What I didn’t hear

In a previous post, I mentioned that I called two of The Appalled Four bishops that were mentioned in the now-famous leaked e-mail. I did so at the urging of Muzhik who said “get in touch with your bishops.” Being the non-sophisticated rube from the hinterlands that I am, I took him seriously.

The bishop in question graciously accepted my phone call and we talked for about an hour. For that I’m grateful. I said that I wouldn’t betray any confidences and I’ve kept my end of the bargain.

What I will discuss to day is What I Didn’t Hear.

What was missing from the entire conversation was a sense of pastoral concern for all the members of our Church, not just the Metropolitan.

Look, I’m gonna be blunt here. I’ve been in positions of church leadership on the parish level and dust-ups are endemic. However when the inevitable crisis comes, true leaders rise to the fore and try to make things right. Egos are assuaged and injured parties invited to dinner or the club for a round of golf and drinks. If nothing else, one gets on bended knee and pleads “for the good of the parish.” Or “OK, I’ll get Bob to apologize if you agree to do this.” It’s horse-trading and it’s not pleasant, but in the context of the Church, it’s incumbent upon leaders to do whatever is canonically permissible to calm the situation.

What I didn’t hear was, “You know, we all blew it. Yeah, +Jonah’s got problems with running his mouth but we’re working on our own problems as well. Skordinski described us as lacking basic business skill-sets, and she’s right. We really need to get our house in order.”

Or, “Look George, +Jonah bit off more than he could chew. Did you know at one time he was bishop and locum tenens of five different dioceses? We never should have allowed that to happen. We set him up to fail under those circumstances. We need him to rest. On a practical level, it just doesn’t look good for us to lose a third Metropolitan in six years.”

Or, “For the life of me, I don’t know how we let the institutional rot in Syosset settle in like that, or why we can’t tighten up our standards for membership on the Metropolitan Council. We’ve got a long slog ahead of us. George, this isn’t going to be pretty, pray for us.”

Any one of the above statements would have indicated to me that this bishop was acting in good faith and for the betterment of the Church. Instead, other deficiencies and concerns were discussed. Not cool.


  1. I hear what you’re saying George and they are valid points. This is exactly why I said that given how serious the issues were in the OCA previously and the damage that was done, the current leaders (all of them) must be especially careful in being open, honest, ethical, and transparent in their very public roles in regards to their leadership style, decisions (administrative in particular, given the previous violations), and actions, to insure the Church is informed and reassured that real shepherds are working to maintain good order (especially in regards to due process and conciliarity given the previous abuses and non-Orthodox models of governing and decision-making) and doing their best to guard and protect the flock. Leaders must communicate to those they are entrusted to represent what is going on and what’s the rationale for their decisions and actions, especially when speculation, accusations, and rumors run rampant.

    • Chris, I couldn’t agree with you more. Please understand, even though this crisis is engulfing the OCA at present, it is much bigger than that. I think all of American Orthodoxy is going to have to go through a massive purge if we are to survive. The institutional rot at the heart of this is greater than I suspect and which is due to a coterie of functionaries whose integrity (sexual and otherwise) is less than clean.

      Believe it or not, I think the OCA has a fighting chance to undertake this. At least the Holy Synod is elected by and large by the people and closer to them (what with more bishops and all). I mean, compare the Russian-allied bishops with what comes out of Istanbul with their fantasy metropolitinates. But we can’t keep on criticizing the bishops when we’ve got serious problems with laymen who feel that they can run the show. Sure, some bishops are using laymen for their purposes, but that’s got to stop as well.

      The housecleaning isn’t going to stop at just the episcopate level. If it does, then all we will have done is kick the can down the road. After all, where do bishops come from?

  2. J P Gordon says

    I think that we need to recognize that politics exists as part of the institutional aspect of the Church. They are sometimes (lets hope, in the end, most times) connected with the “politics” of the Kingdom. We can usually tell when they are not. The most difficult situations come when things heavenly get mixed up with things earthly.

