October 25, 2014

His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH Addresses the Faithful of the Archdiocese of Washington [VIDEO] [CLOSED]

Talk given by Met. Jonah at St. Nicholas Cathedral (OCA) on Sunday, February 27, 2011.

TRANSCRIPT

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

I greet you with the feast of the Last Judgment as we prepare ourselves for the Great and Holy Lenten Fast.

It is with sadness today that I address you, not because of the content of what I have to say, but because of the manner in which it needs to be said. As many of you know, in line with the longstanding tradition in the church of an intensified prayer life during Lent, I as a diocesan bishop, requested from my brothers on the Holy Synod to set aside a period of time for myself during the Great Fast to spend in personal reflection and renewal. Due to the complexity of my work and travel schedule since my becoming Metropolitan, this will be the first extended period of rest that I have taken in quite some time. I am extremely grateful to my brothers for granting me this request, and for taking on the burden of added responsibility to their already busy schedules: Bishop Tikhon is now the locum tenens of the Diocese of the Midwest, and Bishop Nikon is now the locum tenens of the Diocese of the South.

I had intended, and still plan on doing so, to rest as much as possible during the Great Fast, spending time with loved ones and celebrating and attending the Divine Services at my Primatial Cathedral of St Nicholas in Washington.

However, due to inaccurate reporting on the Internet stating that I had been deposed, that I had resigned, that I am on a leave of absence, rumors that have spread worldwide and have caused great concern among many. I owe you the faithful of this diocese clarification of the facts.

I am still your Metropolitan. I am still your diocesan bishop. I am still the active primate of the Orthodox Church in America. The reports are not true. I am merely taking a retreat, a time for reflection.

I have requested a time of rest. In line with the Holy Canons, the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, and the good order of the church, no major decisions will be made without my knowledge and consent. His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel will be assisting the officers of the church in day-to-day operations. His Grace, Bishop Melchisadek has been kind enough to offer his support in the role of interim Chancellor of the OCA. In line with the statute of the OCA, I am postponing the official spring meetings of the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council until the period of time after Pascha. The members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America have been informed of this postponement.

As the Lord said in the midst of His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you… Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” I love you, I thank you for your continued support and prayers, and look forward to celebrating the Great and Holy Fast with you as we make the journey to the Pascha of Our Lord. Now, let us forget about what lies behind and push forward to what lies ahead.

Comments

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    Scott Pennington says:

    Well this is interesting. Somebody is clearly misrepresenting the situation. Met. Jonah’s account and Mark Stokoe’s are mutually exclusive in spirit, if not in fact. Technically, Met. Jonah is still the primate of the OCA as he asserts. However, if things are as Stokoe asserts, Met. Jonah is being misleading regarding the situation. If not, Stokoe has been sold a bill of goods.

    The entertaining thing to me is that Stokoe was on top of the “auxilliary/assistant bishop” story regarding the AOCNA and he, as well as OCL, was cheered on by the “autocephaly now” crowd. I suppose it matters whose ox is gored. Recall my earlier remarks regarding the danger of “power to the laity (and their media)”.

    The end of the OCANews story by Stokoe contained the folowing footnote:

    “At that same meeting, +Jonah also warned that DOS gathering against visiting “pornographic” websites “like OCANews.org.” In fact, he repeated the word “pornographic”, for added emphasis. As they say, “Plus ca change….”

    79th Street and the Phanar (Fr. Elpidophoros in particular) must be loving this.

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      a non-OCA Orthodox Christian says:

      I saw this posting on an alternate blog of those who believe Met. Jonah is undeserving of his removal. http://www.ocatruth.com/

      Metropolitan Jonah and the culture war

      Posted on March 3, 2011 by Muzhik

      I have never been one to follow the ins and outs of church politics, and never gave any of it a thought until the Met. Herman catastrophe rubbed my nose in the subject. I had hoped all that was behind us. This coup attempt against Met. Jonah has been puzzling to me. I can understand disagreeing with this or any metropolitan’s decisions on this thing or that thing. But the Synod let Herman get away with all kinds of truly corrupt (potentially criminal) deeds, and only moved against him when their hands were forced by events and by a widespread uprising in the pews. This is not a Synod that is eager to cause turmoil in the church by deposing the metropolitan. Why they are so eager to overthrow Jonah, not for corruption or criminality, but because they don’t like his management style, is a mystery to me. Part of the story, I’m guessing, is that members of the permanent OCA bureaucracy don’t want to leave Syosset for Washington, as Jonah desires. I can understand the reluctance to move, but I also see the rationale for Jonah’s decision — a strong urge to break with the corrupt past, but also a desire to bring the OCA to the national forefront as a voice of moral leadership in public. The reaction both Orthodox and non-Orthodox friends of mine had to Jonah’s participation in the March for Life told me that HB really gets it. He wants the OCA to stop hiding its light under a bushel, and to stand with other Christians and churches on these important moral issues of our time. What’s not to like?

      An e-mail from a friend who follows these things more closely makes things more clear, if he is correct. Here is part of it:

      You need to understand that what’s truly behind all this is a small group of liberals who are threatened by +JONAH’s agenda for the OCA. They hate that JONAH has spoken out against abortion so forcefully. They hate that JONAH signed the Manhattan Declaration [an ecumenical document taking a stand against same-sex marriage, among other things], and they hate that he has spoken out about what accepting gays in the military means for Orthodox chaplains (that it will infringe on the chaplains’ religious liberty). In short, JONAH has declared himself on the other side of the cultural divide. He stands where the Church has always stood, and is not afraid to court controversy to stand up for what we believe in, instead of staying “polite” and avoiding trouble. When it comes to social issues, they would rather the OCA be the Episcopal Church. One of the ringleaders of this faction is a partnered homosexual, a fact that almost never comes up in these debates. Normally it’s wrong to bring personal factors into a discussion of policy etc., but I have come to believe that the vehemence the JONAH opponents have used against him, especially on OCANews.org, cannot be fully explained as simply a dispute over administrative policies. They know that there is something deeper at stake. It is no coincidence that most of the plotters are based in the Northeast, and in California — the most liberal parts of the USA. They would rather keep the OCA liberal, or at least on the sidelines in the culture war, and their own power intact, than see JONAH lead the church to be the church. It doesn’t matter to them that the OCA is dying in those dioceses. They are going to do whatever it takes to protect their own moral prerogatives. We in the OCA might think that we have escaped the same fight over gay marriage and gay rights that is splitting other churches, and that is destroying the Episcopal Church. We haven’t. It just takes on another form with us, and you’re seeing that play out now.

      That’s one man’s opinion. I don’t have the personal knowledge to know how valid this concern is, but in recent weeks I have been hearing it more and more from my insider friends, clergy and laity alike. The faithful should press the bishops to declare whether or not they stand with Jonah (and with historical Orthodoxy) on gay rights and abortion. Are they threatened by HB’s actions on this front? Are they embarrassed? We need to know this. We need to know if this Synod wants the OCA to be Orthodox, or Episcopalian. I imagine that Episcopalians who are thinking of becoming Orthodox want to know this too. And I suppose that the bishops and patriarchs of Orthodox jurisdictions abroad would want to know what they’re really dealing with in the OCA.

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    Aloysius says:

    I find it highly interesting that Stokoe has not posted anything new himself, or posted new comments from readers on the Jonah/Synod items since Friday. I wonder if the widely-distributed e-mail from +Tikhon (Fitzgerald) exposing Stokoe as part of an anti-Jonah cabal that included four bishops, all of whom allegedly intended to lay a trap for Jonah, has anything to do with the radio silence on OCANews.org?

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      Michael Bauman says:

      A few more went up today, but two of my contributions which pointed out my perception that there as no truth in this situation (both sides) have yet to be approved.

      Personally, I’d rather have a bad corrupt bishop than no bishop at all. It seems there are a few titular Orthodox running around who would prefer bishops to be their eunuchs rather than Christ’s . (Ok, some of them are just eunuchs for no good reason). The temptation is to look at what is happening in the OCA and isolate it there. Wrong. Each jurisdiction is struggling with the same questions and problems: how are we to govern ourselves? As the old strictures of dhimmitude, Soviet oppression and American dependency are breaking down and/or being challenged, we are struggling to find our way.

      I don’t like being obedient, it galls me in so many ways. Yet, without obedience what are we? “We all like sheep have gone astray everyone to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the inquity of us all” Is 53:6.

      I know I will be contemplating the extent of my own straying during the coming fast.

      Glory to God.

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        Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

        Thank you, Michael. Good points to remember. The Orthodox Church has just come out of Soviet captivity, still suffers under Muslim captivity, and is just falling into American captivity, and yet none of that need cause any one of us to stumble.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      I don’t find it at all acceptable that Mark Stokoe is a member of the Metropolitan Council and also the editor of OCANews. There’s a real conflict here, one that perpetuates the skulduggery that seems to dominate the discussions (not here thankfully, but plenty of other places).

      Why is a member of the Metropolitan Council offering editorial commentary in his own name? Why aren’t the leaders of the MC putting a stop to this? Or worse, is Mark Stokoe their unofficial mouthpiece? See how it fosters skulduggery and conspiracy thinking? That’s what happens when the normal channels of communication are corrupted. I don’t see how Stokoe can wear both hats and still claim transparency and objectivity.

      I have nothing against Mark Stokoe and admire the work he did during the OCA’s “Time of Troubles.” I wrote him a private note saying as much. But this situation is different. Frankly, if I were on the MC, I would put a stop to it. Either Stokoe writes commentary, or he serves on the MC. One or the other.

      Moving on, I am disgusted by this whole spectacle. Doesn’t anyone have any sense? Where are the leaders? How could they let a problem like this (who’s right, who’s wrong — I don’t really know and I don’t really care enough even to read up on it) grind the OCA back into the room they just left?

      Didn’t anyone foresee that this is probably one of the worst ways to handle it?

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        Geo Michalopulos says:

        Fr, I agree, this is absoletly the worst possible way to handle it. Stokoe’s biases are clearly on display. Yeah, yeah, we all got biases, myself included. But he goes off into gratuitous slander land when he talks about the “luxurious” accommodations at Santa Fe. When the MC meets, do they meet at a Motel 6? Or at a monastery? The hypocrisy is blatant.

        If that’s not enough, he then adds a hit-piece against +Kirill supposedly building a patrinarchal palace somewhere off in Russia. Whether it’s true or not I don’t know but you and I have no cause to criticize an autocephalous church on its internal matters especially when it does fantastic work otherwise.

        As for my owj criticisms against Istanbul, Damascus, etc., that’s germane as these churches have insinuated themselves into the internal workings of the American jurisdictions, and, without the concommitant preaching of the Gospel within their own lands to show anything for it.

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    Karen says:

    I’m sorry. I’m an OCA member, and I find this little speech by the Metropolitan, carefully read from a script with clear discomfort expressed in the voice tone and cadence and body language, to be disturbing. I would find it so, even if I didn’t have some perspective on the fuller context (having followed OCA news for a couple of years now and many other Orthodox blog and news sites).

    I noted in a comment on the OCA News web site when someone linked to this vimeo there, that I felt that the quality of the Metropolitan’s delivery here was in stark contrast to other addresses he has given (one that I heard in person at my parish and others on video, where he was clearly more relaxed). I don’t pretend to be able to parse all the OCA politics.

    I am sure Mark Stokoe has his biases, but funnily enough, I am coming to trust those biases (or instincts) more than some that I see evidenced here. I had high hopes for the OCA in the wake of the election of this Metropolitan, and I found an article on spiritual fatherhood written by him and published in the “Essays” newsletter of Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery last year to resonate strongly with me and inspire hope in the wake of the corruption I have learned of, even as one quite new to the Orthodox fold, in the Orthodox hierarchies.

    Mother Raphaela, the monastery’s abbess, included in the same issue her article addressing the very painful reality of the frequency with which, at retreats for Orthodox women, she is now having to address the question of how to handle and heal from a pattern of sexual and spiritual abuse on the part of Orthodox clergymen entrusted with the spiritual care of these women. I fear now, as a fuller picture of what the Met. is actually DOING emerges, that I am having to question the sincerity of that article on spiritual fatherhood as well. It may well be, as some suggest, that the Met. is more good at saying what people want to hear in order to try to consolidate his base of power and popularity than really standing up for what is right to protect the sheep in the face of overwhelming pressure to protect perpetrators. No one will be happier than I if that turns out to be wrong, but I’m learning not to be naively optimistic, having started my Orthodox journey in the AOANA.

    Whatever the case may be, I believe, given all that the members of the OCA have been through under two previous administrations, people like Mark Stokoe, who (whatever else he wants) genuinely desire full transparency and mutual accountability on the part of Orthodox clergy, can be forgiven if they have a little bias here! Sometimes it’s hard not to blame and smear the messenger when what is revealed is so painfully contrary to what we want and hope to see.

