You Can’t Fix Stupid

It’s been a busy weekend and it’s clear that the fallout from the Great Syosset Debacle of 2012 is still not over. The wonderboys who engineered this disastrous and uncanonical turn of events are running scared, as they should be.

Too bad. I tried to warn anybody who would listen that Jonah represented a wave of evangelism that cannot be stopped; that he understood the hunger for the Gospel in America today.

The trouble with the entire execution of this affair is not so much the human cost (to Jonah, his family, or the Church at large, which is huge), but what it portends for the future. Make no mistake, given the governing structure of the OCA, this was probably inevitable; which means that it will probably happen again and again and again, until finally the lights are turned off in Syosset for the last time.

I wrestled as to whether I should write these words. I prayed about it but there is no way I can escape this conclusion. And believe it or not, I offer them in a spirit of correction, not bitterness or anger. I’ve got way too many things on plate than to worry about dysfunctional institutions which cannot right themselves. I very much believe that not even the gates of hell will prevail against the Church, I just don’t think the OCA is “the Church” any more than the GOA, ROCOR, or AOCNA is or Carthage, Laodicaea, or Cappadocia were. The Church will remain but dioceses and jurisdictions? — not so much.


Why do I say this? Let me back up a little bit. As you well know by now, I’ve been in the Diocese of the South for almost ten years. I had a vague idea who the Metropolitan at the time was and had heard of Syosset but both were not on my radar in any way (I’d never heard the words “Proskauer Rose” until about 2007 or so). Under the Venerable Dmitri, we were chugging along just fine. However, I made the mistake of extrapolating from our experience here in the South that this is the way the OCA was run in general. I went from the particular to the general in other words. I had no idea how wrong I was.

The first inkling I got was in 2006, when I resigned from my job at the time to take a managerial position with a regional chain located mainly in the Northeast (I am a pharmacist). They had bought some stores in my hometown and were going to reopen them under their name. Long story short, I was excited and it was going to be more money for me. We had to refurbish one of the stores.

The general contractor for this company was a hail-fellow-well-met-guy named Al. His last name sounded Hungarian to me. We talked on the phone a couple of times and when he heard my name, he asked the inevitable, “Are you Greek?” I said “yeah.” Well, he replied, “I’m Russian.” We struck up an instant liking for each other and then when we finally met a couple of weeks later, our friendship intensified. He was from Connecticut and third-generation American. We swapped Orthodox immigrant war stories, the usual stuff. We laughed, ate lots of Mexican food on the company card and drank copious amounts of beer (is there anything beer can’t do?)

A couple of days later things soured. I told him about our mission parish which was then meeting in a strip shopping center going on three years but we were in the process of building our first temple on 8 acres of land. He was intrigued. We opened in 2003 and were ready to build within three years — warp speed in Orthodox terms. I told him our bishop gave the blessing and we were happy to be in the OCA because we didn’t have to put up with the language issue and all that.

The look on his face went from joviality to shock in 2 seconds flat. He looked at me as if I told him I like nothing better than drinking moonshine from a jug and sleeping with my sister every night. I didn’t understand his change in demeanor. “I’m in ROCOR,” he said. Oblivious to what all this meant, I said, “that’s neat,” or something like that. Smart fellow that he was, he saw that I didn’t get it and wisely decided to drop it.

We met several more times and he was always professional. He softened up a bit and asked questions about our church’s building program, and since he was a contractor, he asked questions. I’d answer, but there was always something left unsaid between us. Only years later did I get the full story, that ROCOR people viewed the OCA as nothing but white trash, especially in the Northeast. I literally had no idea.


All institutions have their own culture. In the secular world we call it “corporate culture”. It’s what makes Texaco different from Chevron, and so on. Churches are no different. The OCA’s major demographic is Carpatho-Russian; good, pious people and all that but like all immigrant groups with a lot of baggage. (To get an idea of what we’re talking about, please go visit another website where these defects are celebrated but make sure to shower afterwards and do forty genuflections.)

Grafted onto this baggage were reformist ideas imposed on them by the Parisian school as exemplified by Fr Alexander Schmemann when he headed St Vladimir’s Seminar. A fine scholar to be sure, he was also an astute observer of human nature and when he looked at the clerical underbelly of the Metropolia (as the OCA was then known), he was not impressed.

He was definitively a towering figure and one of the leading lights in Orthodoxy with immense moral authority, moreso than the bishops at the time. When he spoke, people listened and he brought a certain cache to the Metropolia that they had never had. Nor was it the case of him simply being a mesa surrounded by desert valleys, he was the real deal.

Ramrod straight, his physical bearing was one of a real man, so much different than many other clergymen, before or since. Thus, when he helped the Russian patriarchate engineer the tomos of autocephaly for the Metropolia in 1970, he decided to put some backstops in it, to prevent the native hierarchy from screwing things up too badly. That’s how the wierd hybrid of lay overlordship as exemplified in the “Metropolitan Council” (MC) was created. To be sure, it had antecedents in the Petrine reforms that Russia in the seventeenth century which made the Russian church a department of state, but it was not the norm in Orthodoxy.

Unfortunately, he put sinews and flesh on the old archdiocesan model, essentially strengthening it. Thus the “Metropolitan’s Council,” a group of laymen and priests who assisted the Metropolitan-Archbishop of the Russian eparchy became the “Metropolitan Council.” Over the years this council has aggrandized much power. No longer an advisory body, it has actual budgetary authority as stated in the Statutes of the OCA. The synod of bishops of course can veto its decisions but as a rule, they have been quite compliant. There’s a reason for that: “He who controls the purse, rules.”

It is in this light that we must understand the ultiimate powerlessness of the bishops and their willingness to foolishly cede even more of their canonical authority to married archpriests and laymen, which is why the OCA will have two officers dedicated to “sexual misconduct” in the clergy. This is also why in their quest to find something to pin on the Metropolitan, they dredged up a sexual case involving a priest who happened to be living in Washington (but curiously enough was never in the OCA). As they teach in Journalism 1010, “sex sells.”

Hindsight being 20/20 and all that, we now see that this bureaucratic model had disastrous results in Russia. The difference between the Romanov-dominated Russian Orthodox Church and the OCA is that whereas it took the better part of three centuries for the Russian church to lose its moral authority, it has taken the OCA less than fifty. Is it because the Carpatho-Russian demographic was not up to the task? I’d say not. It’s because the Schmemann model took on a life of its own. It became a self-sustaining cult centered in the holy city of Syosset, attended by its own priesthood which alone could interpret the sacred texts. In its munificence, it allowed the formal episcopate to function for appearance’s sake.

So that’s basically where we are. In any event, the quaint immigrant culture that sustained the OCA in the past and somewhat justified a strong Metropolitan Council, does not point the way to the future. It can’t. If nothing else, the other patriarchates will not allow it to exist should they choose to recognize an autocephalous American Orthodox Church. This is so blazingly obvious thanks to the grand, blazing gotterdamerung that Syosset engineered last week in blazing, glorious Technicolor®. That the very immigrant culture itself is dying (as can be gleaned from the OCA’s ever-dwindling stewardship numbers) is merely icing on the cake.

The self-immolation of American Orthodoxy fills me with profound sadness. The eparchial model based on immigrant nostalgia that the OCA could not (or would not) put aside is now ascendent (to the extent which a decrepit paradigm can be “ascendant”). A small burst of immigration from an economically prostrate Greece and a terrorized Christian exodus from Syria will temporarily pad the numbers of the GOA and the Antiochian archdiocese but in reality only ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchal archdiocese can continue along this model for the time being, not so much because of similar immigration from Russia but because the modernist rot that has seeped into the OCA doesn’t stand a chance in these eparchies.

And make no mistake, it’s all over but the shouting for the OCA.


Into this slough of despond walked Bishop Jonah, an American convert who received monastic training in Russia. Elected in 2008 in Pittsburgh at the AAC on a wave of euphoria (and disgust at the previous kakostocracy), he portended change for the better. Instantly, he became the rock star of Orthodoxy, not only in America but throughout the world. People took an instant liking to him. A man without guile, it looked as if the world was his oyster.

It was not to be however. The curious institutions that governed the OCA were still hamstrung by an ecclesiology that did not comport with true autocephaly. Like the Metropolitan Council, the central administration in Syosset was a hold-over from the old days when the Metropolia was an archdiocese of Moscow, not unlike what obtains in Englewood for the Antiochians or Manhattan for the Greeks (both of which are still under foreign patriarchates). Though they receive no monies from Syosset, the diocesan bishops still received guidance and often correction from the chancery. The chancellor and other luminaries there are married priests, some of whom have a dim view of the episcopate. They have a lot of power and they are always on the lookout for even more authority over the bishops (hence the “Sex Czar”). Moreover, the Metropolitan Council actually has statutory authority to set the budget (as mentioned earlier), something the Synod itself cannot do. Hence my assertion that the former is superior to the latter. Regardless, the whole set-up is caterwampus.

Jonah had his own vision, one that was more in line with traditional Orthodox eccesiology. A true monk, he tried to revive that tradition within the OCA. And no, he didn’t imagine himself to be a mini-pope. Let us dispense with that canard once and for all. In his own writings and actions, he declared that the decentralized, diocesan model was the only correct one for the Church. This raised red flags at Syosset, which sustains itself with massive remittances from eight of the 11 territorial dioceses (and hardly anything at all from the ethnic ones, interestingly enough). If Jonah’s vision was realized, then Syosset’s days were numbered.

As if this wasn’t enough, Jonah openly questioned the OCA’s autocephaly, choosing to “reimagine” it in favor of a truly united American church, one which united all Orthodox regardless of ethnicity around the person of the Archbishop of Washington, DC. To better realize this, he actually moved to the capital itself — in other words, he not only talked the talk, he walked the walk. He took very seriously his title as Archbishop of Washington. And it paid dividends; DC is where the action was and he soon became a fixture at significant events and venues.

So why Washington? Being a former Anglican, one who came of age as the American branch of the Anglican Communion (ECUSA) began it’s three-decade-long march into the embrace of apostasy, he knew what the spirit of the age was. Personally a convivial, non-judgmental man who loves everybody, he was also not hesitant to speak the truth. This made him many friends in the other denominations but enemies in his own. In a previous essay, I showed with very little effort that homophilic cabals exist within the OCA and that they are primarily concentrated in the Northeast. It wasn’t that hard to do, priests have been telling me this for years now.

After a couple of google searches (and look at some of the emails sent me from sympathizers) and I had it in black and white. They exist in the other jurisdictions as well and many of their luminaries are uncomfortable with things like The Annual March for Life. As they incessantly say, they would prefer to “work behind the scenes.” Let’s be honest, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops had to be brought kicking and screaming into supporting the Catholic bishops in their crusade against the notorious Health and Human Services mandate which forced religious bodies to pay for abortions and contraception. Jonah’s was a prophetic voice that was not scared to speak truth to the culture.

I realize that this isn’t going to satisfy the Inspector Clouseaus out there who refuse to believe their own eyes and engage in mental gymnastics to not confront the obvious, but I’m not writing for them. They’re ideologues and have their minds made up — you know, Traditionalists are basically rubes who should stick to hunting moose with Sarah Palin. Instead, I’m writing for the reasonable person. And I’m telling that person that there are Lavender Mafias and that they do exist. Now please understand, I don’t think that there’s a Gay Comintern which is issuing directives to agents-in-place. But there is a secularist, post-Christian mindset which has latched onto the concept of “sexual minorities” and invested them with a sanctity that was formerly ascribed to African-Americans during the bad old days of Jim Crow. This is as tendentious as it is evil and it is real.

So here we are. Make no mistake: Jonah was not a Johnny One-note regarding homosexuality. Indeed, he overlooked the presence of sin in his own cathedral, choosing mercy over discipline —oikonomia instead of akrivia, so to speak. He really loved his enemies and prayed for them. I’m sure he still does, even as he surveys the wreckage to his own family. But that doesn’t neutralize the essential truth of the matter: the modernists won, and they won big. His former cathedral in Washington will become the epicenter of a homophilic movement within the OCA and there’s nothing that the bishops of the OCA can do do stop it. The bishops abrogated their moral authority, not because of any sexual skeletons in their closets but because of their false witness against their brother.


It’s clear now that for Jonah this was an uphill battle from the start. The deep institutional mediocrity endemic to the OCA was simply too entrenched. My brothers in ROCOR assure me that these issues are not even on the radar in their jurisdiction. That ship is run so tight that it squeaks. Good for them and may God protect them. The OCA elite however, is so invested in its self-idolatry as the only “real” Orthodox church on this continent that it has absolutely no compunction about spitting in the faces of the other patriarchs. That being the case, there is no way that it can be righted short of repentance and public apology. Instead, it tries to avoid confronting the zeitgeist by waving the red flag of “sexual misconduct” in the clergy. On this, they tell us, hang all the Law and the Prophets.

And if no one really believes them, it still might mollify the peasants and make them see the necessity of throwing more money towards Syosset. When all else fails, when people leave the Church in droves, when priests are woefully underpaid, then call in the Sex Czar and his trusty sidekick, Clergy Cop. That’ll wow ’em.

Now, I’ve beaten this concept to death, exposing its essential ridiculousness for all to see. I’ll write the last installment of “Sex Czar” in the near future. For now, focus on this: the only approach that Syosset knows to keep priests in line and the money flowing is punitive. The fact that it by-passes the diocesan structures is immaterial, all the Best and the Brightest know is what’s good for Syosset, is good for the OCA. End of story.

So where are we? As far as I’m concerned, back to the bad old days of entrenched mediocrity and eventual extinction. Even Fr Thomas Hopko predicted as much in 2006, before the “mentally troubled” Jonah was elected as Metropolitan.


I titled this essay “You Can’t Fix Stupid.” I wasn’t trying to be hurtful, just truthful. Unlike the wily truth-telling Arab who has one foot in the saddle ready to ride off in a moment’s notice, I ain’t going anywhere. That doesn’t mean that I can’t see the forest for the trees and call our leaders to account.

So here goes:

The OCA actually had some things going for it, before this debacle blew up in our faces. Two fine seminaries, a fine intellectual legacy as exemplified by Frs. Schmemann, Meyendorff, and Florovsky, numerous churches, and an attachment to the North American continent. Its roots were deep, or at least deeper than the other jurisdictions. Moreover, the OCA was not a nostalgia cult and the language issue which has been tearing apart most of the other jurisdictions had been resolved long ago. It had a native hierarchy.

Those are a lot of cards to bring to the table in the quest for a united, local American Orthodox Church. It also had the ultimate wild card: autocephaly. And under the visionary leadership of Metropolitan Jonah — a primate who was ready to work for real unity with the other primates — it had much moral authority. His ministry was even blessed by the Ecumenical Patriach as can be gleaned by significant developments over the past year. (Scurrilous stories put out by Leonid Kishkovsky and others to the contrary are simply false.)

The OCA had a good hand to play. Unfortunately Syosset threw the cards out the window with Jonah’s firing and chose to run down the street like a madman with its hair on fire with its latest broadside. Make no mistake, there is no way that any other American Orthodox jurisdiction is going to look at us and say “put me down for some of that.” Our bishops have so delegitimized the OCA that we now have nothing to offer a future American Orthodox Church. Nothing. If there is to be another Episcopal Assembly, and if we are allowed to attend, we will sit there as Banquo’s Ghost. Those sitting nearby will feel a shudder, the rest will mercifully ignore us.

Moreover, no Orthodox patriarchate is going to countenance such behavior even if the allegations against Jonah were true. There are ways of “retiring” a primate and the OCA chose the most inflammatory, inept, divisive, and humiliating way possible. If there is to be a Great and Holy Council in 2013, the OCA’s hide is going to be nailed the wall. With these egregious actions, we have lost our only patron in the Orthodox world, which coincidentally enough is the most powerful Orthodox church in the world.

How stupid is that?


  1. Thank you George, I find this comforting.

  2. I knew they were out to get him from the start, when they had knee jerk reactions before anything had really happened to disturb the “old way of life”.
    They thought he would just be a good boy, and mind his manners. Instead, he ran with the ball that he was given.

    • ForcedAnon says

      I don’t share your complete pessimism, George. I can’t, because I believe God is not through with the OCA yet. But this letter of +Matthias’ is deeply discouraging. Even if true, and I know for a fact that most of it is not, it shows the hatred and animosity and envy between bishops on our Synod. They are not holy, and this attack letter proves it.

      • Keep in mind, Bishop Matthias may not be the author of the letter. Another version was sent out signed by Bishop Michael of New York.

        Regardless of who drafted the letter, it was directed from the entire Holy Synod. They therefore bear collective responsibility for its contents, regardless of who was the original author.

  3. They don’t really care……

  4. Pravoslavnie says

    That was an excellent summary, George. You hint in the last paragraph at the other shoe which hasn’t dropped yet, the one in Moscow. The Russians have been silent so far, but I’ve heard that ROCOR and the MP are livid at the way Met. Jonah was forced to walk the plank. For 40-years the OCA’s autocephaly has been supported and protected by its older sister in Moscow, but the OCA just burned that bridge. OCA is now an orphan in world Orthodoxy.

    • Florida Dan says

      May I ask where you’ve heard these things? I’ve been wondering if there would be any reaction from them.

      • Pravoslavnie says

        Directly from people in a position to know. The reaction is characteristically Russian. Many Jonah supporters expected a scenario where Moscow would swoop in to rescue their man in DC, and/or place the OCA under some kind of trusteeship then merge it into ROCOR. The truth is they don’t want the OCA back and have a lot of capital invested in supporting autocephaly. Consequently they have accepted that Met. Jonah is gone. Instead the MP seems prepared to give OCA a very long Siberian exile by ignoring it. All the bridges built by Jonah were just burned by the Holy Synod, so expect the OCA to get a very cold shoulder for a very long time.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Or they’ll just swoop down and pick up the pieces. Same difference. I’d like to propose a little game: in three years, Jonah made three trips to Russia, where he was treated like the head of an autocephalous church, for the first time in OCA history. Does anybody honestly believe that the next Metropolitan will be feted thusly? Ever?

          Of course, we’ll be here to blame Kishkovsky when it’s become obvious that the OCA is treated as a pariah but in the end, it never really mattered to him. All he was worried about was whether the conservatives were going to pull us out of the NCC. That’s a $weet gig for him and he’ll ride that pony from now ’til kingdom come. Good work if you can get it. As for the rest of flunkies in Syosset left holding the bag, “oh well, sucks to be you!”

          • Harry Coin says

            George, who cares about the grandness of the reception during travel elsewhere? Seriously small beer. What matters is kids not leaving, people who come staying and not warping the moral inheritance along the way. Build a church people want to join and just jettison this strange need to be patted on the head by rich folk overseas. It’s like folk here can’t wait to go submit to folk about whom they have story-book unreality based ideas. Stand your ground and make it work right here.

        • Dorothy Allen says

          Several persons, in their posts, have wondered what the laity’s reaction to all of this is. I can speak only for myself, an older 3rd generation “cradle” Orthodox person. However, I do speak with others in my ethnic community and can gauge their feelings as being somewhat similar to mine. First, I (and many in my community) felt that in 1970 we were forced to accept the OCA’s autocephalous status. As laity, we, of course, were not consulted. The parish of which I was (and still am) a member is composed of mostly Carpatho-Rusyn descendants, although some of us are descendants of immigrants from Russia itself. Some persons left the parish and joined ROCOR churches, and some of us chose to remain — NOT because we agreed with the OCA and the changes it imposed, but because of family loyalties (for example, my grandfather was one of the carpenters who built the church building and all of my deceased relatives were buried in that parish’s cemetery.) I have been UN-happy for 40 years about the OCA’s “modernization” of the faith of my youth, but I had remained hopeful, especially after Metropolitan Jonah co-served a Liturgy in a local ROCOR parish and apologized to the parishioners there for any emotional or spiritual pain that the OCA had caused. The hurt had been felt by those of us on both sides of the issue, and we bore it for 40 years. I thought that healing was finally able to occur. Now, I am no longer hopeful, nor do I trust the OCA’s administration to have my best spiritual interests at heart. I plan to join a ROCOR parish, if they will accept me.

          • Harry Coin says

            Dorothy, your view is widely shared among those who choose their particular parish based on family and ancestry factors. Those of us with some grey in our hair have to think about whether those facts are what’s important to our kids and grand-kids. What they are given to see about the Russian church is plainly an identification with the Russian civil authority and the considerable project of improving conditions right there in such a very large country with not so many people given its vastness. For example, a little ‘global warming’ might lengthen the growing seasons and increase the land suitable for farming and so probably on balance will ease conditions a bit over there.

            But here? Even if the whole church slavonic thing might attract one side of your kid’s families it will not attract the other, on balance. Same for the old Greek I hear. Not even the Greeks understand most of it, just like those who don’t much speak Russian anymore struggle even more with the old church slavonic. That said I love the old songs because I grew up with them and learned what they mean. That’s a pretty high cliff to ask today’s youth to climb, and it certainly wasn’t how the Gospel was preached, and it most certainly is NOT what the message of Pentacost includes.

            We have to get the message right but do it as it was meant to be done: comprehensibly.

  5. Rod Dreher says

    How do we know where the laity comes down on this issue? I know how readers of Monomakhos are thinking. I know how all my Orthodox friends are thinking. I know there are readers of other Orthodox blogs who hold the opposite view.