    Recently I suggested that if (when) the OCA collapses into the mire it has constructed itself over for the past decade or more, that it would be best for us to seek the help of the Russian Orthodox Church. For me, this is a case of the “mixed” politics of heaven and earth. We know, for all its human failings, that the ROC has been tested and proven through martyrdom. The same was also true for the Phanar but, at least since 1923, it has been reduced to little more than an village–not the great imperial city it once was. Moscow remains the last, best, hope politically for helping the OCA back into some semblance of sanity. I am not proposing a permanent return to rule by a foreign center, but a necessary “time out” for healing.

    My apprehensions may turn out to be extremely naive. Perhaps Moscow would be unwilling to return us to full autocephaly once the healing was accomplished. It is unimaginable that the Phanar will ever let the GOA cash cow go, and placing ourselves under the weaker Patriarchates of the Balkans, much less those in captivity in the Muslim world makes no sense at all. We stand a chance with Moscow. We have a history with them and they seem to have an honest, loving concern for us. Why not seek help while we can? For all our pseudo-therapeutic talk regarding the Metropolitan’s need for “rest” and/or “help”, we don’t seem to be able to apply it to the systemic illness of our church. The rot simply is too deep to be cured by ourselves. We need help. Period.

  3. Rod Dreher says

    The thing that I keep thinking about is that the argument between +Jonah and the Synod, the liberal-vs.-conservative split (real or perceived), and suchlike are all epiphenomena to the real darkness at the heart of the OCA.

    I may be wrong about this, but I can’t shake the sense that there’s something yet to be revealed, to be called forth, so it can be cast out. I’m not precisely sure what that thing is, though people who have been in the OCA for longer than I have been, and who have paid closer attention, may be able to put a name, or names, on it. Still, I have a growing sense that slowly but surely, this dark thing is going to roll into town at high noon, and we the townspeople had better figure out now whether or not we’re going to face it down, or make our peace with it in hope that we can go along to get along, and live our lives in peace.

    But accommodation would be a false peace.

    • Rod Dreher says

      One more thing: I am confident that most, maybe all, of the bishops know how many heads this beast has, and their faces. And that they are more afraid of him than they are of God.

    • Harry Coin says

      Rod, When what you say happens– the OCA folk should remember two things.

      1. It’s always been about parish life.
      2. It’s no better elsewhere, there’s just more money to keep it quiet.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Harry, you’re absolutely right. The Church has been through worse. We’ll survive this, but what we won’t survive is the institutional corruption and lethargic leadership that must be maintained at all costs, just because It’s The Way We’ve Always Done Things.

        What incenses me (and I believe others) is that those who are against +Jonah seem to be against him because he wants the Church to be the Church. If they are truly mad at him because he dropped the ball (on the Deacon Burke case for example), then why don’t they want him to get corrupt me off the Metropolitan Council?

  4. Carl Kraeff says

    What is alarming to me is that positions are hardening to such an extent that this situation is becoming (or has become) a zero-sum game. Rod Dreher’s musings are even more frightening. Looks like the pimple that we thought had been burst and treated has many other heads other than the financial scandal. I suspect this is not unique to the OCA. May the Lord guide us all to make the right decisions.

    • I agree Carl. Lord have mercy. If I’ve offended anybody by implying that this is a “zero-sum game,” then I apologize. It’s not zero-sum but a metastasis that grew out of the original culture of corruption. Others have given it the name The Lavender Mafia but I think that’s just a manifestation of the deeper problem of clericalism, pride, and spiritual lethargy. Mix in some Rust-Belt nostalgia and you’ve got the makings of spiritual death.

      And please note: as both OCAT and I have stated, +Jonah made some blunders along the way. Whether he ignored certain problems (like the Archdeacon Burke situation in Miami) because of ineptness or an inability to fight entrenched forces, he likewise should be held to account. However to blame him for not fighting this corruption while giving the rest of the Holy Synod a pass is inexcusable. Especially when it looks like the HS (and by extension the MC and Syosset) were actively working against him.

      That is whas is pissing me off.