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Dear Karen,

      I know what you mean about Sunday’s statement, but please don’t assume that Stokoe’s version of reality is closer to the truth. I worked as a journalist for over a decade, most recently as Washington bureau chief for a national newspaper. Believe me: Stokoe wouldn’t last a day as a journalist. He talks only to one side. He presents things only from one perspective. He relies heavily on unnamed sources and freely spins everything with an unabashedly polemical attitude. He uses loaded and inaccurate terminology, describing Fr. Alexander Garklavs as a “whistleblower” (as if the Metropolitan has committed some crime) and complaining about Fr. Joseph Fester “decrying” instead of simply correcting an erroneous pronouncement by Fr. Gregory Safchuk. He makes little or no effort to hide or control his own outrage, which he freely vents in his frequent editorial comments to the posts of others. He doesn’t attempt objectivity and shows little concern for simple fairness. He edits or omits comments he doesn’t like, saying “Please, no invective,” but his own comments are full of invective — frequently snide, snarky, insulting, and sometimes I think dishonest about his reasons for not letting others have their say. That is not the spirit of truth.

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        Dn Brian,

        I’m sorry, but your own observations of Mark’s comments and posts are themselves subjective and biased. The blanket accusations of Mark’s editorializing are quite unfair when compared with the totality and context of what he has actually has said and reported.

        Is the man fully objective? Of course not, who among us is! But, I have been following that site for many years and have read almost everything that has been posted there (articles, editorials, and comments) since the financial crisis in the OCA started. I can tell you that all in all close to 80% of the facts, information, and editorials that Mark has posted since he started OCANews.org have been quite accurate and helpful.

        On the other hand, the many malfeasors and abusers in the OCA, too many to list here, who have over the years shown themselves as unworthy and abusive pastors, shepherds, and administrators were barely 10-20% (being very generous here) accurate or objective in their claims and obfuscations. Given the choice between 20% truth and 80% truth I will always choose 80%. With no official and objective apparatus to inform the Church and the continuing shenanigans in our leadership, OCAnews fulfills a critical and needed function for the OCA.

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          John Gilluly says:

          I have to side with Deacon Brian on this one (and I have excerpted part of what I am saying here elsewhere on the web). I’ve known Fr. Jonah for 10 years. Out here on the West Coast, once you got to know Bishop Jonah you grew to love him. He started his small monastery with 4 and now they don’t have room for 40. I think he traveled 30,000 miles a year in his car as a priest – visiting churches, giving relief to priests and parishes, and being a father-confessor for hundreds. Young people especially are drawn to him. He never sought the episcopacy – ever. He only became bishop because he was asked to.

          Mr. Stokoe describes a metropolitan that we in the West do NOT know. And I’m not implying a fistful of supporters here, I mean hundreds, possibly thousands of parishioners, over the last 15 years. It’s that simple. His track record of consistency has been that remarkable.

          The interesting thing is this – if what I say is true and what the Deacon says is true – because this is the man we know – and this is, has been, and continues to be – our consistent, ongoing experience of his character – an outlook acquired by years of personal interaction, not by hearsay – not something theoretical, not presumed, not supposed – -then what does this say about the incredibly detailed and litigious description of his actions by the reporter and his detractors? The libelous insinuations and twisting of facts is breathtaking in scope. Yes, these guys are out to get him.

          But Stokoe should get his conscience clear on one thing as he goes in for the kill. Who’s killing who? Even the most jaded journalist should know when he’s being played by darker forces far smarter than himself. But that’s Evil and maybe he’s too enlightened to consider he’s a pawn? They always make sure you wake up after the fact, or after you’ve been tempted to go over the edge of the brink.

          Thus far, Stokoe and crew have proven extremely clever at ripping people to shreds and have the long teeth to prove it (Go get em tiger?). But can they build anyone up? I don’t think so.

          You can’t have it both ways. It’s one or the other, and it reads to me like their descriptions of +Jonah are descriptions of themselves and the axe they wish to grind – couched in a carefully wrought slight-of-hand in which the victim is cast as the victimizer. I’ve never known +Jonah to be a mixed bag. What you see is what you get.

          The other thing about writing propaganda is that those who do it are really good at it. Propaganda is one thing. Journalism is another. Propaganda is to journalism what Fox News is to the Christian Science Monitor. Playing to emotions ‘sells’. A good propagandist can get an audience worked up over almost anything because they mix emotions with words, subjective content with images, and disguise personal opinions as facts.

          If one was to re-read Mr. Stokoe’s article with the intent of answering: “What is he trying to tell me?” The answer is clear. “Metropolitan Jonah is a bungling idiot who doesn’t know what he’s doing, defies authority, and is set to ruin the church. He should be stopped; and I am going to destroy him.”

          But I’ve never known that person, and I don’t think I ever will. But maybe Mark does. There’s a mirror in his office where he can look him right in the eye. St. Paul once said, “Alexander the coppersmith has done me much harm, may the Lord recompense him according to his works.” (2 Tim: 4:14) I think he got that one right, and the sheer havoc Mr. Stokoe has caused the Antiochian archdiocese and the OCA should have its own reward as well. You gotta believe that what goes around comes around, and that nature does not abhor a vacuum. Metropolitan Jonah is truly as good as I posit, and yes, I think Mr. Stokoe is just as dark as I imply. Caveat Emptor.

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            Nick Katich says:

            John:

            Propaganda is to journalism what Fox News is to the Christian Science Monitor.

            I must say that such statement is most amusing. On another site, someone suggested that some are upset at His Beatitude because he is engaging the culture (i.e abortion, same sex marriage, etc.) and that that has those others upset and that is why they are on a witch hunt against him. If you truly believe that the historically “conventional” media, i.e the others (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC etc.) as opposed to Fox News, are journalism and that Fox News is propaganda, then you either expose a lack of discernment as to what is journalism and what is propaganda or you expose a political bias that I would hope His Beatitude would not wish to be associated with given his stated positions on the cultural issues of the day. Please, in your zeal to defend him, do not do him that disservice!

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            Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

            John is right. Well said.

            Chris, all professional journalism is at least 80% accurate. Most, I would say, is 90% or 95% accurate even on controversial issues. But it’s the 5%-20% that makes all the difference. That’s the spin. That’s where the coloring comes from, making some people look good and other people look bad. I know this from experience, too. I haven’t just reported the news; I’ve been reported on as the subject of the news. Believe me, reporters can relate facts about you in such a way that you feel you’ve been slandered.

            Remember, too, that the most common form of bias is in the choice of what to report. Stokoe is giving you a carefully selected set of facts, colored to his pleasing, that excludes many other relevant facts that don’t serve his purpose. It is the yellowest form of yellow journalism I’ve ever encountered. And it’s coming from someone who is our natural enemy — a modernist, leftist, pro-gay, pro-feminist Jacobin revolutionary whose evil is easily seen in his own spiteful, mocking editorial comments. Why give him the benefit of the doubt and dismiss John and me as biased because we happen to actually know +Jonah? (You have indeed accused me of “bias” and called me “unfair” to criticize Stokoe in summary; I think your accusation is unfair.)

            It’s not like we’re saying +Jonah has never done anything wrong. He has made mistakes. He could be more careful with his words, he tends to make snap decisions without consulting people, and he seems to expect the same deference that every other Orthodox primate expects, not realizing that the OCA is American and Americans don’t do deference, unless it pleases them. Several of his bolder statements definitely don’t please Stokoe and his merry band of mutineers, but they do please you and me (I’m assuming). On the other hand, I have disagreed with +Jonah publicly on at least three occasions, and he has never held it against me. You’d never expect that from the way Stokoe paints him.

            Nick: John didn’t mention CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, or CNBC; he only mentioned the Christian Science Monitor, and CSM is more objective in its reporting than just about every national news source. That’s pretty much recognized by everybody in the news business, liberal or conservative.

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            Dn Brian,

            The blanket accusations I was referring to is the totality of all the editorials, facts, and information that Mark Stokoe has posted on OCANews since he started that site.

            You claimed that he

            “doesn’t attempt objectivity and shows little concern for simple fairness.”

            that is false. I never denied the fact that Mark is not fully objective, but all in all his track record has been proven accurate and fair.

            I also have no idea where you’re getting this evaluation of Mark Stokoe from:

            And it’s coming from someone who is our natural enemy — a modernist, leftist, pro-gay, pro-feminist Jacobin revolutionary whose evil is easily seen in his own spiteful, mocking editorial comments.

            Where are your facts and verifiable sources? And you accuse Mark of “yellowest form of yellow journalism“?

            All I keep seeing on the http://www.ocatruth.com site is mostly anonymous posters with innuendos and accusations and promises of “we will reveal stuff” and “you will see” yet it’s been almost a week and nothing substantive and objective has been provided.

            Also, +Jonah is free, and at this point must, issue a comprehensive public statement outlining the issues and concerns he has and set the record straight on any of the mistakes and falsehoods that exist regarding the public discourse of what’s happened. Why hasn’t he done that already? The longer he delays, the less credibility he will have, especially given the spiritual and financial crisis OCA has previously endured and the many unethical and abusive individuals (most of which have never admitted their malfeasance, repented, or compensated the Church for their multi-million dollar pilfering) who have previously abused the OCA as their personal piggy bank and treated the Church as tool for their out-of-control egos. (I’m not referring to +Jonah.)

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            Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

            Chris, I really am amazed at your loyalty to Stokoe, and at this point I’m not sure you are amenable to reason. If you can’t recognize yellow journalism, and if you can’t see the difference between being objective and fair and just being careful with your facts to advance your cause, I don’t know that anything I write will make a difference.

            But I’ll try.

            Here is what I know about Stokoe from personal experience:

            (1) Stokoe is a liar. I recently tried to post a comment responding to complaints about HB’s use of the word “pornographic” to describe ocanews.org. Here’s just how it appeared, with Stokoe’s editor’s note:

            I think it’s pretty obvious that what the Metropolitan meant by “pornography” ….Many people here do seem to fiendishly enjoy scandal.

            (Editor’s note: Your turn of phrase that I omitted was not clever, but vulgar. Don’t do it again.)

            Most people would think from Stokoe’s comment that I had written something obscene and that he’s just being decent by editing it out. In fact, what he edited out was:

            “that ocanews.org caters to a clientele of people with a perverse desire to share each other’s bile.”

            There’s nothing “vulgar” in that; Stokoe just didn’t want people to read bad things said about his website, so he lied, and he lied in such a way to make me look bad.

            (2) Stokoe is very likely gay. Others have said this, but I hadn’t heard anyone say it until I had already come to that conclusion myself, based on what I have heard from him. I have engaged him in email exchanges on the subject of homosexuality, and I have found him to be dogmatic in defense of the gay view of gayness. He is quick to cite the usual pro-gay research as authoritative and to dismiss contrary research as worthless. He surprised me with how familiar he was with the research on both sides. He already had an opinion of leading researchers on the other side, and he knew just what to say to impugn their reputations (not that what he said was true). These things suggested to me that either Stokoe is gay or someone very close to him is gay. Either would account for his knowledge, position, and passion on the subject. Maybe he’s just very well read on current issues, but his being gay would help explain his anti-Jonah enthusiasm. It’s a deeply personal issue with those who are gay, meaning much more to them than to the rest of us.

            I hope Fr. Hans will let me say that. It is relevant to issue and does eventually need to be said. To drive out demons, you need to know their names.

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            Dn Brian:

            I do recognize “yellow journalism”, it’s evident in this unreasonable and biased portrayal of my responses and analysis as:

            “Chris, I really am amazed at your loyalty to Stokoe, and at this point I’m not sure you are amenable to reason.”

            “Loyalty to Stokoe”? Are you serious? No sir, loyalty to the truth, to Christ, and those shepherds that follow Him in word, teaching, and action, that’s who and what I am loyal to. To accuse me of being unreasonable when I tried to moderate and qualify the wildly speculative accusations you posted about all the material on OCAnews is hypocritical. My comments simply clarified the bias and subjective libeling of everything that Mark has done via OCANews. That’s what I responded to and corrected.

            From that you project on me (and others posting here, like Nick Katich) outrageous motivations of wanting to “depose or do harm to the Metropolitan”, “loyalty to Stokoe”, “endanger the OCA’s autocephaly”, and other such nonsense. These types of blanket accusations and comments and the twisting of words by those who are posting reasonable observations undermine your credibility and muddies the waters.

            You’re free to qualify your comments, but to question everything Stokoe has said and done since OCAnews was launched, especially when he was proven correct and truthful in the past (by countless outstanding priests, bishops, and lay men and women), is not fair or objective in the least. Stay focused on the present issues and let the full truth come out.

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            Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

            Chris, I didn’t “question everything Stokoe has said and done since OCAnews was launched.” I think that’s plain from what I’ve written. I’m sorry I have made you angry. I don’t know how it happened. I just wish you would stop complaining publicly about my bishop. I know him to be a good man, and you don’t know him at all.

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            Chris, you’re a good guy, but way off base here. The biases of Stokoe and his cabal are clearly secularist/progressive/etc. I’m surprised you can’t see it. (Why did Stokoe pick on the Manhattan Declaration? what was wrong with it?) As I will point out very shortly, Stokoe made at least three misstatements of fact. And now that we know that he was part of the cabal, and “managed” the news, I’m sorry Chris, but that’s Leninism. It makes everything that came before suspect.

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            Dn Brian, Something just struck me as incredibly ironic. You accuse Mark Stokoe of:

            He edits or omits comments he doesn’t like, saying “Please, no invective,” but his own comments are full of invective — frequently snide, snarky, insulting, and sometimes I think dishonest about his reasons for not letting others have their say. That is not the spirit of truth.

            But then, you promote an alternative venue like http://www.ocatruth.com that allows for zero ability by anyone to comment, critique, or participate in any kind of discussions on any of the stories and editorials posted there. Come again?

