,000 enrolled members. This is the size of a very small town–the kind of nondescript village that you drive through in a minute off a major freeway. There is a small-town mayor, Tikhon, who has his little dog Max in his office (according to The Village Voice Blog: “how cute!”) and there is the host of small-town characters–the secretary and budget analyst and chancellor… and the little village of priests and parishioners–most of whom know each other well. In the vision of the OCA of the 1970s, this village is unified. But the OCA of today is not unified. It is spread in groups of tens here or maybe a couple hundred there, dispersed across North America, controlled by a handful of old, decrepit–and worse, lying and deceitful–bishops, who are accountable to no one and who are idolized as if they are gods. Instructors at the OCA’s miniscule seminaries are viewed as spiritual authorities by a blind following who cling to this shangrila of a self-ruling and autonomous American Orthodoxy. Why is the OCA a failure and why will it continue to fail? “Without vision, the people perish.”

      • M. Stankovich says

        Here’s the Problem,

        Having actually lived in Tarrytown – home of Washington Irving – I appreciate the wake-up call. Oh, and the schoolin’, as it were, by yet another cowardly lion of a shape-shifted historian. What is it that compels you to enter the witness protection program?

        What you can’t seem to grasp is that, at it’s essence, nostalgia is incumbent upon an exclusion, a filtering of negative, aggravating circumstances and details to produce a false impression of “perfection.” I am telling you that, rather than being a “heyday,” the period of time you describe so nobly as “growing and vibrant” is exactly why you have no business speaking about such matters. You cannot even begin to imagine the courage it took to remain in the OCA under the accusations of schism. aligning with the godless Soviets – the implication being a party to persecution of the real Russian Church and the Holy New Martys – and the “innovation heresies” of frequent Confession & reception of the Eucharist. While many of you were having tea in the Anglican garden, more left the OCA over these grave issues of conscience than ever will leave over Jonah Paufhausen. These were horrible, painful, isolating times of great trouble. But you would not know that because you are already too smart to listen to learn. And here’s the problem…

        I make a concerted, relentless effort – despite every indication that it is pointless and disrespected by individuals such as yourself – to demonstrate that what our God has established with His right hand is not a frivolous “experiment” to be written off by headless horsemen who have neither earned nor suffered for a credible voice. Oddly enough, I have come to respect those who, according to conscience, sought their answer elsewhere. And conversely, I find insufferable those who would assume the attitude of “gone, with privileges,” and those privileges would be the opportunity to continue to throw stones. But by far the most despicable are those anonymous cowards who lack the insight, the capacity, or the integrity to do anything but throw stones. As the Lord warns: “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16)

        And do wake me when you are leaving.

        • Damage Control says

          There M.S. goes again, on the attack, diss’n the messenger. You may think the Lord has planted the OCA with His right hand, but there are an even larger and growing body of understanding just the opposite. The concept of the OCA has failed. There is never a guarantee that it would survive and thrive. Such a seedling planted must be tended with care and love. The OCA has not tended its little shoot with care and love, especially love.

          And finally M.S. you are NOT the sole spokesperson nor the sole eyewitness to the events you so romantically recall. There were many, many still with us, even who write on this site and others who saw the same things you saw and experienced at that time. But unlike you, stuck in some sort of “Nirvanic” OCA time warp, others, like myself, understand that the OCA is no longer relevant to the idea of Orthodox unity in the USA. The OCA as an attempt to rally that call failed and no amount of nostalgia will undo where the OCA is in 2013.

          That is why it was created in the first place and since its Raison d’être has failed, why continue as a so-called autocephalous church? Time for the OCA to fold their hand so that the deck can be reshuffled and we can all be playing from the same deck and not the OCA deck that is full of jokers!

          Here’s the Deal and Nate B. get it. You don’t. That simple. I value your opinion but I believe it is no longer relevant, like the OCA.

          Blessed Lent to you!

          • M. Stankovich says

            Damage Control,

            It’s a cold day, my friend, when people have no direction, no inspiration, and, well, nothing. Stevie Ray Vaughn, “Life by the Drop,” Billy Preston, “Nothing from Nothing Leaves Nothing,” and it’s all runnin’ on fumes downhill. There are a dozen or so voices here repeating the same sad, disparaging, interminably bleak song ad infintum. Tango: Point taken. Since you have offered absolutely nothing – and I mean nada – other than a potent, calculated “deconstruction,” warming yourself by the fire to watch the end (cf. Jn. 18:18), what is your point? You obviously have realized you are not about to discourage me, so what is your mission? Do you imagine that this continuous badgering of anonymous bitterness will eventually wear down the hierarchy of the OCA to – I don’t know what – resign? Slink off? Re-call Jonah Pauf (and pardon me momentarily, in my dyslexia, I apparently owe him several fffffffffff’s – there, our account is settled with my apologies) fhausen? Or do you simply intend to discourage and provoke despair in others as foolish as me? If you imagine this is a healthy, productive, spiritual day-to-day enterprise, my apologies, but I don’t see it.

            As I do see it, if I continue along in my unmitigated trust in what my generation and in those following me were promised, what is it to you? History, time, and our Lord will be the judge. But I can assure you of this: there is no sin in demanding, “Establish Your word unto Your servant, who is devoted to Your fear!” (Ps. 118:38). None whatsoever. I do not attack messengers. I am intolerant of those who falsely claim the voice: God’s messengers brought a solution, not depreciation, not mocking, and certainly not scorn. Explain to me how in heaven’s name anyone is edified by the bitterness posing as “message?” “I’d be happy too if I went to Rome on your dime.” Lovely.

            Leave me to my trust in God’s mercy, my friend, and you may stand on the hill to watch for the last embers to die out, if you so choose:

            Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that comes is vanity. Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes: but know you, that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity. (Ecc. 11:7-10)

            As is written by “helga,” the joke is on me, and apparently I can live with it. Oh, and as long as I’m not attacking messengers, a message.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Dr S, in the third paragraph above you talk about “mercy.” How much was shown to His Beatitude?

              • M. Stankovich says

                Mr. Michalopulos,

                Please, I refer to you as I do because I am in your house. Who would not rejoice at being referenced with the name of the Leader of the Bodiless Powers of Heaven? Michael.

                I fail to see the efficacy of constantly returning, redressing, weighing, and/or quantifying my statements against anything related to Met. Jonah. Secondly, you are not, in fact, asking a “question” – meaning soliciting information – but are surreptitiously making a statement at my expense. I do not appreciate this, and have stated this on many occasions. I have never been a party to the dispensing of a cold lager, let alone mercy, to the the Met., which you well know, so why bark up this tree?

        • Michael Stankovich writes, “I am telling you that, rather than being a ‘heyday,’ the period of time you describe so nobly as ‘growing and vibrant’ is exactly why you have no business speaking about such matters.”

          The joke is on you, Michael. Even the old days look “growing and vibrant” by comparison to today’s OCA.

        • Here's the Problem says

          Oh, Mr. Stankovich, your presumption is wrong on so many levels. My identity is my own business, and until our host mandates real names, I’ll remain YOUR Problem, I assure you. My lineage in Orthodoxy goes back as far as records are kept, and beyond. And what jurisdiction do you belong to, Mr Stankovich?

          Your knowledge of history seems to stop at 1973, couched in all the pedantic verbiage and bloviating of a know-it-all freshman who’s going to teach those professors a thing or two. You forget that the footnotes of church history are littered with these “God planted” churches, all the rage one day, gone the next. The OCA is becoming one of those footnotes. Indeed, hope springs eternal, but reality’s a b*tch.

          Did you see the numbers published today on OCA.org? In the year 2010, the OCA had 21,742 supporting adult members. In 2013, that number is 20,212. at that rate of decline the OCA will cease to exist in about 20 years. No one will be around to walk Max the dog’s litter around the property, or paint the Met Leonty Room powder blue, or fund the lawyers. But we also know that it will cease to exist long before that, due to the advent of the Episcopal Assembly (or whatever they’re calling it this week).

          Mr Stankovich, to quote your favorite book: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

      • Pere LaChaise says

        So what do you propose, Problem? A swift end to any further attempts at bolstering OCA autocephaly and a partitioning once and forever of the Orthodox among the Eastern Hemisphere Patriarchates, along ethnic lines? THAT would be a sure formula for irrelevance – a scattering of churches oriented toward their disparate identities with no attempt to evangelize Americans as Americans? How would OCA folks be better served by foreign bishops, and why would they choose to accept them?
        You pose no argument against the OCA’s autocephaly, just a laundry list of gripes equally appropriate to any of the various eparchies, self-governed, autonomous or not which COMPETE with the OCA.

        • Here's the Problem says

          You assume that there are only two choices – either the OCA, or being forever aligned to the Eastern Patriarchs. Have we forgotten the entire purpose of the Episcopal Assembly, to organically create a canonical church structure for North America, everyone together? We simply can’t ignore the hard reality that the OCA has zero credibility in the eyes of the other churches (here and abroad). It was not always that way, but it IS that way today, and that will not change.

          Let’s not forget that the whole “OCA Vision” thing is not without its serious problems. Does anyone outside of the OCA True Believers think that the disastrous Metropolitan Council bureaucracy is a good thing? The OCA’s triumphalistic chest-beating is tired and boring. No one even pays attention to it anymore, and the fruits of the “vision” are sorely lacking. Look at each category of church life and tell me where the OCA leads in any of it? Missions? Evangelism? Education? Stewardship? The OCA is not a leader in any of these areas; the Antiochians and Greeks have far surpassed them in virtually every area of church life, overall.

          The argument against the OCA’s autocephaly is a moot point. If no one recognizes it, then it will slip away into irrelevancy, just like the OCA is doing right now. The OCA most certainly can keep the autocephaly. But even Russia begrudgingly “supports” it. What does that say about the OCA’s autocephaly, when even the grantors can barely justify it today?

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Well said, “here’s the problem!”

    • Michael Stankovich writes, “And Jonah Paufhausen[sic] would have made a difference? With all due respect, Mr. Michalopulos, Alexander Schmemann would have made a difference, and frequently did so in Rome.”

      That’s METROPOLITAN JONAH to you, Michael. Today’s OCA Synod has not yet managed to deny him his proper ecclesiastical title. By the way, if you are going to use Metropolitan Jonah’s surname, the least you could do is spell it correctly. It’s PAFFHAUSEN, with two Fs.

      And as for who would have made a difference, sure, I bet Fr. Alexander Schmemann would have made a difference. He had better contacts in Rome than anyone in the OCA today. I don’t know if Metropolitan Jonah would have been afforded better treatment. There’s no real way to know; there was no changing of the Popes while he was in office.

