Where are we? A Recap

Just what do we know? What can be proven? Let’s enumerate them one by one:

The E-Mail
1. Mark Stokoe generated an e-mail to several possible conspirators describing a plan of action to entrap +Jonah and get rid of him. Four of the recipients of this e-mail were bishops.

2. This e-mail was sent before the Holy Synod met in Santa Fe.

3. Romfea.gr reported before the end of the meeting in Santa Fe that +Jonah had “resigned” as Primate of the OCA. This was even before the OCA put out its own press release, which indicated only that +Jonah had requested a “leave of absence” or a “retreat.”

4. This e-mail was leaked by one of the recipients to retired Bishop +Tikhon FitzGerald, who subsequently leaked it to the Blogosphere.

The Backlash
1. HB shut down the servers and/or some personal computers in Syosset upon hearing about the plot against him.

2. Fr Alexander Garklavs, the Chancellor of the OCA, was in some way part of this conspiracy. +Jonah fired him, but he fought back, stating that he reported only to the Holy Synod. In the interim, the Holy Synod upheld Garklav’s firing and “accepted his resignation,” then informed him two days later that they had done so.

3. Incriminating information about the conspirators came to Fr Joseph Fester’s possession, which he described the outlines of in a long letter posted on www.ocatruth.com. Since then, several of his points have been confirmed. (For example, Fester made an allegation about possible criminality on Garklav’s part which has subsequently been borne out [see point #7 below]).

4. A ferocious counter-assault against the conspirators has come to fruition, led by ocatruth.com, which brings forward new allegations of possible criminality and/or actionable actions, almost on a daily basis.

5. Fr Ted Bobosh, a luminary on the Metropolitan Council has clearly stated that he does not believe in traditional morality as described by the Orthodox Church.

6. Mark Stokoe, the apparent ringleader of this conspiracy, is extremely problematic on several fronts:

a. as a blogger, his position on the Metropolitan Council presents a clear conflict of interest.

b. he is serving on the Metropolitan Council and has been for several years, all the while living in contradiction to the moral teachings of the Orthodox Church.

c. In a recent internet posting on his blog he has admitted that he has intimidated previous Metropolitans in the past and he has no intention of stopping. He went on to further explain that he was in a unique position to continue his intimadation because his knowledge is directly threatening to several powerful people.

d. Stokoe has admitted that he disdains +Jonah’s “unilateral” way of doing things on the cultural front, especially on those issues which are in contrast to his own stated positions and/or lifestyle.

7. In another leaked e-mail (also by retired Bishop +Tikhon), Faith Skordinski, a civil service worker who also serves on the Metropolitan Council, got a legal opinion from government attorneys in her office regarding the actions of Fr Garklavs. The upshot of this opinion is that Garklavs (the recently fired Chancellor of the OCA) ran a very real risk of legal action because it looked like he was tampering with official documents, specifically the SMPAC report, which deals with sexual misconduct. It was alleged by Skordinski that Garklavs did so in order to make +Jonah look worse than the facts as actually reported. (Interestingly enough, it appears that the conspirators are attempting to throw Skordinski under the bus, by leaking out information about her own canonical standing and whether she is fit to serve on the Metropolitan Council [of which more later].)

8. Fr Thomas Hopko, a respected clergyman, released a letter in which he stated that +Jonah was “gravely troubled,” and that Stokoe’s website was completely correct in all the particulars.

The Future?
1. Upon the suggestion of one or more of the parties involved, the Russian Orthodox Church sent its head of the Department of External Relations, Metropolitan +Hilarion Alfeyev, to counsel and advise the Holy Synod. According to reports from both sides, he made it clear that there was nothing actionable against +Jonah which warranted his removal but that HB should seek to operate in a more conciliar fashion.

2. According to reliable reports, Moscow has made it clear that the autocephaly of the OCA is not in issue here. However the canonical standing of any bishop who acts to removed +Jonah will be called into question. This would include their dioceses and any parishes that chose to align themselves with any clearly uncanonical act.

None of the above is speculation. All have been documented as fact. What can be deduced from all this is that several people who are antagonistic to HB are acting in complete bad faith and in a conspiratorial way.


  1. Igumen Gregory says

    What a tragedy we are experiencing during this Lenten period. All Orthodoz Christians hang their heads in shame and sorrow to witness so many within the OCA act in such unbeacoming ways. It would be laughable if it weren’t so sad to read and repected clergyman seek Clean Week forgivenss and then speak disrespectfully of the brothers in Christ. I wonder if the saying of the prayer of St. Ephraim is taken seriously or is this just ore pious fluff of feel good religion.

    • Kevin Allen says

      Amen, Fr Gregory. This is a tragedy for the Pan-Orthodox Church and a terrible public relations nightmare for her.

  2. Do these people, who are supposed to be Christians, realize the hateful messages they are sending with respect to Metropolitan Jonah and other human beings? What has happened to their Christian values — or did they never have any? Shame on them!

  3. Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

    Dear George,

    I have implored you to please read carefully and yet you refuse, and continue to state falsehoods as facts. In addition your chronology above is, well not chronological, in such a way as to be distorting.

    You have not presented either what is known or proven. Your point one and most of your point two under backlash actually occurred before Stokoe’s email. Your presentation gives the impression that these actions were a response to Stokoe’s email. Rather, Stokoes email was a response to those actions.

    You write “Four of the recipients of this e-mail were bishops.” Not true. The recipients listed by BT in his leak, I quote: “For example, in one of a series of emails on or about February thirteenth (13th), more than a week before the Holy Synod went on its “retreat”, Mr. MS wrote to those with him in the cabal, Subdeacon DS, Fr. JR, Ms. FS. Fr. TB, Mr. GN: ” He explains his code as Subdeacon Dmitri Solodow, Fr John Reeves, Ms. Faith Skordinski, Fr. Theodore Bobosh, and Mr Gregory Nescott. No bishops.

    In that email he asserts that “the appalled four” wanted the Metropolitan removed because they had lost any hope that he could improve and become a functioning Metropolitan. That is the strongest assertion he makes about those four bishops. The most clearly “entrapping” part of that email, is clearly labeled as a “personal note” a speculation of “what might happen if”.

    You write “None of the above is speculation. All have been documented as fact.” That is clearly, plainly not true. You go on: “What can be deduced from all this is that several people …” You introduce this helpful distinction, but your “documented facts” are already full of deductions. A small example: You state “This e-mail was leaked by one of the recipients to retired Bishop +Tikhon FitzGerald”. That is a deduction and not a documented fact. Neither you nor I know how many times it was forwarded before it hit Bp. Tikhon (Fizgerald). Perhaps you have private knowledge of an assertion by Bp. Tikhon as to who gave it to him, but I doubt it, and that would not be a “documented fact”. Again, you are introducing the helpful distinction between “documented facts” and “deductions”. Please, please be more careful in distinguishing.

    More serious example: You write, “It was alleged by Skordinski that Garklavs did so in order to make +Jonah look worse than the facts as actually reported. ” It was not. Quote where she makes the allegation or retract. It is clear in her email that Skordinski does not know what Fr Alexander Garklavs did not want in the report. I pointed all this out in the thread “More developments, nephew”.

    Again, you state “Fr Ted Bobosh, a luminary on the Metropolitan Council has clearly stated that he does not believe in traditional morality as described by the Orthodox Church.” Again, on the comment in question, Fr Ted says something like “homosexuality is not sinful”, in the comments on that post he is asked point blank if he was referring to “orientation” itself and responded in the affirmative, which by the way, is the most natural reading of his original post, too. Since “sexual orientation” as a concept is barely over a century old, I do not know how we have a traditional teaching on it to accept or reject. I find the whole concept of “orientation” dubious in certain ways. In any case, one might deduce, from that statement in combination with his tolerance as a church officer of a certain notable and recently “outed” person, that he does not accept the teaching of the Scripture on homosexual actions. But that is a deduction, not a documented fact.

    I implore, beg, and beseech you to be much more careful in your readings of the facts. You are presenting several things as “documented facts” which are not. You are being misleading. You accuse Mark Stokoe of inaccuracies, and being manipulated by the devils, yet untruths are abounding more and more in your writing on the subject.

    I return to your unchronological chronology. Your chronology makes Mark Stokoe’s egregious email the center and starting point. (Yes, I think it, and Faith Skordinski’s emails are egregious). You know, the crisis was already well under way before he thought to write that. That is a documented fact.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fr, presently you have me at a disadvantage because I cannot print out your post and respond to each and every one of your points. Please be assured that I will do so at my earliest convenience.