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            Geo,

            What “cabal”? I keep asking for proof and explanation of who those “Jacobians” are and what they have done and said that supported a secularist/progressive/pro-gay/pro-feminist agenda, etc. and all I keep getting back is personal opinions and wild speculations.

            The only “picking” that I am aware of by Stokoe on the Manhattan Declaration (a declaration which I have also signed and strongly support) was with this comment: “the unilateral signing of the Manhattan declaration.” http://www.ocanews.org/news/JonahLeaveofAbsence2.25.11.html I have actually posted a comment on OCAnews regarding the need for clarification on this. I would like to see why it was made and what was meant by it.

            How does one make the leap from that to Dn Brian’s claims of “seeing a good man destroyed and the OCA taken over by pro-gay, pro-feminist, will-of-the-people Jacobins.” without offering documentation and objective evidence is beyond me.

            Speaking of “managed news” have you looked at the http://www.ocatruth.com lately? Is does not inspire any confidence or sense of balance or objectivity.

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            Nick Katich says:

            Chris raises a valid point. We know who Stokoe is and he does let people express their views, both pro and contra. ocatruth.com doesn’t let me kinow who it/he/she is and doesn’t let me agree or disagree. For all I know, it could be Varvara in another disguise fomenting more problems. Or maybe it’s Bobby, to use a Varvara phrase.

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            Chris, Nick, you guys both know that we see eye-to-eye on 99% of things. But Stokoe has gone from objective journalist/muckracker to propagandist. His mala fides jumped out to me immediately from the first reading of his editorial thereby nullifying its objectivity. Fr Hans said it best: “why the ferocity against +Jonah?” It reminded me of the execration heaped upon conservatives on MSNBC.

            And now that it’s been proven that he was actively working to spring a trap, that’s all the proof I need that the intent of the story is anything but neutral.

            Also, did you see that he’s now going after the HS for caving into +Jonah?

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            Sure Geo, we do agree on a vast majority of issues, especially on the clear teachings and moral precepts of the Orthodox Christian Moral Tradition and conservative values in general. That’s not at issue here.

            We’re all waiting for +Jonah to address the situation specifically and offer his version of the facts, more MC members to weigh in, some detailed explanations from the Synod, and additional information to be revealed. Hopefully a clearer picture of what happened and why will emerge. Then we can all see just how much “spin” Stokoe really did put in his reporting.

            I’m very surprised that +Jonah himself has not issued a detailed statement presenting his own analysis of what happened and why he made (or failed to make) certain decisions. His silence (outside the short video released) coupled with the relentless attacks on OCAnews by his supporters, especially by former Kondratick friend, confidant, and Secretary, Fr. Fester, and the mostly anonymous commentary on http://www.ocatruth.com furthers the mystery and raises many red flags, not just for me, but for many other Orthodox veterans of the previous OCA scandals. Something’s definitely on the up and up. Can’t quite figure out what’s really going on, but I hope the full truth will come out in time and the light of Christ will indeed shine through the lies and show the Church who the real shepherds and faithful vinedressers really are.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Karen, I didn’t listen to the speech too closely and I don’t really keep up with the ins and outs of the conflict. I’m not in the OCA, don’t really have a dog in that fight, and frankly, I think devolving into an examination of motives and so forth doesn’t do anyone any good.

    My point with Mark Stokoe is that wearing two hats, as a member of the Metropolitan Council and as ostensible watchman, doesn’t really work. Essentially he is watching himself and then rendering judgments on his own performance. I am all for checks and balances, in fact I welcome them, but it only works if the one doing the checking and the one doing the balancing are different people.

    He should make up his mind; either he is a member of the Metropolitan Council or the watchman. He can’t be both.

    The question the Metropolitan Council has to ask itself is do they really want Mark Stokoe speaking for them? Like it or not, that is the way his work on OCANews.org will be perceived. On the other hand, if they do nothing about this, then speculation arises that he is their unofficial mouthpiece. They really need to do something about this. Not doing anything will broadcast weakness and indifference on their part.

    None of this is personally directed at Stokoe. I don’t know the man and as I mentioned upstream I praised his work in public and private during the OCA’s “Time of Troubles.” I think he should have hung up his hat when those troubles ended. Back then he was an outsider. Now he is an insider who assumes the posture of an outsider. Big difference.

    Again, this is nothing personal. I’m merely noting a change in circumstances.

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    Karen says:

    Thank you, Father. I understand the concerns about what appears to be an almost unavoidable conflict of interest with Mark Stokoe on the Metropolitan’s Council and Editor of OCA News. I didn’t take your comment as anything personal against anyone, and in writing about which biases seem more trustworthy to me at the moment, I wasn’t comparing Mark Stokoe’s solely with what yours might seem to be, but just as much to the opinions in others’ comments here.

    This is from the comments at the OCA News site:

    Mark Stokoe,

    I understand you are a member of the Metropolitan Council. I was wondering if you could comment on how your role in the MC might affect your reporting? I am unfamiliar with the duties and functioning of the MC and what member do and I figured it might be best to go to the horse’s mouth. If you have explained it elsewhere, please direct me to the relevant page on which you disclose your thoughts on the matter.

    Since +Jonah is the chairman of the Council and you are a member, ostensibly in a supporting role of the Metropolitan, I am unclear what sort of conflicting interests may be present in your reporting due to your position. In the interest of appropriately interpreting your reporting, it would be helpful for you to fully disclose any benefits or perceived conflicts of interests that may arise from your reporting. Again, if you have disclosed this before, please provide a link so I may read it.

    Thanks!
    ASP

    (Editor’s note: The duty of the MC is not to support the Metropolitan. We owe a duty of loyalty , care and obedience to the Church – not any single individual. In this case, as the OCA is governed by a Statute, the Church is described there as its foundational documents to which we must adhere, its governing bodies ( the Synod first, the AAC, the MC, etc.) , its dioceses, etc. There is no conflict in my agreeing, or disagreeing with the Metropolitan on issues, as I am not there on the MC to represent him; but to share with him, and the other members, the concerns of my Diocese, which elected me as their lay representative. For that job I was blessed by my bishop. So, no, in that there is no conflict of interest. I hope that helps.)

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Karen, I believe Mark’s response to you is self-serving. If he has no obligation to be “loyal” to any one individual, then where did he get his information from when the Holy Synod met? Assuming that he didn’t make it up out of thin air (and I don’t), then he was being definately being loyal to one or more bishops who’s water he was carrying. Did he question them? Did he say anything that would indicate he looked at +Jonah’s side of things? Did he question why Syosset “advised” +Jonah not to say those things in Dallas in 2009? From where a lot of us stand, there was nothing scandalous aobut +Jonah’s remarks. etc. The carrying of Syosset’s water is very apparent.

      Also, if he really believes he is being objective and dispassionate, then he’s really missed the boat. Some of the language he used was clearly biased. An example: the “luxurious” accommodadtions in which they Holy Synod met. There is no implication there. What he was saying was that +Jonah likes to travel in luxury.

      More anon.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Karen, I will say again what I said on OCAnews and in a truncated form here: the truth is not in this story yet. The feel, language and approach of this reporting is quite different than the previous stories on the Time of Troubles and the Antiochian situation.

      What I perceive to be happening is a form of scape-goating: a process by which a person is singled out as the carrier of the problems of the community and driven into the wilderness. It is the opposite of being a Christian and bearing our own Cross and the burdens of one another. The scape-goat always seems legitimate and often does act out the dysfunctions of the community thus he/she becomes an easy target. Once the person is driven out, all seems good for awhile but soon another appears that has to be driven out in order to purify the community, etc, etc, etc. The root problems are not dealt with.

      Two conditions which seem to be synergistically interacting: 1. Episcopal apathy and disconnection from the rest of the body which leads to authoritarianism and corruption; 2. an unwillingness to be subject to episcopal authority no matter how well constituted and applied.

      The OCA is not alone in facing these problems. Each of the jurisdictions has them to one degree or another which is why I have to strongly disagree with Fr. Hans that he “doesn’t have a dog in the fight”. We all have a dog in the fight, i.e, our own temptations to arrogant power, disobedience, self-will, anger, Byzantine politics–the whole nine yards on display for us right before Lent AGAIN. Maybe we will get the message this time?

      Unfortunately, IMO, OCAnews.org is not as trusted a messenger this situation as it has been in the past.

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        Geo Michalopulos says:

        Good points, Michael. I don’t know who all the players are, intentions, motives, tactics. However I will venture to make some predictions:

        1. +Jonah will stand his ground. He will have learned the lesson of the late +Iakovos, who tried to take back his “resignation” back in 1996. Contrary to what was written above, +Jonah’s sermon in DC was a tactical master-stroke; the line about postponing the MC meeting and “informing the other bishops” has pulled the rug out from under his adverseries. And yesterday’s meeting with Metropolitan +Christopher at the offices of ROCOR show that he is not cowed.

        The “pushback” is alreay taking place much to the chagrin of HB’s enemies. Cracks are appearing in the facade, they will get bigger. As long as he does that then this is what will follow:

        1. The MC is going to become divided because of Stokoe’s antics. Watch for more hysteria.
        2. The Holy Synod is going to be placed in a precarious spot. Are they going to continue to curtail +Jonah when he has accepted all their recommendations? Also, since they run the show now (and I believe in the equality of all bishops), then they are going to have to make the hard decisions. The days of +Ireney –when a primate can be placed on leave for 3-4 years–are over. Under such a regime, the OCA will wither on the vine. Whoever’s left in Syosset will beg the GOA to take them over and give them employment.
        3. Look for a carefully-worded statement from the Holy Synod denying Stokoe’s version of events.
        4. Turmoil will continue to roil the waters in Syosset. Some of the people there will leave.
        5. The culture of the OCA, reflected by the grovelling spirit of Syosset will be revisited (a good thing, no more reason to apologize for being an autocephalous Church).
        6. Some of the anti-Jonah bishops will come to their senses. “If not +Jonah, who?” will become a new mantra.
        7. The anti-+Jonah forces will be reduced to muttering about “procedures” and the like.

        Why do I predict the above? Because bureaucrats and council members always overestimate their popularity with the masses. I realize of course that there’s a cultural divide going on here. People on the East Coast are politically liberal, they don’t understand +Jonah’s insistence on engaging the culture. When I was in the GOA, “engaging the culture” meant how many times you twisted the dough to make koulourakia. I’m sure it’s the same in the Mon Valley. (Before Orthodoxy will be united in America, there will no doubt have to be a council to resolve the correct pronounciation of the word baklava/baklawa. On one side will be the Baklavarians and the other the Baklawarians no doubt.)

        But I ramble. Lord have mercy.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Karen, thank you for the reply. One concern I have (quoting Mark Stokoe):

    There is no conflict in my agreeing, or disagreeing with the Metropolitan on issues, as I am not there on the MC to represent him; but to share with him, and the other members, the concerns of my Diocese, which elected me as their lay representative.

    …the statement is true but only as a member of the Metropolitan Council. It does not explain his role as editor of OCANews.org.

    It’s a simple principle really: the person who makes the news should not be the one to report it. We wouldn’t elect a newspaper reporter to, say, the state senate and then expect him to provide objective reporting on the same issues that he just fought over. The conflict is clear here.

    There’s smoke in the air and the view is clouded. That always happens in times of institutional change. Stokoe is part of the clash that created the smoke. Whether he is right or wrong remains to be seen. But he is not a smoke clearer. That’s an impossibility given his dual allegiances.

    As a member of the Metropolitan Council, Stokoe borrows their authority in every analyses he writes. His essays implicitly bear the imprimatur of the Council whether they realize it or not. They need to realize that in the reader’s mind Stokoe is speaking for them. I don’t think they understand this.

    Stokoe sees his role as reformer/muckraker. That much is clear when he went after the Antiochians after the OCA story ended with the election of +Jonah. In running for the Metropolitan Council however, the pretense of objectivity ended. He’s an insider now. He makes the news he used to report on. He needs to shed the pose that he is still an outsider looking in. Readers need to understand that too when reading his reports.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Karen, I’d take it a step further: Stokoe talks about his “allegience” to the Church at large. This opens up a whole other can of worms. He seems to equate the “Church” with the MC, Holy Synod, statutes, etc. This operates on a national level. The Church exists however on the diocesan level. The national church is merely a coalition of dioceses banded together for the purpose of defining a national territory.

      The MC’s self-identity reminds me alot of the Episcopal Assembly in that it views its roles as an “executive” duty-bound to enforce the statues of the OCA. That’s like eating soup with a fork. Does the MC have the right to judge bishops? To give pastoral direction? That’s all “executive” stuff. Truth be told, I didn’t know what the MC was until I went to the OCA’s website and read it. I still can’t put my finger on what it is they do. One of the things I got out of the bill of particulars against +Jonah is that the MC (or certain people on it) were not privy to the sexual allegations against certain people. Well, I got a newsflash for these people: as long as the Holy Synod was privy, that’s good enough for me. Personally, I don’t want a mucracker going through my own dirty laundry –as long as I have a father confessor, that should be good enough. In this capacity, the Holy Synod acted as the fathers-confessor for the clergymen/hierarchs in question. (That’s one reason why I don’t think the HS will take too kindly to some of Stokoe’s analyses.) Regardless, I for one would love to see a licensed sex-therapist, forensic investigator, and lawyer who is expert in sexual harrassment claims all serving in an advisory capacity to the Holy Synod. But these men should be credentialed professionals who are bound by oaths of silence. As far as I’m concerned, it stops there and cannot bleed over into the MC.