      But it is a fact that Metropolitan Jonah made a positive difference for the OCA with respect to its relationships with other Orthodox churches and others in the outside world. It is a fact that Metropolitan Jonah was deliberately and personally chosen by the USCCB, out of all Orthodox AND Catholic bishops in America, to give the invocation at the March for Life in 2012. It is also a fact that the un-Christian abuse heaped on Metropolitan Jonah by the other OCA bishops has greatly diminished the OCA’s reputation.

      The real key to this matter is not what the Vatican did, but how the EP and MP reacted to it. While it may or may not have made a difference to have had Metropolitan Jonah there, it doesn’t look like the EP or MP are losing sleep over the OCA’s alleged primate getting put in the bleacher seats.

      The real victims here are the ten or twenty OCA faithful whose assessment funds were wasted so that Archbishop Tikhon could parade around the Vatican and get his picture taken.

      • George Michalopulos says

        You go! Girl! Honestly, one wonders whether Syosset even understands the very absurdity of it all.

      • Fr. George Washburn says

        Well Helga:

        Like the process and its outcome or not, Helga, isn’t it *Metropolitan* TIkhon to you, with one Metropolitan and one Tikhon?

        Fr. George

        • No, Fr. George. Not any more than I could refer to a certain blogger as ‘Barbara-Marie’.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            If Helga is unable to refer to Metropolitan Tikhon as Metropolitan Tikhon (unlike Metropolitan Jonah), then I’m afraid that not only is Father George Washburn’s rap over the knuckles correct in this case, but Metropolitan Jonah is seen as having one less rational supporter than he may have imagined he had. Metropolitan Ireney, Metropolitan Theodosius, Metropolitan Herman and all their followers had no problem whatsoever, after they RESIGNED, with acknowledging the promotion in rank granted to their successors. One thinks of the legendary behavior of ostriches, Father Helga!
            My, oh my…what kind of “followers” are ashamed of admitting who they are? In the “court of public opinion”, anonymous testimony is worthless. I realize the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters provided an iconic embodiment of a split soul when he sent out a FATWA against fellow and brother Archpriest Joseph Fester and timed it to come out within twenty-four hours of having somehow participated in the Office of Forgiveness at the beginning of the Fast, but that’s no justification for “dissing’ His Beatitude, Most Blessed Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada within the same time frame of Clean Week! Helga thinks it’s quite all right to compare His Beatitude with the eunuch who calls himself Barbara-Marie! With supporters like that, Metropolitan Jonah’s enemies can go on vacation!

            • George Michalopulos says

              That’s not fair, YOur Grace. In every one of the names you cited (Jonah excepted), the retired/resigned/whatever metropolitans were still treated with respect in every way. The entire situation with Jonah has been demonstrably lacking in Christian charity (and civilly actionable).

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                George. How does Metropolitan Jonah’s being treated fairly or not have anything to do with how Metropolitan Tikhon is to be addressed? Are you and Helga asserting that one should address Metropolitan Tikhon as ‘Archbishop Tikhon” because of unfair treatment of Metropolitan Jonah? Do you not realize that others, like, say M. Paluch, are convinced the Metropolitan Herman was unfairly treated, yet they did not stoop to calling Metropolitan Jonah “Bishop Jonah!”
                Now Helga asserts anonymously that Metropolitan Jonah has written three times to the Holy Synod withdrawing his resignation. When asked “when”, she says to ask Metropolitan Jonah.
                In December, ARchbishop Benjamin addressed his Diocesan Council, according to their minutes:
                “. His Eminence further commented on the status of Metropolitan Jonah, noting that Metropolitan Jonah has chosen not to accept offers made to him concerning any future service in the Orthodox Church in America.”
                Now, Archbishop Benjamin is on the record there. Helga has NEVER been on the record. Who should one believe?
                And, no, you are wrong to say that Metropolitan Theodosius was treated with respect in every way BY METROPOLITAN JONAH. You are wrong to say that Metropolitan Jonah’s censorious speech to the AAC was informed by Christian charity. On The Contrary.
                What goes around comes around if we’re going to make this a matter of who was the most honorable, filled with Christian charity, or respectful of others.
                Metropolitan Jonah resigned. Did he tell ROCOR that he had tried to withdraw his resignation through three letters? I doubt it. On the contrary.
                A very important question is STILL being overlooked; namely, what possessed the Holy Synod to elect Metropolitan Jonah in the first place? They must have had good reason, no? Otherwise, why were they “bewildered’ by his execution of his responsibilities?
                They claim that in electing him to be a bishop, they were counting on Archbishop Dmitri to educate and train him as a Vicar Bishop in the South. Not an unheard-scenario. But to elect him as First Hierarch/Primate? If he needed the mentorship of Archbishop Dmitri before ruling a Diocese, how could any member of the Holy Synod with a conscience (rather than an impulse to curry favor with an enthusiastic mob) vote for him to be Primate/First Hierarch?
                They’ve shown MUCH BETTER judgment in electing Metropolitan Tikhon than they exercised in electing Metropolitan Jonah. One has to give them that!

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Your Grace, your characterization of the events is quite unfair. Whatever Bishop Jonah of Ft Worth said at Pittsburgh in 2008 about a previous metropolitan was after the fact of pastorate in question. (And we don’t know which metropolitan he was referring to.) You forget as well that the defenestration of Metropolitan Jonah was done illegally, uncanonically, and in a most defamatory way during his very pastorate. It was you for example who termed the (unsigned) letter put out by the Synod as “the STINKBOMB” letter. You are 100% correct. The stench emanating from that letter has still to abate.

                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    Well, George, I consider that (then) Bishop Jonah’s speech about “raping the Church” stinks just as ripely as the STINKBOMB of a statement issued at the time of Metropolitan Jonahs resignation. To decry Metropolitan Tikhon’s timidity relative to the STINKBOMB, while claiming that then Bishop Jonah was just timidly going along doesn’t seem to fit the American idea of “fair.’ in fact, that very “fairness” which is such a vital part of American exceptionalism seems remarkably absent from the discourse in today’s OCA. I remember how ever-memorable ARchbishop Dmitri used to deplore Fathers Schmeman and Meyendorff’s habit of turning to the likes of Father Hopko and Connie Tarasar to “learn’ what the ‘real Americans” were thinking, when both of them were anything but mainstream Americans. That Archbishop Dmitri was onto something is demonstrated rather dramatically by the Clean Week Encyclical which stabbed Father Joseph Fester in the back: the letter was written by someone with no concept of Fairness whatsoever.
                    I understand how some (like “Helga” for example) claim that poor Metropolitan Jonah was DUPED into resigning and then denied the opportunity to take it back when he realized what he had done and that he had been duped. But those who made a dupe out of Metropolitan Jonah by persuading him to resign have no reason to fear for their reputation or position: after all, SO MANY of the most vociferous partisans of Metropolitan Jonah’s CAUSE aren’t willing to even put their names out there for him!!!!! And they brazenly admit they are looking out for number one! If they’re “;looking out for Number One,” what does that make Metropolitan Jonah? Does he even get a number? No. He’s the “chopped liver” here.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Your Grace, please see Helga’s reply to you. It’s factual, succinct, and provides the complete context.

                • What’s the matter your gracelessness; you realize that nobody was ever going to rally around your efforts to see Nikolai restored and therefore keeping your mask in place was no longer worth the bother? Regardless, it’s nice to see your true nature exposed once again on yet another public fora.

                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    Keeping my”Mask” in place? What mask? I don’t use any mask/pseudonym at all! I’ve never put any mask on my identity. What you see is what you get. I’ve never seen any point in posing, that’s why I never have posed. This just EATS away at some people; Bishops are ‘supposed to pose!” Ask George Washburn, a Priest who’s always ready to inform us what’s moral.
                    This is a public forum. There are many fora, though. Get it?
                    …The need to be liked is one of those things the Apostle John warned little children to avoid: it’s an idol.
                    As for Helga. I really enjoyed reading how someone who got all huffy whenever anyone referred to how fat Metropolitan Jonah was, now finds it fair to resort to ageism!

                    • Fr. George Washburn says

                      Dear Friends:

                      In an April Fool’s Day post Vladyko states “I’ve never put any mask on my identity.” That word *never* jumps out at me as does the April 1. Without making any comment on morality lest I offend His Grace, I can say as a matter of **fact** (not value judgment) that quite a few readers of this site believed at the time the name Artakasha the Great was being used to post here, it was really Bishop Tikhon posting with an alias to mask his identity. I have no proof either way, but can say that I was and am one who so believed.


                      Fr. George

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Father George Washburn (or should I say Father Georges Clouzot?). I am Artakhshassa the Great and have never denied it. is there ANYONE here who does not know that? I thought of using Khshayarsha or Kurush (the names of a couple other Iranian monarchs, before the Greeks, who have always had a TERRIBLE time with foreign languages and can’t say “Shibboleth” at all, came up with Xerxes and Artaxerxes and Kyrillos.
                      Father George himself confirms that it was generally BELIEVED (and also by himself) that I was Artakhshassa the Great….What kind of masking is that? I was, in fact, showing off, not hiding like an ordinary user of a pseudonym here, such as Helga, or Heracleides, etc., who fear some kind of retaliation from some quarter or other—retaliation which is, in fact, nothing more than ridicule.
                      Father George, they’ve all got your number here.
                      I’m SO disappointed if anyone was fooled and/or did not detect my identity!!!
                      R-E-A-C-H-I-N-G- IS R-E-A-C-H-I-N-G ! Really, o Archpriest…I’m not worth this modestly priced shot.

                    • Heracleides says

                      Liar. OCA Bp. Tikhon, on at least three occasions you reference ‘Artakhshassa the Great’ as someone other than yourself. ( https://www.monomakhos.com/max-the-dog-and-jonah/#comment-48651 and https://www.monomakhos.com/max-the-dog-and-jonah/#comment-48324 and https://www.monomakhos.com/jonahs-release-requested-more-than-a-month-ago/ ). The last instance is linked here as a screen capture for ease of reference. In this most recent failed attempt at deception, one can only wonder whom your real father is; as always, you should be ashamed of yourself. You also owe Fr. George an apology.