    • R. Dreher says

      Carl, I don’t have any true inside information, but I’m just applying the way I saw the various scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, whence I came, play out — they’re still playing out — and the pattern is painfully familiar. Early on in the Catholic scandal — around 2002 — a dear friend who is a Catholic priest told me that it would be a big mistake to see the Scandal (as we all called it) as a discrete thing. In fact, he said, the sexual abuse scandal is only one especially ugly facet of a bigger scandal — in fact, a series of scandals, all related. They have to do mostly with the integrity of the priesthood and the episcopate.

      Sexual misconduct among priests and bishops were part of the problem, as well as the culture of clericalism that saw covering that garbage up as more important than cleaning it up. They can always come up with good excuses for why The People Must Not Know, For Their Own Good. (In the OCA, one of the great services Mark Stokoe, whether you like him or not, has performed for us all is to show how the Internet can be used to challenge the conspiracy of silence.) In the Catholic situation, it’s hard to separate sexual misconduct from a falling away from standards in other areas. I don’t have the time or the inclination to get into a discussion of particulars on this, an Orthodox blog, but as the Catholic scandal unfolded, I came to see what my Catholic priest friend was talking about. As he said to me once, deep into the scandal, “The only thing that makes the bishops’ behavior comprehensible to me anymore is the idea that they just don’t believe in God.”

      A harsh statement! And a true one, in a particular sense. If you asked each Catholic bishop, he would say that the question itself (“Do you believe in God?”) is both absurd and offensive. But who is God, for them? Who is He, really? Is He the deity of the Grand Inquisitor, who is the dead keystone of a religious system that allows people to feel good about themselves, because all the rituals are in place to keep daily life moving along, undisturbed? Or is He the God of the Bible? Does it seem to you that our bishops have behaved, over the past years, as if the God of the Bible existed, and was going to hold them responsible for their actions?

      God is not mocked by episcopal cover-ups and corruption, even though they tell themselves they’re doing it for the greater good of His people. In His severe mercy, he has delivered, and continues to deliver, the Catholic Church to a long and painful reckoning for the corruption the clergy, especially the bishops, have allowed to thrive among themselves for so long. God will also do this for, and to, us. I don’t know what form this reckoning will take for us, but it will come. If it comes sooner, and it is chosen by repentance, rather than forced on us by circumstance, we might save the OCA. If not, who knows? One way or another, we will be purified, and are being purified.

      The Vasile Susan case coming to civil trial at year’s end could be a landmark event, if the Synod doesn’t authorize a payoff to settle the lawsuit before it comes to trial. If Fr. Susan’s silence is purchased with the faithful’s funds for the sake of preventing the bishops’ secrets from being aired in court, there should be — there must be! — outrage from the laity. We shall see. I’m increasingly of the opinion that whatever +Jonah’s faults, one of his great strengths is that nobody has anything on him.

      • Chris Plourde says

        I ask this: Where has the Orthodox Faith been altered by a single hierarch of the OCA? Which Bishop denied what portion of the Creed? What member of our MC is promoting a new understanding of the Trinity? What monk is leading the charge to do away with prayer and fasting? Who has declared that we no longer need of mercy?

        The Russian Orthodox Church survived Communism not because its Bishops were politically stalwart, in fact they were politically compromised, but because despite their political problems they remained stalwart in the True Faith.

        The Orthodox Church has survived worse than this, and we will survive this with our faith intact provided we don’t voluntarily hand it over due to ecclesial political dramas that are far less dire than those the Church faced through most of the 20th Century.

        Every morning we pray:

        And first remember Thy Holy Church, which Thou hast provided through They Precious Blood. Confirm, strengthen, extend and increase her, and keep her in peace, and for ever proof against the power of hell. Calm the dissensions of the Churches, and foil the plans of the powers of darkness.

        The Church is always in crisis, sometimes self-inflicted. This age is no different from any other, and in fact better than most.