      Now please understand, I don’t view the Metropolitan’s role as absolute or in papalist terms. I fervently believe in check and balances, which in an autocephalous church are provided by diocesan bishops. That’s why I’m glad he’s going to Washington. (The bishops in turn need to be checked by diocesan bodies.)

      Since we’re on the subject of Washington, now that the Holy Synod wants +Jonah there (which is canonically right), will Stokoe keep on crying because +Jonah’s not living in Syosset? Just wondering.

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      As someone who made his living as a journalist for many years, I must say that it is unethical and unthinkable for a journalist to continue reporting on activities in which he has become a nonjournalistic player. The likelihood of bias is so great that everyone recognizes this as inappropriate. Journalists do often cross over, but they are never allowed to continue as journalists once they do. They cannot both make the news and report the news at the same time. That’s what Stokoe is trying to do, and I think the results prove that he shouldn’t.

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      Karen says:

      Very good points, Father.

      Just to clarify for everyone, this wasn’t my inquiry to Mark–it was from another reader at the site. I just excerpted it for the discussion here. I don’t disagree with objections stated in terms of the journalistic standards being violated here, etc. I find you all generally much more astute in your thinking about a lot of these matters than am I. I recognize Mark’s bias, but there is enough cause for real concern istm in what he reports and what comes out in terms of the “primary source material,” if you will (not only from his, but other sources as well) for one to want to suspend judgment (in either direction–my own bias was in favor of trusting the good faith of the Metropolitan’s leadership, and I still hope this will eventually win out) and keep a prayerful and discerning eye trained on developments. Ultimately, only time will really show what all is happening with the Metropolitan and what is happening in the OCA and how justified Mark Stokoe’s bias really is. In the meantime, we continue to pray, “Lord, have mercy!”

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    Scott Pennington says:

    Let’s step back and take a look at the forest. Met. Jonah is on leave. Will he use this as a time of rest and reflection or a time to lobby allies? If he does not do the latter, his enemies have a long period to create a decisive advantage for themselves (if they already do not enjoy one).

    It is the nature of any institution to arrogate power to itself. It’s a law of nature. This is true for the OCL and Orthodox Christians for Accountability. Think of the rise of unions. Now, being primarily lay driven organizations, these organizations reflect the views of the laity. We know from the Patriarch Athenagoras Institute’s study of lay attitudes what the attitude of the laity is. Moreover, organizations of laity really only reflect the views of their leadership. The people simply choose whether to rally around them or not.

    At best, this “power to the laity” movement is a very dangerous double edge sword. The power to criticize and to control the narrative is the power to destroy. Unfortunately, reformist elements within modernist Orthodoxy have walked right into this not wanting to admit to themselves that the laity, depending on who leads them, are every bit as dangerous to the Church, if not more, than corrupt clergy.

    You may be witnessing a lay movement helping to bring down a Metropolitan for no good reason. A Metropolitan who only a couple of years ago was hailed as The One. That is a dark, foreboding precedent.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Scott, I agree with you. That is exactly what I was attempting to get across when I said that I’d rather have a bad, corrupt bishop than no bishop at all; I’d rather have a bad, corrupt totalitarian bishop than one who is a eunuch to the ‘laity’.

      However, the real issue here is beginning to come out. There is a contingent in the OCA and elsewhere that simply are afraid, distrustful, hateful of anyone who has ties to or comes from the Holy Order of MANS/Christ the Savior Brotherhood. +Jonah has friendly ties thus is suspect of every type of horror.

      Full disclosure: I was a member of the Holy Order of MANS for seven years in the 70’s and associated with it until 1986. I was introduced to the Orthodox Church while there and was received into the Church in 1987–not long after I was introduced to her. My brother, now a canonical priest (since 2002) under Met. Joseph of Bulgaria, was the last/current President of the CSB. That is my bias, but it is also a source of real knowledge–unlike the mouth foamers and fire breathers. I had concerns when they were first received and questioned my brother closely and pointedly about my concerns. He was open, straight forward and without any defensiveness. The major point–they are in full communication with their bishops and subject to their direction. Each person gave lengthy confessions prior to being received.

      The journey of the people in the group was tough. In the early days it was no doubt a syncretistic mystery cult with one caveat–a real devotion to Jesus and Mary that was sacramental in nature. Ultimately, those who wanted the Truth badly enough have endured. Certainly there was a great cost in the scarring of souls for which anyone involved is accountable. The journey traveled through a number of occult fantasies and just about every major Christian heresy at one time or another. They made many bad choices, not least of which was following Fr. Herman for as long as they did. Marginal people were attracted, but at the same time, many fine people who would not have ever been attracted or accepted by any ‘normal’ route. HOOM/CSB worked on the streets with people who were hurting and did its best to minister to their needs (not recruit them although some did join). There is a diligent effort to communicate the grace of the Church to those who Christ tells us we must serve: those in prison, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked as well as to provide materials for Americans to better understand and live the traditional life of the Church in our time.

      I cut out early, before CSB, because I was able to/had too/wanted to. Those that completed the journey together did so because they have a deep and genuine committment to the Truth: living it in their daily lives and communicating the love of Christ through the Church (and I say this about some folks I really don’t like). They are no different than any other converts — they brought baggage with them. We all have baggage. However, they also brought committment, creativity and a sense of what it takes to forge community in the midst of a hostile world. They have enriched the Church in the United States enormously–far beyond their relative small size. Certainly, some of the ideas and attitudes still need work, but who among us does not have those. I had a lot to be healed but the grace of God is stronger than lies.

      What is of God will prosper, what is not will wither. Scape-goating, however, is not the Chrisitan way of determining what is of God. Allowing the wheat and tares to grow together ’til the harvest is; bearing one another’s burdens in love and forgiveness is. Thus I would say, +Jonah’s best course of action is not to seek allies but to fast and pray and prepare himself as if the Crucifixion is at hand.

      Lord have mercy on us all.

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        Geo Michalopulos says:

        Michael, neither you nor anybody else who came out of CSB has any reason to apoligize. The road to Orthodoxy can be a difficult one. It is for a “Christian ending to our lives” that we constantly pray and strive for. Anybody presently in the Church who castigates the past of anybody else is treading on dangerous ground.

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    The recently released OCA Holy Synod Minutes from the Pre-Lenten Retreat confirm Mark Stokoe’s reporting of the events:
    http://www.oca.org/PDF/NEWS/2011/2011-0301-public-minutes-santafe.pdf

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      The minutes only confirm his reporting of certain aspects of the events, showing that the Metropolitan was mistaken about what the Synod decided. No doubt the Metropolitan remembered things differently, not having the minutes in hand. Had he remembered things rightly, he would never have publicly denied a point of fact easily contradicted by the minutes or by other members of the Synod.

      We should also remember that minutes are not a transcript. We still don’t know what was actually said at the meeting.

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        Nick Katich says:

        Deacon Brian:

        Do you seriously believe that “the Metropolitan was [innocently - my insertion] mistaken about what the Synod decided”? How do you make such a mistake within forty-eight hours? If a synod told me I had to take a leave of absence but it would let me save face by asking for it myself, and then I did so, I would not forget that in forty-eight hours or one thousand and forty-eight hours.

        Do you seriously believe that “the Metropolitan remembered things differently, not having the minutes in hand”? I would repeat my comments in the first paragraph.

        Do you seriously believe that “Had he remembered things rightly, he would never have publicly denied a point of fact easily contradicted by the minutes or by other members of the Synod”? Isn’t it more plausible that he agreed to what is contained in the minutes and that some of those, perhaps under whose influence he has sucumb, started to orchestrate a PR campaign of retreat from his agreement.

        Any fair reading of his sermon on Sunday does not reveal someone who remembered things differently. To me it showed a nervous, angry and defiant hierarch. If there was some sort of misunderstanding, wouldn’t it have been more logical to clear the matter up with his fellow bishops as soon as possible by convening the Spring Synod meeting in a few weeks as scheduled, rather than unilaterally cancelling it without rescheduling it. The cancellation of that meeting bespeaks that he did not want to give the Synod an opportunity to get together and contradict his PR campaign, while he carried the campaign forward. It gave him a vehicle to keep his Synod silent while he could go vocal in an unfettered manner.

        Rather than all this focus on Stokoe, who to me is irrelevant, where is the concern (and perhaps outrage) that giving up autocephaly is on the table. Stokoe didn’t make that up. Those were the Metropolitan’s words at the Midwest Diocesan Assembly heard by me and all others present.

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          Andrew says:

          Thank you Nick. I agree with your assessment. For me the giant red flag is also the Metropolitan’s obsessive desire with ignoring the wrongs committed in the past and restoring participants in the previous regime to positions of authority when it can be said they either participated in the problems or chose to ignore the wrongs being committed. This is not real forgiveness or repentance. Its a deception. I am so utterly exhausted of church leaders exploiting words like forgiveness, compassion etc in a manner that harms the Church. Why on earth should anyone go to forgiveness vespers this week when we have leaders who believe genuine forgiveness and repentance is the equivalent of “Lets pretend it didn’t happen”. How is it that when people bring this obvious fact to light that our leaders make us feel like our feelings are the real problem not the fact that compromised leaders profited and pilfered the Church? Why am I being told constantly that my anger is worse than the grave and serious wrongs committed by Church leaders?

          St. John Chryosostom said it best:

          “He who is not angry, whereas he has cause to be, sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices, it fosters negligence, and incites not only the wicked but the good to do wrong.”

          Why on earth are is the Metropolitan so obsessed with restoring those who were at the center of the OCA’s problems when there are no doubt countless clergy and laity who were harmed by leaders who were compromised. Do not the victims deserve to be made whole?

          Forgive me, but the Metropolitan’s obsessive desire in this regard makes me doubt his capacity to exercise his authority in a manner that is healthy.

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            Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

            I don’t see the “obsessive desire” you’re talking about. I don’t know what the Metropolitan has done for Robert Kondratick or anyone else who appears actually guilty of something. I only know that moving Fr. Joseph Fester to DC made good sense. We needed a change here in DC; we needed someone to take a firmer hand, for reasons that had nothing to do with the OCA or the Metropolitan. It helped that Fr. Joseph is also trained in fundraising, because the parish has been hoping to build a new, much needed annex, and because the Metropolitan has been hoping to move the chancery to Washington (which makes great sense, IMHO). Fr. Joseph was close to Kondratick at Syosset, but no investigation has found fault with him. How can I? How can you?

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            Michael Bauman says:

            Andrew:

            1. Is +Jonah really ‘obsessive’? How do you know that? That is quite a loaded word. It comes from a word meaning to beseige. Perhaps it is +Jonah who is being obsessed?

            2. Does forgiveness mean that every bad guy must get his just due? That every ‘victim’ must have appropriate recompense, satisfaction and closure? “In the course of justice, none of us should see salvation”. It has to stop somewhere don’t you think? Forgiveness means to give love before it is even asked or merited. There are and should be consequences, but just because you don’t think the consequences are sufficient does not make you right.

            2. Have you ever been in a group that is intent on finding a scape-goat? The dynamics are enough to make even normally calm, rational folk ‘obssesive’ and defensive. Scape-goating promotes extreme reactions and positions so that even those with good intentions initally are quickly reduced to a combative state. A no-win situation results. Such is especially the case with the person chosen to be the target. The more intense the pressure becomes, the less rational and the less Christian everyone becomes. Obsession is everywhere and everyone feels justified. A lynch mob is the result. Once the scape-goat is driven from the midst, everyone feels relieved as a temporary and false calm prevails: folks are sure that the purity of the commuity has been safeguarded. Of course, that does not last long and soon another victim is found. It is a death spiral

            3. The attitude, language and expressed desire of many who have commented over on OCAnews.org is clearly unacceptable in any Chrisitan venue, just as it was with the reactions to Met. Philip. To me, however justified the concern may be, that indicates that a great many people are just as ‘obsessive’ against those in power.

            The truth of this matter is still to be revealed. If +Jonah is forced out in the midst of the mindset I see prevailing now, it will be a sad day for the OCA and for all who desire autocephally in the US. Maybe the OCA will prove those who believe they are irrelvant right by destroying itself internally.

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            Nick, Andrew, Chris, sadly I must disagree with you on this. True, the HS minutes “prove” the outline that Stokoe reported, not the content. In fact, as far as the discussion that took place (which was not redacted), it’s very possible, indeed very likely, that things were markedly different. Now that we know that there was a conspiracy afoot and that Stokoe was part of it, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was +Jonah who was dominating the meeting.

            As for the “leave of absence” or HB’s supposed “obsessiveness,” I for one now see things +Jonah’s way. Now that we know (or strongly suspect) that this HS meeting was nothing more than a lynching party, +Jonah is completely free to ignore whatever remedy they sought for him.

            What do we know?

            1. We know that Stokoe is not acting in good faith.

            2. We know that he was part of a conspiracy the purpose of which was to lay a trap for +Jonah.

            3. We know that this conspiracy extended to certain quarters in Syosset and the HS.

            4. We know that Stokoe’s part in the conspiracy was to “manage” the news. That’s why he came right out of the barn with his inflammatory exposition of the events in question.