                    • Rock Hudson says

                      I see that the cowardly and puerile “Heracleides” (who may be Barbara Drezhlo as far as I can tell) is calling me a liar for referring to myself in the third person in emails which I signed “Artakahshassa the Great” and “Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald.” I have never ever, in any post under either name, denied that Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald and Artakhshassa the Great are the same person.
                      If “Heracleides” or whatever, wondered if Artakhshassa and I were the same person or not, he could have asked. No one did ask, and NEVER did Bishop Tikhon deny being Artakhshassa the Great.
                      “Heracleides’ may not know the difference between a lie and a falsehood. Sure, Artakhassa the Great is in every way as much of a falsehood as any other pseudonym. But what turns a falsehood into a LIE is the intent to DECEIVE. Heracleides intends to deceive us about his identity, as does “Helga” and their soul brethren such as Diogenes and ‘Um” and “None” and so on. No, those links which Heracleides gave us do not show Artakhshassa the Great as denying that he is Bishop Tikhon. I hope Bishop Tikhon didn’t FOOL Heracleides! Did he? If so, he’s sorry! He never dreamed. According to George Washburn a Priest and an attorney, few if any were deceived by Artakhshassa’s transparent costume. But Heracleides, apparently, thinks Bishop Tikhon (or Artakhassa?) deceived him and he’s angry. Sorry for that!
                      Giving thanks to Almighty God for everything,
                      Rock Hudson, ne Roy Fitzgerald
                      PS: I THINK Artakhshassa the Great and Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald both agree with me! Oh, the days are too short!

                    • Interesting that his grace has chosen to cloak himself with the name of a homosexual actor who died of AIDS after hiding in a closet most of his life. Honestly, where did the OCA find you???

                    • Adolf Hitler says

                      “none!” You asked how the OCA found Bishop Tikhon? It found him as a fresh graduate USAF Officer Training School in September 1960, and chrismated him in a base chapel there. It next found him at Goose Air Force Base (SAC), Goose Bay, Labrador, Then Father Dmitri Royster found him at a Defense Atomic Defense Agency installation in Bossier, Louisiana from 1962-5. Then it found him at SVS for a full school year 1965-66. Then it found him as Deputy Base Commander for Security and Law Enforcement as well as Squadron Commander 854 Combat Defense Squadron (SAC), Columbus AFB, Mississippi. Next it found him on the Air Staff, assigned to Headquarters USAF, the Pentagon, where, as Deputy Chief, Personnel Security Group he was in charge of the Personnel Security Program for that headquarters, ordering background investigations, reviewing them, and (usually) granting Security Clearances to ALL millitary (including the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force) and civilian employees of that Headquarters, including military and civilian employees of OSAF (Office of the Secretary of the Air Force) as well as all USAF personnel involved in Presidential (White House) activities, such as the USAF Band and all the USAF social aides there.
                      He thought that after Artakhshassa the Great, Rock Hudson would be a good nom de plume here, since that actor, though a notorious “queen”, was, with Doris Day and others, a star of his generation; moreover, his birth family name was Fitzgerald, and Bishop Tikhon’s paternal grandfather had gone missing just before Bishop Tikhon was born, never to be found again, although most of the Fitzgerald money was exhausted by his great grandfather’s unending search for him.
                      He(unlike, perhaps, “none’?) is confident enough in his own sexual identity/normality to be able to take the name of that star, although he does not share all of Rock Hudson’s characteristics any more than he shares all Artakhshassa the Great’s characteristics.
                      Where would “none’ get such an idea? Is “none” kind of “slow?” Bishop Tikhon has been studying Persian for a couple years now: is even becoming a kind of “Iraniophile”, I suppose.
                      All yours, “none”,
                      Adolf Hitler
                      PS Aren’t you glad i didn’t take “Ronald Reagan” or “Michelle Bachman” this time?

                    • Chris Banescu says

                      I believe this passage from Scriptures may explain the multiple identities confusion regarding Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald, Artakhshassa the Great , Rock Hudson, etc…

                      “Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” (Luke 8:30)”

                    • Chris, no kidding. It would be amusing if it weren’t a distinct possibility.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      SO glad Chris Banescu has come out of the closet and confessed he thinks i’m the devil!
                      I must be doing something right!

                      Here’s a little joke to help Chris lighten up:
                      Question: What do we call skydiving lawyers?
                      Answer: Skeet.

                    • Well friends:

                      I am about to start a one week long continuing ed class so I won’t be around for a while.

                      But at the risk of seeming to beat the dead horse, what an explosion of sophistry from Bishop Tikhon. The ball started rolling when our Vladyko posted on April 1 “I’ve never put any mask on my identity” and I replied to the general effect that his use of the nom de guerre (and with His Grace it usually is guerre, and not plume) Artie the Great sure looked like a mask to me and others.

                      Rather than making the simple admission, “I was wrong” he has led us down this trail of verbosity, silly pseudonyms and fairly mild ad hominem (and how often hominem is exactly what he adds to discussions). None of which is news or really matters much in and of itself. But maybe there are a couple of points worth noting.

                      One is the ridiculous lengths we nice Christians sometimes go to to avoid that simple admission which, to the person who sincerely admits weekly, and sometimes more during Lent, that he’s the chief of sinners, ought not to be that hard to spit out. “I was mistaken.”.

                      BT digs his hole rather deeper by making four fallacious arguments. First he claims that he wasn’t attempting to lie or deceive. But lying or deceiving is not the question. The question is whether or not he ever **masked** (his own term) his identity. And an alias in lieu of a true name can’t be said to be anything but a mask.

                      Next he argues that he wasn’t really attempting to assume a false identity. But when you read the citations to the past posts furnished us by Heracleides you can see that what BT WAS doing on more than one occasion was creating the false impression in the average reader’s mind that there was someone out there other than BT himself who was corroborating BT’s take.

                      Third he argues ineffectively that his mask was so poorly deployed that it didn’t fool very many people. Once again he merely distracts. He did not tell us on April 1 that he had never worn a very *good* or *effective* mask, but rather that he had never “put ANY mask” on” his identity at all. But he had put one on ….right here, and repeatedly.

                      Which comes to the fourth and perhaps most unfortunate way in which he tries to wriggle out of those three little words “I was wrong:” the verbiage and vitriol with which he typically deters (or tries to deter) those who call him on something, like that comparison between me and Inspector Clouseau (not Clouzot) and the rest of it. Just to avoid the three little words we all need all the practice we can get to say.

                      Fr. George

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Baloney. It took me about two seconds to figure out who was really commenting, and why. There are plenty of more clever ways to attempt the “gotcha” game when you wanna hit someone with the I’m-more-righteous-than-you-are wet noodle, but these arguments and attacks are just too weak to hold water. Like a sieve. Yeah. Like that.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Oh, and Father Washburn, you are acting a bit like Inspector Clouseau. It should make you smile just to think of it.

                      Clouzot goes into the Grand Hotel Potemkin lobby and asks the old hotel manager, “Does your dog bite?” “No,” says the old man. “Nice dog,” says Clouseau and pats the dog’s head. The dog attacks Clouzot’s hand. “I thought you said your dog does not bite!” says Clouzot. “That is not my dog,” says the old man.

                      The Pink Panther Strikes Again

                      So FUNNY, and so TRUE!

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      I guess I really struck George Washburn’s (he’s a priest and an attorney), tender spot with my “Skeet” joke!
                      Remember when he wrote this?
                      “I can say as a matter of **fact** (not value judgment) that quite a few readers of this site believed at the time the name Artakasha the Great was being used to post here, it was really Bishop Tikhon posting with an alias to mask his identity. I have no proof either way, but can say that I was and am one who so believed.”

                      The key words (which he now ignores) were “an alias to mask his identity.” I demonstrated that there was no masking of my identity. And even his own words show that my mask NEVER masked my identity. Such was never my intent. How can anyone call a transparent mask a mask at all. One can’t except as a joke. Some SERIOUS sorts never get jokes and may think they are anti-Christian. They are not automatically anti-Christian any more than a lawyer-cleric being tone-deaf is, though some come close to such foolish theories.

                      He hangs his latest complaint on my references to myself in the third person, which was but a further elongation of legs through persistent pulling on them, or a gilding of the lily, as it were.

                      In the 1950’s, the wonderful Japanese Christians came up with something called “The No-Church Church.” Like a “No-Mask Mask.”

                      George, i used, with great and obvious relish, deceiving no one and hiding myself from o one, these silly pseudonyms: Artakhshassa the Great, Adolf Hitler, Rock Hudson and often underlined the humor by referring to “Bishop Tikhon” as kind of ‘Nudge-Nudge” of the sort made by the wonderful Monty Python bunch. Get it yet, George? I did everything but rub your nose in it by such third person references.
                      But I now see that I have offended George’s sense of moralizing by not taking him seriously as a peer. Give it some time, I might come around.

                      PS I was wrong, SO wrong, to think that few are called but many are chosen. I was wrong to entertain the idea that WE were first called Christians in Antioch. I’m often wrong in assuming that everyone ordained believes in God and is not ever a kind of compulsive hobbyist of religion. I was wrong t think that Orthodox Christians do not use the Gospel and Christ’s teachings as clubs to attain victory over others. I was wrong to think that most Orthodox Christians fast (stop eating), EVER, since most only use avoidance of certain select foods unless they’re told it’s unhealthy (even unhealthier than real fasting would be!). I was wrong to think Orthodox Christian would EVER “fast” in secret. What an IDEA!!!!!
                      (to be continued).

                    • Heracleides says

                      Chris Banescu says:

                      April 6, 2013 at 11:28 am

                      I believe this passage from Scriptures may explain the multiple identities confusion regarding Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald, Artakhshassa the Great , Rock Hudson, etc…

                      “Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” (Luke 8:30)”

                      Great quotation, Chris. My nod as to its accuracy: LEGION

                • Your Grace, please forgive my impatience towards you, and please forgive Herc for calling you an idiot. Your personality can present challenges, but you are not dumb and I do respect you. Your remarks about a priest following the Rite of Forgiveness with an acrimonious and defamatory letter brings to bear our need to be at peace with one another before we can offer worship, and in that spirit, I humbly beg Your Grace’s forgiveness for any way in which I have offended or troubled you.

                  I call Archbishop Tikhon that because I believe his purported election as Metropolitan was uncanonical, and that the uncanonical election proceeded from illegal and immoral activities. Until this situation is resolved, I will use the Archbishop’s title and style out of respect for his episcopacy, but my conscience allows no more for him than that.

                  Metropolitan Jonah being addressed by his first and misspelled last name is a different issue, since Michael Stankovich, for all his absurd claims of being inside the loop here, apparently is totally ignorant of the fact that Metropolitan Jonah remains a Metropolitan bishop in good standing with the Church, not even the OCA Synod disputes that, and that there has never been a time in his life when he would ever have been properly addressed as Jonah Paffhausen.