      At any rate, I must take issue with you regarding paragraph #5 in which you state that I made a “deduction” from regarding the leaked e-mail. Yes, I did so, but that’s because my knowledge of the internet is such that the only way an e-mail can go from one person to another (from thence, the blogosphere) is be someone giving (“leaking”) an e-mail to somebody else. I suppose a case could be made that a copy of the e-mail in question was faxed and/or mailed to +Tikhon and that he then scanned it and then sent it into the blogosphere, or that +Tikhon broke into this person’s home and stole his/her hard drive and then leaked it, but I don’t know what other deduction I can make from how it got from Stokoe to Mr X, then from Mr X to +Tikhon, and from +Tikhon to us. Ultimately, I don’t care how many sets of hands saw it before +Tikhon but that really doesn’t matter does it? Unless of course e-mails fall out of the sky.

      As to your assertion in paragraph #2, I’m not certain I follow you. Certainly Mr Stokoe believes that there has been a “hysterical” backlash against him since his e-mail was leaked. Notice I did not state that it was because of his leaked e-mail, only since that time. I’m perfectly willing to ascribe correlation rather than causation but I think we both know that reasonable people can agree that it’s more probably the former. (At any rate, what difference does it make? ) Personally, I am outraged that Stokoe feels he could act with such impunity to ensnare other people in a plot which –let’s be honest–was designed to take down +Jonah.

      • George Michalopulos says

        As to the paragraph about Fr Ted and whether he “rejects” the Church’s clear counsel, I can only quote you the exact words from his own blog: “I don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin because I don’t believe that heterosexuality is a virtue.” Excuse me, but that makes about as much sense as me saying “If squirrels were taller then goats would taste like ice cream.” Neither statement makes sense but reasonable men can deduce from the entire posting in which this statement occured and his own pastoral sensitivity in this regard that his own opinions –how shall we say it? differ–from those of the Chuch Fathers and of course, the plain text of Scripture. (Please explain this to me as I must have skipped my symbolic logic class in college that day.)

        • Harry Coin says

          I’m sure if the whole of Fr. Bobosh’s quote was read it meant that it is the doing of homosexuality which being outside of marraige must be the mistake/sin. And, likewise, the constellation of feelings, attitudes and inner physio/mental poorly understood whatnot all lumped under the label ‘homosexuality’ isn’t a sin so long as it doesn’t result in sexual doing outside of marriage.

          Certainly I think we all would have witnessed a blogosphere eruption that could never have been missed even from the most isolated hermit’s cell had an orthdox priest actually posted something suggesting same gender sexual activity was a good idea.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Harry, if what you say is true, then homoerotic activity is ok “within marriage,” however it’s a physical impossibility for two men or two women to be “married” to each other.

            • Harry Coin says

              Yes George, I think you’ve got it surrounded there. As there is no marriage in the Orthodox church except between the sexes you can understand Fr. Ted trying to reach out to those struggling with unwelcome feelings — noting it’s only the doing that is a problem and that otherwise naturally the feelings do not present a reason they shouldn’t feel as welcome as anyone in church.

          • Heterosexual “orientation” has its telos in childbirth as the result of a marriage between a man and a woman. It is an icon of Christ and his marriage to the Church bringing new life. Acting on this desire is a virtue and is a sacrament of our Church, not merely economy.

            Homosexual “orientation” has its telos in personal pleasure and forms the basis of the entire argument of St Paul’s epistle to the Romans. For St Paul, these internal desires are the evidence of precisely why the law is unable to save us, since we need to be united to Christ and live in the spirit to be transformed from within (the law is only able to conform the exterior). This argument forms the basis of St Athanasius’ treatise against the Arians and is the cornerstone of all our Christological dogma.

            In short, suggesting that heterosexual “orientation” is not a virtue seems to me to be precisely the problem and such an ides is far more insidious than just letting a few guys in your parish shag without canonical discipline (which I could care less about).

            • Just to be clear, the desire for a sexual act to potentially product children is the virtuous desire. All other sexual desires are inherently disordered, whether heterosexual or homosexual.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Anonymous, excellent points. It never ceases to amaze me that those who claim to believe in Darwinism are now in the forefront to disclaim the engine that drives Darwinism, that is sexual attraction between the sexes. Homoerotic sexual activity itself is nothing but an evolutionary dead-end. (BTW, I’m not a Darwinist.)

                • lexcaritas says


                  I think Fr. Youssef Rassam has raised a number a valid points both about chronology and, as I pointed out yesterday, Fr. Ted Bobosh’s clarification given in the comments section to his blog post wherein he stated that what he meant by his statement about the non-sinfulness of homosexuality was addressed to “same-sex attraction.” However, as I explained also this is a pernicious position for the reasons more succinctly laid out by Anonymous in his two posts above. The accord with matters more fully explained previously by Fr. Dcn. Brian yesterday and also by our brother Serpahim.

                  As for Fr. Youssef’s concerns, it would be good to take them seriously. They are helpful, and surely accord with a search for accuracy, prudence, fairness and the truth.


        • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

          Exactly. It is a deduction and not a “documented fact”. You conclusion clearly states the difference and asserts that: “None of the above is speculation. All have been documented as fact.” That statement of yours is false, on many, many counts.

          There is such an enormous difference between saying, as you do: – It is a documented fact that several bishops and Archpriest on the Met Council reject the teaching of the Church– and saying-I have deduced that several bishops and Archpriest on the Met Council reject the teaching of the Church.

          I must say that I take umbridge at your crack about symbolic logic when you present arguments that assume what they claim to prove.

          Stop pouring gas on the fire.

          BTW, I clearly indicated my discomfort with the “orientation” approach adopted by Fr Ted, which is the only way that sentence you quote above can make any sense. I am not writing to carry water for him. I am asking you to stop making objectively false statements. Stop pouring gas on the fire.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Fr Yousef, it is a deduction. One based on the “argument from silence.” The fact that a person who is unrepentant can serve on the MC is a scandal in and of itself. The fact that the rest of the MC and the HS does not object shows complicity on their part. Whether it is a “documented fact” or not is irrelevant, it is a clear reflection of the reality on the ground at least in this one respect.

            I suppose a case could be made that a bishop or two tried to do something about it and failed,, or that +Jonah decided that it would be better to fight that battle on another front, etc. If so, then the only recourse a man of conscience could have would be to resign, lest his own integrity be called further into question.

            Let me ask you this: if one of your parishioners came to you and asked for your blessing so that he could stand as godfather to a child who was going to be baptized in another denomination, would you give it? If not, why not?

            My pastor would not for the simple reason that as a godfather I have a duty to that child to raise him in the faith of his parents. I can’t discharge that duty because I don’t agree with that faith. In other words, I’d be a hypocrite.

        • Fr. Bobosh’s words are a little ambiguous and questionable.

          However, there is a cohabiting homosexual couple with at least one outwardly-expressed claim to being “married”, and they are kept in good standing at his parish. That’s in clear violation of Church teaching, not only for being same-sex but because the people involved contracted the relationship outside the Church. Both partners and their priest need to answer for this.

          • How does it happen in our Orthodox Church that a priest who is tolerant of such things is permitted to serve on the Metropolitan Council?

            There are huge issues lurking here, it seems to me, far bigger than the current crisis surrounding +Jonah. How have we allowed this spirit of relativism and secular tolerance of homosexuality to attain the highest levels of power in our Church? This is the true scandal.

            • I don’t know, Brendan. Supposedly, (and unfortunately, if it’s true), Archbishop Job of blessed memory was not too worried about them, either.

              I just don’t want people to get hung up on Fr. Bobosh’s blog posting, which is not quite a smoking gun. The wording of the obituary is clear and unambiguous about the status of the relationship between Mark Stokoe and Steve Brown: they are regarded as a married couple by the Stokoe family. That means they present themselves as such and have contracted some kind of marriage, and there’s no way they could have done that without violating one of the precepts of the Church. Getting married outside the Church triggers an automatic excommunication by itself, and that’s if you’re merely heterosexual!

              Furthermore, both of these men are Orthodox, and are AFAIK regarded as members in good standing with their parish while continuing to present themselves as a married couple. There is something terribly wrong with this picture: either Fr. Bobosh is very blind, or he has been condoning this relationship.

              If you think about it, the nature of their relationship really should have been obvious. I have it on good authority (Steel Magnolias) that “all gay men are named Mark, Rick, or Steve.” Mark and Steve. I’ll bet they have track lightin’, too.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Helga, you saved me a lot of time with your reply.

                In the interests of fairness, I read Fr Ted’s blog posting yet again (the third time). On all readings, I was able to discern his distinctions and could see that a fair reading would indicate that he does not approve of same-sex genital contact (forgive me for being so graphic but we’re reduced to this now). At the same time, a fair reading could also indicate that his concern for sin on an abstract level leads him to believe that there’s nothing wrong with the orientation either (which most honest therapists don’t really believe, it’s just that the Stalinist tactics of homosexual agitators in the 70s made them reove homosexuality as a disorder from the DMSR-III).

                Regardless, when the rubber hits the road, all of his abstractions, Talmudic distinctions, and Jesuitical mental gymnasics must be addressed when an openly gay couple present themselves for Communion.