    Blog readers and listserv participants are not an accurate gauge of how the laity feels. Believe me, if this were so, there would have been a revolution against bishop’s business as usual in the Catholic church on sex abuse. I hope the laity are upset about what’s happened, and want to know more (even if they ultimately support the Synod’s action). But sadly, I wouldn’t count on it.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Rod, I imagine the majority of people are unaware. The problem is there isn’t that much of a “majority” any more. Basically what I’m hearing is that either Jonah may or may not be a monster but the Synod most definately is. Two people have flat out asked me “why should I be a member of this church?” Outside of the normal bromide of “we’ve seen worse,” I don’t have a good answer for them.

      I’m not trying to put Jonah back on the primatial throne, I’m just pointing out that that the OCA, as governed by Syosset is now hopelessly compromised. The institutional rot is so deep it’s like gangrene.

    • You can’t know what the laity is thinking if everything that is read and heard is through a self-fulfilling grid. This is true of everyone. It’s true of Protestants who read the book of Romans under the grid of “sola scriptura” and come away with a far different exegesis than Thomist Catholics who come away with a far different understanding than Orthodox. With something as complex as this, with everyone and their brother seeing it as a black-and-white “fer-us-or-agin-us”, I can’t see any sort of basic understanding, much less reconciliation happening. Even the way you couch your terms limits the discourse: “I know how readers of Monomakhos are thinking. I know how all my Orthodox friends are thinking. I know there are readers of other Orthodox blogs who hold the opposite view.” Might there be a presumption that there are only these two POVs?

      Almost everything I have read here is written and interpreted against the grid of Us vs Them, and Them are fairly well-defined and well-established beyond the definition of “They aren’t Us”. I think that’s sad because it ultimately misses the point (maybe we need more Forgiveness Sundays?) and becomes self-perpetuating. You know: “how do you keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree” ? How do you keep folk coming here to read and post if we all dwell together in unity? No drama, nothing to talk about, crickets. I’ve seen this happen on far too many fora to recognize that if we all become Happy Campers it will happen here as well. If George stops posting and promoting the sort of stuff he posts, it’s toes-up; that’s true of any sort of journalistic (defined in broad strokes here) outlet. So keeping alive the Us and Them becomes ultimately self-serving, individualistic, and does nothing to help the Church.

      So what do we do? Stay in our camps even as we silently and secretly commune together? Now, isn’t THAT a travesty?!? How many people are silenced because their opinion differs from the “mainstream” of the place they find themselves? How many people become more timid in this current climate of Us vs Them with the attendant labeling, niching, and tomato-throwing that goes with it? GASP! Are there “spies” in our parishes?!?

      Is this the very best we can offer to those who come to Orthodoxy looking for the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith?

      I suspect IF you heard from the laity, they, Rod, might lie to you, if they are NOT on “your side” having a reasonable fear of what you might think of them (given some recent journalistic hyperbole) and how that thought might be used. I also suspect that if anyone did try to tell you what they thought, and allowing for the chips to fall where they might, you could miss it in a flurry of rhetoric that your grid told you was on “your side”. Again, the limits of a binary system. On. Off.

      How about the rest of the Dave Mason lyric someone quoted elsewhere: “There ain’t no good guys. There ain’t no bad guys. There’s only you and me and we just disagree. Or, better yet, Psalm 132/133:

      Behold now, what is so good or so joyous as for brethren to dwell together in unity?
      It is like the oil of myrrh upon the head, which runneth down upon the beard, upon the beard of Aaron, which runneth down to the fringe of his raiment.
      It is like the dew of Aermon, which cometh down upon the mountains of Sion.
      For there the Lord commanded the blessing, life for evermore.

      • George Michalopulos says

        AG, I’ve laid out a simple case, based on the best available evidence, that Syosset is in deep panic mode. I didn’t cause it, Rod didn’t cause it, Jonah didn’t cause it. They did.

        It’s times like this that I repair to the ancient peasant wisdom of my parents and grandparents which they got from their grandparents, and so on. Whenever someone did something he thought was right but it turned awry, they’d say “mi khirotero” (it could be worse). Idiommatically, it’s not the same thing in English. It’s more like, “what did you expect? You’re playing with forces beyond your control.” I guess in English it would be “measure seven times, cut once.” And always with the Church, you don’t act like Savanorola or Martin Luther because the demons you unleash will always come back to bite you.

        Think about it: in order to get rid of Jonah, they dredged up an alleged crime from awhile back, involving a priest who was not in the OCA, and now they’re running for cover and making it worse by insinuating that Jonah is insane or criminal or both.

        And that’s not the worst of it. Did any of these brainiacs stop to think that this won’t come back to bite them at some point in time? Are there no skeletons in their closets? Don’t you think that there’s just one priest in each diocese who can turn into a liability based on an unfortunate set of circumstances?

        That’s why our autocephaly is in danger. Because they didn’t handle this correctly. We’ve gone from laughingstock to sick joke in 10 days. There’s no way anybody in any other church is looking at us and saying “Attaboy! that’s the way you do it!” Our bishops have ceded way too much authority to Syosset. And now they’re going to give more.


      • Jesse Cone says

        Numbers, as we all know, tell only part of the story. A two hundred person parish can make an enormous difference. To look at the Antiochian Archdiocese: look at the difference All Saints (Chicago) and St. Barnabas (Costa Mesa) have made nationally. The people in those parishes are involved in some of the most important ministries in North America, not to mention IOCC. I’m sure there are numerous examples of other decent sized, quality parishes out there, but in my experience it ‘s safe to say that these parishes are more important and influential than that average mega-church whose membership rivals that of the entire OCA.

        I would hope the bishops would see the silver lining of all this internet activity. Most of the people I know who engage on Monomakhos deeply care about their prayer life and their parish. These aren’t people who love the soap opera, but rather grieve for it. The enthusiasm here can be harnessed and directed in the right direction: namely the spreading of the Gospel in words and action. For this the bishops should be excited.

        Sadly, another function of Monomakhos has been that of a bit of a support group. Those of us who have been hurt, and who want to do what they can to protect their family from being hurt from within the Church, can commiserate and encourage each other to keep on seeking their salvation. We encountered trauma last year in Dallas, teaching me that there’s more to watch out for in a clergyman than financial and sexual misdeeds. The internet will host these voices of pain, for better or worse, and that will not stop when the cast of characters changes. This is a reality bishops and clergy will have to accept; their failures will be brought to life in a public ,and sometimes unfair, manner.

        The light of Christ needs to extend into all we do, especially how we handle the hurts and pains we’ve received from those with whom we share the cup. How wonderful would it be for our bishops to demonstrate the way!

      • AG,

        I’m reminded of a pastoral letter written to the Episcopal Church by its Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold after the consecration of homogenitally active Bishop V. Gene Robinson trying to make the point that there are not just two sides on any issue and all perspectives are essential in the church. He used the metaphor of a cathedral ceiling and how it requires numerous spandrels and other architectural elements coming together to keep the roof structurally sound. It is a pleasant enough thought, and perhaps it has some truth to it. The problem is that it was not relevant to the crisis the church was facing, and there was a very sad irony in the fact that de facto changes in church discipline had already driven away large and essential sections of the church, not because they were bossy and arrogant or even self-assured, but because their consciences would not allow them to ignore what had happened. In sales terms, it was a bait-and-switch — he was not delivering what he was selling.

        Without justice you will have factions and unrest. The problems discussed here were not cooked up here or implemented here. Nor are they imaginary. The discussions here are part of an effort to ensure that justice is done, if such is possible, and it is always possible so long as those in authority want it. No one here is profiting from this unrest. The only ones rejoicing over what has happened recently in the OCA are gay rights activists (for sure — they are dancing over Jonah’s carcass) and then most likely a small handful of individuals who are part of the church establishment who benefit from maintaining the status quo in church governance. While Stokoe was on the board of trustees for the OCA and most of his co-conspirators were on various governing bodies of the church (making his activist website mind-bogglingly bizarre at least during long stretches of its life … as well as unethical, dysfunctional, megalomaniacal, profoundly harmful … you finish the list), no one posting on this website has claimed any authority above the parish or diocesan level. I’m afraid those who come here to question whether justice has been done are simply concerned citizens. Only in a utopian society or a spiritually bankrupt society can you avoid the likes of these.

        • Interesting construct, the call for “justice”. Call me naive, but I guess I have falsely assumed the work of the Church was more about “mercy”–which, to my meager and limited understanding, is vaguely reflective of the work of God. And salvation, which is, after all, built upon mercy rather than judgment, really. “Lord have mercy“. Not “Lord have justice”.

          • Not naive, AG, just missing the big picture in this case.

            There can be no mercy without justice.

            There can be no forgiveness without truth.

            Passionate words notwithstanding, I am confident many here are ready to grant the former just as soon as the latter is established.

            • Okay. I think I understand, maybe better than you realize.

              Anselm wrote a paper along those lines, Cur Deus Homo (Why God Man). It explained why Jesus Christ HAD to die in order to propitiate the wrath of God re: the sins of Man. In other words, justice first had to be served in order to allow for mercy. It’s the backbone of substitutionary atonement theory; Reformed Theology and Calvinism. Interesting stuff, but certainly not Orthodox.

              As regards forgiveness without truth. Could you then explain to me why we pray for sins “voluntary and involuntary; known and unknown”… Seems to me rather illogical to pray in truth for things involuntary and/or unknown to us. Seems to me you are asking for some sort of cognizant knowledge and/or understanding of sin/sinfulness before forgiveness can be given or attained.

              Didn’t Jesus forgive us before we had even attained an understanding of Him, of ourselves, of sin? “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

              Or is the “forgiveness [granted] without truth [established]” ideology an Orthodox rendering of “If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you” (compared to Luke 6:22-26)? I am say, I am getting such a different POV of Orthodoxy from all of this!

              • AG,

                You do not need to appeal to an 11th century theory of the atonement (certainly not a rejected one) in order to understand what the English word “mercy” means today or even to understand its liturgical uses in Orthodoxy, since those uses predate Anselm of Canterbury. There may be an extremely uncommon use of mercy in English as a synonym for “charity” or “love,” but this is not what you mean when you say “Lord have mercy”. Clearly when you use the word mercy here you are using it with its primary meaning “leniency toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm” or in today’s legal terms: “clemency”. It is only because God loves you that you have any hope for mercy, because God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and a righteous judge.

                People here are not all-powerful, all-knowing, or righteous in every way. So what mercy are you wanting from them right now? If you really care, you need to be specific.

                It feels like any response I give to the questions you have posed will sound patronizing, which makes me think you could be trying harder and sparing me much of my effort (as well as my discomfort about patronizing an intelligent and educated person). Maybe I am just misunderstanding your request; in which case, please accept my apologies for my own lack of understanding and my presumption that you were trying to be difficult and know that I welcome clarification. But for the sake of clarity: Orthodox people do believe God knows everything, correct? There is nothing that is true that escapes God or that you have to explain to God, right? As a creature with limited knowledge, you can meaningfully ask your all-knowing Creator for forgiveness or mercy with respect to mistakes made (all mistakes, regardless of your intent or cognizance). When you ask this, you are NOT suggesting that God might not know about some of your short-comings. Similarly, Jesus’ prayer on the cross was made with full knowledge of the sin he was asking the Father to forgive. Jesus knew, the Father knew. God does not forgive sins that He failed to notice or that He accidentally forgot or became confused about. There are a number of good reasons why your prayer is “Lord have mercy” and not “Lord be nice”. But I guess I’ll leave it at that, since I really don’t understand why I’m being asked to explain this.

                I suppose I should also stress that as a spiritual and relational matter, when you know you have harmed someone intentionally, you do not fix your relationship with God or that person by feigning ignorance of your offense. God not only knows when you don’t know, God also knows when you do too. And if your heart is committed to pretending you have not harmed another, your heart is committed to your sin more than to reconciliation.

                • May God forgive us all!

                  Thank you for your reply. My comments, and please, forgive me that I am coming across as difficult and/or obtuse, I truly do not intend to be, have to do with the idea that without justice there is no mercy and we must know the truth before we forgive. I disagree. I also think this line of thinking has serious implications when taken to its logical conclusion.

                  quote: “It is only because God loves you that you have any hope for mercy…”

                  In no wise will we ever know the truth in every instance that besets us where a) we would like to know and/or b) feel we are owed a truth. “We see through a glass darkly” pretty much sums up the whole of our life, rather than just the portion St Paul was referring to when he wrote this (knowing God). I believed I knew my Spouse for 30 years, and my Parents. After they reposed, there were some surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant. Forgiveness, which for each of these people in my life I had the opportunity to give and to receive, both in knowledge and, as I later learnt, in ignorance, was still a tremendous blessing. And so I learnt I would never withhold forgiveness based on my own criteria of deservedness because time is short; my life is not mine; and I do not know it’s end. In other words, I learnt to forgive in ignorance, without asking for or expecting to have “the truth” in any given situation. Just–forgive, no questions asked; to reach out beyond justice to mercy.

                  The story is told of the Nun Egeria as reported in her Travels (25: 5) of making pilgrimage to Jerusalem around 390AD. Whilst there she attended Vespers, and at the end of Vespers, one of the Deacons read a list of petitions and “as he spoke each of the names, a crowd of boys stood there and answered him each time, ‘Κύριε, ἐλέησον’ (Kyrie eleison) … their cry is without end.”

                  Interesting, though, that St Luke uses two different words we translate as “mercy” in the 18th chapter of his book: ἱλάσκομαι in verse 13 (“Lord have mercy on me a sinner.”) and ἐλέησον, in verses 38 and 39 (“He called out, ‘Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!’ Those in front scolded him in order to get him to shut up, but he shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David! Have mercy on me!'”). The first means “to render one’s self, to appease, conciliate to one’s self; to be propitious, to expiate, make propitiation for; placate”. In the LXX, ἱλάσκομαι is used to translate a Hebrew word that means “atone; cleanse or remove”. The second word means “to help one afflicted or seeking aid; to bring help to the wretched; compassion”. It would seem that the Jesus Prayer, assuming it comes from Luke 18:13, is asking for something a bit different than the responsorial “Lord have mercy”. But I don’t know. Are we asking God to cleanse and atone, and/or bring help to the wretched/show compassion? Probably all of the above and more we are unaware of.

                  I do not want anything from anyone here, although I suppose I am pleading for mercy for those who are, in some way, spoken against. I’m merely attempting to point out that there is something, well, prideful about conditional forgiveness. And that asking for anything, including the truth, before forgiveness is rendered makes such forgiveness conditional and less than grace-filled (“But God demonstrates his own love for us in that Christ Jesus died on our behalf while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8). This sort of thinking is what prompted my referral to Anselm. Does God’s “wrath”, assuming there is such a thing, need to be assuaged before He forgives?

                  Does yours? And will knowing “the truth” in this particular situation do that for you?

                  Again, thank you for the conversation.

              • clueless catholic says

                Can we put to bed this wildly inaccurate and wholly polemical interpretation of Anselm? Frederica Mathhewes-Greene may be a very nice lady, but an expert on Western medieval theology she’s not.

              • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                Don’t read Anselm through the engineered logic of Calvin. Anselm was more of a medieval mystic. His categories are not as hard as fast as the Calvinist retrojection employed in Orthodox apologetics would have us believe. Yes, Anselm was a man of his tradition, but he was not a crypto-Calvinist.

                • Thanks, Father. I was going to say that I have heard similar suggestions from Roman Catholics and feel that what Kh. Frederica describes and understands well is the Reformers’ twist on Anselm’s use of the idea of “satisfaction” as factored into their “Penal Substitution” theory and how this rolls out in the predominant Protestant-Evangelical culture here in the west. It certainly resonates with what I was taught at a major U.S. Evangelical college. Being some decades from that college experience, I don’t remember now which Reformer contributed what to Penal Substitution theory–obviously, Calvin was a key thinker in what I now see as some of the more disturbing distortions of Christian tradition seen in the Reformation and in modern Evangelicalism.

          • Monk James says

            AG says (July 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm):

            ‘Interesting construct, the call for “justice”. Call me naive, but I guess I have falsely assumed the work of the Church was more about “mercy”–which, to my meager and limited understanding, is vaguely reflective of the work of God. And salvation, which is, after all, built upon mercy rather than judgment, really. “Lord have mercy“. Not “Lord have justice”.’


            I’ve often made this same point myself, which is well supported by the scriptures and the services, where we often encounter the plea ‘Lord, do not treat us as our sins deserve’ in one or another formulation.

            We definitely don’t want God’s justice. Most definitely not.

            ALSO: The notion that even human forgiveness must be predicated on full knowledge of the truth underlying the behavior we would forgive is an exercise in vanity and locates forgiveness in actions and facts rather than in our hearts.

            When we forgive others, they don’t even have to know it. The change occurs in the pardoner, not necessarily in the pardoned — although that would be good, too, a nicely balanced reciprocation.

            But as our Lord Jesus Christ was dying, He unconditionally forgave everyone involved in His barbaric torture and execution. He didn’t ask for an explanation or even an acknowledgement of any sort when He said ‘Father, forgive them — they don’t know what they’re doing.’

            We/re commanded by Christ Himself to learn from HIM, not from pop psychology or ephemeral social theories of human behavior.

            • Quite right, James! And let’s not forget, in our concern for justice, that yesterday was yet another anniversary of the spiritual assassination of Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick by the Neo-Sanhedrin convened under the presidency of the current locum tenens of the OCA’s metropolitan cathedra, and his associates.

        • Jane Rachel says

          You might enjoy this mention of Anselm from Charles Williams’ novel, “The Place of the Lion”:

          “…she would go on thoughtfully playing with the dead pictures of ideas, with names and philosophies, Plato and Pythagoras and Anselm and Abelard, Athens and Alexandria and Paris, not knowing that the living existences to which seers and saints had looked were already in movement to avenge themselves on her. “O you sweet blasphemer!” Anthony moaned, “can’t you wake?” Gnostic traditions, medieval rituals, Aeons and Archangels — they were cards she was playing in her own game. But she didn’t know, she didn’t understand. It wasn’t her fault; it was the fault of her time, her culture, her education — the pseudo-knowledge that affected all the learned, the pseudo-scepticism that infected all the unlearned, in an age of pretence, and she was only pretending as everybody else did in this lost and imbecile century. Well, it was up to him to do something.”

          From Chapter Six, “The Place of the Lion” by Charles Williams.

    • StephenD says

      A couple of people I spoke to who I am not sure if they even own computers told me that they hope the parish summer camp and vacation bible school do well. They also told me that they are sick of both Syosset and are appalled at the allgations against Archbishop Jonah…”Here we go again” or to quote my favorite line from the movi “The History Boys”…”Its just on f–king thing after another”.People here also really miss Archbishop Dmitri.

    • Seraphim98 says

      That depends on what you mean by action….if you mean open revolt and schism…not likely. If you mean voting with feet and pocketbooks…more likely. I have a sense that those of us who live and worship within the Diocese of the South still look out upon the OCA and the world through Archbishop Dimitri colored glasses…we looked upon Met. Jonah as one of ours since he was picked by the Archbishop to train as a potential successor. We looked upon his elevation to Metropolitan as a mark of God’s favor on our Archbishop as a means of extending his mindset and style of pastoral care all across the OCA. We thought he could get the best policies of the Diocese of the South implemented throughout the OCA…adapted as needed to local sensibilities….but more than policy…an outlook, a zeal that we hoped he could communicate to all our Jurisdiction’s dioceses…we even dared hope he could reawaken the faith in it’s old cradle in New England breathe new life into Orthodoxy’s first beachheads here in Alaska. We thought what Archbishop Dimitri had accomplished among us would be freed to work wonders and do valiantly. And that brief moment of association with the conversion of the Mayas (before the EP took over)…it was all Wow…look what God is doing through this young firebrand, our Metropolitan. And now…at least for a time he is taken away…and we wonder what will become of Vladyka’s legacy….that is a huge part of why so many of us want him back in the DoS as he represents the direct continuation of that legacy. Fr. Gerasim represent that legacy, though to a lesser extent. He was liked by Vladyka if he ever got fuller theological training. He has that now. So if the synod takes actions that look to us in the DoS like that legacy will be put in jeopardy…and moreso if it looks like the powers that be want to dismantle it from within the DoS…then, if my take is accurate it would not be unreasonable that the DoS, knowing its financial contribution to the OCA might begin massive withholding…members privately seeing to the salary of their priest and parish bills, but little or nothing for Syosset, and if that does work….the new missions that begin to be seeded across the present diocese of the South will not affiliate with the OCA and little by little OCA parishes will diminish…and these new ones will burgeon with former OCA. That’s what I think could easily happen given how the DoS laity presently feel…how laity outside the DoS feels, I couldn’t say.

    • Daniel E. Fall says

      An insightful question Rod. What do people think outside the echo chamber..

      I don’t know, but let me speculate. My father is a good example.

      I’m sure many conservatives are sad and many liberals are joyous, and the people who don’t have strong sentiments on either side are accepting that Metropolitan Jonah erred. I put myself somewhere in the last group and my father is there for sure. I didn’t always agree with the Metropolitan taking conservative positions, but I don’t expect that I would for tons of reasons. Mainly, I don’t think the political parties are geniune enough for me to agree with them both always and I believe the Metropolitan was unwise in this way. To avoid this going wacky, I’ll omit the detail intentionally, so don’t ask! Just consider many American’s believe the parties are not genuine and leave it at that.