                  I have not asserted that Metropolitan Jonah withdrew his resignation. I merely said that he was indeed forced to resign, and that if you want to know how that happened, he is the one to ask.

                  You say Archbishop Benjamin said Metropolitan Jonah has “chosen not to accept offers made to him concerning any future service in the Orthodox Church in America”. What Archbishop Benjamin leaves out is that these offers have all been horribly short of anything Metropolitan Jonah could live with, hence his consistent refusals. The offers made to Metropolitan Jonah were “offers he can’t refuse”, and trash-talking about him to ROCOR was the horse’s head in his bed.

                  As for why the Synod elected Metropolitan Jonah to begin with, I think you yourself explained the process most succinctly and accurately when you said they elected someone whose goals were at odds with their own, and decided to punish the one they elected for their election of him. But your question was why. I am afraid I do not know why the bishops either failed to vet Metropolitan Jonah specifically for Primatial leadership (which would have included finding out what his goals were for the Church), or DID know what his goals were, and elected him knowing they would not support his leadership. Either way it betrays a gross level of incomptence and, especially for the second possibility, maliciousness.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Helga, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    There were exactly two (2) men in the room – Jonah Paufhausen & John Jillions – that night: one publicly described the event, one remains silent. The axiom of the law: Silence is consent. How many times is it possible to rehash, reinterpret, or re-analyze an event to which exactly two (2) men were present? “helga” shoots from the hip – though approximately 8-innings too late. Was “s/he” a party to the proceedings, or a “for real” insider? And now there are three (3)… Never one to miss an opportunity, Mr, Michalopulos “couldn’t have said it better,” suggesting… now there are four (4)… But wait, “helga” suggests that I proffer “absurd claims of being inside the loop here.” WAT! I believe I said I was looped, not “in the loop.” And now there are five (5)…

                    One of my very favorite American writers is Flannery O’Connor, and she wrote a story entitled, “Good Country People,” centering around a certain Mrs. Hopewell, whose daughter returns home to live after earning a Ph.D. She is a completely antisocial, completely disagreeable young woman who changes her first name to something that will aggravate her mother for as long as she lives: Hulga. Now that took imagination.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Two things: it’s “Metropolitan Jonah.” Before monastic tonsure he was “James Paffhausen, Jr.” I would think you of all people, with your insistence on correct nomenclature, titles, and degrees, would understand that. No. 2: are you sure there were only “two (2) men in the room”?

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Michaelopulos,

                      Holy Cow, my friend, check the date! 1 Avril! I even left out the 2nd “f” to rattle your jimmies. Nomenklatura, you say. He was Jim when I knew him, and a bit “on edge” whenever I came around, seeming never to know what to expect. Amicable, warm, but his jimmies? Easily rattled. And I might add I can say the same for the single conversation I ever recall having with Mark Stoke, who quite inadvertently assumed my customary seat in the refectory next to now Protodeacon Wheeler. We simply stood for a moment until he and his friend looked up, apparently realized their error, awkwardly laughed, awkwardly apologized, awkwardly bumbled away. My remark to the now Protodeacon? “His jimmies? Easily rattled.”

                      And on that note, Mr. Michalopulos I share another truth with you. Fr. Chancellor John Jillions, my dear friend & brother of nearly forty years: Jimmies? Easily rattled. He could no more pull off the “fleecing” of a wise man with deceit & falsehood than I could “casually” drive illegals across the border in the trunk of my car: “Just came down to have lunch. How’s your day?” “Put your hands where I can see them…” Mr. Papoutsis: “Eἰσάκουσον τῆς προσευχῆς μου, καὶ ἡ κραυγή μου πρὸς σὲ ἐλθέτω!” “I neither had the inclination nor the disposition to be Metropolitan.” Vladyka Tikhon is correct.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      So ultimately, neither you or I were there and it’s still his word against Jonah’s?

                      As for His Beatitude’s self-assessment of the office of Metropolitan as constituted in the OCA, he’s probably right. The bad news is nobody else does either. Seeing that nobody in the Syosset/MC axis seems to know what the Metropolitan is supposed to do (and this would included the Synod itself), I’m afraid Jonah will prove to be a prophet yet again.

                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    “Helga,” please explain how electing Archbishop Tikhon to be Primate/First Hierarch after Metropolitan Jonah IN BLACK AND WHITE resigned from that position is in any way uncanonical.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I’ll explain it. If His Beatitude was lied to in the run-up and he was misinformed, that’s how. It’s really quite simple.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      A “simple” question, then, for George and “Helga:” WHAT WAS THE LIE?

                  • Thomas Mathes says

                    Helga, you sound very pious when you write, “my conscience allows no more for him than that” [title of archbishop]. But these words veil arrogance, not piety. You refuse to do what the Patriarch of Moscow has already done—recognize Metropolitan Tikhon as primate of the OCA. Do you have more expertise in the canons than the Moscow Patriarchate has? No. Does any ruling bishop of any Orthodox Church anywhere still recognize Metropolitan Jonah as primate of the OCA? No. Does Metropolitan Jonah bless your refusal to call Tikhon Metropolitan? No.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Mr Mathes, let’s not forget what else “the Patriarch of Moscow has already done,” and that is expect His Beatitude to be accorded the respect that he deserves. That he be “afforded every comfort” in his diocese.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Thanks a lot, Thomas Mathes, for trying to bring us back to reality!
                      Helga (and George) brandish the counsel of the Moscow Patriarch relative to Metropolitan Jonah’s comforts like some kind of tablets from Mount Sinai, but grant no authority whatsoever, moral or ecclesiastical, to the same Patriarch’s public recognition of Metropolitan Tikhon’s status and title
                      Patriarch Kyril and the First Hierarchs, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, of all the Local Churches (and even the Pope, too) accept the resignation of Metropolitan Jonah and the election, by the only Holy Synod the OCA has, of Metropolitan Tikhon, replacing Metropolitan Jonah. But Helga (is the word “drama-queen” not appropriate here?) plays the “My conscience” card!!!!! If Metropolitan Jonah can refer to “His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon,” is that evidence that his conscience is sloppier than Helga’s?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Your Grace, I believe the operative mode of operation here would be “Christian charity,” as mentioned by “James” below. He was speaking in regards to how the GOA treated Arb Spyridon after they unceremoniously dumped him. The fact that the Syosset/Synod/MC has no understanding of this strange concept does not bode well for the future.

                      I will continue to call the present occupant of the primatial throne “Archbishop” and “His Eminence.” (If this was good enough for the Vatican, it’s good enough for me.)

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      My friendship with Archbishop Dmitri of blessed memory began in 1962 and lasted for the rest of his life. He was a friend, a mentor, and a brother-in-Christ and concelebrant of mine. He ordained me to the Diaconate in 1971 and was one of my consecrators in 1987. I felt sad when I read these words by a member of his beloved Diocese of the South:

                      “I will continue to call the present occupant of the primatial throne “Archbishop” and “His Eminence.” (If this was good enough for the Vatican, it’s good enough for me.)”

                      Imagine what His Eminence would say to that! Worse, imagine what his sister
                      Dmitra would say!

                    • Your Grace, you give me much to think about with your righteous rebuke. Having thought for awhile, I would be inclined to concede your point ceteris parabis or in the abstract. However all things are not equal nor do we live in the abstract. Consider: is it possible that had His Eminence remained alive and on the Synod that we would never have to answer this question?

                      I’m being serious. Would Arb Dmitri have behaved in a defamatory manner against His Beatitude, using such egregious and uncanonical tactics as were used against him by the Synod and their handlers? Let’s not forget, then-Abbott Jonah was personally selected by His Eminence Dmitri to be an auxilary bishop in his diocese, with an eye to becoming his successor. Let us also not forget that His Eminence was the president of the Synod when it elected his putative successor to the primatial throne. And let us not forget that as Arb Dmitri lay dying, he asked for His Beatitude to come console him as he awaited his repose.

                      Considering the fact that Metropolitan Jonah cancelled his primatial trip to Prague at the last minute, I am drawn to only this conclusion: that there was genuine love between these hierarchs. As such, I cannot bring myself to believe that Arb Dmitri would have been a party to the horrible defenestration of his protege.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Michalopulos,

                      I am being serious. Have Carl re-read you every greeting to the Primate he so dutifully posted. You do not acknowledge “Metropolitan” Tikhon? Who cares? Are you so intoxicated with supposed “influence” you imagine it proper to exhume the blessed of memory Dmitri to prop up this ridiculous point? It’s your playground – call the moon the sun and the sun the moon – and it’s your prerogative. But I would ask you to reconsider – ceteris parabis – the criteria by which you employ the memory of the righteous.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      George, I’ll try to make it simpler and not take the detour you took. Archbishop Dmitri would never countenance YOUR idea; “If it’s good enough for the Vatican, it’s good enough for me.” Never. Ever. THAT’s what my message was about, NOT Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation, which you for some reason liken to a Czechoslovakian coup.
                      George, I made no comment on what Archbishop Dmitri might have thought or done relative to Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation and the actions of the Holy Synod preceding and succeeding that. Please do not wriggle around and put words in my mouth as you did when you wrote this: “I cannot bring myself to believe that Arb (Archbishop?) Dmitri would have been a party to the horrible defenestration of his protege.” Did i say that he would have, George? No. I did not. What I said was this:
                      ” I felt sad when I read these words by a member of his beloved Diocese of the South:
                      “I will continue to call the present occupant of the primatial throne “Archbishop” and “His Eminence.” (If this was good enough for the Vatican, it’s good enough for me.)”
                      Imagine what His Eminence would say to that! Worse, imagine what his sister
                      Dmitra would say!”
                      See that? No talk of approving how Metropolitan Jonah was treated like the weak little boy in those old Charles Atlas ads in the comic books, who always had sand kicked in his eyes by the big boys. No talk of how he was duped, tricked,and lied to in order to get him to resign.
                      I think Archbishop Dmitri of Blessed Memory would have hated anyone in his diocese coming out with “If it’s good enough for the Vatican, it’s good enough for me,” as much or maybe more than that. The Vatican, George, has been doing to the orthodox for centuries what was done to Metropolitan Jonah. If you think that whatever’s good enough for the Vatican is good enough for you, you are definitely in the wrong Church.
                      If you or Helga think that calling Metropolitan Tikhon “Archbishop Tikhon” or “His Eminence’ helps Metropolitan Jonah in any way at all, I think you’re mistaken. If HE, George, Metropolitan JONAH, calls Metropolitan Tikhon “Metropolitan Tikhon” and “Your Beatitude,’ why isn’t THAT “good enough” for you?
                      Please don’t say, “I give that no more credence than his signature.”