              • otsukafan says

                Lol, Helga, don’t you think it is strange that in all of this “fact defining” that nobody debates the status of stokoe’s sexual practice. Sadly it has been known and accepted for sometime and people want to argue about what bobish meant versus what he does, not understanding how quickly their credibilty emptys like sand through an hourglass in the eyes of the laity.

        • Chris Plourde says

          There is no canon or teaching of the Orthodox Church that declares temptation to be a sin in and of itself.

          That homosexuals are tempted to sexual activity with members of the same sex and heterosexuals are tempted to sexual activity with members of the opposite sex does not mean that the former temptation is a sin and the latter temptation is a virtue.

          This is , to borrow a phrase popular in some political circles, the “plain reading” of
          Fr. Bobosh’s words. Where is his statement that *any* sexual activity outside the bonds of sacramental marriage is allowed? Where is his statement that the teachings of the Orthodox Church are incorrect?

          Far from “clearly” stating that he disagrees with the teaching of the Church, Fr. Bobosh’s comment is in agreement with the long history of Orthodox teaching…that our sin lies in our actions, not in our temptations. Even Jesus was tempted, for cryin’ out loud.

          You’ve made a very serious allegation here based upon your inability to understand someone else. It matters not how many agree with you, it matters more that you are willing to cast such aspersions without first ensuring your interpretation is not in full error.

          To me the real problem for the OCA is that so many on every “side” seem to hope and pray to find people on “the other side” in error in order to justify their views. During this Great Fast everyone is busily devouring his neighbor. Simple Christian charity need not apply.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Chris, as a heterosexual sinner, I don’t believe I’m any better than a homosexual one. If I may pick up on your second paragraph. You are correct, all sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong. This unfortunately is a pregnant phrase anymore, because this begs the question for many people today (not me personally), and that is: “then that’s why we need to have gay ‘marriage’!” Because, if two men are married, they won’t be engaging in sin!

            A. Socrates was a man,
            B. He was a wise man, therefore
            C. All men are Socrates.

            • Chris Plourde says


              I understand your fear about gay marriage, but I don’t see anywhere that Fr. Bobosh “…clearly stated that he does not believe in traditional morality as described by the Orthodox Church.”

              To the contrary, what I do see is how Fr. Bobosh is attempting to bring the Light of Christ to those in darkness, including homosexuals.

              In his own words: “For heterosexuals as well as homosexuals the goal is to overcome self love in order to love God and to love one’s neighbor. Our being disciples means we are always trying to submit our selves, our thoughts, our desires to the Lordship of Christ. Every human is capable of doing this, not just even tempered heterosexuals.”

              Where in this is a clear endorsement of gay marriage or a rejection of the traditional morality of the Orthodox Church? You closed your post with this: “None of the above is speculation. All have been documented as fact.”

              The last time I heard such a statement was when Colin Powell testified at the UN, and like him it seems that you put the words “speculation” and “fact” in each other’s place.

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says


                I won’t defend George’s overstatement of the “facts” (sorry, George), but I will say that he’s right about Fr. Bobosh. In the words you and George quote, Bobosh is basically telling us that there’s nothing wrong with homosexuals that isn’t also wrong with heterosexuals, and that’s just not true. When you compare a man who has sex with female prostitutes with a man who has sex with male prostitutes, you find one thing wrong with the former and two things wrong with the latter — and neither can get right with God until they come clean on all that is wrong with them. That’s the only way any of us can be healed — by admitting not only our willful transgressions but also our conditional deformities, which in Church teaching are not natural but are instead the result of our fallenness. By hiding that truth from those in need of healing, we only make it more difficult for them to be healed.

              • George Michalopulos says


                1. I don’t have a “fear of gay marriage.” I am neither for nor against anything that does not exist. You might as well accuse me of being afraid of unicorns.

                2. As for homosexuals in general, I take to heart William F Buckley’s old dictum: “I’d rather have dinner with Noel Coward than Al Gore.”

                3. As for homosexuals who wish to cohabit under some sort of legal regime, I believe most states have what is called “civil unions.” (If you want to see gay “marriage” implode, then unleash divorce lawyers on them.)

                4. Even though I believe that there is no such thing as gay “marriage” I would drop my resistance to its implementation on the state level only if the Fourteenth Amendment is repealed.

                • Chris Plourde says


                  I wrote you had a “fear about gay marriage” not a “fear of gay marriage.”

                  As self-relevatory as you were, you managed to not respond to a single point I raised.


                  • Chris, just what is the difference between “about” and “of”? I’m just an Okie, so talk real slow.

                  • Chris Plourde says


                    The difference between “of” and “about ” is that they express different relationships between “your fear” and “gay marriage.”

                    “Your fear of rats” would be a statement that you are afraid of rats, that they give you the heebie-jeebies, that you might cry “Eeek!” if you saw one.

                    “Your fear about rats” would require context to understand properly, are we talking about rats in the grain elevator, rats chewing up the harnesses, rat droppings in the coffee, or something else that the rats are having an impact on?

                    The context here is the moral teaching of the Orthodox Church. You set it with your declaration regarding Fr. Bobosh.

                    Back on March 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm I posted to this thread a comment that I could not find where Fr. Bobosh denied the moral teaching of the Orthodox Church, and that far from being fact this was speculation at best. You haven’t responded to the substance of that post.

                  • Chris, the “difference” to me as elucidated by you is without a “distinction.” To be honest, better men than me have shredded Bobosh’s increasingly fine and nebulous nuances. To be sure, they would stand on their own if he only taught theology rather than placed it in action —theoria vs praxis.

                    Unfortunately, as a pastor of a parish, he oversees praxis, doesn’t he? Leaving aside his convoluted reasoning, how does his theory play out in actuality? That’s all I’m asking.

                  • Chris Plourde says

                    The difference between being afraid of rats, and being afraid about rats getting into things but not afraid of the rats themselves, is quite distinctive. You must be a citified Okie, any farmer could tell you the difference in a heartbeat.

                    And with due respect, you wrote that Fr. Bobosh “has clearly stated that he does not believe in traditional morality as described by the Orthodox Church.” And you claimed “None of the above is speculation. All have been documented as fact.”

                    If this were a question I’d expect to see a question mark.

                    No-one has shown where, exactly, Fr. Bobosh “clearly stated that he does not believe in traditional morality as described by the Orthodox Church.” For that matter, no-one has shown how his “nebulous nuances” read any differently from Jesus’ own words, or how his treatment of homosexuals differs from Jesus’ treatment of prostitutes and tax collectors.

          • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says


            The problem with Fr. Bobosh’s blog and subsequent clarification is that he puts same-sex attraction on par with opposite-sex attraction, plainly saying that neither is inherently good (a “virtue”) or bad (a “sin”) and asking Christians to just get along “regardless of their sexuality.” This is not consistent with Church teaching, which blesses heterosexual attraction as intended by God and condemns same-sex attraction (SSA) as an abomination. It is also not consistent with sound psychology, which sees SSA as a symptom of serious underlying disturbances. Bobosh would have us believe that SSA is merely a personality trait, like being “hot tempered” or “expressive” (his words), but clinical psychologists know that people afflicted with SSA are a troubled lot. Just take a look at the website of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (narth.com).

            • Chris Plourde says

              Deacon Brian,

              I’ve been happily married for more than 35 years to a psychotherapist whose clientele includes children and adults, married and single, “straight” and “gay.” That does not make me a psychologist, of course, but it has resulted in some insight.

              Human sexuality and sexual attraction is far more complex thing than you seem willing to allow. There is a difference between “serious underlying disturbances” on a psychological level and those conditions that simply are.

              We have walking among us, for example, people who were born with the properly formed genitalia of both sexes. How would you label them, from a psychological standpoint? Would you consider their physical state a result of some serious underlying psychological disturbance, or would you consider their psychological state to arise from their physical state?

              And in your compassion for these people, how would you help them come to the light of Christ? Would you require them to deny their state at birth? Would you require them to undergo surgery to “fix” the condition?

              • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                I’m sorry, Chris, but I really don’t see the relevance of what you’re now saying. You seem to be saying that SSA is simply natural (“conditions that simply are”) and therefore not a psychological problem. That’s the gay line and the belief of many people (even many professionals) who have been taken in by pro-gay propaganda, but it’s not the Church’s position or the position of responsible psychologists.

                If you want to compare credentials, I’ve written three books on gender issues, and so I’ve had many occasions to consult the scholarly literature on the subject. I did assume that you hadn’t done such reading (most straight guys haven’t) and that you didn’t see what’s wrong with Bobosh’s position because you didn’t know much about homosexuality. Perhaps you know more than I assumed, but it’s hard to tell based on your second comment.

                • Chris Plourde says

                  Deacon Brian,

                  I thought I was clear that I have no credentials. I’m an Orthodox Christian who’s been married a long time to an equally Orthodox psychotherapist. (If you think that’s easy, guess again.) Since I like to know what we’re talking about when we talk about things psychological I try to keep up, but that’s hardly “credentials.”