      I can tell you that I’m disappointed more than anything, with a hint of hopefulness that the machinations of the OCA actually work. I am easily able to see this as a positive; not for removing Jonah, per se, but for the church improving on handling misconduct. The demons in the closet I believe were the cause of the prior problems as well-some know real well, I’m just reading the tea leaves.

      Fr. Jillions does not seem like a person that would lie, and if you assume Fr. Garklavs didn’t either, how many people are going to discount two separate Chancellors as evil or conspiring? The termination of Garklavs was heavily related to SM report-Jonah didn’t like the content after asking Garklavs to do it.

      Maybe firing Garklavs results in a chickens coming to roost moment after all a bit as well.

  6. Ken Miller says

    George, you have outdone yourself. Probably the most eloquent essay you have written to date. I believe Jonah’s voice will remain a force, whether within the OCA’s hierarchy or outside. Let’s not forget that the power of the ancient faith does not depend on personalities. There is an unstoppable movement that is hungry for the unsanitized faith of the scriptures and ancient fathers, and those who dance around Orthodox teaching trying not to offend modern sensibilities are going to be left in the dust. Those who are willing to crucify themselves, eager to follow in the footsteps of St Xenia to be counted a fool for the cause of Christ, and embrace the simplicity and purity of the ancient faith, including its challenge to the sexual revolution that has transformed our society over the past decades, will, by God’s grace, prevail.

  7. So, the death certificate of the OCA was signed by some pharmacist somewhere in Texas? And a rag-tag team of sometimes-‘pseudonynymous’ flunkies with names like Helga, Nikos, faceit, Rod Dreher, Jesse Cone and a former Bishop of the West? Really? Oh.

    I would at least commend you for your sincerity throughout this whole episode, sticking to your creative conspiracy theories and the tireless labor of twisting facts to fit. However, I’m not even entirely sure you’re sincere. I persist in believing that Monomakhos may be the greatest piece of online satire since The Onion Dome. When you read over-the-top assertions that Metropolitan Jonah was a rock star of global Orthodoxy, or one of those rare ‘real monks,’ it beggars belief, to the point of farce. Bravi.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I wish. If I were C’pole, I couldn’t have done a better job of making Syosset looking this inept. They just served our church on a silver platter to the Old World. And you know what? Since you’re judging my thoughts, I’m gonna return the favor and judge yours: you’re bothered because you know that we’re right.

      • George Michalopulos says:
        July 18, 2012 at 4:26 pm

        They just served our church on a silver platter to the Old World.

        Just “thinking out loud”:
        The Romanians to the Romanian OC,
        the Bulgarians to the Bulgarian OC,
        etc., etc., etc.,
        and the Carpho-Russians to the Czech Lands and Slovakia OC;

        • George Michalopulos says

          Don’t forget the Albanians. They’re going to bail. If memory serves, the Albanians, Bulgarians, and Romanians combined make up 25% of the OCA.

          • George, if the Albanians bail, they would go under the Omophor of Archbishop Anastasios, Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania;
            what a blessing that would be for them compared to now.

            • ProPravoslavie says

              I don’t think so. Archbishop Anastasios is Greek and is known to be close to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. He promised in the 1990’s to step down as soon as an Albanian could assume the role of First Hierarch of the AUTOCEPHALOUS Orthodox Church in Albania. He hasn’t done that, although there are now Albanian bishops.

              He’ll most likely bow to Constantinople’s Canon 28 claims and tell the OCA Albanians to join the tiny Albanian grouping in the US that is currently under Constantinople.

              • Harry Coin says

                To move on the basis of the revered personalities of very elderly men? And 5 years from now it’s Welcome To Turkey. Think ahead! Think about what will retain the kids when the church has ‘Orthodox’ in the title. Local bishops, regional / national synods. That’s what’s said. If that’s not what’s done then we’re all done.

                • Harry, I agree with you. But when our local bishops act in such an egregious (and uncanonical and immoral manner) don’t you see the scandal of it all? People are leaving the OCA right now as we speak. And all because of this. When it becomes clear that the primatial cathedral of the Archdiocese of Washington has become homophilic in its preachment and praxis, then many more people will leave.

                  I love an American church, I want an American church, but I don’t want that church to succumb to the spirit of the age. Because if it does, then it won’t be a “church” in the Christian sense, but a congregation that is hunky-dory with whatever fad springs forth from the mouths of over-educated PhDs who use words like “hermeneutics.” It’s that simple.

      • Harry Coin says

        It isn’t going to happen, because: it shouldn’t. The folks at the top and their issues that don’t reach into the parishes are not reason enough to give all the parishes and all the life below to overseas types. It isn’t about them, it’s a bad mistake to think it ever was.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Hope is not a strategy Harry. Right now, the Orthodox Church of Outer Mongolia looks like a safe harbor from this idiocy.

        • Will Harrington says

          Harry, what is an overseas type and why are they bad? I ask because this seems to be a fear of yours that lets you tolerate a lot of bad behavior because it comes from an “American” institution and the alternative scares you. I no longer have a dog in this fight since the part of the country I live in dictates the choices of church I have. I can drive an hour and a half to Wichita and my choices are the Antiochian Cathedral, an antiochian parish or a Greek parish with, the last I checked, no Priest. I left the OCA because its closest parish is about three hours away from the small town where I got a teaching job. I was chrismated in the OCA but heres a truth for you. The OCA is not an American church. None of the Orthodox churches are. Orthodoxy in America is still largely defined by immigration patterns. If you want an American Orthodox church, it won’t be the OCA because there really isn’t a lot of evangelism happening. I think this is true of most jurisdictions. People find there way to the church, but not so much the other way around. You wan’t an American church? I think it will have to work this way. Forget about jurisdictions and who runs what parish where. There has to be an evangelistic movement. There have to be new St. Innocents. If you want an American church, first you have to evangelize and convert significant numbers of Americans. You have to get out and set up missions and charities throughout the country and you have to go to rural as well as urban areas. This isn’t done, I think, because many ethnic Orthodox are scared of being swamped by converts. Until it is, though, there will be no American Church. If orthodoxy actually becomes American, no overseas Bishops could or, I think, would, stand in the way of an American Patriarchate. If an American Patriarchate does happen, it won’t be the OCA.
          Defending the OCA will not help. Attacking it won’t really help either. What will help is true evangelism. The sad thing about this current situation is that Jonah could have been such an evangelist. To bad he was made metropolitan. St. Innocent of Alaska wasn’t able to do much evangelism after becoming Patriarch of Moscow. Maybe he will actually be freed to become an evangelist now. Maybe we who believe an American Church would be a good thing should find some way to evangelize America so that it may happen. Didn’t St. Innocent form a society precisely to support evangelism in America? Maybe thats what we need now. A society that supports evangelism through time and money and that isn’t under a single jurisdiction.
          You know, I started this just intending to ask you one question. Instead I write about institutional Orthodoxy’s failure to actually build an American Orthodoxy. I guess, stuck where I am in the otherwise beautiful Flint Hills I am keenly aware that my Church is not preaching the gospel in any significant way in this country. Most people here have not a clue that there is an Orthodox Church (my students do). How can we change this? What is being done now isn’t working and waiting for jurisdictional unity is not an option. What can we do now? A cable network mybe? How can it be funded? Other ideas? Lets stop wasting time worrying about what bishops in the OCA are doing. One characteristic of americans is the willingness to do what needs to be done without waiting for someone in leadership to organize us and tell us have to do it. Maybe that trait should be built into the foundation of a future Patriarchate. Maybe we need to get to work with evangelism and let the Bishops catch up.

          • Will Harrington,
            ALL the Orthodox parishes here in America are American. All the parishes of the GOA in the United States of America are American, and so on.
            You know what? I didn’t become Orthodox and get received into the Russian Orthodox Greek Cathoiic Church of North America (“Metropolia’, now OCA) because I was looking for an American Church. What an idea!!!
            I looked for a Church where Christ could be found. That’s the main thing, Will, and all the rest is garbage without it, and transformed with it.
            Pay attention. It doesn’t matter how well the Gospel is preached in a parish if you can’t find Christ there. You may find Christ in a parish where the Priest NEVER indulges himself in his homiletic skills at all, but reads sermons by the Holy Fathers in Cantonese. Face it.
            CAUSES!!!!!!! That’s what’s screwing things up! Forget the American-Russian-Aleut-Greek-Arabic garbage. Go looking for Christ. He is found in other people.

            • Will Harrington says

              I agree. But how to preach our gospel outside the parish and the church effectively? The answer is not with the jurisdictional institutions. No one has the budget. Its not just with the clergy unless thats specifically what they are given to do {again I think of St. Innocent) because they already have full time, if not much more, jobs. the problem that i see is that the Orthodox Church (all the jurisdictions) in America have little presence in America. We are here, but who knows it? Very few people around this area of Kansas, for sure. My students do, but then I teach World History.

          • Harry Coin says

            Will, the reason is that choices affect the future only, and the future is where our kids will be living. Our church has a title ‘Orthodox’ and folk are given to see every week a book carried high over everyone’s head. We have seen here and now with our own eyes that ethnic and off-shore geopolitical concerns have enabled ongoing financial and even sexual predation of the weak under color of church moral authority. This has occurred because loyalty to persons or ‘sacred centers’ has been allowed to become defacto more important than choosing at every chance to promote local growth with integrity and without changing the moral, aspirational, life and dignity affirming inheritance.

            Those folk in those overseas sacred centers and the creatures here they control by exchange of security and money for loyalty get up every day and think how to cement and strengthen their future. They do not move here to be with us, they insist to stay in places like Constantinople (you might know it as ‘Istanbul Turkey), or Antioch (though the folk involved live in Damascus, Syria) and offer to order our affairs here. Note ‘self-rule’ turned out to mean ‘I own you, but thanks for the fundraising while waiting for the Arabic translation’. Or they live in Moscow and have actively chosen to effectively merge with the civil authority there (last time they did that, when the civil authority was rejected so too was the church’s ability to be the moral center and, viola, the USSR was born) For details you can google about physical persecution of loudmouths, seriously fancy missing watches and apartment neighbors visited with vast legal and police grief on the basis construction agitation caused books to become dusty.

            Plainly they have enough to be getting along with than to offer to control matters here. Let’s face the real fear, the idea that the OCA will, owing to dubious highly crafty allegedly actively gay leadership: will use legal mechanisms of hierarchical authority to drive the whole OCA magilla off a moral or financial cliff sooner or later. Well, I think the phrase is ‘God will not be mocked’ and let’s just trust He’s not taking a little nappy. At the least world Orthodoxy will disown such a choice and, moreover, churches that have chosen along those lines are shrinking and fast.

            That’s not to say that qualified folk who wish to leave there and come here to work should be barred. This is a nation of folks from elsewhere and if we’re ethnic bigots of all the world’s people we deserve to whither. I heard that Russia’s Met. Hilarion was thinking about coming here or was asked to consider it, or something in between a while back. Quite a composer, if you haven’t heard it give it a listen. But is he too gummed up in foreign geopolitical entanglements to be trusted not to simply bring all to heel under ‘Mother Russia’? Tough one.

            So to your point about evangelizing America: Failure to create our own synods that take all decisions actually here and police their own ranks, without having to seek approval from foreign centers, is the only way to be other than ‘The Rocky Soil’ of the Gospel. No amount of activity at the local level will pour ‘enough water into the boat to overcome the holes blasted in the bottom by screwed up leadership.’ That’s just how it is. Folk who want overdressed ordained young never married folk in foreign centers to define their faith already have that choice (google ‘universal ordinary’ and ‘Christ’s vicar on Earth’). Let’s not ‘me too’ a model that is not working out so hot.

            • Will Harrington says

              Harry. You are an American. No one owns you but God, whatever jurisdiction you find yourself. No one tells you where you have to spend your money but the government, and even they can’t tell you where to spend all of it. Frankly I don’t see how the OCA has improved over the “Scarequoted Overseas unscarequoted”. I am pretty sure that the reason there is no American Patriarchate yet is because the Church is largely hidden from the majority of Americans. The only way I see to solve that problem is through evangelism. How do we do that? How do we show the culture at large that we have the fullness of the Gospel? The problem with just relying on personal interaction is, outside of the immediate area of a parish, there is no personal interaction. This means that across large swaths of the US, people simply have no access to the Orthodox faith, and aren’t even aware of it. the only choices they have are heresies.
              The ethnic jurisdictional problems and the current scandals in the OCA are real problems, but maybe the way to solve them is to return to the great commission. If enough people in the parishes can pool resources and find effective ways to do this, then I think it is likely that these problems will sort themselves out because sometimes leaders have no choice but to change direction and get out in front of their people when their people have chosen the direction they will go. (My greatest fear writing this is that someone will say “why don.t you do it?”. I survived my first year teaching sophmore through senior English and World History. I’m the first teacher to be back for a second year in five years and I have to design a curriculum that will work this year under old state standards and next year under new standards. No time, really.” Maybe next year.)

              • Harry Coin says

                Will, I completely agree with and admire your recognition and elevation of evangelism.

                I urge you to recognize and not overlook that Orthodox evangelism doesn’t end with effectively presenting and living oneself how all this is supposed to be to folk. Our leadership decisions and not only parish life has to at least credibly be seen to aim in practice for that which we uphold in presentation. Evangelism is akin to bringing water and pouring it into a tub. No water remains in the tub when the drain is open, even though that open drain is not seen at first. But it is felt a little, then more, and then— gone. No water having passed through the tub will likely pass that way a second time. Our situation is exactly that described in the Gospel as ‘The Rocky Soil’. Evangelistic efforts bring folk because of the wholesome nature and the integrity there. But then, those few with fantastic but distant authority are supposed to, on balance be boons of tremendous positive effect on the parish community, they are supposed to be leaders who model and do and live all this in ways meant to be confirmed, validated, self-policed examples of how this is all possible and carriers of the good that flows from it all. Instead we see on balance the creation of negative pressure on the parish life, of the sort we read here. We have to look to the content upheld and act with harmony there about what’s to be done. And what do we see there? Local decision making, an end to strife based on language and ethnic dimensions. Ergo, distant administration along ethnic lines, even if papered-over by a ‘seeming local bishop’s annual picnic’, won’t make for a sustainable future.

                That’s why these matters of getting our house in order is so very important. At least, that’s why I care. Others I’m sure have their own perspectives.

    • How do Rod Dreher and myself qualify as “pseudonymous”, “Nilus,” whoever you are? i’m not sure whose flunkies we might be either. Did you graduate from high school? Do you know what “pseudonymous” and ‘flunkey” mean?
      Rod is a gainfully employed journalist, I understand. I’m no gainfully employed anything, but a Bishop who retired honorable from the see of San Francisco and the West after serving honorably there, according to, for example, the recent testimonial to my years in the Episcopate issued by the Diocese of the West on the occasion of my 25 years service in the episcopate. I am also retired from mlitary service, having served 10 years as an Air Force officer and three years as an enlisted man reaching E-5 in two years, in the U.S.Army Signal Corps. Jesse Cone is not a pseudonym.
      Whom do you work for, Nilus? What’s your family name? Where’s your parish? You’re not using a pseudonym, are you?
      You know what? The phrase “Rock Star of World Orthodoxy” is what is known in educated circles as hyperbole. Every hear of that? Not everything going on in the Holy Synod or elsewhere in the OCA has been attributed to conspiracy. Nevertheless, even YOU, whoever you are, must acknowledge that email of Mark Stokoe, Faith Skordinski and others showed them conspiring about Metropolitan Jonah and his future.
      Why not acknowledge that the Holy Synod has NEVER acknowledged that they and they alone are responsible for the election to Primate of Metropolitan Jonah–not only responsible for it, but they themselves and no one else DID it. When have they acknowledged that as an error of theirs? Why have they not done so? When have they asked, in a SIGNED encyclical, that the clergy and faithful of The Orthodox Church in America, forgive them for their demonstrated dereliction of duty in that?
      Try some cofffee or the like, some deep breaths, some prayrers, and maybe your mind will clear up and perceive…REALITY!
      “Helga” is a great name, so is ‘Nikos.’
      But what about a name like Nilus? is is your name or is it a pseudonym, inspired by your admiration for Sergius Nilus, that pre-revolutionary snake-oil salesman who made a career purveying the “Protocols of the Elders of Sion?” We’re not all cut from the same cloth, George, Helga, Rod, Jesse and i, etc., far from it! I’ve always been like my mother and father an hourly wage-earner, quite far over on the American left. While I am almost as fanatically anti-abortion as Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice (also a notorious lefty), I hold views in many ways antithetical to George’s. SO WHAT! What’re you gonna do about it, Nilus? No one asked you to participate in these discussions? What do you hope to accomplish, convinced we are all irrational fanatics?

      • Your Grace, you may dump on me personally (you’ve done it before) but please don’t malign my name, or by extension my patron saint. I’m sorry Sergius Nilus came to your mind before the great St. Nil Sorski; you can learn more about him here, Vladyko: OCAFS – Ven. Nilus of Sora

        If you’re concerned about me and my station in life, a little googling could get you a long way; there aren’t too many Niluses (Nili?) in the OCA. But I don’t see why that should matter. Seems to be the ‘house rules,’ and besides, I’m not the one prognosticating the demise of our dear Church.

        • You started it Nilus. You called me and others “pseudonymous” and flunkies. You can’t have it both ways. Your smart ass comments were met a snarky reply. Now you take the high ground? If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.

          • You’re right, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have called you flunkies. I am just upset that some here seem ready (maybe even eager?) to proclaim that the OCA is dead. I’d prefer to continue the work of restoring and rebuilding our Church, instead.

            • Defend the Faith says


              The Church will survive. The decisions the OCA make now and going forward will determine if it does. But you can’t convict a man, sentence him, and execute him and then claim you are now investigating the matter. That is why there must be an independent inquiry.

              • Harry Coin says

                The ‘independent inquiry’ is all the folks on the MC and the parish clergy who, if the facts alleged are false, will make that abundantly clear. So far perhaps those who support Met. Jonah ought to take him at his word. The man can’t be someone who signed a resignation paper and also of such character that he would never have done such a thing improperly. You can’t have it both ways and be credited as serious.

                • Harry,

                  There is a section in the Synod’s letter of explanation that concerns me. It is the part in which they claim that Jonah since his resignation, is not taking any responsibility for his actions and is saying things contrary to their understanding of the facts.

                  Could these statements by Jonah include that he didn’t resign freely but under duress? Could it be that Jonah was under the impression that he was only giving up being the Primate but not an active bishop? Even in his resignation letter he asks to be considered for another assignment. Was he promised that if he stepped down he could get another assignment? We do know that he spoke on more than one occasion that he would like to go back to the DOS. I think it is understandable that under extreme pressure, being isolated or isolating himself, the word coming to him that the entire Synod wanted him to step down, he signed the letter that was published. But what did Jonah think he was signing?

                  Others have concluded that the style was not Jonah’s just like the inserted section in his Seattle Address in which he took all the blame for all the things going wrong in the OCA, was also not his writing style.

                  We may never know the answer to these questions, but on the face of it, it is very easy, as you stated that the case is closed because he stepped down and that should be enough for everyone. It is enough for the Synod and Syosset, but there are still many who are not sure and in the absence of Jonah stepping forward now to say that he freely stepped down, it is going to be an open question.

                  I am happy you have enough evidence, but you are also not a member of the OCA and thus for us in the OCA, we can ask this and other questions.

        • Monk James says

          A small matter, I admit, but St Nil of Sora and St Neilos of Egypt are pretty generally not referred to as ‘Nilus’, a latin form a bit alien to our tradition, and bound to incite some wonderment.

          • Not sure about that, Monk James. I’ve long taken an interest in Нил Сорский and in English he is almost always referred to as ‘Nilus of Sora’, even on the OCA website. Many Eastern saints have always been known in the West by the Latin form of their name, I assume because Latin is the ecclesiastical language of the West. That is a historical fact about which which we need not make any value judgments. A small point, though, I grant you.

        • Thanks, “Nilus” for making yourself a little less pseudonymous. And thanks for apologizing for your message having brought to mind Sergius Nilus and driving out all thoughts of Nil Sorsky! (i couldn’t imagine you’d even heard of the Russian saint!!!) As for the OCA website’s usage, it’s quite erratic. For example, “Juvenal” has existed as a name for centuries in English, but the OCA web site probably has “Juvenaly” , which is not at all consistent with your use of Nilus for the Saint at Sora. You’ll even see Yakov or the like there for James, let alone Jacob.

    • Defend The Faith says


      I don’t think it is helpful to disregard the ideas of people simply because you reject them as ’pseudonynymous’ flunkies. You have every right to object to their words, but you lower yourself with the “I told you so” piling on.

      The story as it has been constructed and served to the OCA by the Holy Synod is one, to my reading, based on fear, legal consequences, and not out of an abundance of brotherly concern. I can imagine that the case against Jonah was underpinned by lawyers advising about protecting their client (the OCA, the non-profit of NYS.) I can believe that they were advised to “cut their losses”, “protect yourself”, “build a firewall around the OCA”. This may be the best legal advice, and possibly correct.