                    • Thomas Mathes, I am not passing judgment on anyone else for how they want to refer to the individual in question. If I’m wrong, God help me and have mercy, but I do not believe Archbishop Tikhon bears the title of Metropolitan legitimately, and I will not give it to him.

                      But I have to wonder why I am getting criticized so sharply by a few people over this. Perhaps it means that the OCA’s credibility is so fragile, it takes even more damage from OCA members like me refusing to play along with the administration’s errors.

                    • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says


                      You might find helpful these words of the new hiero-confessor St. Athanasius (Sakhorov) Bishop of Kovrov:


                      May his prayers be with us.

                      I am rather perplexed. I know you addressed Thomas Mathes, but very much of the “sharp criticism” you and George M. have received on this subject comes from Bishop Tikhon. Surely you can not believe that he is writing to preserve the “fragile credibility” of the OCA and to get you to “play along” with the OCA administration? As he might say, what an idea!

                    • Fr. Yousuf, thank you for posting the link to the words of St. Afanasiy. This is quite helpful.

                      Perhaps you will also find interesting this essay by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, “Live Not By Lies”, featured on this blog by George not long ago.

                      As Solzhenitsyn says, “infamous methods breed infamous results.” Fr. Yousuf, I want my hands to be clean. You are free to disagree, but my conscience is not troubled by referring to that man as Archbishop Tikhon.

                      As for our friend Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald), His Grace is a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside a cassock.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Fr. Yousuf,

                      Vivid in my mind are the years of shame by association with the “godless & persecuting Soviets” for simply being a member and seminarian of the OCA. It is, in hindsight, difficult to imagine that students actually left SVS for Jordanville, or Johnstown, or Holy Cross to avoid this moral dilemma of “Sergianism,” though, in fact martyrs & confessors existed! I was 18 years old and my head was spinning.

                      What saddens me is that this letter will be lost on those with no appreciation for history – where “conjecture,” “timelines,” rumors, and gossip are sufficient substitutes – and where obedience and order are “conditional” and everything is trivialized here pursuant to Jonah.

                      Venerable New-Martyr Afanasiy pray to God for us!

                  • lexcaritas says

                    Is one’s saint’s name false? Nor more so is one’s pen name inherently so. In fact, if chosen with purpose and good intention it may be transparent and true, revailing something of one’s hopes and aspriations or other invisblte quatities.


                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    I’m a little sick of this. Helga, you can call Metropolitan Tikhon whatever does it for you. After all, it’s a free country. I now understand that you want to punish Metropolitan Tikhon for his errors and refusing to recognize his present position is your chosen instrument of punishment..
                    Well, punish away, punish away. If YOU think Metropolitan Tikhon might be chastened by your decisions, that’s your right. I’ll try and remember that you belong to the group of people who refuse to call Metropolitan Tikhon “Metropolitan Tikhon” and whenever anyone sees or hears Metropolitan Jonah, Metropolitan Hilarion, Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Patriarch Kyril, Archbishop Demetrios, etc., calling him “Metropolitan Tikhon” they’ll realize that all that means nothing as long as Helga and George of Ephesus keep holding out, crying out, as it were, “Come back, E.T., come back!”

            • Heracleides says

              Just proves the point that the OCA will elevate any idiot who takes the name “Tikhon” to the episcopate.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                Why, Heracleides, you coward (whoever you are), how dare you say I am “just any” idiot? I object, and I’m sure many will agree on that. I am, rather, an outstanding idiot, a unique idiot, even super-idiot, if you like, but I am not, I repeat, NOT, “any idiot.” I’ve given up pointing to your inability to engage anyone rationally and your compulsive resort to cartoonery and buffoonery when stumped, but I MUST draw the line here. I am NOT ANY IDIOT! I am Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald, Mr. & Mrs. Fitzgerald’s son, and am not just ‘any idiot.” How could you hurt anyone that way? Shame on you! I wish all your crayons would melt!!!!

                • Your Grace,

                  I think your humor will be lost on Heracleides.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Mr. Michalopulos,

                  It would appear that your continued summons of “fairness,” “mercy” and “justice” is highly selective for the anointed of God.

              • Herc, as challenging as His Grace’s personality quirks can sometimes be, he is not an idiot. Older people can sometimes have a harder time tempering their language. Furthermore, I don’t for a second believe that Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald has ever reached the level of maliciousness we have seen from other OCA bishops.

                • Heracleides says

                  Sorry Helga, but I think I’ll have to disagree. I view Bp. Tikhon as having taken – at least in his retirement – maliciousness to a new high (or rather low) that the other vipers on the Unholy Synod of the OCA can only (and likely do) envy. One only has to comb through his past posts on this and other blogs/mailing lists to see clear evidence of this. To paraphrase one comedian:

                  “Hippie Bishops. They’re everywhere. They wanna save the earth, but all they do is smoke pot, smell bad, pick lice from their beards and trash talk…

                  • Guy Westover says

                    Bishops smoke pot?

                    Hmmmm. I guess I should have given monasticism and divinity school more serious thought. At my age sex is not so much the temptation it used to be, and I do consider myself environmentally conscious.

                    I used to think Bishop Tikhon was an out of his mind cranky old man.

                    Now I think of him, usually rather fondly, as an occasionally cantankerous octogenarian retierarch ™ who still loves the Church the the people in it no matter how much they irritate him some days.

                    N.B. I have filed for trademark rights to the term retierarch. Retired Hierarch.
                    Every time you use it, you OWE ME… big time. In the form of one prayer that God will have mercy on me for my bad sense of humour.

                    (not the one in Texas)

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      This old Tiredarch thanks you, Guido! Please join me in praying that the entity styling himself “Heracleides” gets over me. I hate the idea that someone as unimportant and ineffectual as I looms so gigantically over his world…worse than Putin looming up over Palin’s world!

                      And, before retiring, before the Psalms, let’s ask God to let us never ever forget that Rahm Emmanuel’s father belonged to the Irgun! Just think! And the President has all those Kenyan relatives! Not only that, he took Holy Communion in an Episcopalian Church on Easter…risking, as a secret Muslim, a Fatwa worse than that thrown at Salmon Rushdie!
                      I’m also praying that the NRA succeeds in keeping the Crips and the Bloods and most of our South Los Angeles militias well armed, according to the 2 Commandment of our Constitution, since they and all other such well-armed militias are necessary for the survival of our “NOT-DEMOCRACY” republic!

                  • Anna Rowe says

                    Embellished Southpark.

        • Fr Washburn,

          You, like Michael Stankovich, are both not members of the OCA. Yet you post here and lecture us who are members of the OCA. Does that not give you even a little bit of pause?

          May I suggest you dial it down at least during Great Lent and tend to your own knitting?

          • You may indeed suggest it, “James.” Or whoever you are or pretend to be, but I do not take you or your anonymous suggestion seriously except to the extent that we can interpret it as saying that I have plenty of better things to do than dialogues like this! I do.

          • Lola J. Lee Beno says

            Knitting can be very, very relaxing. So can be spinning. Unless when you’re trying to put the drive band back on a 30″ spinning wheel with two grooves in double-drive mode. There is exactly one way the drive band band (that has been twisted in a figure-8) can be put back on and not have it slip again – the crossover must be on the top in such a way that the strands do not rub against each other, and the strands must be in the 2 grooves all around the wheel without any crossovers. Somehow, that seems to be a good metaphor as to what is going on with the OCA situation.

            • Guy Westover says

              Lola J,

              The first think I thought when I read “spinning” was not of the ” loominous” kind but rather that of a whirling dervish. This triggered, in the cobweb cluttered cavern that houses what is left of my brain, the story of a pilgrim who climbed a mountain to seek advice from a holy cave-dwelling monk. When he reached the cave, there was a whiling dervish outside the entrance to the cave that the pilgrim had to dance around to enter. Inside he found the monk going about his daily routine calm and unfettered.

              “Father bless.”
              “The Lord bless my child!”
              “Father there is a whirling dervish outside your cave!”
              “Is there really? I had not noticed my child.”
              “Father, what are you going to do about it?”
              “Let him whirl.”

              While I am NOT referring to you specifically Lola, we all get caught up in a tizzy over who has a right to say what to whom in an internet forum. Most everyone that posts here does so fairly regularly. Over time we develop opinions over who is worth reading and who is a wind bag that likes to see their own thoughts in print. When I see Father Washburn’s name, I’m pretty safe moving on to the next entry while he “whirls.”

              Guido the Whirling One

              • M. Stankovich says

                Mr. Westover,

                This reminded me of Tolstoi’s story of the monk who is tested by the beautiful Russian ingénue pilgrim who specifically came to visit his cell to tempt him. He chops off his own hand with an axe to defy her. He is championed as a man of conviction. My thought: why would a monk have a “babe” in his cell? An ounce of prevention & the “lifting up of my hands” plural, would still “be an evening offering.” (Ps. 140:2) And knitting. Prevention, therefore, is a function of wisdom, and wisdom is frequently, qualitatively, referred to as prudence. Prudence, it seems to me, suggested that your comment should have ended at your observation that you have developed “opinions.” And then you picked up the axe…

                • Guy Westover says

                  Whirl away Doctor Stankovich, whirl away.

                  Funny you should mention the axe, Doctor, I’ve always been a Lizzie Borden fan.
                  Alas I am too old and frail to wield the axe anymore. Perhaps I am more suited to be the hatchet man. Next time the chancellor’s office is vacant, maybe I can apply.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Mr. Westover, Mr. Westover,

                    Quite a fine shot you are! A priest & the Fr. Chancellor of the Church in one single thread. Holy Cow! Please, notice that as of this moment, as is my pleasure, “Thumbs Up!” I would ask you to applaud yourself, but under the circumstances… And to think I was planning to refer to you as a “jackaxe.” (It’s a little humor, Mr. Westover! You handed it me, after all…)

                    • Guy Westover says

                      Doctor Stankovich, Dear Doctor Stankovich,
                      You have dispatched me by your pure mental ability;
                      Armed by me with the axe of my hostility;
                      This song is the last shell in my artillery.

                      (See 1776 But Mr Adams for the tune)

                      Dr. S, once again I am pierced by your rapier like wit.