        • R. Dreher says

          That’s an important point, Chris. One big lesson I learned from my shattering experience as a Catholic is that one should NEVER put a lot of trust in the clergy or in the institutional church. I don’t advise cynicism, of course, but I do think it’s healthy to be prudently skeptical, and to make sure that in one’s mind, one has it very clear in one’s own mind that the clergy is not the same thing as the Faith, or even the Church.

          That said, scandals like this have a way of undermining people’s confidence in the authority of the Church, and, if it gets bad enough, and/or one’s faith is sufficiently shaky, to rattle one’s confidence in the Gospel proclaimed by the Church. I am the guy who consoled himself for years by saying that I had all the syllogisms from my catechism straight inside my head, so my faith was untouchable. Had I been a stronger Catholic, it might have been. A lot of people aren’t as strong in the Orthodox faith as you seem to be (I don’t say that to be snarky, please understand, but with total sincerity). True, the Church is always in need of reform, but it really is pathetic when the bishops aren’t a reason to become Orthodox, but something in spite of which one ought to become Orthodox.

          Besides which, it’s just wearing to see serious challenges confronting believers right here, right now, both individually and corporately, and our leadership wasting its authority on things like this.

          I would say the same thing about the world of secular politics too, but that’s another topic.

          • Chris Plourde says

            I wish I was “strong in the Orthodox faith” Lord have mercy.

            As you know from elsewhere, Rod, I’m a realist bordering on a cynic. When it comes to Jonah and the Synod (not to be confused with the whale) I want to ask everyone: What did you expect? Did you expect a man which scant managerial experience would miraculously understand that the first rule of management is “no suprises” and figure out how to keep everyone informed and on board? Did we expect that he could hold several different posts simultaneously and do any one of them well?

            The immaturity of the OCA is that everyone expected Jonah to be Superman, and it seems everyone thought he’d be a Superman to their liking. And when it turned out that he had his rough edges and shortcomings, folks sided up and just made stuff up about why anyone would be on the “other” side. That’s a problem that’s larger than our Metropolitan or our Synod.

            And the rumors (from sources we are told “lack all integrity” but who we’re supposed to nonetheless believe) that there are Bishops who sided up just shows…if true…how like everyone else they are. What a scandal!

            The OCA is like a middle school. 😉

            But I do understand how scandal can challenge one’s faith, and I don’t want to belittle that one iota. Unlike the ongoing RCC sexual abuse scandals, however, the OCA’s problems are not close to the level of a worldwide Ecclesial “shepherding” structure systematically feeding its lambs to the wolves.

            I don’t believe we should ignore what goes on, because that enables greater wrongdoing, but I also don’t think we should make more of things than there really, verifiably, is. Molehills should not be treated as if they were mountains, and a conflict that arises from an overworked and overtired executive (per Jonah’s own statement) and an irked executive committee (per rumor sites) is not larger than just that.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Chris, your points are well-taken. But I for one don’t buy into the meme that +Jonah should have been more managerial. Ordinarily, you’re right, he should have been a bishop in the South for about 5-10 years, learned to be more discerning, yada, yada, yada. All true. But these aren’t ordinary times. The spiritual collapse of our Church and our nation is almost total. The lethargy and corruption of the Orthodox jurisdictions must be rooted out, else a good manager will have only kicked the can down the road, wherein the damage will be even greater.

          • Chris Plourde says


            When considering seemingly complex things like the situation with Metropolitan Jonah I start by separating what we actually know from what we think we know, and what we actually know that is germane from what is not germane.

            It seems to me that what we actually know that is germane is relatively straightforward: The Synod is requiring Jonah to take some time off. Jonah is on record saying he hasn’t had a day off since he became Metropolitan, a period of just under 2 & 1/2 years.

            Pretty much everything else written about this on every side falls into the categories of things that we know that aren’t germane, or things we think we know that we don’t actually know.

            Moving the Chancery from Syosset to DC is not germane. Fr. Garklavs being relieved of his duties as Chancellor is not germane. Mark Stokoe’s emails and website are not germane. They are interesting, to be sure, but they are each separate issues and, I would point out, that the Synod agreed with Jonah on Garklavs.