      There are tell-tale signs of this in the weeks leading up to Jonah’s removal. We were greeted almost on a daily basis through press releases and the Daily Diary of Chancellor Jillions about sexual-misconduct cases, hiring a Sexual Misconduct person (Sex Czar), how important they were, how we must add staff to the OCA Chancery to deal with these matters. I think in retrospect we may have been dealing with Jonah and the OCA bishops and staff building their case against him and not necessarily a slew of other situations. I believe that in this atmosphere it is not unreasonable to conclude that there was a hyper-charged atmosphere in which men, the Holy Synod, were swept up into the maelstrom and were frightened already predisposed to question Jonah.

      It reminds me of a previous well-documented hyper-charged atmosphere of the OCA Metropolitan Council when MC members were returning to their respective dioceses all convinced that “Indictments against Kondratick will be coming down any day.” They were so sure that they must enter a countersuit vs. the Kondratick’s but ended up spending $500,000 on top of the other $700,000 the OCA paid to Proskere Rose law firm to protect Herman, and in the end, the OCA lost, paid Kondratick $250,000 and the Holy Synod removed Herman. I mention this not to defend Kondratick or Herman but to show the aftermath of a “group-think” that can lead to actions out of fear.

      Now we hear there is an on-going investigation. Fr. Jillions confirmed this yesterday at the DOS Assembly in Miami. If I may, I have some questions. Who authorized the investigation? The Metropolitan would have to authorize it. That is according to their own policies. Who is on this investigation team? Are they at “arms length” distance from the Synod, Syosset and Metropolitan Jonah? Are any of the people doing the investigation the same people who have links to Santa Fe or the statement the Metropolitan signed in Seattle? Is the investigation using people like Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, Bp. Benjamin, or Bishop Melchezidek in the production of documents? I ask this because all of them have gone on record before the Metropolitan’s retirement to their serious objections to his leadership. They may be right, but you don’t compromise your case by using people who are prejudicial. It also looks pretty bad if the whole affair ends up in court.

      Again, I am going to suggest that maybe the only way the OCA can weather this current storm is by engaging a totally independent outside “special prosecutor” with no ties to the OCA or the personalities involved, who will have free and unfettered access to all the emails, phone records, minutes, reports, with the same access to question anyone and everyone necessary to come to a totally independent and impartial conclusion. Short of this, we are asking inside people with ties to this affair to tell us their “independent and unbiased” conclusions. I don’t think that is a smart thing to do. As George titled this thread, “You Can’t Fix Stupid.”

      Short of this, we will have acted using the recent court decision of Monsq. Lynn as a backdrop, but reaching it by the old RC methods of trying to police ourselves. The OCA has done too much of this over the past 8 years with ever more negative results, one built upon the other. What will the next crisis involve and how will it be handled? By another internal investigation, veiled in secrecy, resulting with another fait accompli.

      I would hope that the Holy Synod and the Syosset staff would welcome a free and independent investigation that would vindicate their actions. To me that would be the best result and truly change the credibility of the OCA.

      I don’t make any claim that Jonah is innocent or guilty. That has already been done by the Holy Synod. Having found him guilty, they must prove this to all of us. I don’t believe this is the American way of justice nor do I think it should be the Church’s.

      We can do better. We must do better, for God’s sake.

  8. Harry Coin says

    What a revealing essay. Why did it not address the things mentioned by the synod as reasons they asked Jonah to resign?

    Maybe because Met. Jonah has many good points that people like George who like things ‘overseas’ liked very well, and also many qualities not consistent with anything other than using his and others donated money to pay off victims of crimes Met. Jonah’s lack of judgement was creating according to the details released and supported by the whole of the synod and to date the whole of the MC (not one voice raised in dissent any have heard that I know of).

    Seems mostly George and anonymous people are ready to quit the OCA on the basis that those wealthier in other ‘jurisdictions’ George admires think of the OCA as ‘downmarket Orthodox’. I notice Christ recruited fishermen. Might be a hint there.

    The OCA has problems. One of them is not being owned by the ‘Missing Watch’ mentality, the ‘Support the molesting unmarried seminarian’ mentality, or the ‘self ruled means Damascus Owns You’ mentality. So, maybe on balance these problems have a chance at being corrected.

    The folks in the parishes, their life is mostly healthy and they deserve to not have their money given to lawyers and victim’s mental health doctors. Not being owned by overseas types is the only recipe that includes the ability to attract and retain folks. The only one. Don’t blow it.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Maybe because their allegations, Harry? And written in an illogical, incoherent manner?

      I’m serious folks, I wrote that essay in less than 30 minutes in between drinking coffee and eating Raisin Bran. I’m not a lawyer and took it apart. Imagine if this was all that stood between the OCA and a defamation suit.

      • Harry Coin says

        Your ‘taking it apart’ presuppose success ought rightly be measured by your assessment of what folks owned by those overseas ‘must think’. You overlook that each of them has quite recently experienced some really seriously awful stuff that makes the dollars wasted paying for avoidable damage here seem quite small indeed.

  9. Ken Miller says

    One of Monomakhos’ first posts about Jonah contrasted Jonah’s strength – Vision – with the uninspiring bureacratic statements out of Syosset. That is the thing the Holy Synod never got. Hierarchs who will fall over themselves to play ball with Syosset are a dime a dozen. Hierarchs with a spiritual vision for the church that can inspire audiences within and outside of Orthodoxy are exceedingly rare. So, the Holy Synod will now trade in a spiritual leader for someone who will spend more time reading the Syosset policy manuals. Well played, guys, well played! When you appear at the final judgment, I hope you bring a copy of your policy manuals – God will be impressed!

    • Harry Coin says

      Ken, What good is articulated vision if the sort of folk the same person chooses generates victims? Where will the millions come from to pay the lawyers and the victims? The good qualities you mention I among so many admired, but really now, if the police reports exist and so forth and the Met. Jonah knew about it and gave the same one to oversee others: Who could pack water quickly enough to the fires one like that starts?

      • Ken Miller says

        Jonah never “chose” the perpetrator. The perpetrator was not in the OCA jurisdiction (he was Greek), the victim was not a minor (as I understand it), the event had happened several years before Jonah became aware of it, as soon as Jonah was aware of it he made it clear to the perpetrator that he was not welcome in OCA churches (which is the exact parallel thing that Metropolitan Hilarion did in ROCOR to this individual). Those are a LOT of mitigating factors. I am not an expert in the official OCA policy, and I don’t know whether the policy when taken to the letter requires immediately reporting to the police given all of these factors. Of course, if an OCA priest were to molest a minor, everyone would agree wholeheartedly that immediate reporting to the police is the only right course. When an adult is involved and there is no OCA priest involved, it certainly isn’t obvious to me that the compassionate thing is to drag them to the police station and have them relive the situation through police questioning. An adult needs compassionate guidance and support to make their own decisions, not an automatic reflex to immediately drag them to the police station. I don’t know the victim, but I know someone who does, and it is my understanding that there is no animis on their part toward Jonah, no accusation that he did the wrong thing. All of that sentiment is manufactured by the Holy Synod. Even if it could be proven that given all the factors that Jonah technically violated the policy, and I don’t know that for sure that he did, expelling a first hierarch is not the only option. Let them take him to ecclesiastical court and at least give him due process rather than holding a conference call by cell phone to decide that they have the authority to over-ride the deliberated and careful election by all the bishops under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and oust the metropolitan.

        In answer to your question, yes, I would rather have a metropolitan with Spiritual vision and accept some risk of lawsuit than to have a bean counter politician as metropolitan with no vision. Material things mean nothing to me, they are simply a distraction from what is needful. I would rather lose all of our land and properties but have a living breathing spirituality within the church than to be rich in land, buildings, etc and simply go through the motions like zombies. On the other hand, my kids do love zombies….

        • Harry Coin says

          Ken, thanks for that. What this situation needs is clarity along the lines you’ve indicated. The synod’s actions are heavily reliant upon this retaining of a predatory person in the context of the Sandusky affair and other overlooked misconduct. If that’s all smoke, that needs credible reportage and right soon. You seem to be in possession of information suggesting it’s all smoke. If there are official records let’s publish them, because otherwise it’s all a whisper campaign.

          Still and all, the thing all the supporters have yet to deal with, is that Met. Jonah either is the man of principle described and so resigned properly owing to all the facts he knows. Or he resigned because of money and put principle to the side. Here the folks all write as if he was deposed, and the writers here sort of don’t deal with the fact he resigned. Either he did so without regard to principle and so isn’t the fellow described here for these many months; or he is a person of principle and acknowledged as he wrote himself.

          Is there any other creditable way forward? Perhaps Met. Jonah did as he wrote and signed for the reasons he wrote and signed. Why not grant him that? (Maybe because granting him that brings an end to this ‘lets go appeal to folk who have worse problems than us’ dance?)

          Met. Jonah, a man held here to be of honor and not a creature owned by money, chose to resign. If it was bamboozlement and deceptions and so on he would not have done that. That really brings an end to these conspiracy theories.

          • I am going to ask this question again, but I don’t think there is a clear answer, but one that only the Synod can answer:

            Is the central piece of evidence, the main charge against Metropolitan Jonah the first change against Fr. Symeon (who at the time was a lay monk) is the main charge the same charge that the SMPAC report investigated with Jonah’s approval, is this the central issue? If it is, that charge was later dropped by the woman. There was no charge of rape in that case, rather that this man supposedly brandished a gun and assaulted her. Again that case was closed because the woman dropped the charges and the police did not pursue it. Jonah cut his ties with this lay monk after this incident.

            This however was the same incident which Faith Skordinski and Bp. Melchizedek pursued and used to setup the Santa Fe confrontation. They were the ones who introduced the word rape into the case. But by this time, Metropolitan Jonah cut his ties with this monk, sent him packing, whereupon he later resurfaced after the DC Nuns were accepted into ROCOR. If ROCOR accepted this man as part of the DC Nuns community, that was not Jonah’s fault. That would be the fault of the DC Nuns who gave shelter to this priestmonk when they entered ROCOR. Now, apparently, ROCOR has told this priestmonk, to hit the road and he is in Greece.

            Is there another incident involving this Fr. Symeon while he was the invited guest of Jonah, as the nuns were? I am not aware of another incident within the timeframe when he was an invited guest of Jonah, but also not a member of the OCA, either as a lay monk or as a priestmonk? It is also very clear and true that this monk and the DC nuns were before Jonah, while with Jonah and now after Jonah and in ROCOR, under the direct obedience of Elder Dionysius. This cannot be overlooked because as I understand it their ultimate allegiance was and is to Dionysius not a local bishop. This is wrong.

            Until this is cleared up, there will be an apparent large hole in the case against Jonah. I am not asking these questions to defend Jonah. Rather if this was the “straw” that broke the Synod’s relationship with Jonah, then it is the wrong straw. I also think that it can be asked equally of both Jonah and the Synod, “What did you all know and when did you know it and is everyone working from the same timeline.

            If I have missed something, I am listening. Thanks.

            • Great statement of a crucial question.

            • Jane Rachel says

              Amos, your comments and explanations of what could have or really did happen make sense. This gives a reasonable explanation to the situation with Father Symeon. When I read it, it clicked together. I can see this scenario, but not the one where a good man deliberately does bad things.

              The twisting and turning of the truth into half-truths and hidden truths that are meant only to smear a man, destroy him, get rid of him, and get him away from the skeletons in the closets – this is a pattern and it has been done before, almost exactly to a tee, with other leaders (who knew about skeletons). All done by the same crowd for the same reasons. I’m disappointed in Bishop Matthias. Maybe he was hoodwinked. Well, if he knows this is what happened, and not what the bishops wrote, he should apologize. Like he ever will. No, these men smile nice but they are just like the leaders of the Israel of old. History repeats itself.

              I’m so glad the “read all comments” feature is back on. I would have missed this and other comments.

              • Ronda Wintheiser says

                I am glad the Synod finally gave a reason for what they did. Now there is something to examine. And being almost completely ignorant and unaware of all of the politics involved in the OCA, I appreciate being able to examine a particular examination right here on George’s blog.

                Thank you again for that, Mr. Michalopulos.

                They accused him of receiving an alcoholic priest. There is also this allegation from a woman about a rape. These charges of necessity give rise to all new questions. Can they be corroborated? Will they be openly laid out for examination?

                Or were the two letters offered as a sort of smokescreen to mollify us and make us settle down and leave them to do whatever it is that they are doing?

                What about Fr. Susan? Where is he now? What did the Synod ever do to respond to the charges he submitted? Or did that all die with Archbishop JOB?

                The charges leveled at the Metropolitan are hollow until they have cleaned their own house. They accuse him of what they appear to be guilty of. The pots are calling the kettle black.

                Glen Chancy has written in an Orthodox group on a social medium site elsewhere that although Metropolitan Jonah did not have the administrative experience for this “job”, he is someone uniquely suited to be a diocesan bishop — a position in which he would have acquired skills in handling parishes and their issues. That he would have made mistakes on a local level and not have been subjected to constant, relentless scrutiny by a group of bishops (and I cannot help but wonder if they may very well have resented his sudden rise in popularity. It does remind one of Joseph and his brothers as has been observed elsewhere… “Here comes that dreamer…” )

                Anyone who heard him speak — and I did hear him twice, prior to his election — could not help but agree with Glen’s assessment that he would make and did indeed become the most worthy bishop that the OCA has. In a few years, he would have learned all he needs to be a metropolitan. It is difficult to look back and not conclude that it was partly the situation caused by many of the same bishops who are his accusers that resulted in his possibly “untimely” or premature election.

                Once he was there, he ought to have had their full support as he learned the skills he needs. I do not believe he had that.

                Jane says she is disappointed in Bishop MATTHIAS. I don’t know what to think. I voted for him at the diocesan assembly where he was elected because I sensed his piety and humility, and although I am not ready to jettison my respect for him yet.

                I wonder if these newer, apparently pious bishops are being used as shields, in a way, by the “old guard” bishops whose reputations and credibility are very much in question — e.g. why do you suppose +MATTHIAS was the one to write those letters?

                And perhaps +MATTHIAS, et al are going along with things, as someone said somewhere, out of their commitment to traditional obedience, etc. Which is, in my mind, Harry, the most obvious conclusion to draw about why Metropolitan JONAH submitted to signing the resignation letter. I have an essay he wrote at some point where he explains using the Jesus Prayer and quotes his spiritual father in seminary: “Do not resent. Do not react. Keep inner stillness.”

                I would guess that is where he is striving to be now.

                I agree that the only way this can be resolved is for there to be a full investigation by an outside agent of some kind, and for the bishops to open themselves up to scrutiny and take responsibility for what they are responsible for — a debacle. They act as if they are in authority, but that is backward, isn’t it? We are to respond to them as authority, but they are to serve us (the Church) in love, no?

                This reminds me of what it is to try to be a submissive wife. Yes, I can submit alright. But if you act in a way that is oppressive or deceitful or contemptuous… you may have my obedience, but you will lose my faith, and worse, my heart.

                If they were to humble themselves and clean their own house, I would feel that I could trust them and revere them as holy.

                At this point, that word applied to the Synod rings hollow.

            • Harry Coin says

              ‘Amos’ here has effectively pushed the needle back to dead center, raising credible reason to doubt in my view. For resolution, this situation calls for the creation and publication of what I call a ‘verifiable timeline’. The distinguishing features of this sort of timeline are:

              1. Each entry begins with the event’s date. Events that are related but distinct should have their own entries.
              2. Each entry contains the actual name of the person or group attesting to its truth.
              3. Entries never contain unattributed interpretations or assessments.
              4. Entries always contain reference to the location most associated with the event.

              The reason these timelines lead to resolution is that they defeat ‘agenda based narratives’. Narratives that clash with these timelines are either improved or reveal an agenda other than truth seeking. Timelines that omit relevant detail are filled in by those given to believe otherwise. They gain a life of their own as various contributors amend and revise.

              P.S. To me it remains critically relevant that no synod member nor Metropolitan Council member with access to the documents nor even ‘clergyman in the know’ nor Met. Jonah himself has come forward expressing anything other than assent to the narratives officially put forth to date. Bloggers and others who dislike the outcome or dislike their view of what it might or ought to portend do not bring new facts, perhaps questions but no facts. If this is all some carefully crafted story based on fraudulent over-amplification of that which has no basis— could it really fool everyone? It’s possible, but really, really unlikely.

              Last, I reject totally the idea that Met. Jonah, leader of the OCA, with friends of the sort we see here and elsewhere across the land, acted and chose to resign because he lacked supporters enough to generate enough money to tide him and whatever his personal charitable giving activities might be– I just don’t buy it. A parish priest, ok, maybe, an office worker, ok. Diocesan bishop? ‘Primate’ (what a word) of a church? Please.

          • The inimitable Harry Coin writes,

            Still and all, the thing all the supporters have yet to deal with, is that Met. Jonah either is the man of principle described and so resigned properly owing to all the facts he knows. Or he resigned because of money and put principle to the side. Here the folks all write as if he was deposed, and the writers here sort of don’t deal with the fact he resigned. Either he did so without regard to principle and so isn’t the fellow described here for these many months; or he is a person of principle and acknowledged as he wrote himself.

            You’re losing something in translation here, Harry. You say it’s between money and principle. What you’re missing here is that the “money” issue was a direct threat on the well-being of the Paffhausen family, and the letter of resignation itself acknowledged this.

            Met. Jonah took a vow of poverty, his family didn’t. Being given a choice between resigning, versus staying and having his family suffer immediate hardship, is not a free choice.

            • Harry Coin says

              We all have our giving needs, and the idea the leader of a church doesn’t have supporters enough to keep a monk in a roof and soup with some left over to help out with others given social security and so on is just really a stretch too far you know.

              • Thanks for the reminder, Harry. For anyone who would like to help Met. Jonah with his expenses at this difficult time, his mailing address is as follows:

                Metropolitan Jonah
                3523 Edmunds St. NW
                Washington, DC 20007

                His legal name for taking checks is James Paffhausen.

          • Will Harrington says

            Principal? If he was forced to resign under duress because his families wellbeing was threatened with the less of his/their income if he didn’t resign, then I have much more respect for someone who accepted personal humiliation for his families sake than for someone who “stood on principal”. We are dealing mwith hypotheticals but he hypothetical you just posited should have an obvious answer. If Jonah accepted a lie about himself and admitted to it out of love for his parents then he demonstrated humility and he honored his parents. If he deprived his parents of care in order to defy accusation and protect his name, then he would not have been someone to credit with upholding his princepals but someone who gave in to pride.

            • Harry Coin says

              Will, you appear to accept the idea that the leader of an entire church in the USA hasn’t supporters enough to keep him and who he chooses to support alive. That idea is without reasonable basis.

        • since when? says

          if an OCA priest were to molest a minor, everyone would agree wholeheartedly that immediate reporting to the police is the only right course. When an adult is involved and there is no OCA priest involved, it certainly isn’t obvious to me that the compassionate thing is to drag them to the police station and have them relive the situation through police questioning. An adult needs compassionate guidance and support to make their own decisions, not an automatic reflex to immediately drag them to the police station. I don’t know the victim, but I know someone who does,

          There is a big difference between allegations of rape and molestation sir, certainly from a legal perspective.

          If you have information pertaining to the case you should step foward and bear witness.

        • Joseph A. says

          If Met. Jonah and Met. Hilarion responded similarly to this Fr. Symeon fellow, why aren’t our (ROCOR) bishops in an uproar? Why aren’t we raising Cain about liability, criminality, and such? It makes one think that the OCA synod was looking for an opportunity, or maybe our bishops are just too concerned about trivial things like the gospel and looking after the souls of their flock.

  10. Harry Coin says

    John, on what basis do you overlook this report of knowingly putting one accused of rape and other violence in charge of the spiritual lives of others? I mean, you know, that’s a ‘except for that Mrs. Lincoln how was the play’ sort of comment.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Harry, both of those allegations are just that–allegations.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Maybe because it’s an allegation Harry? And that bishops are not criminal investigators? Look at this way, you want to know about Ambien, come to me. You want to know about Theodoret of Mopsuestia, go to St Vlad’s.

      • Thomas Mathes says

        George, you were pleased when Archbishop Joseph deposed Robert Ruark without a criminal conviction and without a spiritual court. (I am also pleased). But now you seem to be operating by a different set of rules. Is this an instance of that old adage, “it depends on whose ox is being gored”?

        • another one says

          When the accused admits the deeds, you’d like to have a court anyway? T’was done rightly….

          • Fr. Philip says

            Yes, actually, I would like to have the court anyway. And no, it was not done rightly. The Sacred Canons prescribe how bishops, presbyters, and deacons are to be deposed; and skipping the proper canonical order of things is as unacceptable in the case of the admittedly-guilty as in the case of one claiming innocence. The proper administration of justice is even more important in the life of the Church than in secular society, because as Christians we are called to a higher standard. And even in the secular justice system, a guilty plea must be accepted by a judge in an open court (and, in the case of a plea agreement, the defendant must allocute)…or would you prefer that the cops simply take the authority to jail immediately those who admit their guilt (perhaps as a result of a brow-beaten “confession”)? If we in the OCA are in trouble (IF????) it’s because too many among us think we can with impunity be wiser than Holy Tradition.

            • Thank you, Fr. Philip, for mentioning the Holy Canons. It is appalling how few people even bother to think of what the Canons prescribe. Instead, the discussion seems to concentrate on administrative issues and matters of secular law. And yet the Canons are very clear on the punishment for the clergy guilty of conspiracy against another: “Therefore, if any, whether clergymen or monks, should be detected conspiring or banding together, or hatching plots against their bishops or fellow-clergy, they shall by all means be deposed from their own rank” (Canon 18 of Chalcedon). The same is reaffirmed by Canon 34 of Trullo. Yes, we need an investigation of this whole matter conducted by an outside authority and an ecclesiastical trial.