                      P.S. Is one required to be ordained to be Chancellor?
                      If not, perhaps I could be the first Mitred Lay Chancellor!

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    Guy, you’re priceless! Many thanks!

        • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

          He is Archbishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, until Metropolitan Jonah dies or changes sees.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Helga. I’m surprised you accepted George’s ridiculous assertion that Fr. A. Scheman often made a difference in Rome!

    • Damage Control says


      I can hear Prof speaking these words you remember, minus articles.

      “And so my dears, God is “free”, One, Two, Free!”

      Not sure how Prof would fare today with such unambiguous language. Such directness got +Jonah in a heap of trouble.

      Ah, times have changed!

      • M. Stankovich says

        Actually, Prof. would say, “So, Holy Trinity is [free].” We would say to each other, “Did he mean free or did he mean Three?” Unless you were prepared to “tangle” with him that there was an appreciable difference, you learned to let it ride. The joke here is that the Russian language lacks a “th” sound.

        I would not touch a comparison of the frankness of +Jonah and SS Verhovskoy with your money, and I do not infer anything pejorative. Professor was quite adamant that we had no moral voice because we were too afraid to utilize it – because it frequently is discomfiting and fraught with “social” consequences” – and he never spoke of things he did not knew to be consistent with the Faith. He was not political, he had little social commentary, and everything was referenced through his faith. That, my friend is timeless and eternal.

  4. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    How many different ways and how many times are we going to keep repeating, “The Sky is Falling!”?

    • Your Grace, please forgive.

      This is not Chicken Little. What you are seeing is the remnant who refuses to accept the new dystopian reality that is today’s OCA. We could just drop it, surrender, compromise scripture, canons and tradition. Not an option.

      We could just quietly leave the OCA. Many are doing so. Tempting, but a last resort.

      Or we can stay and fight through prayer and fasting, by forgiving those who harm us, by depriving them of the financial means to do harm, by blogs such as this one.

      I’d rather fight.

  5. I see that Met. Tikhon and Father Tosi visited the Pope in Rome. Did they have anything to say to him to lead him to the True Faith?

  6. A Good Book says
  7. who cares what Rome thinks?!

    • Damage Control says

      Jesse and M.S.,

      You are correct. What Rome thinks is of little importance, but when the OCA puts itself in the crosshairs of an event focused on the Vatican, it would be prudent for the OCA to consider the broader ramifications of putting themselves in the spotlight of such an event.

      M.S. can opine about the relative youth of the OCA and somehow pass this off as youthful indiscretion or as he is actually saying the OCA is too immature to comprehend going to a party where they will be not much more than a wallflower hoping that someone will invite them to dance. In fact, you don’t go to an event, especially the OCA which is on the border of respectability, and expect anything but another a “high, how are you!”

      The Roman Holiday was an ill advised attempt to make something out of nothing. M.S. still lives thinking that a Fr. Schmemann can save the day. The OCA has no more Fr. Alexander’s. They have Fr. Tosi. That is how far they have fallen.

      I think it is revealing that M.S. now has to retreat to offer that the OCA is just getting started. The fact is that the Orthodox world has moved way beyond the experiment of the OCA. Orthodoxy is moving forward and looking at the OCA in their rear view mirror. Yes, seeds can be planted, but that does not mean that they will bear fruit.

      And, in fact, seeds planted can bear bitter fruit. The OCA is in the “Other” category not by any misunderstanding but as an acknowledgement of who they are as defined by their actions. As long as the majority of the Orthodox world will never acknowledge their status the OCA will be stuck in a virtual loop of “Other.”

      In the final analysis, the rank and file of the OCA will not give too much of a hoot about the Roman Holiday, but those who are deciding the future direction of Orthodoxy in this land will take note of the OCA’s feeble attempt at some sort of legitimacy by going to Pope Francis’ installation and that is what will count.

      I am sorry M.S. you are living in the past and you just can’t accept that your formation at SVS as good as it was at the knee of the greats of that time have not been replicated in the OCA. Your time was a bright and shining moment and that time is long gone and not to be repeated. And you assumption that I do not know the complexities of the OCA’s status is absurd. I know the finer points better than you could ever hope to as a bystander with vicarious associations.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Damage Control,

        “My time?” This reminds me of some behavioural genetics work I’ve been doing at a medical school in the South, and I listened in on training being done with state police officers. They were being instructed in how to properly solicit a “dying declaration” from someone they believed to be mortally injured. In CA, the statement is: “Do you believe you are going to die?” These officers were asking, “Are you fixin’ to die?” Damage Control, I’m taking three antibiotics (count ’em 3) for an infection and am on my way to the doctor, but, God willing, I don’t believe I’m fixin’ to die.

        I am not exactly sure how you were able to transport me from A to B, but let me be emphatic, as I have been accused previously: the idea that I place “figures” on pedestals is, at best, ridiculous, and at worst patently offensive. If you are asking my opinion of who needs our unfailing support, and is an example of the inspiration and hope that is the foundation of the Orthodox Church in America, read Fr. John Peck. If you truly wish a signpost to the future, look to this beacon. Alexander Schememann, John Meyendorff, SS Verhovskoy and the rest are gone, but their vision lives on and will live on, as Fr. John so marvellously deliniates, in converts who will lead us. The fact of the matter is that bright & shining moments are never gone, and will always be repeated until our Lord returns “to render to each according to his deeds.” Maranatha! Come, Lord. Bitter fruit, my friend, are borne only in bitterness.

        • Damage Control says


          In those days, when SVS was about the only English publishing house in the world, the writings of these great men were greatly promoted. However, today, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the number of books and with the advent of the Internet, the number of Orthodox voices, for decades silenced because of the Soviets, are being discovered. And the vision set forth by these men are no longer in a vacuum but are open to discussion and in some circles severe criticism. New seminarians at SVS and other schools have a much deeper and wider context of Orthodox sources to consider and not just the holy troika in those days by intent or by necessity a core curriculum.

          My reading of Fr. Alexander over the years has matured and not everything he said or taught can be taken as truth. Because both Fr. John and Professor Verhovskoy were greater academics than Fr. Alexander, their works have stood the test of time much better.

          I do not mock the accomplishments of Fr. Alexander on the American Orthodox scene, he offered many things for us to consider, but over time, others have tempered his teachings, something that he may have even desired since there were few in his time to question him. In the end, I think it is for the good that a wider spectrum of Orthodox voices are now being heard and that seminarians today can put the work of Fr. Alexander in better/wider context. That which was of the Holy Spirit will survive, and that which was of his own opinion, can be laid aside.

      • Philippa.alan says

        “Orthodoxy is moving forward and looking at the OCA in their rear view mirror. The OCA is in the “Other” category not by any misunderstanding but as an acknowledgement of who they are as defined by their actions.”

        I believe with +Tikhon (Mollard) at the helm, the OCA will move towards more irrelevancy. He is not the kind of person to stand in the spotlight demonstrating courage. He’ll do what’s suggested by those behind the scenes. His goal is to create and keep peace by trying to make everyone happy, especially those whose wheels squeak the loudest. I am not saying that peace is an unworthy goal. But if the goal is to make everyone happy, well that’s impossible and a symptom of a poor leader.

        One can give evidence of humility and have a backbone. Just look at Pope Francis.

    • …who cares what Rome thinks?!

      Constantinople perhaps?

      Those two in the picture look lost….

      • Anna Rowe says

        The Metropolitan and Father Tosi look happy in the photo and many of us share that happiness and that they had the opportunity to attend and return.

        • Joseph I. says

          Anna isn’t that nice…. now we are all happy and can share and be even happier. In fact I am so happy I can’t bear it any more… and they even had an opportunity to return. Wow…

          • Anna Rowe says

            Joseph I.,
            Yes, I’m glad the Metropolitan and Father Tosi returned safely.

            • Damage Control says


              Of course everyone is glad that the OCA reps in Rome arrived home safely, who would want otherwise or feel the need to even express it. But the fact remains that the OCA is an “Other” Church in the Orthodox world, an anomaly. Canonical, yes, but a Church that has damaged itself greatly by its recent history.

              One of the reasons for going to Rome was to make contact with the Ecumenical Patriarch in an effort to get an invite to Constantinople. Why again the OCA would want to go to Constantinople to plead its case for recognition knowing full well that the EP will NEVER recognize its autocephaly is a puzzlement. That message was made clear to Metropolitan Herman and Metropolitan Jonah and the same message would be delivered to Metropolitan Tikhon. The only reason to make such a trip if the OCA is not willing to give up its self-governing status would be to inform Constantinople that it is going back to the Russian Church. Otherwise it is just another photo opportunity and an attempt to spin the visit into something that it is not.

              That may not be important to you and on a certain parochial level one can live their entire life satisfied with living as an anomalous Church. For others, the OCA now has become an obstacle to further Orthodox unity in this land until it stops “going it alone.” The issue of parallel jurisdictions here in the USA is the reason why the world Patriarchates devised the concept of these Episcopal Assemblies and this issue must be resolved. It may be that it will be with the OCA on the outside looking in if all other Churches decide to give something up, their current outposts of old world Churches and the OCA is not willing to accept that their status in not genuine.

              I wonder how you feel about this?

              • Anna Rowe says

                Dmg Cntl,
                I “feel” your statements are negative and I don’t agree with them. The Metropolitan went to the Pope’s Enthronement. It is what it is and nothing more. I’m not so worried about status and being an anomaly. Orthodoxy in America is an anamoly in itself. Although the OCA has been around for decades it is a baby relatively speaking and I’m not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water just yet. The OCA will heal. I remember when the OCA began and will continue to support it. You stated in another post that the Orthodoxy is moving forward and the OCA will be left behind. What does “forward” mean? I suspect it isn’t.

                • Damage Control says


                  Moving forward means that the quest for Orthodox unity in this land will be with our without the OCA participation. If the OCA prefers to live in its autocephous bubble, then they will be the only anomaly left as the Orthodox Church in the USA is a united front in spreading the Gospel.

                  Sadly, you will be part of an Orthodox sect known as the OCA. Is that really what you want?

                • Anna,
                  The main message I have heard since arriving in the Orthodox Church, OCA, is the necessity to constantly repent. The last I heard, that word repent means changing one’s course of action to coincide with the ways of God. The leaders of this organization, who seem to be the members of the synod and the folks in Syosett, have not conformed in any way, shape or form to basic Christian teachings. The OCA is not being built on Jesus, the cornerstone, it is being built on whim, nastiness, greed, envy, pride and etc. This is called building the foundation on slippery sand. It cannot survive.