            So let’s apply Occam’s razor here.

            The only proffered explanation that explains the two things we actually know is that Jonah needs to manage the Synod and his own time more competently.

            All other explanations from every “side” fail to explain one of those two agreed-upon and documented facts.

            Which is not to say the Synod covered itself with glory here. They suffered a managerial malfunction as well. They should have relieved him of duties not connected with his home diocese and the chancery upon his election as Metropolitan. They should have been paying much closer attention to how much work Jonah was doing almost two years ago. They should have forced the issue of R&R 18 months ago. We are where we are because neither the Synod nor Jonah had the experience to see this coming. Competent management at either position would have predicted and prevented it.

            But let’s be clear: our Church is young and these are growing pains, not death throes.

            • Ivan Vasiliev says

              I’m sorry, but in watching this debate I have to side with those who think that the ROC may be a good place for the OCA to have a “time out”, as someone wrote.

              It isn’t that the bishops of the ROC are any more or less holy than those of the OCA, it is just that the ROC taken together over its long history have more experience than the tiny OCA. It can absorb the shocks of scandals and overcome them in a way that smaller, less experienced, groups may not be able to.

              Sometimes there is “safety in numbers”. I believe that the ROC of today could offer the OCA a much needed rest from its troubles (it isn’t only Metropolitan Jonah who needs a rest) and perhaps offer a way back to an autocephaly that is truly spiritually healthy.

            • Chris, we also know, from private e-mails that retired Bp. Tikhon (the Martha Mitchell of Klobukgate) has released, that there was a sense among members of the Metropolitan Council (e.g., Faith Skordinski, Mark Stokoe) that +Jonah had to be gotten rid of, and that using concern about his handling of sexual misconduct cases was to be the chosen rationale. We also know from those e-mails that there appears to have been an attempt by Fr. Garklavs to manipulate the Sexual Misconduct Committee report to make it more unfavorable towards Jonah.

              What we don’t yet know, but I am told is true, is that the e-mails seized from Fr. Garklavs’ OCA address show a conscious attempt by Garklavs to engineer this SMC report, which was shown to the Synod pre-Santa Fe, to be a smear job on +Jonah. If this is true, I hope that the whole Church will be shown evidence of this.

              As far as I know, Mark Stokoe has not commented on these e-mails. I could be wrong, and would appreciate correction if I am. But they are very important. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that some people within the OCA governing structure were so determined to get rid of Jonah that they were willing to use mercenary measures, including distorting an extremely important report on sexual misconduct, in service of the larger cause of compelling the departure of the Metropolitan.

              If +Jonah is doing his job poorly, by all means hold him accountable! But on evidence of what we know now, it looks like at least some of Jonah’s opponents on the Synod, on the Metropolitan Council, and in the OCA bureaucracy, were willing to get rid of him by any means necessary. Why? I can’t figure it out. I share the feeling expressed on OCA Truth and here on George’s blog that there has got to be more to this story, that Jonah’s actual failings as an administrator can’t explain the vehemence of the hostility against him. I would love to know what the core of that hostility is. At the rate things are going in the OCA, I figure we’ll all find out soon enough.

              • Chris Plourde says


                In any human organization things get fubar when we all take our eyes off reality and start behaving as if gossip and innuendo and speculation and theorizing are reality. That’s when we all walk into the house of mirrors, all start getting confounded by illusions and misleads, and the only one who benefits is the master of deception.

                Here’s what I’m talking about:

                …it looks like at least some of Jonah’s opponents on the Synod, on the Metropolitan Council, and in the OCA bureaucracy, were willing to get rid of him by any means necessary. Why? I can’t figure it out.

                It is the nature of being in the house of mirrors that you start to feel a bit crazy, that there are odd forces at work, that something dark and sinister is afoot. And if we give it all credence, if we treat it as if it is reality, worse than that comes to pass.

                We know this truth on a spiritual level. If we listen to the deception of the evil one and treat it as though it were true then real mayhem follows. But if we reject the deception of the evil one and stay focused on the Light of Christ we can stand aright even in the midst of a furnace and not be harmed.