                  I raised the issue of differentiating between those things we can change and those we cannot. But since you didn’t understand, forgive me for being blunt: Can you make a person with same sex attraction into a person with opposite sex attraction?

                  You stated that homosexuality is the result of “serious underlying disturbances” in a person’s psychology. That raises another question to a layman like me: Is that underlying disturbance the result of the individual’s sin or his parent’s sin?

                  One other question. Your statement about the relative sinfulness of a heterosexual and a homosexual going to a prostitute would seem to indicate that even when a sexual sin seems similar, homosexuals are objectively greater sinners. Is that how you understand your comment?

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Chris, it’s inchoate in most civilized cultures that there’s something “wrong” about SSA. Even in ancient Greece, homosexuality was viewed by many as a necessary evil. And its acceptance was attended by two equally disturbing trends: misogyny and pedophilia.

                    It was Freud who took it up a notch and said that it was the result of deep underlying psychological disorders. His views carried the day until the 1970s. (And I’m not a fan of Freud, some of what he wrote was balderdash.)

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    Thanks, Chris. These questions are more to the point, if still somewhat accusatory. I’ll answer each of them.

                    “I raised the issue of differentiating between those things we can change and those we cannot. But since you didn’t understand, forgive me for being blunt: Can you make a person with same sex attraction into a person with opposite sex attraction?”

                    Bluntly, yes. Of course, I would qualify that by saying “not me personally but others who know how.” I would also point out the obvious — that a lot depends on the specific person with SSA. Clinical psychologists have helped many people escape SSA and assume normal sexual attractions and relations. Therapy is most effective when begun early, before SSA becomes physical. After it becomes physical, the problem is compounded by sexual addiction. As with any difficult psychological disorder, not every patient responds to therapy and results vary case by case, but that’s no reason to give up hope and not try. It certainly doesn’t justify condoning SSA. After all, we don’t say to alcoholics, “That’s just the way you are, and since there’s nothing you can do about it, we won’t hold it against you.”

                    “You stated that homosexuality is the result of ‘serious underlying disturbances’ in a person’s psychology. That raises another question to a layman like me: Is that underlying disturbance the result of the individual’s sin or his parent’s sin?”

                    Gender identity disorders are largely the result of inadequate parenting. For various reasons, the child fails to identify himself with the parent of the same gender and instead takes after the parent of the opposite gender. Later, as the child begins to act on his disordered desires, he compounds his own problem. I’ve written more on this here if you’re interested.

                    “Your statement about the relative sinfulness of a heterosexual and a homosexual going to a prostitute would seem to indicate that even when a sexual sin seems similar, homosexuals are objectively greater sinners. Is that how you understand your comment?”

                    I didn’t speak of “sinfulness”; I spoke of something being “wrong” and of “wrongs” including both “willful transgressions” and “conditional deformities.” I avoided the word “sin” because to many people it only means willful transgressions, and the main point I have been making is that we can’t concern ourselves with just the willful transgressions; we need to recognize SSA as a serious psychological disorder that is not natural, not healthy, and ought not be condoned or overlooked.

                    Hope this helps.

      • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

        Dear George,

        I appreciate that you will take some more time on this. I am now willing to get on my knees and beg when I ask you to read carefully.

        As for who leaked to Bp Tikhon: Don’t be dense. You and I both know perfectly well that an email can be forwarded numerous times, to innumerable recipients. I said that was a small point , and yet it is the first thing you respond to, and at some length. I only mentioned it as a small point because a) it was a good, clear example of assumption being passed off as “documented fact”, and b) you used your assumption in your psudo-screwtape writings to elaborate, as in “no honor among thieves”. It was clearly a “fact” that you had dwelt on.

        As to “backlash”, again, please read carefully. I will endeavor to be clear. I don’t think that anyone would deny that there are all sorts of “backlash” going on, but more on that in a moment

        Your chronology presents Mark Stokoe’s email as the starting point, and then has several points listed under “backlash”, which is to say that they are presented as if they are a response to Stokoe’s plotting.

        Yet your “Backlash” points begin with things that happened before Stokoe wrote the email, and shift in the middle of point two, to things that occurred at the Synod meeting.

        You wrote:
        “1. HB shut down the servers and/or some personal computers in Syosset upon hearing about the plot against him.

        2. Fr Alexander Garklavs, the Chancellor of the OCA, was in some way part of this conspiracy. +Jonah fired him, but he fought back, stating that he reported only to the Holy Synod. “

        All of that occurred before the Mark Stokoe email, which we know because these events are described in Stokoe’s email and in fact are the pretext for him writing. Those events are in no way something that happened since Stokoe wrote. You then continue:

        In the interim, the Holy Synod upheld Garklav’s firing and “accepted his resignation,” then informed him two days later that they had done so.

        This occurred at the meeting in Santa Fe, and the days after that meeting.

        In fact, my first post was only a beginning of the problems in your telling. The Metropolitan responded to the SMPAC report, (and not to Stokoe’s plot) by firing Fr. Alexander Garklavs and Fr Eric Tosi, and locking them out of their computers because they were fired. None of this is clear from your retelling. Your retelling confuses rather than clarifying.

        I understand that you may think that the SMPAC report and Stokoe’s plot are all of a piece. But you do not establish that by assuming it at the outset. Again, I have asked you to carefully read Stokoe’s email and carefully distinguish what is claimed about whom. If you want to use it as evidence, you have to pay attention to what it actually says. It clearly represents the four bishops whom you name as co-conspiritors, and whom you falsely allege are recipients of the email, are responding to those actions of the Metropolitan.

        This is the second time I have written to you where you were making documented mistakes in identifying the “four bishops” and their actions.

        I didn’t and don’t deny that there is a backlash against OCAnews and Mark Stokoe. What on earth would make you think that I did? (I feel I have to repeat, please read carefully). It is important when establishing a chain of events, especially when so many people are in strong “reaction” mode, to be clear who is reacting to what.

        Please note among the most egregious things you have said:
        1. That the four bishops were recipients of Mark Stokoe’s email.
        2. That Faith Skordinski alleged that Fr Alexander Garklavs was massaging the report make the Metropolitan look bad.

        These are much more significant in your telling of the events than the points you chose to respond to already. You call both documented facts. One has but to read the list of recipients on the one hand and Skordinski’s email on the other to know that these are simply not true.

        I do not think that it is too much for one Christian to ask another Christian when presenting what claims to be a list of documented facts presented in chronological order, that the items actually be documented facts, and the order chronological. I do not think that it is too much to ask that you actually check your facts and display an ability to distinguish between fact and conjecture before you make accusations against the bishops of our Church, or indeed anyone else. I do not think that it is too much to ask someone who has a whole post entitled “More inaccuracies in OCANews…” show at least some effort to be accurate himself.

        I already stated that I thought the emails of Mark Stokoe and Faith Skordinski were egregious. (For the record, I plan to write to my diocesan representatives on the Metropolitan Council regarding those emails). But I am not writing to them. I am writing to you. You are not helping present facts. You are not helping the Church. You, in fact, are not helping the Metropolitan. You are pouring gas on the fire. Please stop.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Fr, please get off your knees, I’m just a fallible man. I’d like to discuss only the e-mail which you said is a “small point.” I couldn’t disagree more. While you are right that this could have been forwarded innumerable times before it got to +Tikhon, I rather doubt it, as I will explain soon. Let us for the sake of argument accept your point, then that would mean that there are many people “in the loop” and also many people who didn’t like the tenor of the e-mail. As to why it ended up in FitzGerald’s hands, I can only speculate.

          Regardless of how it got there, it did. As to why I doubt that it passed through several screens, it’s because I think given the timeline, such a multiplicity of factors violates the principle of Occam’s Razor, which states “don’t multiply variables needlessly.” For instance, just because I have e-mail doesn’t mean I read it everyday. I imagine many people are like this. Any number of the people in this theoretical chain would necessarily increase the time necessary for it to get out if there was a one-to-one transmission. If on the other hand, there was a ten-to-ten squared transmission, then I could see it getting out much faster.

          Unfortunately, I can’t believe the latter because if there was a geometric progression to the leaked e-mail, then it would have appeared on the internet from multiple sources, not just +Tikhon. Therefore it seems reasonable to believe that someone (and perhaps one other person) surreptitiously sent this e-mail to the retired bishop, who thence leaked it to the blogosphere.

          Of course, there is another question that vexes me a little, and that is that FitzGerald was “retired” from the Holy Synod and he was viewed as somewhat of a goofy character. I can’t imagine him being on anybody who was anybody’s list of contacts.

