October 1, 2014

Report: Monks defrauding Greek state again

Maybe what they need on Mt. Athos are mandatory classes in business ethics. From the Greek daily Kathimerini:

Another ‘unholy’ land swap under scrutiny

Just a few months after news broke about the Vatopedi land-swap scandal, the Supreme Court prosecutor this weekend called for an investigation into another suspicious exchange between the Orthodox Church and the state.

Giorgos Sanidas ordered a preliminary investigation into the transfer of a prime piece of land on the Aegean island of Skyros to a Mount Athos monastery and the purchase by the Greek state, allegedly at an excessive price, of a much smaller plot belonging to the monastery.

Sanidas wants an Athens prosecutor to determine whether the monastery’s acquisition of the 3,700-hectare plot on Skyros should lead to any individuals being charged with defrauding the state. He notes that the court rulings relating to the land transfer “were the result of misleading evidence and testimonies” and therefore are “unlawful.”

Comments

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    Joe says:

    Which monks? Or are you accusing the whole synodia of the Holy Mountian, the Garden of Panagia?

    I understand that misery loves company, but it ridiculous to read, “Maybe what they need on Mt. Athos are mandatory classes in business ethics,” on a site dedicated to cheerleading the OCA!

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    John Couretas says:

    The investigating prosecutor refers to “a Mount Athos monastery.” If he has the goods on these monastics, you can be sure he’ll go public with it. Just as the authorities have with Vatopedi. And your little zinger about the OCA has absolutely nothing to do with this news report.

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    Joe says:

    It might be of interest to both lovers and enemies of Mount Athos that Kathimerini reported on May 19, 2009 that Chief appeals prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos “decided that 33 official legal advisers to the state and seven senior monks at Vatopedi should not face prosecution because there is not enough evidence to suggest any wrongdoing.”

    The Fathers of Vatopaidi made public their case for innocence (barely noted in the world press and not noted at all on this blog) in an “Information Bulletin” that can be read here:

    http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/filladio-immb-english.pdf

    Worth noting are the last two paragraphs:

    “Although many and varied interests are involved in the case, with their own financial and political agendas, it is hard to ignore the fact that the real purpose behind the turmoil is the defamation of institutions and the separation of Church and State administration. Some people have seized the opportunity to strike at the Church by fanning the flames in order to damage monasticism and to shake society’s faith in Greek, Christian ideals.

    “A monk’s relations with other people are permeated by the Orthodox Patristic principles of selflessness and genuine love. Pilgrims to the Holy Mountain have experience of this love. They take this spiritual leaven from the Monastery back to their families, their parishes and in this way the family, society and the world are blessed. We ask that you, too, pray that Christ and His All-Pure Mother, to whom our Monastery is dedicated, will provide a blessed resolution to our present trial.”

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    Joe says:

    The Fathers of Vatopaidi have plainly told us “what they need.”

    They need prayers to “Christ and His All-Pure Mother.”

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Joe,

    Regarding your post #1

    Surely you are not disparaging the integrity of this site?

    The site which will print any article by Greek newspapers as long as they portray “Greek” Orthodox churches or monasteries in a bad light, but will not dare print anything about the funny business going on in the AOCA no matter how well known it is.

    Come on Joe. This is a fair and impartial site filled with intelligent people who know what is best for the Church in the US. Don’t question them.

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    John Couretas says:

    Yes, all a big misunderstanding. A big media smear, aided and abetted by those who hate the Church. Why can’t we leave these monks alone? So what if they came out on the right side of a real estate deal? What do we expect? That they lose money?

    Fortunately, Greeks aren’t so gullible.

    “Irreverent” carnival float sparks religious ire in Greece

    Feb 18, 2009

    PATRAS, Greece (AFP) — An “irreverent” carnival float has caused controversy in the Greek city of Patras with churchmen demanding its removal for offending a controversial monastery prior, a local official said Wednesday.

    The float, scheduled to appear in the annual city carnival parade on March 1, is inspired by the Vatopedi scandal, a multi-million euro land swap between the state and a powerful monastery which came to light last year.

    It shows three beady-eyed monks — one of them representing Prior Ephraim of Vatopedi Monastery — huddled together in apparent prayer.

    “The float has been deemed irreverent,” city spokesman Zois Marinos told AFP, adding that 20 monasteries in the Mount Athos peninsula in northern Greece sent the mayor a “polite” note requesting its removal.

    But a missionary organisation in Patras took sterner action, filing a legal complaint and demanding that the city be fined for authorising the float.

    Floats satirising issues of concern such as politics and corruption are a tradition in the Patras carnival, Greece’s largest festive parade.