    • Harry Coin says

      Guys: Then why has nobody from the synod or on the MC who has had access to original documents stood up to agree with your view? They could do so without revealing anything improper if they chose to do that. Not one. Here all you folks have is reflections on your characterizations and feelings about the subject. If the priest in question wasn’t guilty of misdoing by now 20 anonymous people would point to the police reports showing that. He would be giving statements online and to the press about how it all wasn’t so. But…. no, it hasn’t happened. All you have is firmly stated conclusions that rest upon not more than your dislike of events! Zero actual records and zero actual people in positions to know are with you. Not one! Why not?

      Remember I really liked many of Met. Jonah’s speeches, I think being relevant in the public spaces is a good idea for membership. I am beyond sorry this happened. Look, if there is anybody that can point to any official record, has an actual statement from anyone in a position to know -post it!! Soon!! And use a name of the sort people use on driver’s licenses, not online variants on ‘PaidToBSubmissive’ or ’30PiecesOfSilverInvestmentStrategies’.

      • Daniel E. Fall says

        And two Chancellors are certainly evil conspirators, too, huh Harry?

      • I know that there are voices of disapproval on the MC and that such voices were all but shouted down by members of the synod and syosset staff on the MC smartphone conference call last week. It is only a matter of time before more information comes to light. At the moment, message control is key and attempts to calm the masses, especially in the DOS is their prime concern.

        Where it will all end up, only God knows.

        • Nikos, I think the important thing right now is to get Met. Jonah out of harm’s way – resolve the issues and get him a stable position somewhere. Do you have any idea what they have in mind for him? His domestic situation and need for a salaried position makes it impossible to just dump him in a monastery.

          • The only thing that he has been “promised” is that if he keeps quiet he will be paid till October. No other “promises” have been made to him. There is little doubt in my mind that he is in no position to defend himself. The course was set by the synod.

            The best I think he can hope for is that he will be blessed to go to a monastery and live out his days as a monk. I don’t see any scenario where he will be an active diocesan bishop in the OCA or anywhere else. I think the full-court press, if I can charaterize it, going on in the DOS is to cut that off, even thought there were calls for that in Miami. And, if what the synod says is true, then he should not be given that opportunity. That is the agenda of the synod and Syosset and it is in their hands how it will play out.

            • Nikos, he can’t go to a monastery as long as his family needs him. It seems rude to speculate further on that front, but let’s just assume the family situation is for the foreseeable future. I just don’t think that idea is workable.

              Let’s say we get the worst case scenario, everything the Synod says turns out to be true and indisputable. Hopefully he gets out of this with his holy orders intact and needs something to do. Well, working for the Church doesn’t mean he has to be a diocesan bishop.

              I thought a good place for him would be chaplain of a women’s monastery. It would give him a connection to the monastic life and community that he needs for his well-being, while still having a separate dwelling where he would be able to live with his family. The nuns would provide for his and his family’s needs in exchange for having him there to celebrate the services. He would not have the administrative responsibilities that led to his downfall, and both the abbess and diocesan bishop would keep an eye on him. His friends and spiritual children could come visit him and hopefully contribute to his family’s upkeep.

              None of this is to say I am assuming Met. Jonah is guilty, far from it. I just wanted to float an idea I had for something that might be able to satisfy everyone who wants to take a piece out of Met. Jonah, and take Met. Jonah’s known needs into account.

              • He would not have the administrative responsibilities that led to his downfall

                I know this line has been put forth from various sources, but it appears to have little basis in fact. If what the author here says is true, it’s looking more like a coup d’etat is what led to Metropolitan Jonah’s “downfall.”

                • Indeed, wyclif.

                  The only reason I proposed the above scenario was to account for the contingency that Met. Jonah would be found responsible for what he’s being accused of, to prove there is a context in which he could work for the Church without being a substantial risk to the all-important policies and procedures.

  11. Seraphim98 says

    Just speaking as one of the little people in the OCA, within the diocese of the South, no one of particular insight, authority, or information. The information we get is heavily filtered, and we have to be careful of the information we scrounge for it can be easily tainted by personalities, agendas, biases, rumors, be incomplete, misconstrued, and mistaken in it’s content…and then there’s there weariness thing. Not again…not after the scandal of our former leaders…not so soon, and not without a full and transparent accounting within the bounds of propriety.

    Given the latest out of Syosset we don’t know who to believe. On the surface the letter from the synod seems direct and detailed enough…yet on closer examination as has been shown here, there remain serious questions about what’s going on and why. Then there is the question of why things were handled as they were…even if Metropolitan Jonah needed to step down…was there no way that did not involve this sudden humiliation? Maybe, maybe not. We don’t know and we don’t know who to believe. We don’t have the networks…much good they would do without some power to act in support of one or the other…or of some other.

    Based on what I’ve seen in my own parish, most if not all would welcome the Metropolitan back as our Bishop…then we could see and if necessary judge for ourselves if the allegations made against him are rooted in fact or animus. He was to be ours. It could be so again….of course that would mean he would be on that synod we no longer know quite what to think about or how to regard. That would at least return us to something like the status quo ante bellum…our Bishop guarding us, shepherding us as best he can, keeping us as safe as possible from the troubles that belong to Syosset.

    I think in the diocese of the South we don’t care so much about the machinations outside the Diocese…under our late Archbishop we felt free to practice and deepen our faith, to share it with our neighbors and friends and slowly watch the Orthodox faith take root in so many towns and cities that had never known it before. It was like being on one of the few parts of a ship that wasn’t sinking…There were one or two other dioceses we fell a keener kinship/alliance…feeling perhaps that a generation or so hence, it would be our parishes by in large which would be the OCA, and which given time and opportunity might produce the leadership that it needed to survive and thrive. Maybe that was just my own triumphalistic and hubristic daydreaming.

    It is obvious there are some big problems somewhere with relation to our synod and the OCA’s organs of self governance at Syosset, but looking for stones to throw seems counterproductive. I’m not wise enough to pick a suitable target, nor strong enough to make it count. Better for the likes of me to pray and ask God to help the Synod and the Metropolitan, and us all.

    Speaking personally, I was sad to lose Met. Jonah to the white hat so soon after his raising to the episcopate, but I liked his fire. I liked when he stood up for us to the EP, I liked his willingness to reconsider the worth of our tomos in the light of Orthodoxy’s need for a united voice in North America….for canonical norming of our jurisdictional mess here. I liked how he built bridges to Moscow, and how he dealt with the snubs at the Episcopal Assembly is such apparent humility and grace…at least publicly. This is not to say everything he did I understood or cheered over…things like the situation with Fr. Fester or with Bishop Mark, to name a couple. I don’t know what actions were right, wrong, or necessary…though I’ve some tepidly formed opinions. I figured some of that was just part of his learning curve.

    What I do know is this, if my parish is in any way indicative of the general mood of the Diocese of the South…we will not be happy if Metropolitan Jonah is treated badly or in any way furthered humiliated. Let it be. Give him back to us, let him teach in a seminary…something as befits his dignity and integrity. Secondly, Fr. Gerasim was being vetted among us as a potential candidate to be our new bishop. Many of us liked him a great deal…the most we’ve liked anyone presented for our consideration since Metropolitan Jonah’s being made a bishop. Given recent developments that have doubtless been in the works for some time it is understandable why his situation/consideration got put on a back burner for the moment. If however, it turns out he is simply being set aside for consideration or is otherwise treated badly given the sacrifices he has made in order to be worthy of the dignity at least conditionally put before him…then we of the Diocese of the South will not be happy either….and if on top of that we are kept waiting for a bishop or given such a bishop as is not a good fit for us…I think the warnings that the OCA might be on the verge of implosion might well come to pass sooner rather than later. If we felt confident of a loving faithful Bishop could be found in either Antioch or ROCOR I’ve little doubt one would soon see the seeding of a number of new ROCOR and Antiochian missions in the South, and doubtless a number of parishes asking to be received entire. Now I don’t know if such a course would be a spiritually healthy thing to do…the whole psychology of church jumping and all…especially if things are canonically still functional if not administratively comfortable. My larger…more essential point in saying this is not a threat to jump jurisdictions if we can’t get our way…but rather, given the nature of the OCA’s present troubles…such a move is not unthinkable anymore…it’s very thinkable. And should anything worse happen, it’s easy to see the OCA’s numbers diminish so that it barely registers as footnote within world Orthodoxy anymore. Might as well then scrawl Icabod across the last cathedral’s door.

    If any of the Holy Synod read this, all I can ask is that they do honorably by our former Metropolitan Jonah and by Fr. Gerasim…and God willing send one of them back to us as our bishop. But be that as it may, may God guide the conscience of the Holy Synod and lead them to do what right regardless of whether it is popular.

    • Seraphim, thank you for your comments. As a fellow DOS member, no one of particular insight, authority, or information, I feel you have an accurate feel on the general sentiment of our Diocese. I agree with your thoughtful comment. God help us!

    • And what has Gerasim to do with Jonah? Harry, any thoughts?

      • Seraphim98 says

        The connection, at least for me is not between Fr. Gerasim and His former Beatitude, Met. Jonah, but the connection of both Met. Jonah and Fr. Gerasim to Archbishop Dimitri. Our late beloved Archbishop hand picked Met. Jonah, and had given serious consideration to Fr. Gerasim, but wanted him to have a fuller theological background and training….which, I suppose at least in some part to Met. Jonah (who is an old friend of his from way back) he now has…at was, and perhaps will still be vetted as a potential candidate for bishop of the DoS. Both, in somewhat different ways represent a continuation of Archbishop Dimitri’s pastoral sensibilities….for which we loved him dearly…and for which reason we have great hopes in the pastoral wisdom of either Met. Jonah or Fr. Gerasim. People are people and it’s possible that hope could be misplaced…but things standing as they are such a “mistake” might well be preferable to whoever else the powers that be might deign to send us. It would be hard to greet any other candidates with Axios…there might be one, but if so, we don’t know him yet.

    • For the DOS, I’ve seen an interesting suggestion floated: elect both Met. Jonah and Fr. Gerasim, one as diocesan bishop and one as auxiliary. It would seem obvious to put Met. Jonah in the top spot, but on the other hand, making him the auxiliary would keep him and the Synod apart, so it could really go either way.

      • Helga,

        Jonah is in a no win situation. If the Synod’s charges against him are proven true, he should not be an active bishop. However, if the charges against him are not true, it would still be up to the Synod to accept him back, and I don’t think that they would take responsibility for their mistake or let me put it another way, I don’t think that there will be a process to expose their mistake, if there is one.

        The apparent investigation is being done in house with the Synod and Syosset in control of the evidence and the process. Jonah does not seem to be in a position to offer other evidence nor is he in any position to be part of the investigation process except as the prime suspect.

        I am not sure that even Gerasim will be given another chance to have his name presented again to the South. I believe that +Nikon mentioned something about a neutral (new) candidate for the South, meaning neither +Mark or Gerasim.

        Sorry, I am doing a lot of thinking out loud tonight, maybe too much. I will shut up.

        • Amos,

          Yes, our knowledge of Met. Jonah’s situation has drastically changed since I last saw that seriously floated, and I guess I was thinking out loud a bit myself.

          While the letter came to us as a relief since it finally showed what hand the Synod was playing, it was also basically a signed confession of the Synod’s catastrophic malfeasance.

          Do the bishops really want people to think that they knew the OCA’s Primate was a dangerously incompetent, maliciously irresponsible, mentally unstable person, and did nothing of consequence to stop him for over a year? Apparently they do, because that’s what the letter says.

          They stuck Met. Jonah with a few public humiliations here and there, sure, and limiting his travel, but not a damned thing to stop him from making the kinds of decisions they now claim he was persistently screwing up to the point of threatening the viability of the OCA.

          How many times has the Synod met in the past year and a half? How many times could they have opened a clergy misconduct investigation and suspended him? Did they only just realize they could meet by smartphone?

          The Synod is basically stuck between two bad conclusions. It would have been better for them if they had just paid off Met. Jonah with a big severance package and a transfer to ROCOR.

          • Seraphim98 says

            I would think given the current situation a transfer to ROCOR would be too risky… there would be a huge chance a significant portion of the DoS would be on the Old Calendar the day after and ROCOR would have grown practically overnight by several thousand souls.

        • Jane Rachel says

          Did Metropolitan Jonah have a chance to defend himself before the Holy Synod?

          Was his removal legal according to the canons?

          If it was illegal, can anything be done by other bishops anywhere, or by anyone else with power, in order to rein in the OCA Holy Synod and stop them and discipline them for their actions?

          • Jane Rachel,

            I am not sure that a resignation is uncanonical, unless it is under duress. I don’t think that anyone would believe that Jonah was not under pressure and certainly impacted emotionally when he departed his Office. If he was threatened to have his pay cut off, to be suspended and deposed, that is duress. I am not sure we will ever know the answer to those questions as long as the OCA is doing an inside the Syosset Beltway investigation. If his resignation was under pressure and duress, it is not canonical. Nothing under duress can be spiritually lawful.

            I am not sure that Jonah speaking now would help given that we can expect the OCA to punish him, or at least the threat of termination of his pay. I think we do know from the Synod’s letter that they are concerned with what Jonah is saying post resignation in that they accuse him of not being cooperative by talking to others. Was there a gag order also imposed on Jonah? What a big mess. I hate it.

            • The only thing I’ve seen from Met. Jonah is that Ryan Hunter thing where Met. Jonah is quoted as saying he and his brother bishops had different ideas about running the church, and that he hoped to continue working for the church in the future.

              Ooh, how terrible. It’s just like when he tonsured that woman whose dying wish was to be a nun – inexcusable!

      • Helga, It is my understanding, that Fr. Gerasim has been moved to LA under Bishop Benjamin . All of you who have had experience with the DOW know what that means. He can do nothing without his approval.
        Please pray for his freedom and well being. Lord have mercy.

        • That’s been the theme of the Bishops of the DOW for at least the last thirty years, if not longer.

        • Pray for Fr. Gerasim! Being sent to the OCA parish in LA is like being thrown into the furnace.

          The Holy Synod clearly intends to subject him to the test.

          • CQ This isn’t about the Holy Synod giving him a test.? They are not that interested. This is about Bishop Benjamin having complete control. over Fr. Gerasim. Now, he must do whatever this man wishes.
            However, my prayer is that Fr. Gerasim is able to affect +BB in a way to help him embrace the orthodox faith rather than the ugliness that he has aspired to. My prayers are for Fr. Gerasim ‘s protection at this critical time. I regret that the DOS missed their chance of insisting on a great spiritual leader.
            Lord have mercy!

          • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

            Dear CQ,

            I know I am late to say anything, but you know, when I went to that beautiful parish in 1997 there were some that tried to dissuade me from accepting the position in the choir there. My heart was drawn to that temple so strongly though! And I don’t regret my time there at all and I am so glad that I did not let myself get scared away.

            Fr. Hilary (Madison), God rest his soul, who was then ending his days at St. Tikhon Monastery. What ever else Fr H was or had been, he was so full of joy in his last days at the monastery. He was so joyful and enthusiastic about me going there! he pulled out old photos and began to regale me with warm memories of his time there.

            He told me something, and I wish I could remember the exact quote, and who said it, I think it may have been Abp John (Shakhovskoy, who also spent the year prior to his episcopacy there). Any how, when Fr. H was a young priest going to that parish in LA, a senior person told him something like a year at that Cathedral is better than 3 years in seminary. I am sure Fr G will be fine.

            The Mother of God Herself will watch over Fr G, as she does so many there.

            Rescue us who are perishing, Theotokos Virgin, not according to our sins chastising us. But according to thy loving kindness having mercy, deliver us from hades, from sickness and necessity, and save us!

  12. I agree with Seraphim. God give us a godly bishop for the DOS!

  13. MartyOlson says

    Adults need compassionate guidance and support to make their own decisions= talk the woman out of pressing charges? What guidance would the offender need? “Confess, recommend that he apologize to the woman?”

    I’ve read a little about this. Rapists, especially ones who are violent aren’t really looking for missionary style sex and mistakenly forced himself on a woman. Compassionate guidance–I think that should not replace urging the woman to go to the police to report the rape. Compassionate guidance to the offender would be to call the cops and have him arrested while you give him compassionate guidance. Here I thought liberals were too into rehabilitation.

    You would rather have a metropolitan with a spiritual vision and risk lawsuits…you know, one of the risks these lawsuits have is to have the top spiritual guy be arrested for negligence and placed in jail. Notice the Monsignor in Philadelphia. If the Archbishop hadn’t raced out of town, the Archbishop could have been charged and convicted as was the monsignor. Again, I can only hope that the Metropolitan was not getting advise from the people in this group here. Good to know you’d have his back. It could be the reason that his goose is cooked.

    On the one hand, there’s the complaint that Syosset spends money like a leaking boat, then there’s the “devil-may-care attitude of let the Metropolitan carry on and let the lawsuits come. You think money is being thrown away now, just think of the waste of lawyers, court costs, and if you loose, millions of dollars in fines or recompense. The trouble is that there is no governing principles in this group much less in the HS.

    Look at the way Antioch’s Metro Phillip deals with money–he takes it and spends and God only knows for what purposes. That would never sell to this group much less the HS or AAC. There’s one way to look at this: God gave the OCA the opportunity to be transparent and allow for input from the laity in some matters. This is a blessing given to the whole of the OCA,not just the people in Syosset. Guard it carefully; understand what is required of the leadership to be successful. With 30,000+ members, set some realistic goals. Find a bishop who has the wisdom to know what his power is and how to use it wisely and for the good of all. Whoever is next is going to have imperfections. Give whoever it is the same loyalty and devotion you tried to or did give to Jonah. God’s work will be done despite human eccentricities. Jonah for all his goodness is not strong enough to be the leader he might have hoped to be. Give whoever is next some steadfastness.

    • MartyOlson, you wrote: “Compassionate guidance–I think that should not replace urging the woman to go to the police to report the rape.” And, according to the letter on Holy Synod stationery, that’s exactly what “the woman” did–she reported the rape to the police.”
      There, that was easy, wasn’t it?

  14. Antonios says

    George, your write-up was very informative. I can sense your insight and understand your frustration. I hope this storm passes quickly and the members of the OCA find peace. My meager prayers are with you and with all the faithful in Christ.

    • Antonios says

      Remarkable that the only people in this forum have given my first post ever here a thumbs down. I am on no particular side in this matter, not even being a member of the OCA, but wanted to give encouragement to those in it who I consider my Orthodox brethren. Oh well, my prayers are with you regardless and I hope cooler heads prevail. 🙂

      • Daniel E. Fall says

        For the record, I find the voting ridiculous Antonios-I may have voted one time, not sure, but nearly never. If you got a minus one from 5 votes, 3 voted against, and 2 voted for. I always am hoping for minuses at this point because I expect it and don’t give a hoot.

        Thanks George for letting us post.

        • I suppose the four thumbs-downs that Antonios found remarkable disagreed with his assessment of George’s words, which Antonios praised. It’s not rocket science. Don’t worry, Antonios, a thumbs-down is not an attack on you nor does it diminish your stature in any way, it’s just disagreement, which I’m sure you, as a devout Christian, do not mind at all.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Antonios, the tumbs up/down is quite fickle. There seem to be folks who delight in giving the most heart-felt expression of care a tumbs down just because.

  15. Small Voice says

    I’m a 3 year convert in a small Southern mission church. We struggle enough with issues of growth, funding and the expected realities associated with introducing Orthodoxy in our community. We have solid local leadership. What do the laity feel about the OCA’s current crisis? Shock, dismay, and a growing sad acceptance of things we can’t change with regard to the resignation of Metropolitan Jonah. The average small voice is distanced from the Synod, wary, and uncertain of their leadership. Our next worry is the plight of Father Gerasim whom we met, conversed with and placed our hopes and prayers with. Please weigh in on this if you can enlighten me further. When can we expect a decision on the DOS Bishop? Where does it go from here?

    • Small Voice, since Archbishop Nikon decided Fr. Gerasim needed to be vetted by the Synod again, I believe their plan is to do so at the Synod’s fall meeting in October.

    • Priest Justin Frederick says

      A good bit of distaste for online forums, particularly this one, was expressed this week at the DOS Assembly, but our Locum Tenens did say, “If you do write on them, tell the truth,” so with that permission, I offer a brief report (ok, maybe not so brief).

      Fr. Gerasim will be interviewed at the fall meeting of the Holy Synod. The DOS is open to considering other candidates too. (If you have suggestions, send them to your dean). If all goes well, we may have the special assembly to nominate an episcopal candidate at our annual pastoral conference in February 2013.

      Having heard Archbishop Nikon speak several times this week and answer many questions, I believe he is looking out for the best interests of the DOS. He cancelled the election at the 11th hour because some members of the Synod indicated they would vote against Fr. Gerasim, not knowing him and having concerns about him such as were raised by a DOS parishioner in the Carolinas and possibly others. This gives the Synod a chance to overcome any concerns about Fr. Gerasim (or not) and gives the DOS a better chance to get the candidate that as of now we seem to want.