                  Because the OCA is riddled with sin(holes) , changing the Met. on this sinking ship is not going to alter the fact that the ship will still sink.

                  • Jeff,
                    As we are all sinners we must all repent. Having said that ,I believe the message of not just the OCA but Orthodoxy is so much more. There is compassion, forgiveness, and salvaltion. As sinners we are not abandoned nor should we abandon sinners.

                    You stated: “The leaders of this organization, who seem to be the members of the synod and the folks in Syosett, have not conformed in any way, shape or form to basic Christian teachings. The OCA is not being built on Jesus, the cornerstone, it is being built on whim, nastiness, greed, envy, pride and etc. ”

                    These are very strong words and accusations and I do not believe they are true but I understand why you may think this way.


                    • Jeff,

                      I agree with Anna that these are strong convicting words that you present. However, unlike Anna who does not believe them, I agree with your assessment. No matter how many laudable stories they post on the OCA website or “interesting” articles the OCA Chancellor offers, or nice pious words of Met. Tikhon, the fact remains that tossing a meager $1K a month at their former Primate and then expecting folks to be pleased with their generosity while at the same time demeaning him with thuggish outbursts by Archbishop Benjamin speaks to your conclusions as more facts then it does to Anna’s “hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil” citizenship in denial land.

                      Even if the OCA has to choke in doing so, they must provide for their former Primate in a “respectful” manner, not my idea, but that of HH Kirill. A message delivered several times in writing, through intermediaries, and in person to Bishop Alexander and Fr. Kishkovsky who both characterized their trip to Kiev last summer as “a disaster” because of how the OCA Mother Church totally rejected the manner in which +Jonah was treated. That has not changed one iota in the eyes of Moscow nor in the memory of OCA clergy and laity who are still disgusted by the example of their leaders. Why does the OCA need to be admonished by foreign Patriarchs to do the right thing?

                      One can agree or disagree with +Jonah’s tenure as OCA Primate. You can love him or not, you can call him a hero or a buffoon, just like Archbishop Syridon of the GOA was a lighting rod for discord but unlike the OCA, the GOA continues to take care of their former Archbishop. Why? Because it was their duty after they kicked him out. Period. No foreign Patriarch need tell them their Christian duty.

                      Until the OCA finally gets this, no amount of feel good stories which populate the OCA website nor meetings of the Holy Synod or Metropolitan Council will alter the spiritually damaging course the OCA continues to traverse.

                      What do the Greeks do for Sypridon? They give him a salary so that he can live and pay for his housing and make sure his health care is taken care of FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE!

                      OCA, go and do likewise, then you can brag about how much you love Metropolitan Jonah. Anything less is wrong and total hypocrisy.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Well said.

                • Dear Anna,

                  As a former Roman Catholic, please accept this (small) correction of your terminology:

                  You referred above to the “Pope’s Enthronement”.

                  More properly, the Mass which saw the public celebration and inauguration of Pope Francis’ papacy should be called the Installation of the Roman Pontiff. The term enthronement is one used to describe (in the West and East) the ceremony in which a local bishop, national or regional archbishop, or Primate takes possession of his cathedral in the liturgy, in which he is installed in his See.

                  The Mass in question, which Patriarch Bartholomew, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), and yes, +Tikhon, attended, was a public, formal celebration of Pope Francis’s papacy, whose papacy technically began on the night of his election in the Sistine Chapel.

                  Yours in Christ,

        • I’d be happy too in Rome . . . . especially if the OCA paid for it. 🙂

  8. Disgusted With It says

    The truth is that, in the greater scheme of things at the events in Rome, the OCA representatives were a couple of “nobodies” who were only there because a couple high-ranking OCA priests with contacts in the Catholic church pulled whatever strings they could to arrange an “invite” and photo-op. Big deal.

    The OCA is starting to remind me of those so-called “Orthodox Churches” one occasionally comes across online, usually something like “True American Orthodox Greek Russian Old-Calendar Believer Church”, who spend their entire home page trying to convince the world that they’re legitimate. It’s quite sad really.

  9. Being upset because a particular article did not mention the OCA by name is being oversensitive. After all there were “several dozen representatives of the various Christian Churches and other world religions, who attended the Pope’s inauguration.”

    In the pictures I saw the number could have easily been between 50 and 100.

    It would be interesting to read Metropolitan Tikhon’s and Father Tosi’s reflaections on their trip. Hopefully they will publish something.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Yes it would be. Perhaps Fr Tosi can first transcribe the minutes of last month’s Metropolitan Council meeting, seeing that he is the Secretary of the OCA and all.

  10. Tim R. Mortiss says

    So which of these “jurisdictions” should a Presbyterian refugee join?

    I’ve gone to a lot of OCA services over the last 30+ years. I was at a liturgy at little Holy Trinity in Wilkeson when Bishop Basil (Rodzianko) spoke on the Holy Transfiguration, about 1982, which had a profound effect on my faith. Everything about my visits to OCA churches over decades has been positive.

    I have been to Greek churches a lot, too. I was at an Antiochian one a year ago in Yakima. Until then, I hadn’t known anything about them. But there are none nearby.

    I didn’t join long ago for many reasons. Now, the Presbys have apostacized surely and so will many more Protestant churches in the times to come.

    These controversies over the OCA are surely troubling. The Greeks are very fine but I am a Yank of English and Scottish ethnicity and well, etc.

    A genuine question, though.

    Pray for me, too.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Tim–Join one where folks are praying and otherwise participating in the services; one where the Lord is the only focus; where the congregants are trying hard to be His disciples; and where the priest is a servant-leader who is uncompromising in his Orthodox beliefs and praxis. We have such parishes in every jurisdiction; I pray and hope that one is near you.

      • Pere LaChaise says

        Sounds like the OCA I know and love, for all its flaws, Carl. That’s why I’m staying. I don’t go for ethnic fantasy, Byzantine nostalgia, Russophilism, chauvinism of any kind. The OCA I joined is a church of prayer and confession, not posturing. The Tomos is a legitimate document built on a 200-year history of humble work done in earnest. There is nothing irregular or specious about it. FOr all its flaws, the OCA is a better choice for sincere converts than any other jurisdiction that flaunts its foreign leadership as that though ‘difference’ – their cultural distance from the laity – was a positive attribute. It figures CSB folk would opt for Serbian and EOC for Antiochian leaders – better cache, less realism, more fantasy projection, less transparency.
        And that last feature – a genuine effort toward transparency – sets the OCA apart from all other Orthodox jurisdictions in the Western Hemisphere. None could tolerate the hot lights we’ve been subjected to.
        Orthodoxy is the same everywhere and I do not wish my comments to be misconstrued as ‘pro-American’. But Americans need American bishops leading them, not foreign heads with ulterior geopolitical motives driven by foreign states. Look into all of them and you’ll see it’s a prime determinant of much ecclesiastic policy.

        • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

          “But Americans need American bishops leading them, not foreign heads with ulterior geopolitical motives driven by foreign states.”

          Americans need bishops, not vacant sees because we don’t have enough of a population (20 thousand and shrinking) from which to draw non heretical, non criminal (or so incompetent as to appear criminal), non openly sinful Americans to be our bishops.

        • Ryan Hunter says

          Dear Pere LaChaise,

          I am genuinely curious as to why you use the name of a famous Parisian cemetery as your pseudonym?

          Your comments about other Orthodox jurisdictions are profoundly uncharitable and I hope you will either apologize for them, or cease posting such remarks in the future. I am only responding to you in the hope that you will realize how an Orthodox Christian who is not in the OCA interpreted your comments as being quite demeaning to the other Orthodox jurisdictions.

          You refer to other Orthodox jurisdictions in America in the following terms: “I don’t go for ethnic fantasy, Byzantine nostalgia, Russophilism, chauvinism of any kind.”

          Such generalizations display an ignorance about the actual diverse character and personalities of the tens of thousands of Orthodox faithful in the AOCA of NA, GOAA, ROCOR, etc.

          I was introduced to Orthodoxy through a wonderful Greek Orthodox cathedral and now attend a wonderful ROCOR parish. There are ‘difficult’ people as you describe in every parish, of one stripe or another, of one affectation of another, across jurisdictions.

          Then you write, “For all its flaws, the OCA is a better choice for sincere converts than any other jurisdiction that flaunts its foreign leadership as that though ‘difference’ – their cultural distance from the laity – was a positive attribute. It figures CSB folk would opt for Serbian and EOC for Antiochian leaders – better cache, less realism, more fantasy projection, less transparency.”

          The cathedral I attend does not “flaunt” its “foreign” leadership — we prayerfully commemorate Patriarch Kirill, Metropolitan Hilarion, and whenever he is present, Metropolitan Jonah. Likewise, at the Greek Orthodox cathedral in this city, the liturgy prayerfully commemorates Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Demetrios.

          Why would a “sincere convert” necessarily choose to be received into a jurisdiction which (using your words here as an example) flaunts its domestic leadership, as though “American born” leaders somehow are a positive attribute? You really don’t seem to have any real understanding of the pastoral realities in other jurisdictions, which is tragic.

          You groundlessly accuse Serbian and Antiochian leaders in particular of wanting “less transparency” in their jurisdictions. . . this is not at all charitable, nor do you offer any evidence to support such incendiary claims. How must any Antiochian or Serbian Orthodox clergy or laity feel if they were to read your comments?

          You go on, “And that last feature – a genuine effort toward transparency – sets the OCA apart from all other Orthodox jurisdictions in the Western Hemisphere. . . .”

          Do you actually believe that the OCA alone is marked by “a genuine effort toward transparency?” Just because its Statute provides for a Metropolitan Council doesn’t mean that ordinary lay people in the OCA have any more control over the administrative decisions or financial affairs of the Church.

          In fact, one can see by the (now reported) declining numbers that many people are leaving the OCA for other jurisdictions precisely because many of the OCA administrative leaders based in Syosset have shown themselves to be supremely indifferent to the consensus of the Church faithful. One could speak of Metropolitan Jonah’s situation, or many of the bishops’ response to laity concerns over Bishop Matthias, the vacant dioceses, etc.

          I came to Orthodoxy with a joyful heart and soul, and in this way I remain, but I have discerned that it is better for me to seek to live my life of faith outside the OCA.

          Thanks be to God, as tragically divisive and scandalous jurisdictional politics continues, we have the unchanging and constant liturgical life of the Church. . . .

          I am not a frequent commentator on here. But your comment struck me as so uncharitable that I felt compelled to respond.