                It’s the same here.

                Stokoe’s e-mails are facts we know that aren’t germane. They contain facts we think we know (or that he thinks he knows) but don’t really know. They are not a “smoking gun” of a conspiracy in the Synod or anything else, they’re Mark’s gossip to others in the MC about what he thinks is happening and going to happen.

                And your “What we don’t know yet, but what I’m told is true” explicitly falls into the category of things we think we know but don’t.

                The current issue within the OCA is not about “cradle versus convert” or some “Lavender Mafia” or “gay marriage” or a conspiracy to remove Jonah for unfathomable reasons. (Which is not to say that there aren’t elements of all those in our Church.)

                This is a management issue between the Synod and the Metropolitan. Period. And they both agree he needs a break. Period. And they both need to be more competent as managers. Period. And if Jonah takes his break and considers that he needs to “change his management style” and if the Synod does its job for a change, then this will all amount to a speed bump.

                But if either the Metropolitan or the Synod enters into the house of mirrors, the halls of deception, and gives credence to any or all of the speculations and theorizing that’s been going on, all bets are off.

                Gee. I wonder who benefits from that?

      • Harry Coin says


        I struggled with the same issue, eventually deciding that the right question to ask is: ‘Why now? What changed?’. In the past after a problem maybe the offender got one other chance, but not two before being removed from office. And, synods policed themselves removing misdoers and misdoing enablers and the blackmailed from their ranks. Now parishioners are starting to be treated like ‘marks’ by ‘grifters in robes’, where what’s written applies only to those not doing the applying.

        Look at my site http://voithia.us to understand why the clericalism in the RCC and the scandals that share ‘a certain common thing’ there and in the Orthodox church these past few decades. It’s been creeping up on us and in the end there is only one answer that will leave us with the same authentic composition we had in the earlier centuries.

        • R. Dreher says

          Harry, that’s pretty interesting stuff. The one thing I would be skeptical about is the idea that having more married people in decision-making roles would be a cure-all, or even a cure-most. The Episcopal Church has married bishops, but they’ve had their own scandals too. I believe that it really is true that men who have no experience of family life are, through no real fault of their own, unable to appreciate to the degree that they should what it is like to raise children in the Church, and how debilitating to the faithful and their sense of trust it can be when bishops give sexually malfeasant clergy a pass to continue as the spiritual fathers for their congregations. I read once, with regard to the Catholic situation, that bishops really do see their relationship with their priests as a father-son thing, which makes sense to me … but you can see how a bishop so oriented would come to think of the priest as more “real” to him than the laity. As I wrote many times in trying to analyze the Catholic scandal, Joseph Schumpeter taught that every elite will, over time, come to identify its own interests with the interests of the organization as a whole. It’s simply a psychosocial dynamic of all elite groups. That explains a lot of what we’ve seen.

          I do want to say, though, that circling the wagons to protect one’s “tribe” is not something particular to unmarried celibates, but is common to human nature. We will never be rid of it, not in the Church, nor anywhere else. We can only do our best to mitigate it. Besides, it’s worth remembering too that a democratic mob is still a mob. All forms of governance, ecclesiastical and civil included, have their strengths and their weaknesses.

          • Harry Coin says

            Rod, yes a cure-all would be nice certainly. Comparing the wanderings of other churches with married bishops, the comparison struggles as the theologically different underpinnings and parish ethos itself too are not nothing.

            The model that worked without the might of the emperor/civil authority behind it was a bishop in charge of the biggest parish being supported by a dozen or so nearby ones and there you go. The leaders of the parish groups formed a regional/local synod and anything that was important that needed doing they did– and when they wandered off the reservation the people took care of business with no objections and often with the help of the civil authority. The historical laity ‘voice of the people is the voice of God’ ‘boat up the Crimea’ method is denied in modern times. That’s not nothing. In our context the civil authority will not permit the dislodging of the egregious clerics by the laity nor will it intervene in their decisions. The perfect recipe for sinacure, security and ‘The Peter Principle’ and gradual diminution ‘with nobody but ourselves to blame’. Orthodoxy can escape the trap within its tradition, Rome with it’s firm pronouncements of doing things a certain way ‘for all time forward’ is in a bit of a box.