          I will try to deal with your other points tomorrow. I just returned from Presanctified Liturgy and my bed awaits.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Fr Yousef, please understand, I did not comment on the appropriateness of the e-mails in question, only their existence and what was printed in them. As I’ve said numerous times, we may very well be dealing with the Captain Ahab-like revenge fantasies of our very Jauvert. I don’t know. What I do know is that the original e-mail has caused a remarkable controversy that activated the keyboards of many bloggers, myself included.

          Please read my words carefully: I never said that there was no controversy/crisis before the leaked e-mail, only that it entered a new stage after it was leaked.

          As to your point about the “crisis” that existed, that is arguable in that the vast majority of the people in the OCA (myself included) knew absolutely nothing at all about the tensions which existed within the Holy Synod, Syosset, MC, etc. It may very well be that a crisis did exist within these circles, but the concern of many of us has been to raise questions about them. We have that right, especially if it appears that there is an active campaign to get rid of our Metropolitan.

          • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

            You write on march 24th, “Please read my words carefully: I never said that there was no controversy/crisis before the leaked e-mail, only that it entered a new stage after it was leaked.”

            You wrote on March 23rd: “I am sorry, but I do not believe it is anywhere in evidence that the “crisis” was “already underway” before the “egregious” e-mails. This is not a “documented fact” (as you state) but the assertion of Mark Stokoe. “ In fact, until I post this, your post of March 23 appears on the screen just below your post of march 24.

            I say the e-mail is a not a small point. It certainly isn’t. What is a small point is your claim that one of the recipients sent it to Bp. Tikhon. A small point, but one of many things which you mis-identified as a known and documented fact.

    • George Michalopulos says

      As to your last paragraph, I am sorry, but I do not believe it is anywhere in evidence that the “crisis” was “already underway” before the “egregious” e-mails. This is not a “documented fact” (as you state) but the assertion of Mark Stokoe. It is certainly possible that this is the opinion of several people besides Stokoe who don’t like +Jonah’s management style, but you have no independent reference to back up that assertion. So no, based on your own criteria, it’s not a “documented fact.” I do believe that it is a reasonable assumption however. (BTW, I just spoke with a bishop who is on the other side in this matter but I will respect his confidentiality, I cannot bring forward his opinion as “documented fact,” simply because I cannot document it.)

      • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

        Dear George,

        OK, if we aren’t going to trust Stokoe’s telling of the events of early February, what documented sources are you quoting when you write “1. HB shut down the servers and/or some personal computers in Syosset upon hearing about the plot against him.

        2. Fr Alexander Garklavs, the Chancellor of the OCA, was in some way part of this conspiracy. +Jonah fired him, but he fought back, stating that he reported only to the Holy Synod. ”

        Do you think that Stokoe’s email was intended for future general consumption? I rather doubt it. So we are to believe that he wrote a conspiritorial letter the revelation of which shows the conspiracy and must be trusted on that point, but must be wholly disregarded as to the motives and context of the conspirators? We must trust that he correctly knows and tells what the Synod members are thinking but not why? We must believe that the members of the Synod agree with his assessments and his hopes, that they hope to put into place his “personal note”, even though his email doesn’t even claim that. But we must regard the pretext for writing the email as wholly spurious?

        I think Stokoe may well have spun his telling of the events in early February. But to have wholly invented them would make his email nonsensical. If the email is that untrustworthy, your proof of conspiracy is gone.

        If you want to argue that Stokoe spun the events of early Feb., if you want to argue that they shouldn’t have been a crisis, fine. Do so, hopefully with some evidence.

        Right now, it seems to me you freely quote, and misquote Stokoe’s email and you do so based upon what you wish to assert at the moment, not based on a coherent reading.

        You were the one who wrote:
        “Just what do we know? What can be proven? Let’s enumerate them one by one: ….
        None of the above is speculation. All have been documented as fact.”

        Is it a documented fact, something proven, that nothing happened that could cause alarm in the Synod and Met Council in early February?

        Also, Faith Skordinski’s first leaked email, which mocks the Synod of Bishops for wanting to deal with matters with the help of the Holy Spirit at their conciliar synodal meeting in Santa Fe, makes no sense if there weren’t some matters to resolve.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Now I can’t sleep.

          Yes, I don’t believe that Garklav was part of something conspiratorial. It certainly looked that way to +Jonah who got wind of something shady going on. That’s why he appealed his firing to the Holy Synod but that didn’t work out for him, did it? They upheld +Jonah’s firing of him. Why did they do so, because they didn’t like the way he combed his hair?

          No, I don’t believe that Stokoe’s e-mail was for “future gneral consumption.” Most conspirators don’t like to broadcast their intentions. That’s why there was doubt about the veracity of The Protocols of the Esteemed Elders of Zion from the get-go. That’s why I’m sure he’s mortified that it’s leaked out. If nothing else, it took the wind out of his sails and he’s no longer viewed as a dispassionate observer.

          As for the contents of the e-mail, or the telling of the events in the broad sense, I never doubted that there was some truth to Stokoe’s accounts. I still don’t. Read my earlier posts, I have lauded him in the past. I don’t believe that he is a liar and never said such. All I did from about three weeks ago was point glaring inaccuracies in some of his “facts.” I also point out places where the context is horribly twisted. I can’t dispute all the particular of his story and have no intention of doing so. As I’ve said, I understand that there’s bad blood between +Jonah and several in Syosset. That’s not the issue here. What I do want to point out is that Stokoe clearly has an agenda, and he’s not forthright about it. That’s a big difference but a necessary one. And I want ordinary people to know that there is a nefarious agenda here that is destructive to the Church.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I didn’t want to speculate about the inner workings of the Holy Synod, that’s why I didn’t present anything about them in February as documented fact. My point was this: neither can Stokoe, unless he was either (a) present at the Holy Synod, (b) had electronic eavesdropping equipment, or (c) both of the above.

          The option of a bishop or two leaking the story to Stokoe is not necessarily probitive of his narrative. The reason is because: (a) the bishop may be lying to him, (b) Stokoe may have misheard the recounting, or (c) he could be making it up. Regardless, unless a bishop signs an affidavit stating that what Mark said is true, then all we are ultimately dealing with is hearsay.

          As for Faith Skordinski’s leaked e-mail which “mocks” the bishops, I agree with you, it clearly paints a very parlous picture of a Church in crisis. But in actually reading Skordinki’s e-mail, it blames ALL the bishops for their lack of organizational acumen. Using this e-mail to buttress Stokoe’s +Jonah-hating agenda is illogical since it showers contempt on them all, not just +Jonah.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Fr Yousef, regarding my comment from the servers I only get that from Stokoe’s e-mail. I see your point, I accepted it as “documented fact” because I got it from the leaked e-mail (which I still believe started this round of the scandal). So, you are right, I was wrong based on my own criteria.

          I will say however that this event was confirmed to me by a primary source but since I can’t reveal that source I can’t proffer it as “documented fact” (although it does corroborate Stokoe’s version.

          Though this was sloppy of me and so I apologize.

          That being said, then what can we know for a fact? Only that there was a leaked e-mail in which several things are asserted as fact and that these assertions describe a detailed conspiracy to get rid of +Jonah. If we’re going to play the game of ontological certitude, all we can know is that this one e-mail came from one man who sent it to several other people who may or may not be part of this conspiracy. As to its contents, it all may be the produce of a febrile mind that has an especial animus for one of the parties involved and in which the level of analysis within it tells us that the author is either (a) megalomaniacal, (b) delusional, or (c) single-minded in his desire to remove +Jonah.

          Let us be done with all these caveats however and come to the nub: both you and I believe that there is a crisis and that much of what Stokoe wrote is factual (at least general sense in that there are facts within it just very little context and almost no perspective).

    • lexcaritas says

      Thank you, Fr. Youssef. Careful observations all.


  4. Thank you Fr. Yousuf for providing some valuable insights into this unfortunate situation. I agree with your careful and balanced observations of the issues and the need for moderation in discerning the truth.

  5. Carl Kraeff says

    I think you would be much more believable if (a) you take the private life of Mark Stokoe and the opinions of the retired +Tikhon off of the timetable; (b) corrected your time table in accordance with the most helpful input you have received so far, primarily from Father Youssuf, and (c) did not omit the elephants in the room–the autocephaly of the OCA and the authority of the Metropolitan. Regarding the latter two issues, we do not know all of the facts but, if you read the Public Minutes of the Santa Fe meeting (one of the very factual documents that we have on hand), you will notice that they are indeed issues that were on the agenda. Also, not mentioned by you is the fact that at Santa Fe, the Holy Synod was divided in most matters into two camps: +Jonah in the one camp, and all of the rest in the other camp. It really does not take a great analyst to figure out that this does not make a cabal or conspiracy.