            5. We know that romfea.gr received real-time information from an OCA insider about +Jonah’s “firing.”

            6. We know that the Chambesy meeting was taking place simultaneously with the HS.

            Ergo: +Jonah was under no obligation to abide by their decisions as they were acting in complete bad faith.

            Does this make me sound like a +Jonah-acolyte? I don’t really care, it’s just the facts as presented. And when it comes out that somebody on the HS was probably working in tandem with the Phanar to push +Jonah, then cooler heads will prevail and HB will come out smelling like a rose.

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            Andrew says:

            George, I can respect our differences on this one. We have always talked candidly as friends here and we share much more in common that we disagree with. I still feel very strongly that +Jonah and the Church risk being compromised by seeking to restore former members of the previous administration to power. That being said I would like to agree with your assessment that the divisions surrounding the signing of the Manhattan Declaration are most like highly accurate. I also suspect that these divisions are far deeper than we know.

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            Andrew, I agree with you that bringing back Kondratick was a mistake. However it’s a stretch to suggest that +Jonah is “obsessive” about getting on the ExComm of the EA. I’ve had two meetings with HB within the last four months and never once did he mention anything about the EA. If I had to guess, I strongly suspect that he’s come to the realization that most of have about the EA, that’s it’s turning out to be what you said it was “one and it’s done.” Again, that’s my take on HB’s perception on it. I could be wrong, but the fact that he’s said nothing about it publicly for a good long while, or to people I know, disprove the idea of his “obsession” with it. In fact, now that the Russians have pulled the plug on the latest thing in Chambesy(which was probably their intention for at least the last six months or so [which even Stokoe alerted us to this back in December]) leads me to believe that +Jonah stopped thinking seriously about it around the same time.

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            Nick Katich says:

            George:


            Now that we know (or strongly suspect) that this HS meeting was nothing more than a lynching party, +Jonah is completely free to ignore whatever remedy they sought for him.

            Let’s go back a couple of years, George: ” Now that we know (or strongly suspect) that this HS meeting was nothing more than a lynching party, +Herman (or +Nikolai) is completely free to ignore whatever remedy they sought for him”. Is this the George that I know that would have said that a couple of years ago?


            Ergo: +Jonah was under no obligation to abide by their decisions as they were acting in complete bad faith.

            What was the bad faith? Conspiring to get rid of him? You so seem to imply. A conspiracy is people acting in concert to accomplish a particular task. George, are you saying that we all, who wanted to get rid of Herman, were guilty of a conspiracy and therefore ipso facto acting in “bad faith” so that Herman would be justified in being restored?


            We know that the Chambesy meeting was taking place simultaneously with the HS.

            Do you really think that Chambesy fell apart because of what was happening here? You imply in another post on another thread that Hilarion pulled the plug on Chambesy because of what was happening here. Come on George. That is ridiculous. The OCA is the equivalent of a pimple on Cindy Crawford’s ear (or wherever else) compared to the games that the Old Worlders are playing between themselves. Do you really think that the sun, moon, stars and everything else revolves around the OCA?

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            Nick, the difference is that Herman, Nikolai, etc. were clearly corrupt men. There was no “conspiracy” to get rid of them, just collective outrage. A conspiracy is when two or more act in concert to pursue nefarious end. The fact that there was never outrage among the laity against +Jonah and on the other hand a concerted action by a few people who didn’t like his values shows the disconnect.

            The bad faith was evident by the story itself and the now-leaked e-mails. And the fact that the anti-+Jonah bishops have “caved” (according to Stokoe himself) and Bishop +Benjamin’s recent call for civility all point to a conspiracy that failed.

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          Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

          Nick,

          First, for all that I have faulted Stokoe for, I have not and would not have faulted him for reporting a “leave of absence.”

          Second, the Metropolitan is definitely embattled. He feels threatened in more ways than one, and that’s not just his imagination at work. He is threatened, and he’s frustrated that he can’t do more to defend himself. He doesn’t have an organized support group or three or four websites dedicated to defending him enthusiastically.

          Third, it does seem to me more likely that in that embattled state, the Metropolitan naturally remembered his discussion with the Synod in his own way and, as we all do, in a way favorable to him.

          Fourth, I imagine that that discussion started perhaps with a mention of a “leave of absence,” which then led to talk about a “break” or “time off” or “retreat” or some other way of expressing it, so that by the time the Synod voted the Metropolitan himself wasn’t thinking of it as a leave of absence and the Synod itself may not have used those exact words, whatever the minutes say. I’ve taken minutes for many meetings, and I know that what goes into minutes is the secretary’s interpretation of what has been said. As I said, minutes are not a transcript. (As a trained and experienced reporter, I know that’s the case with all eyewitness reporting, which is why I always recorded my interviews whenever possible. You’d be surprised at how many times what I remembered and wrote in my notes didn’t match the tape.)

          Fifth, consistent with the above, the Metropolitan’s (alleged) concern for the wording of the press release could simply reflect his understanding of both what he requested (in his own words) and what the Synod voted on.

          Sixth, when the Metropolitan saw how his leave of absence was reported, with Stokoe pointing out that that’s how they got rid of previous primates, I’m guessing the Metropolitan naturally responded defensively, thinking, “Wait a minute, that’s not how it went, I have not been forced out, I’m still the Metropolitan.” This then hardened into a denial of the “leave of absence” wording because some people did in fact take “leave of absence” to mean that +Jonah was out and +Nathaniel was in as acting metropolitan. (Vide Fr. Gregory Safchuk’s email to clergy of the Archdiocese of Washington.)

          Seventh, given the plausibility of the above, I think it much less likely that the Metropolitan simply knew the truth but lied about it, also knowing how easy it would be for his lie to be found out.

          Now, am I giving the Metropolitan the benefit of the doubt? Yes, I am, because it only makes rational sense to do so, given what I know of him personally and what I know about the way the world works. I know how hard it is to know how things really went. Everybody’s perception is different. I also know that otherwise rational, honest people can sometimes spin themselves up into opposing someone over them on the basis of fairly minor complaints. That’s what The Caine Mutiny is all about. So far, that’s what this seems to me to be.

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            Nick Katich says:

            Deacon Brian:

            As a deacon of the “Primatial Cathedral”, you do an excellent job of explaining the Metropolitan’s side of the issue, as does Fr. Fester. The new website, ocatruth.com likewise is doing an excellent job. As I said, Stokoe is irrelevant. What is relevant, however, to which you did not respond, is the fact that the Metropolitan has effectively silenced the Synod by cancelling the Spring meeting. That is hardly fair and certainly not a conciliar way to resolve this issue.

            I have no axe to grind on either side of the dispute, save one which I reference in the next paragraph. I am in the OCA by choice (from the Serbian jurisdiction) for the last five years because I like the parish and it is nine miles from home rather than forty-five miles from home and it is all English and my wife is a convert who would be lost in a Slavonic or Serbian parish.

            The only axe I have to grind is one: Did or did not the Metropolitan attempt to embark the OCA on a course that could result in our giving up autocephaly and return to the Moscow Patriarchate under some “autonomous” status? I have posted that question in multiple posts but everyone seems to ignore it, think it is apparently not a big deal, or they get into character assassination of Stokoe or character defense of the Metropolitan.

            That question cannot be ingnored. I think it is central to the Synod’s decision and the Metropolitan’s prior and post behavior and/or actions.

            My beloved Bishop of my beloved parish once asked: ARE THE ALLEGATIONS TRUE OR NOT TRUE? That is what I want to know — not how good or bad Stokoe is or how good or bad the Metropolitan is. Does anyone on this or other sites care about whether the Metropolitan tried to give up our autocephaly for the ego of hoping to get a seat on the EA Executive Committee? And, if he did or did not, will put everthing into context. Since you know him so well, I presume, can you address that question?

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            GregF says:

            RE Nick Katich, “Did or did not the Metropolitan attempt to embark the OCA on a course that could result in our giving up autocephaly and return to the Moscow Patriarchate under some “autonomous” status? … (Did) the Metropolitan (try) to give up our autocephaly for the ego of hoping to get a seat on the EA Executive Committee?

            Questions worthy of an answer; to be sure, but I wonder how the answer might be found. Short of Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) saying that it did, or did not, happen (or the existence of written correspondence) would anyone believe anyone, or anything else?

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            Nick Katich says:

            Greg: All I can do is reiterate what I said in another post. The Metropolitan said that the question of autocephaly was on the table and, in the Midwest Diocesan Assembly meeting, said it was in “negotiations”. Put that and the private trip to Russia a few weeks ago together and the burden of pursuasion is in his court. A prima fascie case exists.

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            GregF says:

            Fair enough.

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            Nick, you’re a fair guy. I’m in the OCA by choice as well. However I must disagree: Stokoe is hardly “irrelevent.” It’s his version of the HS meeting that has roiled the waters and it’s his actions as being part of a conspiracy that are severely damaging the Church.

            As for +Jonah’s talk about autocephaly and what it supposedly means, that’s a non-issue at this point because some members of this conspiracy were willing to trade the OCA’s autocephaly in exchange for a deal with Istanbul (even if Stokoe wasn’t, in which case he was probably a dupe).

            Talk of this is also moot because of what just happened in Chambesy: the Russians are in no mood whatsoever to revisit any talk of autocephaly on the Phanar’s terms. Good for them. And good for the OCA.

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    Kenneth D. Mitchell says:

    This all sounds to me like a good old fashion bar room fight or a western movie saloon brawl. Generally these start when one person accidentally or on purpose imposes on another patron. One side takes offense and engages in a conflict with the other side. Eventually leading to fisticuffs and a take down fight. As the brawl ensues, the other patrons begin to take sides and cheer them on. Eventually everyone in the joint becomes involved in the fight, ending only after most of the patrons are beaten down and the whole place is wrecked.

    In the old days, I would suspect that the proprietor had to clean up and use his own profits to pay for the damage. Today, if you can determine the instigator, the proprietor might levy a lawsuit to recover costs or might possibly have taken out an insurance policy to cover this type of event. Bar room fights only end in hurt bodies (or worse) damaged property, badly bruised egos (even if some one or side prevails), and of course costs.

    By the way, did anyone happen to take out an insurance policy that can be used to pay for the damages?

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    Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

    I don’t trust many reports about what HB is supposed to have said on autocephaly because they often only report selected phrases out of context and because I suspect the motives of some of the reporters. I also know that he sometimes thinks out loud, trusting that people will take what he says in good faith and not make more of it than he means. So I’ve not been alarmed by anything he’s supposed to have said.

    At the same time, I believe HB to be just the kind of person who would put the good of the whole Church first, and I’m inclined to believe that much of what he has said about autocephaly has been intended to get others worldwide to also think of the good of the whole Church first. If that’s been his intent, you can understand why he hasn’t made “Autocephaly Forever!” his motto.

    That said, until this week, I myself couldn’t imagine the loss of autocephaly being good for the OCA or the Church as a whole. Now, seeing more of what’s wrong with the OCA, I’m a little more open to thinking of the possibilities. For some people, it seems autocephaly means doing as we please regardless of the rest of the Church — and becoming Orthodox Episcopalians. The irony is that, by going after HB’s head, they are only making autocephaly harder to maintain. Our Jacobins may be unwittingly inviting intervention from abroad, just as the French Jacobins did.

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    Macedonia74 says:

    Nick – what Hierarch in his right mind would seek to retract the status of his local Orthodox Church? This isn’t something he could do by himself and he knows this, again unless he isn’t in his right mind. And I highly doubt that he isn’t.

    On the other hand, I know of plenty outside of the OCA who would love to see this. Who here would be for a change in the status of the OCA raise their hands? If we’re being honest and everything ….

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      Nick Katich says:

      Macedonia74:

      Nick – what Hierarch in his right mind would seek to retract the status of his local Orthodox Church? This isn’t something he could do by himself and he knows this, again unless he isn’t in his right mind. And I highly doubt that he isn’t.

      What can I say, brate Makedonac? No one would. But he has said it. Is he “in his right mind”? Gospod Bog samo zna. Maybe that is what troubled the Synod and caused them to want some “reflection”.

      What a mess!

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        Macedonia74 says:

        Mess it is, brate. However, in my opinion, and this is based totally on speculation – if anyone would want to revoke OCA status and seek protection from, let’s say, Moscow, it wouldn’t be the “All-American Boy” Metropolitan Jonah+, rather, the several in the “Old School” Synod that seems to still be steeped in the “Old world ethnic” enclave mentality. There is definitely a lot to be said about the cultural differences between His Beatitude and a lot of our Bishops here in the States. I wouldn’t doubt it if many “Episkopi” from all jurisdictions have been irked by His Beatitudes’ “Americanness.” Unless of course, we are to believe this was all a ploy in order to confuse the “masses” so that His Beatitude would then pull the ol’switcherrooski on OCA autocephaly?

        Again, this is me being stereotypical and simplistic. I’m probably wrong.

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    Nick Katich says:

    Deacon Brian:

    I don’t trust many reports about what HB is supposed to have said on autocephaly because they often only report selected phrases out of context and because I suspect the motives of some of the reporters.

    Nothing that I have said or thought about what “HB is supposed to have said on autocephaly” is based on “selected phrases out of context” or what “reporters” have reported. I heard his whole speech at the Midwest Diocesan Assembly with my own ears. I read his whole speech to the Canadian Diosesan Assembly with my own eyes. I’ve read his other papers that he has published. He said it; he thinks it; and I fear that his trip to Russia was meant to further it.