          I will leave you with this thought: The OCA’s treatment of Metropolitan Jonah doesn’t seem very transparent to the many hundreds, even thousands of people who have stopped attending OCA parishes across the country.

          I sincerely love my friends who have chosen to remain in the OCA, and I do not presume to judge them for staying where they are. In turn, I thank God that they do not use such pejorative terms as you have in your reference to other Orthodox jurisdictions, and I am grateful that they have not judged me for my decision.

          Please ask yourself: do you see yourself first as a member of the OCA, or as a member of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, the Body of Christ? I hope you have a contemplative and beneficial fast.

          In Christ,

          • George Michalopulos says

            If I may add Ryan, the whole idea of the OCA’s supposed transparency because it has a Metropolitan Council is laughable on its face. Lately, it has taken weeks to get the minutes redacted and published. To be charitable, “redaction” is less what is happening than “laundering.” Nobody outside the MC knows what’s going on, which bishop acted like a child, which bishop took another one to task, which lay-members publicly humiliated the previous Metropolitan, etc.

            And then let’s not forget that they go into “executive session” at the drop of a hat. That’s kind of like “super-secret, double-serious suspension” (courtesy of Dean Wormer, Animal House). Yes, the House that Schmemann Built makes things up as they go along, depending on who is the object of a 1984-like Two Minute Hate. Metropolitan Jonah filled the role of Emanuel Goldstein this go-around. Who is next?

            If the OCA was truly a transparent organization, they would videotape the MC meetings so that the people could see who said what, where, and when.

            I hate to say this, but if I may paraphrase The Grey Ghost in the run-up to the Rebellion against the Mother Country: “I would rather be ruled by a tyrant 3,000 miles away than 3,000 tyrants 1 mile away.” The foreign patriarchs have nothing on the Syosset Set.

        • Confused. says

          Pere LaChaise says:

          And that last feature – a genuine effort toward transparency – sets the OCA apart from all other Orthodox jurisdictions in the Western Hemisphere. None could tolerate the hot lights we’ve been subjected to.

          What makes you think the OCA is tolerating the hot lights? Hot lights I might add that are self-inflicted wounds? You applaud leaders for causing damage to themselves and their people and then say it is about transparency?

          Whew, that is a amazing lipstick on a pig moment.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Pere; as one who chaffed under what you describe as “foreign” leadership until quite recently as a member of one of those jurisdictions which you describe so uncharitably, I’d like to share a recent change in outlook.

          I hated any Arabic in the service, especially as it seemed to increase; I felt as if I was unwelcome and without value. Then Patriach Ignatius reposed and I started to hear about him and the work he had dedicated his life to in his long tenure as Patriarch. It made a profound change in my heart. Especially this: The Orthodox Christian faith is the faith of the Syrian land and her people (the same can be said about Russia too)

          Think about that and what the Church and her people have endured and the fruit they have produced for thousads of years. The Orthodox faith is deeply inclucated in the life of these people in a way that we may never realize here in the U.S., although what we have we may be more conscious of. Here we tend to be arrogant dillitants and the Church floats uneasily on the surface of Amerian consciousness, even those who have been in the Church for some time.

          I long for the type of faith that is grounded, endures and produces fruit from persecution. How can any such faith be considered ‘foreign’ unless our hearts are far from God in another country apart from Him.

          There are human things that get in the way to be sure. But now when I hear the Arabic chant from our young Syrian born head chanter, I feel the support and the strength of a centuries old devotion that has begun to bear fruit in my land. It is a deep, sonorous call to that same depth here and now. That is never foreign to a soul thristing for God.

          One closing thought: Bishops have authority. The Church is neither a democracy nor a republic in her governance. Americans tend to distrust that and want to drag it down–exactly what the MC was created to do IMO. Egalitarian governance and the Church are not compatible.

    • how about attending any functional parish that has a good enquirers program? If you have known about Orthodoxy for thirty years and decided not to convert, then you need to resolve whatever issues kept you deliberately choosing not to be Orthodox.

      After that, look for a parish (maybe the same one) where people are living the Faith as best they can, one that has as much participation in the liturgical life as possible, i.e. lots of services, where people are keeping feasts and fasts and looking forward to the cycle of services, and where there are as many services as possible in English so you can get used to how it is to be Orthodox. Acquiring the lifestyle and the mindset (pronoma) take a little time even if you are well read. No jurisdiction is bad. No jurisdiction is perfect.

    • Dear Tim/Ed,

      I have to tell you truthfully that there are a lot of good and wonderful parishes in the OCA, and none of our jurisdictions are perfect by a long shot, but the OCA is so egregiously off the mark, that my conscience demands recommending against joining any of its parishes.

      I see you have a Greek church close to your house. Although the GOA churches have a reputation for being more ethnically-oriented and liturgically-attenuated, if you feel comfortable attending Vespers there – the fact that they HAVE Vespers is a good sign – then that would be a good place to go, in my opinion.

      • Really? I have always been welcomed in churches of the Greek archdiocese.

        Greek churches tend to be large enough that visitors don’t stand out on their own, so I make a point of introducing myself to people during coffee hour.

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      First I would advise you not to believe everything you read on the internet. I know the two OCA parishes near my Antiochian parish and their clergy and am convinced that they are excellent communities with dedicated clergy so if the priest and people are dedicated to Christ and his Church, whatever is happening or not happening on the national level in the OCA should have no influence on your choice. There are dedicated clergy and faithful in all Orthodox jurisdictions. None of us are perfect. I naturally suggest that you chose a parish that uses English for obvious reasons, but all Orthodox believe the same thing and there is no important difference between the various liturgical traditions, because we all use the same services. In other words, no matter what jurisdiction you are in, Orthodox is Orthodox.

  11. Jim of Olym says

    Tim, we are still here in Wilkeson, but have moved ‘down the hill’ to the Tacoma area, and I think you would like the participation and the devotion of the growing congregation here at Holy Resurrection. I do, and I’m a convert.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Thanks, Jim. I know where you are, and I know Fr. John Pierce; indeed, I remember when he came to Holy Trinity. Before then Fr. Vadim Progrebniak used to come from St. Spiridons to Wilkeson a couple of times a month on Saturdays.

      I will come out to Holy Resurrection soon; I’ve been meaning to, but St. Nicholas GreekOC is only a couple of miles from my house in Tacoma, and it has been very easy to go there lately, especially for Vespers.

      My name is actually Ed….I look forward to meeting you and seeing a couple of old friends out there.

      • It’s a great church Tim and one I think is safe from a lot of the encroachments from secularism. . . .

  12. Tim R. Mortiss says

    Thanks for all of the kind words.

    Jim, I went to Vespers out at Holy Resurrection last night. Thanks for planting the suggestion. I received a very warm welcome from Fr. John, and he remembered me from my “Wilkeson days”. He has now served that parish for about 27 years, I think. I have a great respect for him.

    Thanks again.


  13. StephenD says

    Dear Brothers and Concelebrants, Faithful, and Friends,

    Christ is in our midst!

    At last month’s session of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, two men were vetted who might be potential episcopal candidates for our diocese. It was the judgment of the Holy Synod that both men need more experience. Therefore, we are taking steps to transfer one of these potential candidates, Fr Gerasim Eliel, into the Diocese of the South where he can begin working as a priest in our diocese and get some of the experience the members of the Holy Synod think important. We plan to put him into a position where he will be visible to members of our diocese and also which will allow him to begin working collegially with the priests of the Diocese of the South.

    Unfortunately, without vetted and approved candidates, we will not be having a special nominating assembly as part of this summer’s assembly at St Justin Martyr Orthodox Church in Jacksonville, FL. I know we were all looking forward to a nomination and possible election this summer. I would encourage us, however, to see this decision by the Holy Synod as the result of prayer and discernment as how best to proceed with the election of a hierarch for the Diocese of the South. In the meantime we can look forward to the move of Fr. Gerasim to the Diocese of the South and the gathering of experience by other potential candidates as small, but significant, steps toward a nomination at a later date.

    Wishing you every blessing as we reach the midpoint of the fast, I remain faithfully yours

    in Christ Jesus

    Archpriest Marcus

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Glory to God! Good news. In other good news:

      “April 5, 2013

      The clergy of the Carolinas Deanery met from March 31 to April 2 for continuing education in homiletics. Fr Sergius Halverson of St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary taught the course. Before meeting in person, the group participated in a webinar to go over some basics of homiletics and receive assignments to work on for the meeting. Once gathered together Fr Sergius discussed the nature of liturgical preaching. The clergy delivered their homilies and the other participants shared their thoughts as to the effectiveness of the homilies. This was a valuable and productive experience, which we hope will continue to bear fruit in the Carolinas.”


      • So clergy took a webinar class; why is this good news? Is this a novelty or something?

        • Carl Kraeff says

          It was a combo deal: webinar + workshop in person. There is no novelty; just a small counterpoint to the vomit that was spewed on the very idea of continuing education by the regular haters of this site. BTW, does anthing that is good must be dramatic or novelty to qualify as worthy of your attention?

          • Excuse me, Mr. Kraeff, your superior attitude is misplaced. I would think that continuing education for clergy is a DUH. Is it not so in the OCA? As for things dramatic and novel, it would appear that you are pleased that for once in recent memory the OCA is not doing something dramatic and novel, which you admit is how they have been operating. Sadly their dramatic and novel actions have not been good, so I can certainly appreciate how glad you are that this bit of “news” is a welcome respite.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              Dear “Huh?”–Sorry but I am not engaging in debates or arguments during the Great Lent. However, thank you for pointing out that I indeed exhibited a “superior attitude.” I was also argumentative, critical and judgmental. I ask for forgiveness. In Christ, Carl

    • Spinning the Spinner says

      Father Marcus,

      Is this not the same Father Gerasim who was being considered for moving into the DOS last year before the Synod ambushed Metropolitan Jonah?

      If so, why have they waited another 10 months to get around to this?

      I disagree with the ‘let’s live together first’ attitude that this new procedure reeks of, — [why can’t the Synod simply do their jobs?] — but if we had already begun it, Father Gerasim would almost be through his ‘probationary period’ by now.

      I shudder to think what ‘experience the members of the Holy Synod think important.’ They have shown that by their own actions over the past few years.

      I do welcome this small step toward getting us a Bishop. Will wait to see just how significant it may turn out.

      Also waiting to see whether the Synod will repent of their slander and libel of Metropolitan Jonah. Not holding my breath.

      And in the meantime, in between time, ain’t we got fun?