    Now, the rest of the Holy Synod may be wrong but are we or are we not a conciliar church (forget about the laity for)? Process is most important but I have seen how many capable, enthusiastic and committed leaders (a rare breed indeed) have come to regard process as an obstacle to their most cherished projects and to disregard due process. In our case, due process would be Canon 34 and I really would love to hear you dissect this issue. I would also love to have you look into the allegations that +Jonah had been exploring substituting “maximal autonomy under Moscow” for our autocephaly. I am not urging you to consider rumors and such, but why in the world is the Holy Synod keeps reaffirming our autocephaly? Usually there is fire where there is smoke, no? These are the issues that are important and urgent, not the private life of Stokoe.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Carl, as I’ve repeated ad nauseam I don’t give a rat’s rear-end about the private life of any man, Stokoe included. What I do care about is his admitted power over the Metropolitan Council and by extension, the Holy Synod. Again, please read what I wrote very carefully: his admitted power over the MC…and the HS. This statement is based on own his words from his own blog, not mine, not Helga’s. You should care as well, that is if you care about the good order of the Church.

      As to from whence this “power” derives, I can’t say with ontological certitude, but I think you’re a big enough fella that I’m not going to have to draw you a picture. -which of course is why his private life is germane. To be fair, we must consider the fact that he’s lying, if so, then he’s an idiot..

      As for the Minutes of the Holy Synod, I read them. All it said in between agenda items was “Discussion followed.” Okay. I guess my computer didn’t have the resolution needed to read the .pdf that was contained in the words “Discussion followed.” And how do you know that “all” of the other bishops were “in one camp” while +Jonah was “in the other camp”? Were you there? Was Stokoe? And if it was leaked information, then how can we know that the leaker was not blowing smoke? Your trust in OCANews’ recounting of the event could be substantiated if it revealed the name(s) of the leaker(s). Why doesn’t it?

      As for your concerns about me not considering “rumors and such” regarding +Jonah’s supposed squishiness re our autocephaly, you contradict yourself and reference “only allegations.” So which is it?

  6. Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

    Dear George,

    I have appreciated your clear civility in tone, and I am sorry to have to write such a strong message to you.

    You have so far failed to address two obvious and very serious mistakes.

    You state in this recap that the “appalled four” bishops were recipients of Stokoe’s conspiracy email. That is not true. It is demonstrably false. You have failed to address this. You have failed to correct it.

    You state that “It was alleged by Skordinski that Garklavs did so in order to make +Jonah look worse than the facts as actually reported. ” That is not true, Skordinski does not say that or anything like that in her leaked email. OCATruth conjectured that based on Skordinski’s email, but Skordinski does not make that allegation as you clearly and wrongly state. You have failed to address this, and you have failed to correct it.

    On the points you have addressed, you have admitted that that your “documented facts” are deductions or assumptions, sometimes based on “The argument from silence”.

    In your subsequent blog posts, you continue to advertise link backs to this “Recap” post of yours, and it is advertised on OCATruth, Not everyone, including those whom you invite, (or whom OCATruth invites,) to view the “Recap” will slog through all the comments, or be able to discern what (you must realize by now) are mistakes or over-statements.

    Your failure to “man up” to your mistakes and carelessness is now plainly rising to the level of bearing false witness, making inflammatory statements and, I am afraid, lying. I do not believe that you actually want to bear false witness and to lie.

    I am not demanding ontological certitude of you. I am asking that you take responsibility for your own truth claims. Documented facts are things that are clearly stated in the available documentary evidence. Deductions from that is something other. Your post clearly knows the difference, it simply fails to accurately apply it to the claims made.

    You may easily rectify this by adding a statement to the beginning admitting that you have come to realize that not all of the “facts” are as fully documented as you originally claimed, and specifically retracting your false claims about the four bishops being original recipients of the “conspiracy email”, and that Skordinski made that allegation against Fr. Alexander that she did not make.

    I remind you that this is the second false claim you have made through lack of care about the “four bishops” and this is worse than your last. (About the Burke case) in that the list of recipients is available and includes no bishops at all. All this while going on about other people’s credibility and inaccuracies.

    As for all the heat about Fr. Theodore Bobosh and homosexuality, in the many posts many people have made many comments on many related issues. Hardly any have even tried to establish your original statement that he “has clearly stated that he does not believe in traditional morality as described by the Orthodox Church.” which is tantamount to calling him an open and contumacious heretic, a very serious charge. You yourself admit it is a deduction, in which case it is not a “clear statement”. Other have pointed to questionable pastoral decisions. Again, not “clear statements”. Yet others (frankly, including myself) have questioned his thinking about orientation as a category, which again, is not the same thing. You did quote his original statement, but it is qualified by his own comments there on his original post, and by his approving linking to that story on Orthodoxy Today which is a vigorously traditional narrative. If you were to qualify your claim with a noteto the effect that he makes questionable/confusing statements and pastoral decisions related to sexual morality, I would consider that a very welcome qualification and correction. (BTW if that was your only mis-statement I probably would not have commented, but it is one dubious inflammatory claim amongst many.

    You wrote recently in my response to using it as evidence of an existing problem:
    As for Faith Skordinski’s leaked e-mail which “mocks” the bishops, I agree with you, it clearly paints a very parlous picture of a Church in crisis. But in actually reading Skordinki’s e-mail, it blames ALL the bishops for their lack of organizational acumen. Using this e-mail to buttress Stokoe’s +Jonah-hating agenda is illogical since it showers contempt on them all, not just +Jonah.”

    You are trying to make me carry water for Stokoe, or are assuming that I do. You also praise Helga for being on your side.

    It is fair for me to reveal (at least some of) my own position. I think there has been a large breakdown in the Synod’s relationship. I desperately hope and pray that it may be healed – so that we can have Met. Jonah and the other bishops on the Synod working together; which is the only way that they, and we with them, can achieve our potential. Let’s let them work it out, like Bp. Mark Maymon suggested. I think that unfounded accusations and everyone lining up on “sides” makes the healing I hope for near impossible. Inflammatory websites damage my hopes. OCATruth more or less repeatedly says we must choose between supporting the Metropolitan or the Synod. I refuse to believe that. Yes, I know that Mork Stokoe might be considered inflammatory at times, but look at the sheer volume you and OCATruth churn out! Y’all are leaving Mark in the dust. And frankly Mark, whatever his problems, is more careful than this post of yours. I also believe that to press the conspiracy thing to the degree that you do means we have to believe a whole lot of evil of a whole lot of people.

    Please consider the implications for the good of the Church, and also for your own salvation, and the ethical imperative to not bear false witness.

    God bless you.

    Fr Yousuf

    • Fr, thank you for your reproof. Ultimately however (and based on the criteria that you demand of 100% ontological certitude), then we really don’t “know” anything at all do we?

      As I said in another post/thread/blog, it’s possible that we are all responding to mere allegations in an e-mail that Mark Stokoe generated a month ago and was surreptitiously leaked. After all, how can we know (again, based on your criteria) that anything Stokoe said was factual? How indeed can we know that anything he has published in the past is factual as well?

      • Carl Kraeff says

        This is far too clever to have come out of a person of your intelligence. If you really believe that, you would have changed the very first of your polemics from “Just what do we know? What can be proven? Let’s enumerate them one by one:” to “What you are about to read is sheer conjecture that I am posting here for the heck of it. And, if in the process I injure the reputations of bishops, clergy and laity, no problem, for I am the George and immune either to logic or probity.”

        • George Michalopulos says

          Carl, it is Mark Stokoe who has “injured” the reputations of the bishops, not me. I didn’t name them in a memo as being part of an anti-+Jonah cabal (how else could I read the words “The Appalled Four”?) The fact that these four bishops subsequently took positions of authority from +Jonah certainly lends itself to the possibility of a cabal, doesn’t it?

          And no, what I wrote is not “sheer conjecture,” except in this one sense: that we really don’t know if the contents of the leaked e-mail are in fact true or merely the ravings of a megalomaniac, who admits that he has the goods on some people in high places.

          Sorry Carl, not only does the original leaked e-mail speak for itself, but Stokoe’s “Comments” on his blog which Helga has taken great pains to bring to our attention.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            He wrote that private email but he did not publish them and you did not have to pour gasoline on the fire by further publicizing this email. The words ‘the appalled four” does not mean a “cabal’ in the vocabulary of a neutral person. Also, those four bishops were apparently joined by all the other bishops who were in Santa Fe, including +Jonah, who agreed with them repeatedly. The question to be asked is whether +Jonah lied to them in Santa Fe or if he changed his mind after wards. I pray and hope it is the latter, but if that were the case, it would constitute additional evidence that +Jonah wiggles when cornered and then goes on doing exactly what he had agreed not to do. This is the record and this is what folks like me were attributing to leadership style. However, it is becoming increasingly hard to be charitable toward the Metropolitan when his supporters are waging a scorched earth policy replete with ugly insinuations and outright misrepresentations of the record. Bottom line: if I were to advise +Jonah today, I would tell him to denounce Father Fester, the OCA Truth and you.

            • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

              “Bottom line: if I were to advise +Jonah today, I would tell him to denounce Father Fester, the OCA Truth and you.”

              I assume Fr. Fester’s name is there because it is widely thought that he is influential if not central in the OCATruth effort. But of course, as I keep insisting on such clarity, we don’t actually know that. Perhaps what you’re after is something which simply says that the Met does not wish his own reputation to be built up at the expense of the rest of the bishops and vast swathes of the OCA.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Fr Yousuf, what exactly is it that Fr Fester did that merits your hatred of him? I imagine if he did do something that he would have been defrocked by now. Why didn’t your bishop and his colleagues do that? What’s stopping them now?

                • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

                  Kyr Michalopoulos,

                  You are hitting at things in your own head, arguing with figments of your own imagination.

                  Anyone who actually read my response knows that I did not express a feeling about Fr Fester at all, rather a bit of advice to Carl that he leave off an unproven rumor about Fr. Fester.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Carl, and if I were to advise +Jonah today, I would tell him to denounce Stokoe, his priest and the MC and HS for allowing this situation to continue.

              Also, I get the very real impression that your concern about “gasoline” shows very clearly that the febrile analyses that Stokoe put into the e-mail have left the +Jonah-haters shaken. And of course the fact that it was leaked in the first place must further complicate their sleep patterns.

              The bad faith shown by this camp is apparent to a blind man. What I want to do now is explain why this turn of events came about. Therefore, let me get to the nub of the situation.

              Anybody who thinks that a Lavender Mafia will act to ensure the integrity of the Church is deluded. Such conspiratorial actions are part and parcel of all gay cabals. The internal level of distrust that exists within them invariably leads to leaking, backbiting, backstabbing, and so forth. Gay cabals always implode. The question is how much damage can they do on their way down?

              Carl, what is going on right now is a cleansing of the Church. Usually it happens via the medium of persecution. We don’t have that option right now in America, so the Holy Spirit is using the arrogance of flagrant sinners (as opposed to repentant ones) to bring about their own self-destruction. It is a simple impossibility for such unrepentance to last in any form for more than “a season.”

            • George Michalopulos says

              Carl, no, the question is not “whether +Jonah lied to them in Santa Fe”? Outside of Stokoe’s unsourced reportage how do you know what anything was said in Santa Fe? Were you there? Did a bishop tell you what went on? If so, can you assure me that he wasn’t yanking your chain? Etc.

      • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

        Dear George,

        I wrote:

        “I am not demanding ontological certitude of you. I am asking that you take responsibility for your own truth claims. Documented facts are things that are clearly stated in the available documentary evidence. Deductions from that is something other. Your post clearly knows the difference, it simply fails to accurately apply it to the claims made.”

        You respond:
        “Ultimately however (and based on the criteria that you demand of 100% ontological certitude), then we really don’t “know” anything at all do we? ”

        George, do you know what a non sequiter is?

        Are you going to retract your false claim that bishops were original recipients of the Stokoe email?

        Are you going to retract your false statement that “It was alleged by Skordinski that Garklavs did so in order to make +Jonah look worse than the facts as actually reported. ”

        Are you going to qualify in accordance with the evidence at hand your accusations against Fr . Ted Bobosh?

        Are you going to qualify your claim that your recap is a list of proven, documented facts?

        Do you believe in the Ninth Commandment?

        Do you really believe that making false accusations helps His Beatitude or anyone else?

        How on earth do you dare to question anyone else’s “credibility” whilst stubbornly persisting in bearing false witness?

        • George Michalopulos says

          Fr, forgive me, I failed to retract the claim that the four bishops were recipients of Stokoe’s original e-mail. That was an oversight on my part and I hereby retract it. That really doesn’t change the reality on the ground, does it?

          As for the Ninth Commandment, you might ask Fr Garklavs whether he believes it or not.

          My statement regarding regarding Skordinski as reported by me is not “false.” The words of Skordinski’s e-mail speaks for itself. Whether they actually reflect reality or not I have no way of knowing. For the sake of argument, I don’t know whether Michael Jackson was a pederast or not. The issue was never settled in a court of law. However, I would never have sent my sons to Neverland Ranch even though it was a miniature Disneyland.

          • George Michalopulos says

            And yes, I do know what a non sequitur is. I did not engage in one. I merely asked what do we know about the contents of Stokoe’s original e-mail that are demonstrably true? I’m certainly open to the possibility that most everything stated therein was correct, but unless the bishops and/or the recipients respond one way or the other, we can’t ever really know, can we?

            It would seem that a rigorous journalist would want to get to the bottom of this. After all, it is this e-mail which has sparked a lion’s share of the controversy.

            • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

              Dear George,

              I demonstrated your extremely obvious non sequiter with direct quotes. After that I asked you if you knew what one was, as a rhetorical question.

              It referred to you disputing my alleged demand for “100% ontological certitude” in response to a post of mine where I explicitly did not demand it, but rather reminded you of the standard you set yourself with your wording of your post. I have demonstrated repeatedly that you did not meet your own standard as worded. You have been forced to now admit in every case that I have drawn attention too that your assertions were not “documented proven facts”. Except one.

              You say that Skordinski’s leaked email speaks for itself. OK George, please quote exactly where Skordinski claims Garklavs was motivated to embarrass the Met. Quote your proof, dang it! If it is clear, provable, and documented you should be able to demonstrate that easily.

              Good feast to you and happy Hellenic independence day.

              • otsukafan says

                Fr. Yousef,

                With your blessing please permit me to ask your opinion of Fr. Bobosh’s veiws on homosexuality if it is true that an openly gay couple was serving in his parish as active communicants. I am not asking you to confirm as fact but merely state your veiw if it was known to be true.

                • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

                  Dear Otsukafan,

                  May the blessing of the Lord come upon you.

                  As George has, as far as I can understand his intention, asked me not to address homosexuality on his blog, I do not feel that I can permit myself to transgress his boundaries, to attempt to answer your question.

                  If you are asking in good faith, and you actually want to know what I think and are open real communication, I am quite willing to dialogue with you (as time permits). There is an email address available for me on the clergy directory of the OCA website, and, under the circumstances already outlined, I believe I would welcome the opportunity.

                  If your question is rhetorical and/or meant merely to draw me into acknowledging the problems in Fr. Ted’s positions and actions, I can only say that my comments already posted clearly state my what I objected to in accusations against him, and I think also have given fair indication/implication of what I think could be legitimately said about that in public. If you do not feel that I have been clear, I am willing to try to clarify under the conditions already stated.

                  Again, Happy Feast! (What’s left any way, but the Archangel is tomorrow!)

                  Fr Yousuf

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Fr Yousef, you are under no constraints on this blog. I thnk you are being less than forthcoming with your correspondent. Really answering Otsukafan would be very easy in most circumstances, but because you seem to have a vested interest in defending the present MC regime, you can’t bring yourself to speak plainly, to “let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay.”

                    As to the issue (Stokoe) at hand, all I said about the issue of homosexuality is that I don’t care about individual sinners. What I do care about is:

                    1. whether this open sinner (whether he be thief, murderer, whore-monger, glutton, alcoholic, fan of Desperate Housewives, etc.) is place in position of leadership over me in the Church,

                    2. whether this open sinner is aided, abetted, and comforted in his sin by his pastor, and

                    3. whether his pastor displays open contempt for the concept of Conciliarity and Accountability to his brother presbyters when he allows said flagrant sinner to serve in a position of authority of the Church. In other words, he’s vouchsafed for his good conduct. (Which itself is prima facie evidence of misrepresentation, or a subset of the Ninth Commandment.

                  • otsukafan says

                    Fr. Yousuf,

                    Thank you. I will of course trust to your discernment and follow up with you by email. Thank you for your earnest words and willingness to continue dialogging with me.

                  • otsukafan says


                    I have continued our dialog via email and anxiously await your response.

                  • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

                    Dear George,

                    Having fulfilled my promise to write to Otsukafan, I have decided, upon consideration, to state this:

                    No one who denies the plain meaning, the truth, or continuing relevance of: Leviticus 18: 22 – 23; Acts 15: 28 – 29; Romans 1: 26 – 27; I Corinthians 6: 1 – 11; or I Timothy 1: 8 – 11 or who flagrantly commits the sins therein enumerated can be called an Orthodox Christian in good standing with all that that might include, (which obviously includes being eligible for lay Church office).

                    You write “answering Otsukafan would be very easy in most circumstances, “ Not so. It is not, nor should it ever be easy for one presbyter to comment on the pastoral conduct of a priest in another diocese, particularly if one is not convinced one has all the facts. I am not the bishop there. They will have a consecrated enthroned diocesan in the Mid West soon. He should be able to deal with the specific concern.