    I also know that he sometimes thinks out loud, trusting that people will take what he says in good faith and not make more of it than he means. So I’ve not been alarmed by anything he’s supposed to have said.

    In all due respect, Deacon, I am not making “more of it than he means”. I, for one, take him at his word. He said it was on the table and the subject of ongong negotiations. I have been alarmed by what “he’s supposed to have said” because he said it.

    At the same time, I believe HB to be just the kind of person who would put the good of the whole Church first, and I’m inclined to believe that much of what he has said about autocephaly has been intended to get others worldwide to also think of the good of the whole Church first. If that’s been his intent, you can understand why he hasn’t made “Autocephaly Forever!” his motto.

    What good is there for the “whole Church” for the OCA to give up its autocephaly? None. The “whole Church” has done fine for forty years with OCA autocephaly. Deacon, none of what “he’s supposed to have said” was said before he was almost denied a seat in the Episcopal Assembly and was denied a seat on the Executive Committee.

    Let me put it this way. He is, in my opinion, obsessed with getting a seat on the Executive Committee. The problem is that he has not thought this thing through. Let us suppose that the OCA gave up its autocephaly to get into the good graces of the Phanar. That would not guarantee a seat on the Executive Committee since only the across-the-seas jurisdictions have such a seat. Let’s suppose that autocephaly was traded for “automony” under the Russian Orthodox Church. Unless Archbishop Justinian gave up his Moscow Patriarchate seat, HB could not be seated. Why would Moscow give up its seat in favor of HB? They wouldn’t. Let’s suppose they did. Why would they give the seat to HB? ROCOR would go ballistic. Why would Moscow favor either ROCOR or the OCA over the other? They wouldn’t. Therefore, they would keep the seat themselves. The bottom line is that this whole talk or idea of OCA autocephaly is stupid in the context of the EA. The only explanantion is ego and some “hope” that a “miracle of the seat” would result. If he is soncerned that the ultimate reult of the Chambesy process is that the American Church be truly autocephalous and not a dependency of the Phanar, then nothing needs to be done because the Russian, Serbian, Romanian and Bulgarian Churches would veto any notion of an American Church coming under the jurisdiction of the Phanar. So, what is the big deal about getting rid of autocephaly now? None.

    That said, until this week, I myself couldn’t imagine the loss of autocephaly being good for the OCA or the Church as a whole. Now, seeing more of what’s wrong with the OCA, I’m a little more open to thinking of the possibilities. For some people, it seems autocephaly means doing as we please regardless of the rest of the Church — and becoming Orthodox Episcopalians. The irony is that, by going after HB’s head, they are only making autocephaly harder to maintain. Our Jacobins may be unwittingly inviting intervention from abroad, just as the French Jacobins did.

    In all due respect, Deacon, that is sheer nonsense. What you are saying is: “Autocephaly was good. But, because HB wanted to rethink it and he was attacked, it must be bad and must be rethought. Therefore, maybe he is right.” Even Orwell could not have put together a better definition of NewSpeak. Further, autocephaly does mean we can do what we please, internally, as long as we don’t change dogma. That is what autocephaly is. As far as becoming “Orthodox Episcopalians”, you need to clarify that for me since HB has, at least from what I have seen, been actively courting them. Therefore, HB must not think they are all that bad. What is your point?

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      Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Nick,

      I don’t know that we’re in agreement enough to converse profitably. I haven’t heard the speech you heard, so I can’t respond to it or to your understanding of it. I see no reason at all to suspect that HB is just angling for a seat on the EC of the EA, which of course makes no sense, as you know. What is your reason for saying he is “obsessed” with it?

      Pardon me, but you yourself seem rather obsessed with autocephaly, as if it’s the main thing. I myself am more concerned about seeing a good man destroyed and the OCA taken over by pro-gay, pro-feminist, will-of-the-people Jacobins. That’s who took over the Episcopal Church. That’s what I mean by Orthodox Episcopalians.

      Finally, I don’t want to lose our autocephaly, but I think that’s much more likely if we throw HB overboard than if we stick with him. After all, he can’t give up our autocephaly by himself, but Moscow can deal it a fatal blow by “revoking” it, which they just might do if HB goes down. So if you want to keep autocephaly, cool it.

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        Geo Michalopulos says:

        Deacon, as for one who does believe in “Autocephaly forever!” I must agree with you. The “Jacobins” are dangerously close to destroying that which, you, Nick, myself and others truly desire –autocephaly. But because they are largely “progressives” they don’t understand what they are unleashing. Revolutions always devour their own children. HB must stand firm otherwise if they do take over the OCA, it will be reduced to nothing and then will truly lose it’s autocephaly.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Nick wrote:

    Let me put it this way. He is, in my opinion, obsessed with getting a seat on the Executive Committee. The problem is that he has not thought this thing through.

    …Let us suppose that the OCA gave up its autocephaly to get into the good graces of the Phanar. That would not guarantee a seat on the Executive Committee since only the across-the-seas jurisdictions have such a seat. Let’s suppose that autocephaly was traded for “automony” under the Russian Orthodox Church. Unless Archbishop Justinian gave up his Moscow Patriarchate seat, HB could not be seated. Why would Moscow give up its seat in favor of HB? They wouldn’t. Let’s suppose they did. Why would they give the seat to HB? ROCOR would go ballistic. Why would Moscow favor either ROCOR or the OCA over the other? They wouldn’t. Therefore, they would keep the seat themselves. The bottom line is that this whole talk or idea of OCA autocephaly is stupid in the context of the EA. The only explanantion is ego and some “hope” that a “miracle of the seat” would result. If he is soncerned that the ultimate reult of the Chambesy process is that the American Church be truly autocephalous and not a dependency of the Phanar, then nothing needs to be done because the Russian, Serbian, Romanian and Bulgarian Churches would veto any notion of an American Church coming under the jurisdiction of the Phanar. So, what is the big deal about getting rid of autocephaly now? None….

    Nick, I think you may be right here, particularly your statement, “The problem is that he has not thought this thing through.” My take is that the complaints with Met. Jonah, while accurate to a large degree, might be due to inexperience rather than malevolence. Consider that his administrative experience amounts to running a monastery of only 40 people. Perhaps he also has no direct experience with real malevolence, or perhaps has the view that malefactors can change through accommodation or such some thing (many can’t, most wont). Maybe he was thinking out loud, or had not learned yet that once he became a Metropolitan, his words would be magnified 10 fold (many Metropolitans/Bishops make this mistake at first).

    I’m not making a defense of +Jonah here. I’m holding out the possibility that some of his missteps might have been the neophyte’s mistakes. The reason for my patience is that I remember some of the groundbreaking actions he has taken, his talk to the Episcopalians for example, or his signing of the Manhattan Declaration, the way he inspires people, his focus on the interior life. There is also, as far as I can tell, no whiff of scandal surrounding him.

    Again, I share you concern about compromising autocephaly, and I think on the scale of errors (if indeed it was an error), this is probably the most egregious and did the most to undermine confidence in his leadership. He might come to see this. It’s a tough job, he is not a natural administrator, and he just might have learned a very painful lesson. My suggestion is to wait a bit and let him rest and reflect and see what he has to say. If it’s a mistake, the OCA can go on without too much trauma. If it is not, that will become evident too. The worst thing right now I think would be to remove the man without a fair hearing.

    As for your comment that questions about Stokoe’s editorializing are a red herring, let me offer in my own defense that the problem with Stokoe is that he is casting this in the context of the corruption of the previous administrations. That outline has not faded from anyone’s memory and it doesn’t take much to trigger the anger, contempt, outrage, despair, etc. of that period. I didn’t watch it that closely but I watched it enough to know that the same outline is being brought forward, and the approach Stokoe is taking is modeled on his former success. Granted, Met. Jonah has not helped his case any with his indecisiveness towards some major actors of that squalid drama.

    But +Jonah is no +Theodosios or +Herman. There is no corruption here. The sheer ferocity of the attack surprised me. It still appears unwarranted and certainly preemptive (I noticed this at the outset with the scope of Stokoe’s first report and mentioned it at the time). We need more patience here, more time for the dust to settle. Stokoe, from my vantage point anyway, doesn’t seem interested in learning what was behind the decisions (which, as I indicated above, might be nothing more than the neophyte’s mistakes). Why not interview +Jonah? Why not ask for clarification? Why the rush to frame these issues in the context of the former corruption?

    Maybe some cooler heads on the Metropolitan Council could bring these questions to +Jonah and ask him to address them. If, as I suspect, they are missteps, that could be the opportunity to clarify the confusion that the OCA seems to be in presently. We have to give the man some rest first and allow him time to settle his emotions and think things through. He travels too much, he doesn’t eat right, he over-commits, in short he needs a capable administrator and secretary to help him. Most leaders do. Maybe he will come to see this.

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    Nick Katich says:

    Fr. Hans:

    I agree with you 100% which is why I have been careful in what I have posted. I do think that it has to do totally with inexperience and not malevolence. That is why that ,early on, in a relate thread, I said “Guys: I think it best to be careful with any commentary until the OCA makes a statement. Having said that, this is deeper than any speech in Dallas”. I am concerned that the Metropolitan has come under the influence of some, post-retreat, that have caused him to react the way he has. I hope I am wrong. If the Synod thought that malevolence was involved, the action would have been different. Asking him to take leave and reflect indicates to me a pastoral concern that is consistent with a thought of inexperience and not one with a thought of malevolence on his part. I pray that all will tone down this dialogue and let HB have a period of reflection. However, whether he will do that is totally in his hands. If not, then we as well can not be silent.

  15. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    Fr. Hans,

    I also think that your assessment of the situation is fair and reasonable. What may be happening may have more to do with +Jonah’s inexperience, not malevolence. The one troubling aspect of this is +Jonah’s close relationship with and support of Fr. Joseph Fester, one of Robert Kondratick’s closest confidants and his official Secretary. Fr. Fester has remind silent to this day regarding Kondratick’s malfeasance, abuses of power and authority, and squandering of millions of dollars of the Church’s money for his personal pleasure and enjoyment. When questioned by the official OCA Special Investigative Committee he refused to answer any questions or admit to knowing anything that Kondratick did while in office.

    As has been documented on another site: “Fr. Fester has served as the Chancellor of the Diocese of the South since April 2009, shortly after Metropolitan Jonah became the locum tenens of the Diocese. Before landing in Dallas, Fr. Fester had been the long-time Director of FOS, the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards, the fund-raising arm of the OCA. While heading FOS Fester also served as the Secretary to former Chancellor, Robert Kondratick. Together with the former Secretary to the Metropolitan, Fr. David Brum, Fr. Fester resigned from Syosset in the Spring of 2006, in protest to the dismissal of Kondratick by former Metropolitan Herman.”

    Fr. Fester’s role in the OCA scandals was described by the Special Investigative Committee (SIC) Report, issued by the OCA in September of 2008. Under a special heading entitled “The Inner Circle” the SIC concluded :

    “11. The “Inner Circle.” Fathers David Brum and Joseph Fester served as confidants to Kondratick. They were regarded by others at the Chancery as part of an “inner circle,” responsible for day-to-day operations at the Chancery. As such, one would expect them to be aware of at least some of Kondratick’s financial dealings. Both denied such knowledge to the SIC.

    However, they never questioned Kondratick’s largesse in extending favors (meals, gifts, and travel) believing them to be an expression of an exaggerated generosity. Questionable dealings and misdeeds brought to their attention in interviews were excused as having been “blessed” by one Metropolitan or the other, or because of “the incompetence of Strikis, “or because Wheeler or Kozey had an axe to grind. “
    – (SIC Report page 27)

    I completely agree with you that Mark Stokoe should interview +Jonah and ask for clarification. It is also a good idea for members of the Metropolitan Council to approach +Jonah with specific questions that he should address and answer publicly. The current controversy and growing crisis requires that our leaders and hierarchs speak truthfully and clearly to the whole church. We cannot afford to let another crisis fester and escalate, or enable a group (or groups) of unethical and power-hungry operators and abusers to foment more chaos, hatred, and confusion.

    Truth is a powerful disinfectant!

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Not Stokoe Chris, perhaps Kevin Allen or John Maddex. They are excellent interviewers and not players in the current drama. Ancient Faith would be a better venue as well.

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      Orthodox & Psychiatrist says:

      Dear Fr Hans and Mr. Banescu:

      Not sure whether I posted or not a second ago, so a short summary (better anyway) — Great suggestion for truth interviews but please abide by Bishop Mark’s description of the spiritual, mental and physical health needs/goals of the Metropolitan on a true leave of absence. Let the Metropolitan have that leave and be absent and become refreshed before answering anything. All priests should have them scheduled regularly!

      Second, Bp Mark has a track record of integrity and straight talk and is beholden to the Metropolitan for graciously accepting him into the OCA. As I understand it, he now lives in the Metropolitan’s Dallas condo in the same complex where Mat. Kathy Fester resides, awaiting the end of her school year to join Fr Joseph. Bp Mark was at the Synod retreat. When the Greek “news” and Lee Fitzgerald and OCA News leaks started posting, he wrote the SSOC parish to wait for the Synod and the priests to act. Once the minutes were out officially, he attested to the genuine concern expressed by the Synod for the Metropolitan at the meeting and in the minutes. Is this a man to lie to us or betray the Metropolitan?