            The distortion we now see of distant-distant in terms both between the people and the clergy (RCC), the clergy and the higher clergy (Orthodox) and the higher clergy thinking of themselves first defacto as administrators is the consequence.

            The point is, from 30,000 feet looking down, looking at our church in centuries past and comparing it to today, do they look the same? Clearly the married man who lost his wife in his working years existed in great numbers in every single town everywhere. The senior working priests in the town were not spared. These became the bishops whose names are not in the books there were so many. Now, that man doesn’t exist. If we’re going to be Orthodox we can’t pretend nothing has changed.

            The closer the bishop is to the people, the less he’s the administrator and the more he’s the pastor, the more success depends on cooperation among parishes in the local scene, the less likely the misdoing bishop or priest who can’t get his act together will get a chance to bring low others. There is no future with the bishops being so distant they couldn’t pick out who in the crowd are the priest’s family.

            Locally in a ‘slice of life’ a new never-married priest gave a sermon where though it was near his first day, he gave the impression he wasn’t so clear he knew that it wasn’t our first day. He doesn’t have a wife around to let him know that it not what you say, it’s what people hear and see.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          Harry, you ask a good question and the answer you suggest in intriguing. But I’m not sure that we would really find many more widowed clergymen in past. Perhaps a few more widowers who simply retired to monasteries, but these would not have made up the leadership of the Church, for the preference in both the East and the West has always been for the never married — men without carnal knowledge and unencumbered by a father’s concern for the welfare of his surviving adult children.

          Also, if we’re looking for what has changed, two more obvious answers are (1) the much lower social status of the clergy today compared to 100 years ago, which means that fewer men of high caliber are attracted to it, and (2) the increasing sexualization of society, leading to both greater temptation and greater tolerance for sexual misbehavior, especially homosexuality. The result of the combination of these two changes would be a lesser likelihood that clergymen are greatly appalled by mishavior and deviance in their ranks and a greater protectiveness of their colleagues in defense of what little status the clergy has left.

          Now, if I may narrow the issue to just the problem of homosexuality among the clergy, there seems to be a very real danger that tolerance of homosexuality will be the death of monasticism in some quarters. The more we hear of it, the harder it will be for monks to escape the suspicion of being gay. Faithful monks therefore have good reason to keep anyone compromised by same-sex attraction out of their ranks, if for no other reason than that Caesar’s wife must be above reproach.

          • Harry Coin says

            Dn Brian, I’m sure you would find the widower clergy in the past. The folk then didn’t want to see any changes in what they thought best of the faith and they all said to themselves in those days, “What rule can we make that will cause the right thing to happen?”. And they looked around and they came up with a rule that would cause the person they thought ought to be the bishop or the ranking priest anyhow– the one who knew what they needed to know: How to suffer tragic loss, what suffering really is, what life is really like — the priest who lost his wife during his working years. The cemetery is the seminary for them. Those were the ones they wanted to hear from on Sunday, those were the ones who were not as lost as they were when supporting others through grief and important decisions.

            Those also were the ones who first of all shouldn’t be remarrying and fathering more kids then dying before the second marriage kids get to 10 years old making widows and orphans for the church to care for.

            So, so very important was it then for the faithful to see that it can be done, and how it was to be done, by watching the local priest and the local bishop show people how to do it. Not say ‘this is how to fast nevermind I weigh enough for 4 people’. and so on.

            Re: ‘gay monks’ — you know so long as monks live in a community of many and are known to the surrounding towns their reputation will be known and whether they are a fasod for gay sex or an actual place of prayer, peace and mostly successful personal struggle will too be known. Also whether they’re just a cult or bunch of grifters trying to ‘out parish the local parish’ will be known too.