                    As to constraints on your blog, in response to a lengthy post of mine on “Yikes! The Russians” outlining and documenting the problems with public statements about the Autocephaly, you responded to exactly 3 words out of 1028 words, (to 19 out of 5778 characters) with the following:

                    “Fr, on the “gay” front thou doth protest too much. As I’ve said time and time again, I care not a whit about any person’s sexual orientation. I DO care very much whether such a person is in position of authority over me or anybody else in the Church. And I very much care that such a person uses extortionist tactics to get what he wants.
                    That’s basically all there is here Fr. Please confine your outrage to these specific topics.”

                    It’s hard to see that as continuing anything like rational discourse. It is hard to comprehend exactly what you meant by that. Is it really your intention to ask those who post on your blog to only have/ express outrage on topics of your selection? I am so far from a champion of the Metropolitan council regime that I deny that the Metropolitan Council has any authority over OCA clergy or laity except, in a limited way, those in the employ of the OCA central Church administration. Anyone who had read what I have written on this recap thread will have noted that I have not expressed approval of the leaked emails, but I have in some specific instances disagreed with what you fell free to construe as fact on their basis.

                    Try to get this, I have said it so many ways. I do not have to like, agree with, or support everything that “the other side” does or says, much less what you imagine the other side to be doing, in order to find your “recap” inaccurate, and your rhetoric inflammatory. I do not like, agree with, or support everything the Mark Stokoe and other members of the Met. Council are doing or saying. Nor would I like, agree with, or support what you imagine them to be doing, if I thought you were right. And I still think you play loose with the facts and don’t seem to care. I still think you are inflammatory.

                    I have given you no reason whatsoever to imagine “vested interest” (do you know that those words mean that I am supposed to personally benefit from the Met. Council system? absurd). I take it that this slur together with your response I quoted above is your descent to personal ad hominem because you choose not to deal with the facts. BTW, you often like to say you hear crickets chirping – that’s what we have heard for since March 23rd to repeated requests that you quote where Skordinski makes the allegation you say she made.

                    You know George, you seem like a nice enough guy, rather jolly even, and well intentioned. I am sorry that I now believe that you are incapable of displaying rudimentary good faith in reading and responding to what I write Dialogue is thus not likely to be fruitful. I am sad that you have not been able to deal with the gravity of your inaccuracies. Allow me to return to the above quoted scriptures, in particular: I Timothy 1: 8 – 11
                    8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
                    You have had quite some time to introduce corrections to your egregious overstatements in your original post. I have documented them. You have evaded the plain meanings, and on a few occasions, after evading and ignoring as long as possible, you have buried a retraction deep in the comments, usually saying at the same time that it doesn’t really matter. All the while you have continued to advertise your falsehoods as a factual telling, and you know it has been so advertised on OCATruth, in fact it is given as one of their introductions to the scandal. Maybe you might consider the Apostle’s placement of “liars and perjurers” in verse 10 above, and think about just what those words mean.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Fr, thank you for your reply. As I’ve said numerous times, I care not a whit for the lifestyle of individuals. And I appreciate your nuanced approach to all this. However, we can take this approach further: would you object to another priest in another diocese who is speaking to groups as a lecturer who ruminates about the validity of certain heresies? How would you feel if it came to your knowledge that Father X in Diocese Y was attending Tea Parties? Etc.

                    What we are talking about here is the appearance of scandal. Specifically Bobosh’s elaborate musings on the nature of sin (which are debatable) and the very real effects of communing two men who have self-identified themselves as a married couple. One of whom is on the parish council the other who is on the MC and who has by his own admission openly defied his Metropolitan.

                    Anything else is commentary.

                • Otsukafan, as part of my Lenten ascesis (such as it is), I have been reading Archbishop +Dmitri Royster’s The Epistle of James: A Commentary. I highly recommend it. (pp 22-25)

                  Perhaps the Apostle has the answer which could unravel Fr Ted’s extremely nuanced view of temptation:

                  “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to those that love Him.” (Jas 1:12)

                  In his exposition on this passage, +Dmitri explains that saints as well as sinners must endure temptation, which is not the sin itself, but what comes from it (should the man in question yield to it).

                  There’s more there, excellent book. I highly recommend it.

  7. Dn Nicholas says

    Carl Kraeff says:
    “Bottom line: if I were to advise +Jonah today, I would tell him to denounce Father Fester, the OCA Truth and you.”
    Well, that would:
    1. Render OCANews as the sole source for latest insider news and analysis
    2. Allow OCANews’ to go unchecked for truthfulness, transparency, and accountability.
    (As anyone with business experience knows, to sole source, or to allow anything to go unchecked, is a very unwise decision.)
    And so, let us pray:
    O Most Holy Theotokos, save us sinners!
    O Victorious Leader of Triumphant Hosts,
    we, your unworthy servants, delivered from evil, sing our grateful thanks to you.
    O Most Holy Theotokos, as you possess invincible might,
    deliver us especially, and finally, from the eternal torments!
    So that with the great cloud of witnesses and all the heavenly hosts
    we may eternally sing to your majesty and your glory:
    Hail, O Champion Leader!
    O Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady, Theotokos, and Ever Virgin Mary,
    and Unwedded Bride.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Deacon, I guess you see the trap: What’s mine is mine and what’s your’s is mine. As a certain correspondent told me the other day, +Jonah should make you, OCAT, etc. “stand down.” OK, fine, how would you feel if he told Stokoe to “stand down”? [the sound of crickets chirping].

      The hypocrisy is stunning, the silence deafenning.

      Really, I am getting close to the point of asking the Fester-hating bishops this one basic question: If he is so evil then why don’t you defrock him? I suppose it’d be too much to ask if he actually did something wrong. I’d have more respect for these men who are beclowning themselves if they came out and said “let’s just defrock him because we hate him.” At least then they’d be honest about their prejudices and they’d be acting on their principles (such as they are).

  8. A Christian Mother says

    I would once again like to thank George and everyone who is seeking to address difficult issues in the Church and to find the truth in the current situation, whatever that may be. It is unfortunate that George’s blog and OCA Truth need to tackle these issues at all, but they did not create the situation. What were concerned Orthodox Christians supposed to do when the first OCA News “report” ferociously assaulted HB several weeks ago? I myself felt physically ill upon reading it. It was quite obviously a “hit piece.”

    I didn’t know and still don’t know which of the “facts” presented in the article were accurate and which were not, but the snide and hubristic tone of the piece spoke for itself. Also why was it published at all? What was the point of publishing such a piece other than to publicly humiliate and isolate our hierarch and stir up sentiment against him? Where is Christ in that? If HB had been a child molester or protector of child molesters, an embezzler, an extortionist, or something along those lines, I could at least understand the vitriol directed toward him. But what had he actually done to merit this attack? If the goal was truly accountability and conciliarity, surely there was a more Christian way to address the issues.

    Then the implication that HB was mentally unstable. Was he having a nervous breakdown, had he been disturbed from the outset, but no one had noticed? Why introduce this sort of public speculation about our Metropolitan, with no actual diagnosis or action plan for the OCA? This is a rational, objective, unity-building approach to such a situation?

    Then the revelation that Mark Stokoe was not just reporting the news but right in the center of making the news (an MC member) and manipulating the events he reports. This is not a minor point as some critics of George and OCA Truth purport. This goes to the very crux of the matter. This is such a flagrant conflict of interest that it should go without saying that the site’s credibility has been completely compromised.

    Then the revelations about Mark Stokoe’s chosen lifestyle with a male partner. How sad that this sort of thing was reported publicly, but again, this is not a minor point. Not because of how Mr. Stokoe chooses to live his life, which is his business and no one else’s, but because of the position of authority and influence he has in the OCA. The Catholic Church chose to ignore this sort of situation at its peril. The Episcopal Church has now turned Scripture and Tradition on its head in this matter. The OCA cannot and must not ignore this issue. It is not at all irrelevent, but speaks to the core of the OCA’s identity and future.

    I take no pleasure in any of this, and I don’t believe George and OCA Truth do either. They have opened themselves up to the same vitriol leveled at Metropolitan Jonah. I don’t know where the truth lies in all this, or what the future holds. But I do know that I cannot rely on OCA News to objectively report on the situation, and we are hearing nothing from the OCA’s leadership. I can only assume they are consciously allowing Mark Stokoe, as an MC member and the editor of OCA News, to serve as their spokesman. This gives a morally compromised layman with a clear conflict of interest as newsmaker/news reporter a disturbing and utterly unacceptable level of authority in the Church. When if ever will this situation be addressed?

    And in regard to all the insults leveled at those who remain anonymous in all this, it’s important to remember that already in some parts of the country, one can lose one’s job for making public comments regarding the Church’s stance on homosexuality (or for even associating oneself with a website that does so).

    • George Michalopulos says

      Well said, Christian Mother. The fact that otherwise fine men like certain correspondents on this website have to parse what the meaning of the word “is” is, portends dark days indeed. The surrender to moral compromise is almost absolute among people who undertake these mental gymnastics. Indeed, they give sophistry a bad name.

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