      It concerns me that avid fans of the Metropolitan from his brief time at St. Seraphim’s as well as longtime friends would accept the Metropolitan’s perception (or that of an adviser?) of a coup in his exhausted state and thus create a website of support as if the Synod is an enemy. The Synod itself could sign on to that website if support for him is the only criterion. I would like to sign on. But this anonymous, no-comment site with zero accountability (unlike the identifiable Mr. Stokoe which seems braver to me) seems to require you to accept premises I can’t support. One isn’t a personal enemy of the Metropolitan if one disagrees with his positions or approach or questions actions or asks for transparency and accountability. (If he were feeling well, I don’t believe he would think so or react that way himself.)

      Bp Mark has counseled the St. Seraphim’s parish not to be inflamed by any person or news source who was not at the Synod meeting. Bp Mark was. I am listening attentively to Bp Mark for now due to history and logic and his measured counsel and apparent mastery of the passions. That feels very good right now. And I am glad to know there are a number of priests who do care about our Metropolitan whether they agree or disagree with him on issues. That is a comfort. It is also a hope and prayer that Met Jonah will start a true leave and emerge refreshed.

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Chris,

      Sending Fr. Joseph Fester to Dallas and then Washington obviously wasn’t the best PR move, but it’s fully consistent with both the Metropolitan’s forgivingness (he really does believe in it) and his naivety (he doesn’t think like a politician). The move to Washington also made practical sense in view of Fester’s training and experience in fundraising.

      But if HB has seen fit to make use of Fr. Joseph in Dallas and Washington, what does that really mean? Your argument seems to be that if Kondratick’s a crook, then both Fester and +Jonah must be crooks. Even if Fester were, does that mean that +Jonah is? Do you have any other reason to believe that he is? If not, then you’re imputing guilt by association. That would make me a crook, too.

      Please, Chris, trust your ideological friends who actually know +Jonah personally. Don’t judge him by mere appearances and the mean-spirited, self-serving complaints of your ideological enemies.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Chris Banescu says:

        Dn Brian,

        You said:

        Your argument seems to be that if Kondratick’s a crook, then both Fester and +Jonah must be crooks.

        You’re just putting words in my mouth now. That’s not what I was implying at all. I am very concerned that selecting Fr. Fester is not a very wise and prudent decision to make for +Jonah given the extensive history and the SIC’s specific findings on this matter. At best this shows a naivete and inexperience with real unethical manipulators, at worst it shows poor judgment, lack of discernment, and weak leadership. In either case he is sending the wrong message to the entire OCA and seems to be unable to comprehend how his actions are perceived by the rest of the Church.

        Again, Fr. Fester has never publicly admitted any responsibility or repented for his failure to act during the OCA crisis and his complete silence in trying to help the Church. He greatly benefited from Kondratick’s largesse and friendship while never once questioning the millions of dollars of the Church’s money that Kondratick squandered for his personal pleasure and greed, all the while claiming he helped “others”, such others that Kondratick or Fr. Fester never identified and the SIC was never able to locate.

        In case anyone has forgotten, this is a sampling of the kind of abuses and financial shenanigans Robert Kondratick engaged in (documented by the Summary Report of the Preliminary Report of the OCA Special Investigative Committee), all the while his Secretary, Fr. Joseph Fester, claimed that he knew nothing about and never bothered to question Kondratick on:

        * Between 2001 through 2005, over $1,000,000.00 was withdrawn in cash from the operating checking account of the OCA and given directly to Robert Kondratick. The OCA records lack any supporting documentation to indicate how the cash was spent and for what purposes.

        * $575,300 of the approximately one million dollars withdrawn in cash was taken from the special appeals funds and given to Robert Kondratick, who has been unable to provide the name of one person or parish who received any of this cash.

        * Despite meeting face-to-face five or six times with the accountants from Lambrides, Robert Kondratick could not provide them with the name of one 9/11 victim or parish who received any of the $176,500 allegedly distributed.

        * An audit of the check and wire disbursement from the special appeals funds, from 2001 through 2005, shows American Express charges of some $5,600.00 for a member of the Kondratick family, designated by Robert Kondratick as a charitable distribution.

        * In December 2004, Robert Kondratick used for travel expenses in Russia $12,000 that was raised and intended for the Christmas Stocking Project.

        * From 1999 through 2005, the OCA paid not less than $1.2 million in Kondratick family members’ credit card charges, which covered no less than 22 credit cards. The majority of the credit card charges lack any documentation or original receipts to support the purchases by the OCA. To date, Robert Kondratick has failed to provide the OCA with receipts of any kind to support the expenditures of more than $1,100,000. [1]

        * Credit card charges for which the OCA paid Robert Kondratick include personal travel to and lodging expenses for places including Aruba and Las Vegas, tanning and hair salon charges, jewelry store purchases, and his family members’ ordinary monthly living expenses such as groceries, wine, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, cable bills, clothes, and shoes.

        * Robert Kondratick still owes the OCA at least $137,000 in acknowledged personal credit card charges.

        * From at least February 1996 through August 2002, Metropolitan Theodosius and Robert Kondratick controlled three discretionary accounts under the name of the OCA, into which at least $1,077,000 was deposited; the Metropolitan’s account, a joint account whose signatories were Robert Kondratick and Metropolitan Theodosius, and an account for which Robert Kondratick was the signatory. Other than the Metropolitan’s account, the very existence of the discretionary accounts was undisclosed to internal and external auditors.

        * $227,943 was deposited into Robert Kondratick’s discretionary account from the operating account of the OCA and was spent almost entirely between February 1996 and February 1997.

        * No less than $850,000 was deposited into the two other discretionary accounts and spent on such things as Metropolitan Theodosius’ and Robert Kondratick’s personal lawyers, accountants, and other consultants relating to their opposition of auditing the discretionary funds in 1999 ($125,000), Robert Kondratick’s personal credit cards ($50,000), and withdrawals in cash ($195,000).

        And +Jonah decides to take such a priest under his wing and promote him to the Cathedral in Washington (by your explanation because he’s good at fundraising)? Also, by some accounts +Jonah even recommended Fr. Fester as a replacement OCA Chancellor? What was he thinking?

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          Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

          Chris, I’m just trying to understand your complaint. I think I got it now. You believe Fester’s appointment “at best shows a naivete and inexperience with real unethical manipulators, at worst it shows poor judgment, lack of discernment, and weak leadership.”

          OK. No argument. But none of these reasons is justifies deposing the Metropolitan, or remaining silent while the Jacobins depose him, or assisting in deposing him by joining the Jacobin chorus in complaining about him. None are even valid reasons for publicly complaining about a hierarch.

          We need to move on. If we care about autocephaly, and if we care about keeping the OCA out of Jacobin control, then we need to vocally support +Jonah now and not let our words be used to pin that other scandal on him. He’s not responsible for any of the things you’ve listed. They are irrelevant to the present issue, and bringing them up in this context only does him harm.

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          Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

          I should add, about your last paragaph, that moving from chancellor of the DOS to dean of St. Nicholas is not a promotion. He doesn’t have any more authority, and he’s not making any more money. If anything, he’s probably losing money because he’s living in our rectory and not investing in a house. (Houses are still worth something in DC.)

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          Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

          Also, if it’s true that HB floated Fester’s name as possible chancellor, I’m sure it’s because Fester was available, being already in the process of moving from Dallas to the East Coast. And he might only have suggested Fester as an acting chancellor, until the AAC meets.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    I don’t really follow this but if you are saying let the Metropolitan rest and gather his wits, I couldn’t agree more. We need to be patient. As for “truth interviews” (not so sure what you mean here), the idea suggested to Chris is that if some clarifications are needed and if the Metropolitan so choses, there are better venues than OCANews.org. Come to think of it, that is what Met. Phillip did.

  17. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Scott Pennington says:

    If I were Met. Jonah, under no circumstances would I allow myself to be interviewed by Stokoe unless I had a tape recorder and a camera on the both of us.

    As to “autocephaly forever”, leaving aside the dramatic irregularities revolving around the OCA’s autocephaly, this autocephaly has generally been understood as provisional. Were it not, the OCA would not be in communion with many other Orthodox churches who are poaching on its alledged canonical territory.

    Now, as to whether it would be wise for the OCA to abandon its own autocephaly and assume a status of autonomy under the MP, I doubt it would. That speaks to Met. Jonah’s inexperience more than to any malevolence on his part though. To some observers, it might appear advantageous on a number of fronts. First, it solves one problem regarding OCA/MP vs. Phanar relations. The OCA would be assuming a status which fits, in a way, how the Phanar regards it. It might very well unite OCA and ROCOR as well. It would give the MP a much greater presence in North America. And it probably would not set back movement toward a united autocephalous American church since the prospects for that, in the near future, are slim to none.

    The problem is the sense of internal identity in the OCA. There are some OCA members, clergy and laity, who might even be willing to come under the Phanar to achieve a united (autonomous) American church. The ones I have heard this from are converts. There is still an ethnic divide between the OCA on the one hand and MP/ROCOR on the other, as well as a traditionalist/modernist divide. I don’t need to go into the history of the relationship between the Great Russians and, for example, the Ukrainians, in detail to convey the cultural problem. This problem is considerably diminished compared to the past. But it’s there.

    So, regardless of the wisdom or folly of relinquishing autocephaly from a surface perspective, the fact that it would certainly end in schism is a powerful reason not to go down that road.

    The more I look at this, the more I’m inclined to see Met. Jonah’s perceived mortal sins as ones of inexperience, naivete and overeager enthusiasm. In short, he seems to have been behaving like someone who was drafted (in a desperate search for a clean outsider) into a position over his level of experience. That, perhaps, should have been apparent from the beginning. Unfortunately, the long knives seem to be out for him. I doubt he will get through this as Metropolitan.

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      Scott Pennington says:

      PS:

      “+Jonah was supposed to be thrown out of his office by the HS but he confronted one of the bishops with incriminating information that he (+Jonah) had against him thanks to the investigation that even Stokoe reported. It caused the entire cabal at that point to collapse. HB accepted the “leave” at first but once he was out of the confines of Santa Fe, he went along his merry way acting as the Metropolitan. You can go to http://www.oca.org to see several photos of HB meeting and greeting other primates. In the most recent one, with Patriarch +Sergei of Serbia, he is standing in the middle of five bishops, with the Patriarch to his left. Now, I’m just a good ole boy from Oklahoma, but I know what that means. Even Stokoe’s latest missive admits that the opposition against +Jonah at least among the HS has crumbled.”

      If George M is right about the above, perhaps I was premature to give odds against the Metropolitan.

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        O & P says:

        Questions please (where does one get answers which are trustworthy and vetted?):

        To clarify, Mr. P quoting Mr. M., are you both saying that he blackmailed a member of the Synod to retain power rather than revealing the issue to the laity (transparency?) or addressing it himself with the M.C. Ethics Committee (conciliarity)? If so, would you personally prefer him to consult and address the issue with the M.C. Ethics Committee or does this seem optimal?

        Are you also saying that his video “personal retreat” statement was intentionally misleading and the Metropolitan intends it as a “political consolidation” period (truthfulness?)

        Does anyone know if and when we will be reading the full Sexual Misconduct Committee report to see what reportedly angered him enough to wish the OCA Chancellor gone? Fr G’s name is now blackened by a resignation he apparently appealed, and perhaps wrongly blackened. If this is an oil and water personnel issue, okay, but please say so. Will the Metropolitan’s reasons for requesting his resignation be based on facts we are able to assess ourselves (transparency)?

        Is there transparency and truth from our Metropolitan or just politics as usual, with stalemate threats between our highest leaders, and with our Metropolitan claiming he needs a rest publicly when he just wants to consolidate power and feels perfectly well?

        Will anyone be able to find out who leaked emails meant to be circulated among M.C. members? If it is the Metropolitan himself, what then?

        Has “Lee Fitzgerald” revealed his source info, or the Greek site which seems to have broken the news?

        I hope our Metropolitan has been honest, will be honest, will be transparent, and is feeling himself. If he is feeling himself, then the laity can start simply assessing his decisions and actions and whether we are comfortable with those. I hope the Synod and Bp Mark can be trusted to be truly concerned. You seem to believe, apparently like the Metropolitan or his advisors, that that is not the case.

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          O & P,
          Regarding:

          Has “Lee Fitzgerald” revealed his source info, or the Greek site which seems to have broken the news?

          To my knowledge, “Lee Fitzgerald”, aka: Bishop Tikhon (retired bishop of the West) and unabashed defender and promoter of Robert Kondratick (to this day), has not revealed the source of this information.

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      No, no, no to any interview with Stokoe. (Just seconding Fr. Hans and Scott.)

      From all I’ve seen of the Metropolitan, I can only believe that his public “sins” are all attributable to “inexperience, naivete, and overeager enthusiasm,” plus extraordinary forgivingness. He has been unexpectedly forgiving of me and of others. I’m sure someday he’ll forgive Stokoe, Garklavs, and the others.

      He didn’t look his self on Sunday because he has been under attack. Unless you know what it’s like to be under attack from all sides, I wouldn’t hold it against him.

  18. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

    About Fester, Kondratick, et al.:

    Andrew wrote above, “I still feel very strongly that +Jonah and the Church risk being compromised by seeking to restore former members of the previous administration to power.”

    Dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral is hardly a position of power. The previous deans had no more power than any other parish priest. In fact, deans of cathedrals with resident bishops have even less power than many parish priests. The current dean is not even chancellor of the Archdiocese. HB wanted to make the previous dean chancellor, but then reconsidered, on the advice of the parish council, which felt that no man could give both jobs the attention they both need (proving that HB does sometimes listen to counsel).

    Consider the problem: St. Nicholas needed a new dean for internal reasons have nothing to do with the OCA or the Metropolitan. HB had to find an able, experienced priest willing to relocate late in life to a high-cost area to take over a troubled parish where he would be serve under his bishop, without the freedom and independence that most parish priests enjoy. Furthermore, HB could only pick someone from within the dioceses under his control (Washington, the Midwest, and the South). Fr. Joseph Fester had proven himself in Dallas as dean and as chancellor of the DOS, he knew how to fundraise, and he was willing to move. He has a grown son in nearby Baltimore and has spent much of his career on the East Coast. The move made sense for many reasons that are in no way sinister.

    Now, you might say, “But he’s there with the Metropolitan, he’ll have the Metropolitan’s ear and be able to bend him in evil ways.” In what evil ways? To believe that Fr. Joseph will corrupt HB morally and ethically, you have to believe that HB is weak and that Fester is a hardened criminal. To believe that he will corrupt HB ideologically, you have to believe that HB is weak and that Fester will later switch sides and join the Jacobins after having just stepped out front publicly in defense of HB against the Jacobins. I don’t see that danger.

    AND CONSIDER THIS: In all the to-do about the “leave of absence,” it seems to have dropped from everybody’s memory that one of HB’s closest friends, who flew to Washington to be with him after his ordeal, is Archimandrite Zacchaeus Wood. He’s the man who gave the Synod the smoking gun against Kondratick — the recording of Kondratick talking about splitting up the money donated for the victims of Beslan. He’s a real whistleblower, not a phony one. That should count for something.

  19. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Chris Banescu says:

    Dn Brian,

    You said:

    Dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral is hardly a position of power.

    It is being perceived as a position of power by many in the OCA, that’s the problem! Worse still, by your account, Fr. Fester was placed there for his “fundraising ability”, yet it is precisely in the area of financial issues that his former boss Kondratick was found guilty of malfeasance and abuse. This is exactly an area that Fr. Fester should not be entrusted with. How is this not crystal clear to +Jonah and so many others who support such a misguided decision?

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      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Chris, you write:

      It is being perceived as a position of power by many in the OCA, that’s the problem!

      Then we should work to correct the misperception, not to encourage it.

      Really, Chris, do you want to depose the Metropolitan because of the Fester appointment? If not, stop complaining about it, because your complaints are only serving that cause.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

        Dn Brian,

        Again, you’re wildly exaggerating and blowing my criticisms completely out of context, then you proceed to tell me to basically “shut up.” Show me exactly where and when have I ever wanted to “depose the Metropolitan”? I have always posted here, on OCANews, and other Orthodox forums openly and with my full name (unlike 90% of the posters on http://www.ocatruth.com).

        This is the same kind of attitudes and “blind obedience” calls that got the OCA into the spiritual crisis and financial mess under the previous administrations of +Theodosius and +Herman, while Kondratick was in charge of the Church’s finances and lived it up like royalty on the donations from the faithful, all the while abusing his power and influence to silence any criticisms and calls for ethical accountability and transparency.

        I’m seeing yet again many warning signs from “supporters of the status quo” who put words into the messengers’ mouths, distort what we are actually saying, call for unquestioning obedience, loyalty and support, and then blame us for daring to speak out. Thanks for showing me how “balanced and objective you really are.”

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          Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

          Goodness gracious, Chris. I didn’t accuse you of wanting to depose the Metropolitan; I merely asked a rhetorical question to make the point that by continuing to complain at length about the Fester appointment, you are contributing to that cause. I’ll let the others here be the judge.

          Please think rationally about the differences between then and now. Then, there were people risking their careers to accuse others of embezzlement and misappropriation. Do we have that now? Have we heard any charge made against +Jonah other than (1) he lied about the “leave of absence” (which is not proven and I think not true), and (2) he’s said a lot of things and made a lot of decisions that some people don’t think wise? The situations are not the same, and so what was appropriate in the first situation is not appropriate in this situation.

          It is not appropriate for us to second-guess and complain about the conduct of our bishops unless the conduct is immoral, illegal, unethical, or heretical. Even by your own admission, +Jonah’s done nothing that fits those categories, and so we shouldn’t be complaining publicly about him. Bishops are not always fair game like presidents and governors. We owe them more respect. That’s not the American way, but that’s the Christian way. The Metropolitan has picked Fr. Joseph to be dean of St. Nicholas; it is not your place to publicly accuse him for it.

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            parinteledavid says:

            Father Deacon, it sounds like you are saying that this is all about ideology, and all other issues must be subservient to ideological concerns. Is that what you mean to say?

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            Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

            No, it’s not all about what I’ve called ideology, though I think it is mostly about that. I use the word with reservations, for lack of a better word. There is a definite difference of vision between many longtime OCA mainstays and the Metropolitan. They don’t like the stands he’s taking on moral issues. Many of them are plainly on the other side and really don’t want the OCA to become more conservative. Were it not for ideology, I don’t think his misteps would have inspired the rebellion against him.

            It’s also about the fear of losing our autocephaly, which is not necessarily an “ideological” issue, though autocephaly is especially dear to those afraid of Russia’s conservatism.

            It’s about his inexperience and disagreement with some of his decisions, though not everybody disagrees with the same decisions.

            It’s about a lack of trust and a passion for “accountability” — aroused by the last scandal — that just won’t cut HB any slack or show him the usual deference due to hierarchs.

            Finally, it’s about a group mentality at Syosset and among HB’s critics that sees every little fault as evidence of a major problem, instead of just a lot of little faults. It’s the Caine Mutiny mentality — underlings who don’t like or trust or respect the skipper, so they build among themselves a case against him, magnifying every little annoyance and confirming each other’s worst fears about him.

            But mostly, I think, it’s about that conflict of visions. That’s what motivates the mainstays to mutiny. Otherwise, everyone would see that none of the other issues justifies deposing a hierarch or endangering our autocephaly.

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            Andrew says:

            Deacon Brian, On the contrary it is a sign of spiritual maturity to question our bishops, clergy and spiritual fathers. It is perfectly appropriate and necessary for our faith. Likewise, any bishop or spiritual father should openly and warmly welcome the questions of his children and his flock no matter what the conditions. Our questions and doubts are gifts from God that help us our journey in the Church.

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            Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

            Questions that ask for answers is one thing, though of course we can’t expect, and indeed have no right to expect, that those over us must justify themselves to us. We are not their judges.

            Questions that are really accusations, judgements of one’s fitness, or demands for “accountability” are quite another thing.

            And what does the Apostle say about questioning those over us?

            Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father … 1 Timothy 5:1

            Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 1 Timothy 5:19

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            Andrew, if it is right to question our bishops (and I agree), then why isn’t anybody questioning the other bishops about their actions or perceived actions in this regard?

  20. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Andrew says:

    Chris, these words in your quote of the SIC caught my attention:

    Questionable dealings and misdeeds brought to their attention in interviews were excused as having been “blessed” by one Metropolitan or the other

    No blessing from any bishop or spiritual father turns a situation that is morally wrong into one that is one that morally right. Blessings from those in authority are not the equivalent of a magical morality car wash that washes away our responsibility to be moral men and women who obey the laws Our Lord has put before us.

    Any person who believes that a blessing should excuse their actions, inactions, or their need to question behavior that may be inconsistent with the moral tradition of the church is seriously confused.

  21. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    In another AOI Blog discussion thread, poster “Orthodox & Psychiatrist” has provided an excellent and thoughtful commentary regarding the issues at hand. I am reproducing them below (broke it up in separate paragraphs for readability) because his/her observations are full of wisdom, maturity, and true Christian love and spirit:

    Orthodox & Psychiatrist says:
    March 4, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    Gentlemen, are you dismissing the actual text of the Synod minutes and the concern expressed there for the health of the Metropolitan and the wish for him to succeed expressed simultaneously? This statement has nothing to do with deposing him but expresses a concern about his present state of being.

    Are you suggesting by simply ignoring this issue that you dismiss that as a legitimate concern of the Bishops and by implication should we infer that you believe the Synod are less than genuine and with a political agenda themselves? Their minutes read like an intervention they feel is needed. Why not listen?

    The impression I get is that some of you are as eager to thrash Mr Stokoe here (and not to him directly on his own site which seems unOrthodox) as you believe he wishes to thrash the Metropolitan. Some seem to applaud the raid on emails by HB (MJ). However, is it possible then that he or a politically motivated associate himself created the firestorm of controversy via “Lee Fitzgerald” in order to avoid an enforced rest?

    If he truly needed it to regain equilibrium, why is that a victory for anyone? And why would he not be straight with his Synod instead of misleading them about acting in mutual obedience?

    To those of you who love him from personal experience I ask, who has made this about his character? Has it not been about either his positions which are worrisome to some and his actions which have been confusing, reactive, and atypical of late?

    His positions should be open to spirited debate with a healthy opposition respected by him, but his actions of erratic or misleading might suggest a burnout of some kind which endangers him as a person. Why is this ignored? If you love him, why isn’t that a concern for you? I do not know him but I know folks who get in trouble and how they react to an intervention and it tells you something about their state.

    http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/2011/02/ocanews-org-jonah-placed-on-leave-of-absence-by-synod/

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Andrew, I agree with Dn Brian. It depends on whether the question comes from an open and sincere heart or if it comes from one full of anger, fear and doubt: really questing or accusing. Look at the two angelic encounters in Luke Chapter 1:

    And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. Lk 1:18

    Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? Lk 1:34

    Zacharias’ question was met with rebuke and a penance of silence. Mary’s with approbation and blessing. It has always struck me that the wording of the questions is so similar but the results so different.

    Deacon Brian, I would suggest that if some are challenging Met. Jonah because of his traditional stance on abortion, gay marriage, etc. then their understanding of Orthodox teaching and praxis is defective. That is not ideology.

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      Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      It depends on how we define ideology. I mentioned my reservations about the word. I tend to use it to mean worldview, vision, or perspective. Some people use it to mean a system of thought, but etymologically all it really means is a collection of ideas.

      Often people err in their understanding of Orthodox teaching and praxis because their collection of ideas is flawed. It’s not just that they are mistaken about what the Church teaches; it’s that they reject the Church’s teaching because they believe something else, having collected and embraced other ideas.

  23. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    Michael,

    You posted:

    Deacon Brian, I would suggest that if some are challenging Met. Jonah because of his traditional stance on abortion, gay marriage, etc. then their understanding of Orthodox teaching and praxis is defective.

    Agreed.

    I would really appreciate it if Dn Brian could back up these claims with specific information, non-anonymous corroboration, and solid proof. His allegations are very serious and some elaboration and documentation is needed to inform the Church and the rest of us who have never seen or heard of this before. As the former Washington Bureau Chief of Investor’s Business Daily and a fellow conservative, Dn Brian should be able to objectively and professionally offer some evidence to help us understand what he seems to know about this information and who exactly is opposing +Jonah for his support of the Christian Moral Tradition and teachings.

    If indeed things are as precarious and dangerous as Dn Brian claims, why has he kept silent on this until now and did not alert the faithful, support +Jonah, and defend the Church?

    Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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      Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Chris, I’ve already given you proof that Stokoe is a liar, and you have ignored it. What good would other proofs do?

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        Dn Brian,

        Now, you’re playing games or playing dumb, not sure which. The evidence I was asking for was in regards to the following serious claims you have made in these discussions:

        And it’s coming from someone who is our natural enemy — a modernist, leftist, pro-gay, pro-feminist Jacobin revolutionary whose evil is easily seen in his own spiteful, mocking editorial comments.

        But none of these reasons is justifies deposing the Metropolitan, or remaining silent while the Jacobins depose him, or assisting in deposing him by joining the Jacobin chorus in complaining about him. None are even valid reasons for publicly complaining about a hierarch.

        For some people, it seems autocephaly means doing as we please regardless of the rest of the Church — and becoming Orthodox Episcopalians. The irony is that, by going after HB’s head, they are only making autocephaly harder to maintain. Our Jacobins may be unwittingly inviting intervention from abroad, just as the French Jacobins did.

        I myself am more concerned about seeing a good man destroyed and the OCA taken over by pro-gay, pro-feminist, will-of-the-people Jacobins. That’s who took over the Episcopal Church. That’s what I mean by Orthodox Episcopalians.

        If we care about autocephaly, and if we care about keeping the OCA out of Jacobin control, then we need to vocally support +Jonah now and not let our words be used to pin that other scandal on him.

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          Geo Michalopulos says:

          Chris, if you are unaware about the leftist/secularist bias that plagues several of the elite reaches of our denominations, then you are being naive. No, there are no minutes of the meeting of the secularist comintern that any of us can point to, but that’s never been the case, has it? Those of us conservative/traditionalists who have been in the trenches know that the Left does not operated by a conspiracy theory a la the Illuminati or the Elders of Zion. It’s just like-minded people of a certain disposition who know and promote each other and their worldview’s over and above that of the majority. It’s no different than a modern Gnosticism.