      I’ll say this about the Assembly : it encouraged to us to keep our primary focus on preaching Christ to the world as Archbishop Dmitri always did. This is what we do. This is what we are called to do. This is what we have always done in the DOS. I can’t say we are all happy about recent events; I won’t say that we are all satisfied with the explanations for them that we have received, but must our full attention be consumed by trying to unravel the puzzle they present? At some point, we have to ‘commend ourselves, each other, and all our life unto Christ our God’, carry out Christ’s commands, and let God sort it out. He can be very effective at that, you know.

      I also pray our bishops, our metropolitan council representatives, our SMPAC committee members, and crisis management team, and the former Metropolitan and his supporters are choosing to live by truth and not by lies. The Scripture says that God hates lies, and living by lies will not lead to spiritual prosperity. And eventually, our sins will find us out. God is not mocked; what a man sows, he will also reap. Whether we are being told full truth or a calculated mixture of truth and distortions or even outright lies, we have work to do to build Christ’s Church and preach Christ. And we have to keep doing it, even when the static generated by recent events would distract us, drive us to despair, or seemingly drown out our message. (The Prophet Elias whom we commemorate today kept preaching the truth despite wicked king Ahab, Jezebel, and all her flunkies.) And part of that preaching is living the Gospel ourselves and pursuing holiness, ‘without which no one will see the Lord’, even if others choose not to. I don’t think God will excuse our failure to become holy if we say we spent so much time online trying to solve all the OCA’s problems that we didn’t have time to pray enough and walk in Christ’s commandments to become holy.

      Whether or not the major players and responsible parties are acting honorably, honestly, driven by love of the truth and what is best for Christ’s Church or not, it is difficult to tell for sure at this time, but charity calls us to think the best of one another so long as we are caught in ignorance, ambiguities, and multiple possible explanations. This is Christ’s Church ultimately, not ours. The Lord will judge HIs people. Meanwhile, do I not have enough to do to cultivate repentance in myself and my flock before the dread Judgment? Watch and pray lest we fall into temptation, wait on the Lord, and see His deliverance as we seek first the kingdom despite all the distractions around us which are always present in one form or another. “O God, save me by Thy name, and in Thy power Thou shalt judge me.” And that judgment we seek in the prokeimenon of Wednesday Vespers is the judgment by which the just Judge delivers the oppressed from the unjust oppressor.

      Meanwhile, we would do well to verify that the MC and Central Administration are working diligently to fulfill the mandate from Seattle to move from the head tax to proportional giving over the course of the year. We heard nothing about progress on that front, though it appears they hope to add several paid staff positions in the near future. Charity would suggest to us to assume they are working on it, have made great progress, and modesty kept them from speaking of it just yet. But I think we have a right, even an obligation, to ask.

      Indeed, both Archbishop NIkon and the OCA Chancellor invited us to call and ask questions of them directly if we have them before we resort to speculation to fill in the gaps in our knowledge. (Call your Metropolitan Council representatives and query them also.) It might be good to take the Archbishop and Chancellor at their word. It is the right honorable thing to do. Too bad the reporter didn’t do that with the OCA Secretary’s last name.

      Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn offers the following words in his essay, “Live Not By Lies.” I say this to all, and to myself as well, without prejudice. Truth sets free; lies enslave. So long as ambiguities and ignorance prevail, we have to think the best of others as charity demands, but when the truth becomes clear, I believe we must tell it, especially when people are being bound, oppressed, and harmed by lies.

      “So in our timidity, let each of us make a choice: Whether consciously, to remain a servant of falsehood–of course, it is not out of inclination, but to feed one’s family, that one raises his children in the spirit of lies–or to shrug off the lies and become an honest man worthy of respect both by one’s children and contemporaries.

      “And from that day onward he:

      Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in his opinion distorts the truth.
      Will utter such a phrase neither in private conversation not in the presence of many people, neither on his own behalf not at the prompting of someone else, either in the role of agitator, teacher, educator, not in a theatrical role.
      Will not depict, foster or broadcast a single idea which he can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.
      Will not cite out of context, either orally or written, a single quotation so as to please someone, to feather his own nest, to achieve success in his work, if he does not share completely the idea which is quoted, or if it does not accurately reflect the matter at issue.
      Will not allow himself to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to his desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which he does not completely accept.
      Will not raise his hand to vote for a proposal with which he does not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom he considers unworthy or of doubtful abilities.
      Will not allow himself to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question.
      Will immediately walk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.
      Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed.

      “Of course we have not listed all of the possible and necessary deviations from falsehood. But a person who purifies himself will easily distinguish other instances with his purified outlook.

      “No, it will not be the same for everybody at first. Some, at first, will lose their jobs. For young people who want to live with truth, this will, in the beginning, complicate their young lives very much, because the required recitations are stuffed with lies, and it is necessary to make a choice.

      “But there are no loopholes for anybody who wants to be honest. On any given day any one of us will be confronted with at least one of the above-mentioned choices even in the most secure of the technical sciences. Either truth or falsehood: Toward spiritual independence or toward spiritual servitude.

      “And he who is not sufficiently courageous even to defend his soul- don’t let him be proud of his “progressive” views, and don’t let him boast that he is an academician or a people’s artist, a merited figure, or a general–let him say to himself: I am in the herd, and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and warm.

      “Even this path, which is the most modest of all paths of resistance, will not be easy for us. But it is much easier than self-immolation or a hunger strike: The flames will not envelope your body, your eyeballs, will not burst from the heat, and brown bread and clean water will always be available to your family….”

      May God help us all to speak the truth in love and not live by lies. And then live honestly so we have no ‘need’ to lie.

      • “A good bit of distaste for online forums, particularly this one, was expressed this week at the DOS Assembly” said Father Justin.

        Some of the material I read here makes me angry, some of it makes me sad, some of me makes me frustrated that people say such stupid things … but if it was not for Monomakhos, where in the heck would we learn information like the Godmother’s story? I understand why priests don’t like these sites, but I would rather have Monomakhos and websites like it than nothing at all. It ticks me off when bad things are happening in the church, and priests and others tell us that our job is to sit quietly and keep praying and thinking about our own sins. No it is not! Back when Mr. Stokoe had his site up, I hated a lot of what he put up, and I couldn’t even stand to read the comments … but I would rather have his site in existence, in spite of its serious faults, than not to have it at all. It makes things a lot easier for the bishops and the priests if we aren’t reading the Internet and commenting, but when it comes to something like the synod overthrowing the Metropolitan on fishy grounds, then too bad, we have to speak out somewhere.

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says

          They need to deal with the fact that these online forums are not going away anytime soon. Sure, this may eventually go away, but there will be others, on both sides. As long as one can buy a domain, find a hosting service, and get the software configured, this will keep happening. Just like in the past one had ethnic newspapers, mutual societies, etc. tomorrow, who knows. As long as people feel there is something wrong and the information is not getting out, people will find ways to ask questions that demand answers.

          • Rod Dreher says

            True. Several years ago, Met. Jonah himself told me that Met. Philip had asked him to try to shut down Mark Stokoe’s site (this was before Stokoe turned on Jonah). Jonah appeared pained by what Stokoe was writing about Philip, but he told me that he didn’t see it as his place to order a man to stop writing and reporting. I find that to be not only an honorable position, but the only realistic one in this day and age.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              But Stokoe has claimed that +Jonah did ask him to keep quiet about +Philip.

              • No, Stokoe only ever claimed that Met. Jonah told him what Met. Philip was threatening to do (pull the Antiochian seminarians out of OCA seminaries) if OCA News wasn’t shut down. Stokoe referred to this as conveying a threat, but Met. Jonah allowed Stokoe to make his own choice.

                Ultimately it was an idle threat; some damage control from Met. Jonah, along with timely bowing and scraping from the illustrious seminary deans Frs. Behr and Hatfield, was enough to calm Met. Philip.

                • Rod Dreher says

                  No, it wasn’t an idle threat. Stephen Mathewes-Green was pulled from St. Vlad’s on the eve of beginning his studies there. He had to hastily make his way to seminary in Massachusetts, at no small cost to him and his family. He is now an ordained priest, so it all worked out. But he’s a friend, and I know that he’s at least one person who had to deal with the fallout from this conflict.

                  • That is true, Rod, but I believe that had already happened before a threat was conveyed. Pulling Fr. Steve was a display of force, to show he meant business. The threat was Met. Philip’s threatening to pull the second- and third-year Antiochian seminarians, which led to Met. Jonah’s discussion with Stokoe.

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  I remember Stokoe’s claim differently — more along the lines of “would you please cool it because you’re hurting St. Vlad’s” — but it’s true that +Jonah didn’t threaten any action against him.

          • Priest Justin Frederick says

            I have mixed feelings about these forums myself, but they have great power to speak truth to those in power, even when that speech gets messy and emotional. We all have the responsibility to seek truth and speak truth.

      • Surely, “a good bit of distaste?’ Surely such distaste was not as marked as distaste for the Statement of the Holy Synod? Has any forum (except maybe the Orthodox Forum and the Voices) exceeded in tawdriness the Statement? How so?
        Why, reading the Statement I thought how remarkably it had caught and surpassed the propagandizing style of BOTH ocanews and voices from Russia!
        Forums in general have a long way to go, to be sure.

      • Sub-Deacon David says

        I am pondering my reaction to what the good Priest has written. I appreciate hearing more of what was said at the DOS assembly as well as impressions. However, I find much of it, frankly, beside the point. It is a given that the “primary focus” of us all, as Orthodox Christians, is the salvation of our souls and the preaching of the Gospel. I don’t see the efforts to get to the bottom of what, why, when and how the Synod acted in relation to +HB Jonah to be in opposition to that. In fact, from what is now appearing in the press, it would seem evident that the Synod’s own actions have compromised the ability of the OCA to truly preach the Gospel of Christ by scandalizing its own Primate in the news. This is what comes from acting either imprudently or without providing enough rationale, facts and clarity that causes others to fill in the gaps of the narrative. What is damaging the OCA’s ability to evangelize. The sooner we can have a full and impartial investigation and public reporting of the actions taken against +HB Jonah, the better off the OCA will be vis. evangelizing the lost. The search for truth and the proclamation of the Gospel are not two opposing activities, but they go hand in hand.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Fr. Justin, it would be nice if the Synod and the constituent bishops would follow Bp Nikon’s advice–speak the truth that is. If they would do that and keep doing it–sites like this would be unnecessary. We would be too busy tending to the over flow at all of our parishes as well as all of the work in taking care of the poor.

        Apparently we have learned nothing from the debacles within and outside the Church over the last 40 years: the cover-up is the worst part. People will often forgive if the truth is told in an unvarnished manner as quickly and as throughly as possible.

        “All things will be revealed.”

        We should work diligently to cleanse our heart and mind, but we cannot wait and stand-by until we are holy when lies abound.

        Live not by lies also means not engaging in or countenancing the practice of scapegoating anyone. No matter on which ‘side’ our bias lies. Live not by lies means not acquiesing in the lies of another by our silence.

        Live not by lies means that we need to be as certain as we can that something is true before we speak. At the very least the Synod did not do that. At the most, they actively propogated a slander against your own hierarch.

        Living not by lies, requires a stand against such (at best) ineptitude. Such a stand should not be done out of anger or revenge and should be accompanied at all times with prayer, but it is incumbant upon us all to both act and speak when such pain is inflicted upon the Body of the Church.

        Otherwise will we not be as the priest and the Levite who ‘passed by on the other side’ and did nothing to bind up the wounds of the man beaten by robbers because they were secure in their holiness and did not want to touch the unclean? Or worse as the rabble at the foot of the Cross: “He saved others, let him save himself.”

        As my bishop told me at the height of the attack on Met. Philip by Stokoe (I am Antiochian): “Hold onto your peace, speak but do not loose your peace.”

        The only people Jesus ever drove from the Temple were the money-changers. The maimed, the halt and the lame (us) He called to Himself and offered forgiveness and mercy and healing.

        Scapegoating is the path of the Pharisees (it is good that one should die for the sake of the people). Scapegoating delights in the destruction of others. Until the scapegoating spirit is driven from the OCA, rather than people who are the victims of it, silence is not an option.

  16. Aaron Hinkley says

    Speaking as an individual of Carpatho-Russian descent, I find it unfortunate that you choose to cite the standard ROCOR opinion that OCA parishes in the Northeast are ‘white trash’ and then choose to connect that view to the question of the current (and past) problems with OCA.

  17. So. The Florida conference has been going on for days now. No news that I’ve seen. Does anyone know whats going on there yet?

    • Sub-Deacon David says

      What little I’ve seen from the DOS webiste at The Chancellor was there the first day, undoubtedly doing damage control. The narrative of the first day states at the end “The day concluded with Fr John Jillions, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, sharing his experience in the events surrounding the resignation of Metropolitan Jonah, encouraging us in how a small organization can move forward in a difficult situation, much like Gideon in days of old.” “Encouragement” seems basically to mean that no explanation was offered and they were “encouraged” to move on, not ask any more questions and keep the money flowing!

      BTW, I am always a bit leery when people conflate faithfulness to Christ with faithfulness to an institution. Given the uncanonical situation we have here in America with multiple “jurisdictions”, leaving an institution does NOT constitute leaving the Church, nor would it be “schism” for a section of the OCA, for example the DOS, to separate itself from the OCA and join with another canonical jurisdiction. The folks who make up the Synod and MC perpetuate the making of the bed here in America (if by nothing else then through inaction) they shouldn’t get too upset when folks lie in it (though we know they will).

      • Subdeacon David: Archbishop Dmitri ALWAYS preached Christ. That is the difference between him and today’s Holy Synod. Christ was the center of everything for him. Ask ANYONE who knew him. He had his faults and failings as do we all, but he remained true to our Lord, and his priority was plain to all.
        The composer(s) of the tawdry and unChristian letter that came out on Holy Synod stationery and which was autographed by a couple individual hierarchs in theri dioceses, never mentioned Jesus Christ, the All-Holy Trinity, the Theotokos, the Saints. That’s what’s missing.
        It is a life without Christ that may result in Sudden Death, and not just for individuals.
        I’m not pushing evangelISTIC “testifyin”,
        DO we preach Christ crucified? When…Great, Good, and Holy Friday and that’s it?
        Archbishop Dmitri knew how to help us focus on the Lord. Let’s show love for his care for us, and try to be true to Christ.
        “Accountability? ” Transparency? Neither of those is mark of Christ or His Church, neither is investigation of sins. We do NOT believe in “the investigation of sins”. We believe in the Forgiveness of sins. PERIOD.
        Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Now we see through a glass DARKLY, not transparently.
        Priorities! Christ First!

        • Sub-Deacon David says

          Your Grace, very much agreed. It was ALWAYS a pleasure and a joy to have +Dmitri visit our parish. He tonsured me a Reader and ordained me a Sub-deacon. He always had encouraging words, and had a twinkle in his eye that was infectious. Plus, he loved hot sauce, which is always a good thing!

        • Michael Bauman says

          Your Grace, thank you for this comment. It provides a key for getting out from under the scapegoating spirit: “We do not investigate sins”

          That does not mean that the Church and her people do not take corrective action when needed but such action must always be motivated toward the good of the souls of all involved, not retribution or justice.

          Justice is, indeed, under the jurisdiction of the state.

          It is odd that while the Church seems to grow more and more intent on the investigation and punishment of sins, the state grows less interested.

  18. Rod Dreher says

    I posted my further thoughts about the Jonah situation yesterday on my blog. My basic points:

    1) The Synod’s release of the statement moves the ball significantly, by giving substantive reasons why the Synod did what it did. It was a huge mistake for the Synod to wait over a week before laying its case out. Given the events in the OCA at the senior level over the past decade or so, the Synod and Syosset have no reason at all to expect people to trust them at their word. If they were going to carry out an act of spiritual violence against the Church — ambushing the primate and compelling his resignation — they ought to have anticipated that there would be outrage, and ought to have had their message ready to go out to the wider Church, as a simple matter of pastoral responsibility.

    2) Now that the Synod has made a statement, we have something solid to go on. How true are their allegations? If they’re true — and I believe they are plausible (which is not to say that they are true — then Jonah ought to have been compelled to resign. I think it’s important that we who are and who have been on Jonah’s side in this ordeal recognize that Jonah might be guilty of what they say. Might be. Many people who have had personal dealings with Jonah have observed how inconstant he can be, how impulsive, how flawed his judgment is, and how that flaw can truly screw things up.

    3) That said, the allegations the Synod brought against Jonah to justify his forced resignation require more substantiation if they are to be believed. If the proof is there, show it to us.

    4) And let Jonah give his side of the story. They won’t do this, of course, and they’re holding his future compensation over his head, a fact that explains his silence. Still, absent hearing Jonah’s self-defense, a position of skepticism is warranted.

    5) Jonah’s future in the OCA is a lost cause. What is not a lost cause is holding the other bishops to the same standard that they used to force Jonah out. If Jonah has failed to take the OCA’s sexual misconduct guidelines seriously enough, then there is strong reason to believe that Bp Benjamin has too, as has +Nikon, as has +Nathaniel. Are we going to have one standard for the OCA’s bishops? Again, if Jonah has done what they accuse him of, then he has no business being a bishop at all, much less the Metropolitan. But Jonah is by no means the only OCA bishop who has behaved this way. For example, the SMPAC Report faults Jonah for lifting the suspension of Fr. Isidore Brittain and allowing him to serve at an altar in the Diocese of the West. Jonah, in my view, ought not to have done that. The SMPAC Report says absolutely nothing about Bp Benjamin’s role in this; Jonah says Benjamin in fact requested the lifting of the suspension; even if that’s not true, Benjamin had to have agreed to it, and in fact there is photographic evidence of Benjamin and Jonah both serving at the altar with Fr Isidore.

    Why is Jonah held to a different standard than Benjamin? What is +Nikon’s role in the Archdeacon Gregory Burke fiasco? What sexual misconduct is +Nathaniel protecting in his own diocese, and why is the OCA protecting +Nathaniel? How can we go forward in the church with trust if we have good reason to believe that there are two standards of justice in the OCA, depending on who’s connected to power, and who isn’t?

    • Rod, I thought for a time that the double standard might be based on what the OCA can be sued for versus what it wouldn’t be. But that falls on the Fr. Vasile Susan case, not to mention the blatant double standard you mention regarding Fr. Isidore Brittain.

      I’ve seen it in other ways. For instance, Met. Jonah is apparently the only overweight person ever to become an Orthodox bishop. Met. Jonah is the only Orthodox bishop to ever enjoy some nice food and drink now and then. Met. Jonah is the only Orthodox bishop to ever get in anyone’s face about homosexuality. Met. Jonah is the only Orthodox bishop to have signed the Manhattan Declaration. Of course, all of that is demonstrably false, but I always found it funny that Met. Jonah was the only one to get a hard time about any of this.

  19. George, I found this to be one of your better pieces. I think your recounting of the OCA’s institutional history and make-up is very intriguing. But I think you derailed your argument and got side-tracked once you brought up the Lavender Mafia bit again. Even if there are homophilic elements in the OCA, I highly doubt they have the power to control the entire Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council to oust the Metropolitan. But if +Jonah had a different vision of how the OCA should be run that would have challenged the authority of the MC, for example, that might be a different story. As would his ‘reimagining’ the OCA’s autocephaly as you put it. So I wish you had developed that line of argument, where the article begins, and drawn out those implications.

    A little history: a) there was no parallel to the Metropolitan Council as created by Peter the Great’s church reforms (which also did not make the Church a ‘department of state’, contrary to the myth that is continually repeated). The closest parallel I can find in history was something created by the Russian Church Council of 1917-1918, which reinstated the patriarchate and then established two bodies to govern with the patriarch: the Holy Synod (of bishops) and the Vysshii Tserkovnyi Sovet (Higher Church Council, but council [sovet] not to be confused with council [sobor]). The latter consisted of monastic clergy, married clergy, and laity (in Dec. 1917 such luminaries as Sergei Bulgakov and Anton Kartashev), and it did actually have responsibility for financial matters. However, it only functioned until St. Tikhon’s arrest in 1922, and was never revived.

    Finally, on this Fr Symeon character (as other folks have been discussing) the question is not only whether or not he is guilty of the accusations (it seems likely he is), but (as some have already pointed out), the timeline: ex., if +Jonah only learned of the rape accusation in Feb. of this year, then if he had given his blessing for Fr. Symeon to serve BEFORE that time then this means +Jonah did not knowingly give his blessing for a rapist abusive priest to serve. Did Fr Symeon continue to serve with +Jonah’s blessing after that time? That is the question. The other question is whether he was responsible for taking all the procedures the Synod’s letter says he should have taken if in fact this priest was never formally in the OCA (which also remains unclear). In that case +Jonah could be accused of bad judgment in accepting him to begin with, but it wouldn’t justify all of the Synod’s allegations.

    • This monk then later monk priest was never accepted into the OCA. Never. He was not ordained in the OCA. He was ordained a priest after Jonah had cut his ties with him. This monk priest did reappear at the DC nuns monastery only after they were in ROCOR but ROCOR sent him packing after they investigated him and found him an unstable individual. He was being protected by the Abbess of the DC monastery, who to this day will not accept that he did anything wrong. He is now back in Greece.

      Again, his status in the OCA was severed by Jonah when the first allegations of sexual assault (not rape) were discovered by Jonah. After than incident, I believe in 2010 or 11, was covered in the SMPAC report as others have disclosed. If there was a subsequent incident or new revelations it was AFTER Jonah had cut his ties with Fr Symeon. The synod’s timeline on this is very fuzzy and needs to be clarified. I hope we will know more soon to shed light on this aspect of the synod’s letter since it appears to hinge on it.