            Bad sign: Does a married person drive past the local parish to go to a never married fellow for confession once a year, get asked for a big monastery donation, and be ‘more holy than the people at the parish I don’t go to this or any other Sunday?’ There’s a hint. I respect the monasteries that have a dozen or so monks or more that support themselves in ways other than reliance upon donations from visitors. The ‘bachelor pad monks’, the ‘lives with one other person who is a photographer’ or ‘lives with a pretty young aide’ etc– we’ll if clergy are supposed to not give appearances of scandal there is a problem with that if not in fact then in appearances and clergy are supposed to be sensitive to that.

          • Harry Coin says

            P.S. regarding your two points, 1 – lower social status of clergy now than in the past: with respect in the past the best of them made tents. Now they expect to be paid fulltime by the faithful and mostly they are. 2- sex in society wasn’t ‘in the media’ not because there wasn’t any sex but rather there wasn’t any media. No, the numbers about life expectancy can be ignored and overlooked but they cannot be denied. Their importance is what’s driving our present situation.

            Everyone looks out and says ‘who can be our next bishop?’ and instead of seeing a working age priest whose wife had died every half dozen parishes and the actual monastic (i.e. lives in a monastery and is a known quantity) we see — well you know what we see. Times have changed, we need to change the rule or die with it and soon.

  5. Rod,

    I hate to bring this up at this point, but there is always the possibility of incredible corruption somewhere at the top. I remember reading “The Plot Against the Church” written in the 60s about the Freemasonic infiltration of the Catholic Church and the books warning of a “great council” to convene to change the teachings of the Catholic Church. Of course this council happened years after the book was written, and we all know about Vatican II. Years afterwards, another whistle-blower book was written called “Broken Cross” by Piers Compton that detailed the insider corruption further. Now it is estimated that 1/3 of the Cardinals are in fact freemasons. If you haven’t read these books, you should – they are free and available on-line. Naturally they are out of print! We want to blame these actions on “immorality” but the reality is that the problems ARE a lot deeper, most are afraid to look and don’t believe anyway when presentd with the facts.

    Something was always fishy about the “scandal”. The missing millions, donated by Archer Daniels, were orchestrated by Dwayne Andreas – a known CFR member – at the time the OCA also had senior clergy as members of the CFR. None were implicated in any wrong-doing, and who knows really if there was any. Remember to join the CFR you must swear an oath of secrecy that no details of meeting proceedings are ever sent to the press.

    Somewhere there is an intersection between worldly power and the church we probably don’t want to know of. All churches are infiltrated to some degree by foreign intelligence agencies. We know the CIA was against the reunion of ROCOR with the MP. Priest Andrew Phillips related on his website in a report covering the 4th Sobor in San Francisco – where the reunion was dicussed – that a host of CIA SUVs were parked outside the church to listen in.

    As the parable of the wheat and tares shows us, the tares we will always have among us. Our battle is with Satan, and nowhere is the battle harder than in the Church itself. It was always like this! Yet I’m not certain all the clamor for transparency is going to result in much. The money powers behind the scenes will always stay hidden. Americans are so brainwashed to believe that their democracy is so transparent; the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. We use are naive preconceptions to “hope” that all these troubles will go away with a change in personnel and a few audits. The battle is much larger. The question is, like Elder Paisos warned, will there be a Bishop that will really take a stand? Perhaps they couldn’t without risk to their own lives – and even if they did, would people understand?

    In world history, we are late in the game. Without any real state protection anywhere left in the world, the money powers can do as they please. Like so many of our fathers and recent prophets have warned us, it is later than we think! I don’t have any solution but to keep praying, and make certain we have a local church with a Spiritual Father we know and trust. I don’t think any of the answers will be pleasant, if we find anything out. And there’s a good chance that some of these blogs are tools of intelligence agencies themselves created to stir division. Think about, we are falling into a trap.

  6. Chris Plourde says

    None were implicated in any wrong-doing, and who knows really if there was any.

    Pretty much sums up things, doesn’t it?

  7. Michael Bauman says

    But are we not to avoid even the appearence of wrong doing?

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