      • Rod Dreher says

        Nikos, I agree with you to a point. I am not sure, either at a moral or a legal level, to what extent Jonah (and by extension, the OCA) has for Symeon’s actions given the behavior of the nuns (whom Jonah absolutely welcomed) towards Symeon. I honestly don’t know, but I don’t know either that we can stand on the letter of the criminal/civil law as a moral and spiritual defense.

        That’s why it is crucial that we (the broader church) know more about what the primate did, including the timeline. I repeat: I am willing to accept that the Synod is telling the truth here, and acted properly. But I am not willing to accept that based on the limited information we have now, and based on the fact that the Synod/Syosset is controlling the narrative.

        • Harry Coin says

          Rod, this can’t be the first group of folks in need of creditable timeline creation. I bet some journalists somewhere have well understood tools. We really need a website that just is a timeline that will accept content only from authenticated sources and that meets ‘time, place, reference, item without editorial decoration’ standards.

        • Jesse Cone says

          Rod says he is

          not willing to accept that based on the limited information we have now, and based on the fact that the Synod/Syosset is controlling the narrative.

          I would add that I would be reluctant to take on face value such allegations when there are examples of grave inaccuracies. This is regardless of motive.

          That Fr. Simeon was never accepted into the OCA is not a minor point, and one the Synodal letter got 100% wrong.

          That Met. Jonah didn’t take responsibility for accidentally passing on information to opposing council is also dead wrong. If the responsibility they are asking him to take is for actions that he didn’t do, because their timeline/ facts are wrong, than he is to be commended. I, like Ryan, talked to HB shortly after the announcement of his resignation and the picture they paint of him was also dead wrong.

          This, again, does not have to do with motives on the part of the Synod. It does have to do with key inaccuracies that give us cause not to trust that they have their ducks in a row. I am fond of +Nikon ever since he visited us during our dark hour in Dallas. I remember how lovingly the children responded to him after liturgy, and how their love lit up his face. But the fact of the matter is that his claim that no one in the current Synod met Fr. Gerasim is wrong. Surely he didn’t mean it literally, but the letter is consequential and must be phrased in a more clear and forthcoming manner. Again, motives aside, it leads to distrust.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Mr. Cone,

            The Synod is stating, “We already knew from past experience…” “That promise having gone unfulfilled…” “Leading up to this most recent problem, there existed for several years now a repeated pattern…”Our request for Met. Jonah’s resignation… came at the end of a rather long list…” and most importantly,

            “We cannot stress enough that while the most recent events are likely the most dangerous for the Church, these represent only the latest in a long series of poor choices that have caused harm to the Church.

            The former Metropolitan stood before the assembly of the church at the AAC and said:

            “These three years have been an administrative disaster. And I need to accept full responsibility for that and for my part in it.”

            “I admit that I have very little experience of administration and it was a risk for the 2008 Council to elect me, the newest and most inexperienced of bishops. I have worked very hard to fulfill your expectations. But this is not an excuse. ”

            “I thought we had a good working relationship but obviously there is something very broken. I need to regain the confidence of my brother bishops and of many others in leadership positions in our Church. I tell you all here and now that I am deeply sorry for that and I ask your forgiveness.”

            And finally,

            “How to get to the root of this breakdown in trust and repair it, if possible, is the real challenge for me and I am willing to do whatever is necessary, working in close collaboration with the Holy Synod. As a first step I have agreed to begin a process of discernment that will include a complete evaluation in a program that specializes in assisting clergy, starting the week of November 14th. I have chosen to do this out of love for you, the people of the Church, and for my brother bishops.”

            The Holy Synod stated:

            We had hoped that change would come about as the result of Metropolitan Jonah fulfilling his promise to comply with the recommendation given him by the medical facility to which he was admitted for evaluation and treatment last November, as he assured us he would do at our last All-American Council in Seattle.That promise having gone unfulfilled…

            And the former Metropolitan states, “I have neither the personality nor the temperament.”

            The only explanation offered – with the single exception of the truth – is that he was coerced, forced, “pressured,” or did not understand what he was signing. In that the latter would make him, a liar, a deceiver, or incompetent, I’m going with the truth.

            • How many Orthodox have posted on here saying “I am the worst of sinners” (or the equivalent). When I see this, I could conclude that Orthodox people tend to sin worse than the general population, that they don’t get out much or don’t pay attention to other people (there must be at least one who is worse out there somewhere, right?), that they are deluded, or — paralleling your conclusion — that they are all liars. I could conclude that. But I don’t. Why not? Because it is clear that Orthodox people have a cultural practice that one might call gracious hyperbole. It’s intent is to express humility, an intentional rejection of pride and self for the sake of community. It is motivated by love and respect and ironically expresses an aspiration that is the exact opposite of the words used. It is a noble cultural practice.

              Jonah was obviously participating in this practice, he was intentionally humbling and degrading himself out of love and respect to his brothers. He was submitting to them out of a spirit that intentionally rejects pride and power. Jonah decided it was not up to him to validate himself, that he would submit to the judgement of his brothers, and that it was up to them (and others) to decide whether he merited honor and authority of any kind. It was what they asked of him, and instead of fighting for his own honor and authority, he graciously granted their demand. Jonah submitted to his brothers out of love. His self- deprication was a direct response to their explicit request. Now God will be the judge of all, and those of us who are capable of independent thought have a responsibility to make up our own minds.

  20. Kevin Allen says

    It srtikes me that we may be asking too much (demanding too much) of our primates – they must be holy; they must be celibate; they must be skilled administrators; they must be nimble politicians; they must be visionaries; they must be moral leaders; they must be disciplinarians and yet not alienate anyone!!?? I hear criticism of Met. Philip because he is too good an administrator and not spiritual enough; Met Jonah is a visionary but not a skilled administrator. How many men can fulfill those incredibly lofty demands? Very few. Yes we need honest, transparent leaders striving to live and model “life in Christ” and to “rightly divide the word of truth”. But perhaps we are asking too much! Perhaps we need more skilled laity to fill in the non-liurgical/pastoral gaps and let our bishops and primates lead us spiritually. Not sure if this is “Orthodox tradition” which tends towards “clericalism” as Rod Dreher points out, but this is not a paradigmatic Orthodox environment.

  21. Helga, I wish you’d get off this Fatty business. Fatty is bad. You know very well that remarks about and attention to Metropolitan Jonah being obese are not unique to him. Do you not recall the remarks that were made and bruited all over the place about Archbishop Benjamin’s insurance company wanting the money back that they gave him to pay for his stomach stapling? I grew up hearing Fatty remarks about others. Remember “Fatty, Fatty, two-by-four: can’t get through the bathroom door?”
    Getting fat is not good stewardship of our bodies. How many remarks were made about Bishop Merkury, who was fatter than Jonah and has blown up even more since returning to Russia? The thing is, before Jonah and Benjamin, we’d never had fatties in the episcopate in America.
    Besides, the other side of the coin is the affection that many also feel toward fatties. Wasn’t “Friar Tuck” a beloved Fatty? Doesn’t the figure of the fat monk enliven with humor much of European (and Islamic) history?
    The thing is, Helga, fattiness is now epidemic in America and its lowering our already shamefully low life-expectancy. What about our children? Now, you also referred to Metropolitan Jonah “the only person to ever enjoy nice food and drink now and then?” No, and not the only hierarch who was lampooned (or much worse) for it, as you know. If you think Archbishop Dmitri even as a Priest, never got “in anyone’s face about homosexuality” you’re sadly and greatly mistaken. Metropolitan Jonah, Helga, is NOT a paragon. How many OCA bishops were asked to sign The Manhattan Declaration?
    Archbishop Dmitri actually GOT RID of a couple well-known and liked homosexual priests in the Metropolia, and he did it quietly. Metropolitan Jonah didn’t DO anything about anybody..
    Incidentally, why was Brother Baruch’s funeral conducted at Platina, and not at St.John’s from which Baruch had fled (like Father Martin?) before his tragic death? That was long before the days of Archbishop Benjamin or Meletios Weber.

    • The funeral, was at St. John’s then the body was transported for burial to Platina and you know very well he died while river rafting on a retreat with one of the other brothers that he was sent on to think about whether he really wanted to stay with the brotherhood.

      • Thanks, faceit! Care to give us your understanding of the motivation for Brother Baruch’s flight from Manton? I’m sorry if my question upset you. First I heard ANYTHING about his death in connection with Platina was here. That’s why I asked. What other brother accompanied brother Baruch on his “retreat” (from the monastery!) ?

        • your Grace! Do you mean his retreat from St. John’s? Yes, and I am sure it can be corroborated. But we are talking about one who has passed on…..
          What I knew, and saw, was that he was a wonderful and VERY spirited young man. He got into lots of tussles with the other also spirited young men. It just came to a moment that he needed to choose. That is my understanding .
          But while we are waiting for the whole country to catch up with the latest. i would like to say,
          I loved and wanted more than anything for St. John’s not to be sold. But the Brotherhood did not own the property, thus could not sell it and they needed to have their own property in which they could grow.
          i always, thought even if the brotherhood had outgrown it – or black mold or whatever, that the old shacks could have easily been replaced by new cabins and it could have been easily used by another monastic group or for a kids camp location, after all it connected to one of the most spectacular parks in the west. But everyone kept saying (the brothers this, the brothers that, as though its use depended upon Fr. Jonah’s use of the property.
          The diocese committee, took a vote under the watchful eye and clear pressure of +BB and off it went. I too could note believe he did it. But at least the money from that sale is being used for the building up of the church still…it was so holy and I for one didn’t think one did that to a holy site.

          • Thank you, faceit! (Surely, that’s not a monastic name!) YOU wrote ” he died while river rafting on a retreat”. That’s the retreat to which I referred. Surely it’s not violating anyone’s peace to let us know who accompanied him on that retreat YOU mentioned as being (in YOUR words) “one of the other brothers.”
            You mention that Brother Baruch of blessed memory was a wonderful and VERY spirited young man.’
            It does no harm to his memory to mention that he was also terrifically good looking and that tensions in the brotherhood related to that made him flee and he was encouraged by the Abbot to not decide anything definite, but just make his flight a “retreat.”

            • Oh my gosh!! Good Looking? Why I never thought of such a thing? All young people are good looking!
              Such an idea.! No problem, it was Br. Marc who went with him. Fr, Jonah found some friends of the monastery who had a place of the river, and offered it. Sadly, (more spirit) the guys went river rafting on boards without helmets AS young men will do, and thus the tragedy unfolded for all. It is reported that he was having a great time when he died.

    • Yes, there is an obesity epidemic in America and it’s getting worse. However, the US has one of the highest life expectancy stats (and getting better) in the world (I believe there are some Asian countries that beat us, but overall the US is near the top). From 1960s where avg. life expectancy was 70 years we have reached 78 years in 2010 and it’s still climbing.

      The Myth of Americans’ Poor Life Expectancy

      • Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Germany, France and Japan ALL have life expectancy exceeding that of the U.S. Moreover, most of them (those with “socialized medicine”) have more physicians per thousand of population than the U.S. Japan’s life expectancy is 80.1 for men, and 80.7 for women. The United States’s life expectancy for men is 77.7, and for women 82.1. My figures are from the Economist magazine’s “Pocket World in Figures 2012 edition.”
        If, as Chris Banescu states, the life expectancy in the U.S. for men was 78 in 2010, it’s declined, not increased since then!

        • So your definition of “shamefully low life expectancy” means “a difference of about 1-4 years”? (Never mind that the US numbers are greatly offset by the very HIV/AIDS and drug use mortality rates, gang warfare, and the enormous influx of illegal immigration that affect the averages.)

          Are you kidding me? Talk about twisting the English language beyond recognition! (Interestingly enough you post this wild exaggeration in the “You Can’t Fix Stupid” thread. )

          United States = 78.2
          Great Britain = 80.4
          France = 81.4
          Sweden = 81.5
          Japan = 82.9

          • Guess what, Chris? I, AS AN AMERICAN, find our standing to be shamefully low. I, Chris, AS AN AMERICAN, am ******ashamed***** that we are not in first place, given our people, our resources, our schools, etc. ASHAMED. That,Chris, is why I wrote “shamefully low life expectancy.” Get it?
            What in the world does “offset by” mean when your write our numbers are offset by this and that. Oh, I know, I get it. Why didn’t you write Gypsies, or Liberals?

            United States= 77.7 for men; 82.1 for women
            United Kingdom=77.8 for men, 82.3 for women
            France=78.6 for men; 85.1 for women
            Sweden=79.6 for men; 83.6 for women
            Norway=79.2 for men; 83.4 for women
            JAPAN=80.1 for men; 87.2 for women

            In straight, American English, Chris, I didn’t “define” anything. I FOUND our life expectancy to be shamefully low. YOU are the one who is twisting language.
            This you’ll like: “We can do better!!!” “Yes, we CAN!”

            • Yes, we know you are ASHAMED of America. You’ve been ashamed of her for a long time! After all, you did proclaim in a public forum that: “America holds the all-time record for terrorism.

              “America holds the all-time record for terrorism. America ********terrorized********* Japan into surrender. War is one or more nations terrorizing each other. This is so elementary. Saudi Arabian suicidal fanatics could crash planes into a skyscraper in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc., etc., every year and still not match the ferocity of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, of Tokyo and Dresden. No this was not war of soldiers on the field where both sides risked everything, No. No. This was outright war against civilians, conducted from out of reach of all those civilians.

              I sometimes can’t stand the proclivity of some of my fellow Americans from sanctifying war if waged by America. We may be “on the right side”, but our acts of war are just as egregious and despicable as the acts of war of our enemies: maybe more so, because we blindly and like automatons proclaim “Gott mit uns,” that we are a Christian nation and, moreover, unlike Japan or Andorra or Liechtenstein, apparently, a “nation under God.”

              +Bishop Tikhon
              (Yahoo Groups – Tue Jul 13, 2004 8:49 pm – Re: [paradosis] Christian Soldiers – Msg # 53652)

              Same old hatred and darkness, different arena and topic!

              • Mr. Chris Banescu. You are lying outright if you claim I ever said “I am ‘ashamed of America.” You imputed that to me and you are the one who accused me of twisting language. You just did it, I’m ashamed of the way America locked up its Japanese-American CITIZENS, too. But I have not said I am ashamed of America.
                Incidentally, since we’re investigating our files, where and when did you serve our country, Chris (assuming the U.S. might be your country)?
                I certainly stand by the message I posted on Orthodox Traditions, the one you’ve been keeping in your Iron-Guard-Tactics style dossier on me. (Please grab hold of the knees and see that I have not referred to Hitler or Nazism.)
                By the way, I never “like” my own comments on Facebook, and I don’t give myself a thumbs-up here, but I can understand how some types could do that!

              • Chris,

                Why don’t you and His Grace take your personal feud to another list before someone accuses you of trying to hijack this tread. We all know you don’t care for Bishop Tikhon but can you find some other place to work out your issues? Please.

                • Amos. if you have an admonition or a request you wish to address to ME, I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t ask Mr. Chris Banescu to take care of it. I might like to request that you not clutter up this site with garbage from Voices from Russia . We can go there and read whatever may be posted there on any given day. We all know that what the eunuch writes is about as reliable as a Statement of the Holy Synod, but surely life is sweeter with less, rather than more, of that kind of secretion.

                  • Agreed. It was more directed to CB who has used this site and others to vent his spleen against you at every opportunity.

                    • DC Indexman says

                      Amos, I am curious. You have a fair amount of information, knowledge and history about the OCA — but I am detecting you may not be in an OCA parish. Could you be unified with the Ecumenical Patriarch and thus be in a Carpathian-Russian or Ukrainian ethnic parish?

              • Monk James says

                Well, it IS true that we Americans are the ONLY nation EVER to have used atomic bombs, in spite of our more recent efforts to avoid nuclear warfare.

                What wonders me most about those 1945 bombings is that we hit civilian populations in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, highly christian cities, rather than military targets — not that this would have been much of an improvement.

                My wonderment doesn’t cause me to hate my own country, but to meditate in sadness about the exigencies of war and to hope for less catastrophic solutions for conflicts in the future.

                • Please, anybody! What is the difference between the terms “Shock and Awe” and “Terrorism?”
                  I can’t help if Mister Banescu follows my posts and bashes me for them. He’s simply got it in for me. I’m sorry for him in this. He just dredged up a perfectly sane mail of mine on another list and posted it here as if from a dossier, by a Stassi agent. Should I just ignore it?

                  • Harry Coin says

                    “Shock and Awe” is different than “Terrorism” because the former is aimed at opposing military forces while the latter targets the powerless specifically. How can you not know this?

                    • Except for the natty collateral damage when those civilians just happened to be unlucky enough to be blown to bits. Or those drone attacks that also kill innocents, or when they hit the wrong target. I guess those are acceptable losses. Are you in favor of the assault weapon that killed all those innocents in Aurora? Just curious.

                    • I really like thinking of the squirming that went into that “specifically”.
                      Please tell the citizens of Baghdad that they weren’t targeted “specifically”, especially if they unfairly whine that they were terrorized by the Shock and Awe offensive which was OBVIOUSLY only targeted at one man and his gigantic army.
                      It’s true, of course, that the terrorist bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki makes both 9/11 and Baghdad insignificant bumps in history. in comparison as acts of Terrorism.
                      I’m saving Harry’s first sentence as an example of how the illiberals think.
                      Different from is always better than different than.

                    • Harry says, ““Shock and Awe” is different than “Terrorism” because the former is aimed at opposing military forces while the latter targets the powerless specifically. How can you not know this?”

                      I get a kick reading commentary by the “crazy old bishop” and when I see that term I think of a larger than life persona that always has something intriguing or interesting to say. A large ego to be sure, but nowhere the size of some of the other posters here.

                      In the last year of WWII (1944-45), Japan was for all intents and purposes defenseless–her navy destroyed and air force decimated. Her antiaircraft batteries didn’t have the range to reach the high flying B29 Superfortresses. With Japan’s industrial capacity destroyed, American bombers turned their attention to Japan’s population centers. Somewhere between 250,00 to 750,000 civilians, including elderly, women, and children, died. The bombing campaign was so effective and devastating, in terms of destruction and death, that Curtis LeMay had to be restrained not to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so there would be viable targets to measure the effectiveness of the A bomb. I’m not saying America was evil because of this and I’m thankful to be here–Japan would have been my dad’s third landing and he thought his luck had run out. War may be necessary, but it is evil and hats off to any religious leader that reminds of that or suggests that our nation should question our actions in terms of morality.

                    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                      Well . . . over Memorial Day weekend my husband and I were puttering around and we had our tv turned on to History Channel (I think) which was running shows on wars that the US had participated in. There was one show about Japan at the end of the war in which the Japanese people who had lived during that time were interviewed. I learned that the civilians had been so indoctrinated that they would have fought to death with improvised weapons. And of course, there were the kamikaze bombings. It was apparent that just about everyone would have fought rather surrender (that “honor” thing, you know).

                      So . . . . do you keep sending US soldiers in waves after waves to be attacked by indoctrinated citizens, or do you conclude that the government would be encouraged to surrender after a couple of targeted bombings that was so shocking and incomprehensible?

                    • Harry Coin says

                      You wanted to know what the difference was, and plainly the difference is the existence and targeting of an active opposing military force. One is a military decision taken by a nation, the other is random death caused by some few with varying agendas.

                      That war is hell of course isn’t something I’m disagreeing about. I do happen to think often the consequences of not going to war are on balance worse and so agreeing to war is necessary, appropriate, tragic and a sign that political thinking lags technology by a great deal.

                      I have personally visited Hiroshima, and also have personally visited with WWII veterans who served in the Pacific. Without exception, the veterans are certain those atomic bomb blasts saved their lives. They aren’t proud of the death of innocents, they aren’t satisfied that such were the only choices available. Likewise at the Hiroshima memorial there was emphasized the suffering imposed on those who happened to live near the military production factories destroyed by those bombs. They made no apologies for the political figures that led to the decision to go to war, and they regret the ‘sneak attack’ nature of their leadership profoundly. Altogether impressive how they handle it there, I think. Most impressive going forward is how the two cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki make it their business to send people anywhere and everywhere in the world issues of horrific weapons are being discussed to remind all involved about the actual costs in human pain the words and speeches really are all about.

                      Terrorists and their doings attain a moral level beneath that of any soldier or officer acting in concerns with a nation. To compare the two is worse than comparing a policeman to a bacteria. Though not a soldier I am a citizen and I hope no Orthodox person ever, even once, gets confused about the difference between terrorists and the hard choices put upon those given to serve in the military, choices we — you and I — civilians — burden them to attain.

                  • Anon by Necessity says

                    Your Grace,

                    You did botch Tarzana. Chris is right about that.

                    • What kind of statement is that? Why should anyone in the world believe it? I could give myself a pseudonym like “Anonymous Out of Fear for Myself and My Career” and say. Bishop Tikhon never went along with the braggarts and egotists that invaded the parish in Tarzana, but I did not and do not.
                      I realize that some probably still resent my removing Deacon Andrew Wanamaker from that parish, after I learned that he, a married man and a father, left his wife and children to live with a man he had fallen in love with. I still remember the day when he and Father Gregory Safchuk came to my office to ask me if there was anything that could be done besides removing him from the parish and the diaconate. How disappointed they both seemed when I said, “No.” The last I heard from Andrew Wanamaker was that he had been received by Puhalo/Buehler/Haler’s friend, “Metropolitan Stephen” and, as Andrew said, “They have no problem with gay clergy.”
                      I intended to NOT release Father Gregory from Tarzana, but i had no idea that the parish was not interested in keeping him, but, rather, in pastoring him by allowing him to continue on the career path HE chose, rather than remaining where he had been assigned, to rescue him from his situation in Detroit. They said, in fact, that they didn’t want to “stand in his way!” Not even an offer of better compensation! Not even a “What does the Bishop think about this?” So, yes, whoever you are who make an accusation wtihout providing any support for it, i botched Tarzana when I didn’t forbid Father Gregory Safchuk to leave it.
                      The parish was always living on the edge of financial collapse, depending on rentals of the hall and having no savings. Why, I remember a parish feastday when, after serving the Divine Liturgy we went into the parish hall and one of the ladies brought me my plateful of melon balls! Also, I should have sent them a time-server who would tell them they were the Number One American Parish in the OCA, The Future of the Church, and The Flagship of the OCA! Not only that, I forgot to tell them that Christ’s Holy Church NEEDS THEM. So, in that sense, I was a real shock (“treatment”)
                      Ask my friend, the beloved Father Sergei Glagolev and his wife Gerry whether I “botched” Tarzana. Father Sergei has been kept au courant on everything that has happened in that parish since he left it. I still remember hows the egotist/ parish chauvinists raved when Metropolitan Vladimir made him Chancellor of the Diocese and removed him to San Francisco. They treated Father Sergei like a Judas Iscariot who “abandoned them” (to Father Thaddeus Wojcik) out of ambition! And their sulk lasted for years and years!
                      Father Thaddeus was no Father Sergei Glagolev, but neither is anyone else. It wasn’t until Father Nicholas Boldireff that a Priest of (Great) Russian stock and bilingual could be assigned there. And, of course, I failed to listen respectfully, if not reverently, to those Tarzana-ites who complained that Father Nicolas was serving some of the huge number of Russian immigrants in the San Fernando valley by occasionally serving a Slavonic service there: Didn’t I know some asked that “we’ve always been an all-ENGLISH parish?” I remember, as area Dean and then Chancellor, the phone calls and visits I got from Tarzana parishioners expressing their unhappiness with what they saw as the “innovations and “unOrthodoxy” of Father Andrew Harrison! Perpetual discontents. No doubt they are even today complaining to Archbishop Benjamin about something Father Yousuf Rassam or his wife has done or said… Yes, I confess that I didn’t apply any grease to a squeaking (that’s euphony) wheel for once, only to have it wiped off and steam-blasted in order to make it squeak, “like we’ve always had it.”

                • “What wonders me most about those 1945 bombings is that we hit civilian populations in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, highly christian cities, rather than military targets… ”

                  That greatly troubles me too, Monk James.
                  I’ve tried to live for years with the justifications and rationalizations, but in the end I can’t help but think that, like the British bombing of Dresden which was purposely designed to create the living hell of the firestorm inwhich people literally melted, these actions are war crimes. We can perhaps understand how ethical and religious scruples were laid aside or forgotten after years of warfare and associated suffering (that’s the most terrible thing about war), and that understanding may in our minds lessen the guilt that attaches to those who ordered and carried out these actions. But we today cannot let that understanding excuse these actions, lest by doing so we give ourselves permission to commit even worse crimes. The reality on this earth is that victors don’t get hauled before tribunals of justice; we will all, however, have to answer before a higher tribunal. Lord, have mercy!

                  • Sub-Deacon David says

                    In a perfect world, much of what has been written would no doubt be true. However, the world in the early to mid 40s of the 20th century was far from a perfect world (yes, self-evident). One might gain some insight into that world and the decision to drop the bombs by reading the essay here.

                • Those cities were military manufacturing hubs. In those times countries were at war, using their military strength. In these days, with our governments too milque-toast to actually declare a war, we fight “police actions” or have “authorized use of force” engagements.

                  The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought a swift end to the war in the Pacific and avoided an invasion of the Japanese homeland, saving countless thousands of lives (both American and Japanese) that would have been lost in the hand to hand/face to face fighting that would have ensued.

                  Was it the most desired action? No. Was it the right thing to do at the time? I would say yes.

                  • o Hamartolos says

                    The Japanese code had been broken well before the bombs were dropped. Cables had been intercepted long before the bombing that revealed that the Japanese were ready to surrender because they had no chance of defending a land invasion. There were already wiped out. So why the bombs. Well the USSR was chomping at the bit to be the ones that captured/defeated Japan for its own geopolitical purposes, and the US could not have that. The bombing was the the first diplomatic move of the cold war, one that allowed the US to “claim” japan and subsequently establish itself in the region, permanently.

              • o Hamartolos says

                I’m ashamed of the handful of Americans, usually the President, vice President, the secretary of defense, secretary of state, that collude with private corporation to use American soldiers and taxes to further their corporate interests at the expense of the sovereignty and lives of civilians of other countries. Hawaii, the Philippines, Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, and Iraq come to mind. Those at the top spin the story in such a way as to make the people believe war is necessary and just, but the real winners are corporations like British Petroleum, United Fruit, Anaconda Copper Company, etc.

                I’m ashamed because all those immoral wars of the first part of the 20th century have resulted in our current geopolitical climate of fear, hate, death, war, economic instability, and injustice. Had they had not overthrown the democratically elected Mosaddeqh in 54, in all likelihood, the Islamic Revolution would never have happened, the hostages never taken, Hussein empowered and funded to invade Iran, etc. Had the U.S. forced Batista in Cuba to go ahead with elections in 52, maybe the young and popular, but not yet radicalized, Fidel Castro would have been elected. Instead they backed Batista’s repressive regime, which in turn radicalized Castro who in turn radicalized a whole nation. What would have happened in Guatemala if the duly elected Jacobo Arbenz had been allowed to go through with his common sense land reform? Or what about Allende in Chile?

                The list can go on and on and on. So, am I ashamed. Yes. First at our supposed leaders that lie and worm themselves and us into bloody and expensive wars. Second at those of us who have come to view all of these atrocities as necessary, unavoidable, and even by some desirable and something to be proud of. As someone whose country was laid to waste by American arms and money and corporate influence, I am ashamed.

                • I’d like to underline specially one of the many tragic acts that o Hamartolos cited, namely, the empowerment and funding of Saddam Hussein to invade Iran. Not only did the US government empower and fund Hussein, it politely looked away when the same Hussein gassed Kurds and gassed the Iranians using mustard gas and worse. Those gasses, everybody, were Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, made in America, and loosed with impunity on Iran! The Iranian people, left, right, and mddle, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians soon after that, however, heard that the American President named IRAN as belonging to the Axis of Evil!!!!!!!!!! Moreover, the Muslims of Iran are almost, but not all, Shia Muslims, brothers and sisters of the Shia Muslims of Iraq who were led by agents of the U.S. to believe that the U.S.would support them in their struggles agaisnst Saddam Husein, but when the moment came, America left them dangling at the mercy of Saddam. i can imagine the people of Iran, whether Muslim, Christian, Jew, or Zoroastrian, must have found themselves being labelled an Axis of Evil, as a reason for hopelessness about a country they once admired. And underneath all that is the matter of Israel, to which many Iranian Jews never considered emigrating a land which many of them, with as much justification to be at the center of a REAL Axis of Evil: a reborn ‘Greater Germany as Greater Israel, with need for more Lebensraum, and a need to push the Palestinians just like the Czechs out of the old ‘”homeland”, whether it be Sudetenland or the West Bank
                  We were behind the mustard gassing of Iranians, not to forget Bombing of Iranian cities by an Iraqi Air Force supported with armament and training by the U.S. before Hussein’s downfall.

    • Harry Coin says

      The bishop has a real and I think really important church point here you know.

      The church is forever going on about fasting in the services and the calendar. Clergy is not only supposed to be correct in what they say but are supposed to model and live the saying or leave off being clergy.

      Monks have the added dimension of choosing the ascetic life (though anyone given to be a parent certainly is no stranger to that). All the stuff about ‘mastery of the passion’ and ‘ladder of divine ascent’ and so on. If it were easy I suppose anyone could do it. But then anyone could be a bishop, too.

      Fire departments give folks just so long to have their ‘body mass index’ be below a certain number otherwise they are fired. Same for the military and police. The bishops ought to do the same for their own ranks if walking the talking means anything anymore.

      I’ll never forget the day years ago I saw a very very heavy clergyman, never married, sweating profusely, given to speak about fasting. The people just looked at him and the kids were all ‘Yeah, really, how’s that going?’

    • Your Grace,

      You said, “Incidentally, why was Brother Baruch’s funeral conducted at Platina, and not at St.John’s from which Baruch had fled (like Father Martin?) before his tragic death? That was long before the days of Archbishop Benjamin or Meletios Weber.”

      One of the things I have found disingenuous about your voluminous web commentary is how often you switch gears between hyperbole, facts, and insinuation as a way of making your point or humiliating someone.

      You once upon a time took a vow to “rightly divide the word of truth” yes? I don’t think bishops ever retire from that.

      Yes, Brother Baruch died on a river-rafting trip when his head hit a rock in the river. He was with at least one other monk from Pt. Reyes at the time. The (then) Fr. Jonah was heart-broken over his loss and grieved over him for weeks. I attended the funeral at Pt. Reyes for Br. Baruch and sang in the choir that night. I didn’t see you there. And when I asked one of the monks how often you had visited the monastery he said, “Once in 7 years.”

      Br. Baruch was buried at Platina because St. John’s Monastery at Pt. Reyes didn’t have the legal designation to do so. If you had had more of an interest in the brothers at the monastery you’d have known that.

      And what’s with the snide comment about Fr. Martin – one of the founding monks at the monastery – being a quitter? You never joined in Bishop, so your armchair comments from the comfort of L.A. are just cheap shots at a very hard-working monk. I never saw you around there. Nobody ever did.

      You’ve mentioned several times in your web commentaries how little respect retired bishops receive after they’re gone. Maybe if you gave more you’d receive more. Don’t they say, “Master, Bless” and not “Master, curse”?

      You seem to take some kind of delight in wounding-with-words-on-the-web, and maybe that’s why your legacy has not been more memorable. Intellectual prowess without a heart for the feelings of others (like Fr. Martin) can be isolating.

      At this critical juncture in the church, the faithful are looking for a spiritually mature man to help them discern right from wrong. Give that – inform and lead – and the appropriate recognition you seek will be added to you. There’s something biblical about that.

      • Amos,

        Your ‘facts’ are not quite accurate. I personally, was at about three Hierarchical Liturgies, with Bishop Tikhon serving at Pt Reyes, the last one being the one where the former Roman Catholic, Father David Brum was vested Brother Baruch was a novice and was still trying to make his monastic decision. He went up north to visit a ‘former’ monk (Mark) from Pt Reyes and drowned after hitting his head on a rock. We all sang in the choir that night, including yours truly; my wife and I were with our priest, Father David Thatcher, from Merced, the former parish of then, Father Jonah.

        • jacksson,

          I am not sure you are talking about me, Amos, I don’t believe I have commented on the points you are referring to. Did you mean someone else?

        • jacksson! Do you have any idea what Father Jonah told me on the telephone the minute the news of Brother Baruch’s death reached him? About the reasons Brother Baruch had gone up north? If not, I suggest you be very, very careful about resurrecting that event until you find out. You could ask Metropolitan Jonah, but he doesn’t need that right now… I would also suggest you check with parishioners of the SS Peter & Paul Church, Phoenix, Arizona, about their pastor, Archpriest David Brum and his Orthodoxy.
          As for Father David’s reception by me: I tried to follow as exactly as I could the procedures that were followed in the reception of St. Alexei Toth (Tovt) into the Orthodox Church by then Archbishop Vladimir (Sokolov) in San Francisco. These are the same procedures DICTATED by the Holy Governing Synod of the Russian Church for receiving heretic Roman Catholic Priests. In this, as in most of my service as Deacon, Priest and Bishop, I always tried to follow established tradition and custom if it was not heretical or illogical. Although “by vesting” is a popular way of characterizing the manner of receiving Roman Catholic clergy into the Orthodox Church, it’s much more than that. It’s by Confession of Faith, first of all. Second, it’s by Penance; a full, life’s Confession. Finally, after meeting the Bishop with the rest of the clergy before Liturgy, but without vestments-only under-cassock and cassock (anteri and rason) until during the Liturgy he dons the Eucharistic vestments and partakes of Christ’s Holy Mysteries as a Priest does, with the rest of the Priests. It is this COMMUNION OF CHRIST’S HOLY MYSTERIES as a Priest, the Eucharist, that is the means of his reception into the honorable presbytery of the Orthodox Church. Soon after he was received, he visited the MONASTERY of St. Tikhon, and some of the Holy Fathers there “shunned” him, like followers of Jacob Ames,or Mennonites…for ‘being a heretic received only by vesting!” One must forgive them for this shunning of a Priest “in whom there is no guile”, I know. They were just ignorant and wanted to be seen as Zealots for the Truth. It wasn’t their fault.

      • This is a reply to an OLD post by “John”, which I just found when reviewing his previous comments. Sometimes John is an industrial-strength name-caller, which I hadn’t realized until I read ALL his posts and came across several that seemed to be just a kind of auto-erotic exercise in composing elaborate put-downs.
        He objected to my reference to the reasons Brother Baruch might have fled the monastery. Actually I wrote “had fled (like Father Martin?) before his tragic death.” I know exactly HOW Brother Baruch died. I also know that the first call i received from then Father Jonah told me that Brother Baruch had been deeply disturbed by the tensions and jealousies amongst some of the brethren–who was spending more time with whom, and so on. It reminded me of some English novel about a public school. It also reminded me of a very very old movie called Well of Loneliness about the homosexual tension in France in a girls’ school. I felt very sorry for Brother Baruch, because I imagined that he was probably the center of such tensions and rivalries. Looking back at that (of which I’ve hesitated to write until now, reading John’s nasty message of July 20, 2012 at 4:59 pm. When I said fled (like Father Martin?) I was implying that BOTH Brother Baruch and Father Martin were JUSTIFIED in fleeing. John, however, who seems to want to find me mendacious or worse, referred to my “SNIDE” comment about Fr. Martin!!!!!
        John, in your nastiness, you made a foolish remark: “You once upon took a vow to “rightly divide the word of truth.” No, John, I never vowed such, and I never vowed (as it goes in the Liturgy) to rightly divide the word of Thy (God’s) truth,” either. That would be a vain and presuming vow! How could I, a son of Adam, and a greater sinner than he, ever IMAGINE that I was capable of “rightly dividing the word of truth” by taking a vow???? You said Bishops don’t retire from that. On the contrary, retired Bishops are never commemorated in the conclusion of the anaphora by prayer that they will be granted grace to rightly divide the word of God’s truth. That is the prayer of the celebrant for the ruling diocesan bishop.
        You said I didn’t know that St. John’s Monastery at Pt. Reyes didn’t have the “legal designation”(sic) to bury anyone. No one ever sought to find out whether or not an exception could be made to any (unnamed by John) regulation or ordinance forbade such a burial.
        Whoever told you that I had visited the monastery only once in 7 years must have been asked that question after I retired. I liked the site and the Church which I consecrated there I was always bothered by the lack of attention to monastic discipline anywhere close to that of such monasteries as Jordanville, St. Tikhon’s or even Resaca. It has been said that there are no more idiorrhymic monasteries in the world. Yet, even with Archimandrite Nikolai breathing down his neck, the senior hieromonk was mainly interested in “shooting the breeze,” whether at the monastery or (as often) travelling around in his car or by other means to lecture about how important monasteries are. You looked down from the moralizing heights you’ve awarded yourself to tell me “inform and lead and the appropriate recognition you seek will be added to you.” Besides being wretched in style, it reveals your most false premise and conviction: that I seek recognition.
        Good God! What kind of world do you inhabit. Recognition?!: What the hell? One of my many big problems, John, is I often let it show that I don’t care whether I’m liked or not. I’m, rather, a natural recluse, who has been forced by my parents, first of all, and society, to be “outgoing.”
        How arrogant, too, of you, to sanctify your message with the concluding “There’s something biblical about that!” It reminds me very much of the Dalai Lama of Protopresbyters.
        I apologize to other participants in this site, but I’m afraid I could not stand to think that ANYONE thought I had less than the highest of opinions about Father Martin and ever-memorable Brother Baruch.

  22. Alice Carter says

    As his grace Bishop Tikhon knows, I had no problem writing all the bishops in the Synod when I was aggrieved. After that prayer was all that was needed. I highly recommend for those of you (and there seem to be many) who are distressed, that you write each bishop revealing to them your anger, your fears and your questions. Directly addressing the bishops is far more charitable than all the ranting we indulge in when we are loathe to act. Just sayin’.

  23. Yes, Alice, you, like Protodeacon Eros Wheeler, “started at the top and worked your way up” by writing over the head of your own bishop to address bishops who had no business interfering in his diocese.

  24. Pardon me for a reminiscence. Seems to me its apropos.
    When I was a Priest, woman had a disagreement with me. She requested a panikhida for a Buddhist. When IZ refused she said that she was going to report me to Bishop Basil (Rodzianko), and if he did nothing, she would call up Metropolitan Feodosy (Theodosius),and “if even he won’t help me, I’m going to call directly to Father KISHKOVSKY!” I’m not making this up. I’ll never forget he emphasis on the name Kishkovsky!

  25. cynthia curran says

    Well in California Hispanics which are the less likely to be insurance out live whites. Whites around 80 years old and Hispanics 82 years old. Granted, Hispanics tend to use the Emergency Room more and its cost the state of California a lot but European life expectancy is possible without the European Health System

  26. If the allegations against JONAH were true, there is still the fact that the other bishops had to have had responsibility (maybe even more direct responsibility) for this scandal. A leader relies on others so much, and if the leader does not receive the support he needs, he is helpless. Church scandals will always exist, and it’s very easy to find something which smells rotten and heap it upon the one in charge. The OCA Synod would do well to have a movie night and watch “The Cain Mutiny.” All it takes is one mastermind to work the others up while simultaneously shying away from responsibility or personal loss. If the Synod did not lie in their letter, they at least failed their leader (and their people by discarding the OCA’s credibility). If they lied, as seems to be the case from other postings, then the damage is even worse.

  27. cynthia curran says

    Japanese situation is complex. I don’t we should have moved the whole population into camps in World War Ii but the Japanese in Japan at the time forced thousands of women into sex slavery from Korea or China or the Philippines, in fact today those Asian countries dislike Japan still even more than the us. Also, Japan mistreated prisoners of war in the above mention countries and killed thousands as well as the US forces did in the pacific.

    • Cynthia,
      What the Japanese did to their captive populations has nothing to do with what we did to the citizens of Japanese extraction in this country. Japan itself, was very militaristic and ruled by their military class.

      Did you know that America even forced Peru to sent some of their citizens of Japanese extraction to this country so that we could imprison them. We did not, as far as I know, mistreat Japanese prisoners of war; we did kill them as efficiently as possible if they refused to surrender (flamethrowers). My father used to demonstrate to me how they tied the prisoners as they moved them to the shore of the islands so that they wouldn’t get loose and cause further problems. But, basically, we were pretty humane although the troops on the ground had a real hatred for the enemy. On Okinawa, the Japanese would force the local civilians out in front of their troops and lots of them were killed in the crossfire. War is terrible.

  28. Pardon me for speaking off-topic. I want to ask you all, especiallly George, to pardon me for not having adopted an alias, but using my real name here. It’s afforded an opportunity for sin to many instances, instances with, apparently, long-standing grudges who feel perhaps liberated by anonymity and can settle old scores, and they can bring them up by stretching to make them somehow connect to the important topics. Mister Banescu has his long-standing bittterness which he expresses at every opportunity, but there are not that many such opportuniiies; moreover ,he does NOT cower down behind a hunter’s blind, an alias, before getting the courage to expend some resentment…You don’t need this stuff and I’m responsible for it.

  29. cynthia curran says

    Well, no one like the bombing s that occured but the Germans threw millions into camps and rape and killed millions in Russia. The Japanese according to people here are innocent asked the people in South Korea or China.

    • StephenD says

      Or the American soldiers who were in the Bataan Death March or the Dutch and British civilians who were captured in Indonesia, Hong Kong or Singapore.

  30. The Truth is Out There says

    This latest scandal may very well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for me. I am tired of lazy clergy. I do more before lunch time than most of these lazy priests do in a week. I am sick of the arrogance of the church leaders who want us to kiss their rings and do nothing but bilk the church of money and resources. I am sick of the lack of support for rural parishes who can little more than survive. The bottom line is that I want my children to be Christian and sadly I see nothing in the Orthodox Church in America that can help me make that happen. I highly doubt that I will be a member of the OCA by the end of the year.

  31. As one who is just beginning to look for a home in Orthodoxy, having left the Roman Catholic Church, I am heartbroken that the one church where I thought I belonged seems to be no better than the RCC! Now what am I to do? The OCA seemingly is going down for the third time, which might be a good thing, but in my area there is only the OCA and the Greek Orthodox, which I cannot understand at all. I am simply heartbroken that yet again I thought I found a home, and have found only that it is yet another kick in the face of the laity. I am about ready to go back to the home church, no head but Jesus Christ.