    The Vatopedi scandal landed the ruling conservatives of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in serious trouble, prompting the resignation of two ministers and the dismissal of other officials in a January cabinet reshuffle.

    Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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    tom kanelos says:

    See what I mean.

    I have no problem with reporting this. And if the people are convicted let them pay the price. But this site takes such glee in posting things like this while they remain silent on the AOCA funny business because of the hands off policy.

    Just don’t pretend to be so indignant when someone calls into question the “so called” integrity of this site.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    It appears that those who idolize certain subsets of Holy Orthodoxy are afraid of where the facts may lead them. As for myself, I choose to worship God alone and revere whichever Church He has planted in the various lands where they reside. Of course, said Churches are full of men and will inevitably be buffetted by scandal. It is interesting to note however that the Church which Providence planted on the North American continent in 1794 is undergoing a renewal and is attempting (successfully it seems) to cast off the shackles of sin. We of course would welcome any such openness from ALL other jursidictions. Also, intellectual honesty such as what transpired at St Vladimir’s last weekend would be nice.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    AOI focus is on Orthodoxy and culture, under which the efforts toward Orthodox unity falls. The EP comes under the spotlight largely because, when it comes to unity and the eventual organization of the American Church, he marches to his own drumbeat. No problem there of course, but crying foul over analysis to what is increasingly indefensible logic asserting jurisdictional hegemony over the the America Orthodox Church (the Orthodoxy-Hellenism apologetic mostly), well, just isn’t compelling.

    We don’t cover the OCA housecleaning here either, but we do cover Met. Jonah speaking in outside venues. It’s an easy distinction. We don’t cover the GOA internal problems with lawsuits, but we do cover the EP or Archbishop’s representations of Orthodoxy in the public square. Again, easy distinction. For the same reason the AOA problems don’t come under any AOI scrutiny either, even though we publish Met. Philip’s statements on Orthodox unity. Frankly, other sites focus on these internal issues and they do it better than AOI ever could.

    Further, the Mississippi River trip is a huge public relations effort that appears to be far beyond the administrative scope of Leadership 100, the Archons, or the Washington Greek lobby that also deserves attention, especially since it will probably receive national coverage. It is still unclear however, what ideas will be promoted and supported regarding the environment and public policy, particularly the economic and social considerations. AOI won’t ignore these public policy implications. The analysis has already started.

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    Joe says:

    George,

    Re: “It appears that those who idolize certain subsets of Holy Orthodoxy are afraid of where the facts may lead them.”

    Let’s straighten some things out.

    Mount Athos is the spiritual heart of the Orthodox Church. Is it not so for the OCA?

    At least 75% (a fairly significant subset) of the Saints in the Orthodox Church are monastics. Is it not so for the OCA?

    St. Theodore the Studite said that, “Monks are the sinews and foundation of the Church.” Is this not so for the OCA?

    Please note that sinews are a subset of the parts that make up a human body as the foundation is only a subset of the parts that make up a house. Abba John the Dwarf (I know he is a monastic but please bear with him) said,
    “You don’t build a house by beginning with the roof and working down, you begin within a foundation.” Word to the wise, OCA!

    Re: “As for myself, I choose to worship God alone…”

    I’ll let Richard John Neuhaus respond:

    “Recall the influential 1992 book by literary critic Harold Bloom, The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation. The post-Christian nation, says Bloom, emerged a long time ago and is exemplified in Ralph Waldo Emerson, who declared: ‘It is by yourself without ambassador that God speaks to you. . . . It is God in you that responds to God without.’ Bloom, rather loosely, calls the American religion ‘gnosticism,’ the belief that each individual possesses a divine spark and salvation consists in the liberation of that divine spark from the body and from the particularities of its constraints in history and cultural space.

    Bloom writes: “It is almost purely experiential, and despite its insistences [to the contrary], it is scarcely Christian in any traditional way. A religion of the self burgeons, under many names, and seeks to know its own inwardness, in isolation. What the American self has found, since about 1800, is its own freedom—from the world, from time, from other selves.”

    “The American religion so described is not the whole of religion in America. But it is the spiritual atmosphere that permits and indeed invites entrepreneurial success in catering to the tastes of a Christian subculture and calling it, falsely, the evangelization of culture.”

    Re: “It is interesting to note however that the Church which Providence planted on the North American continent in 1794…”

    “Providence?!”

    At last! The American gnostic demiurge rears its ugly head on this blog and names itself.

    No George, God, through his servants in the Russian Orthodox Church, planted the Orthodox Church in the territory of the Russian Empire now called Alaska in 1794. By the way, the extant Russian Orthodox Church in America, the parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad are doing fine and ready and able to continue the work started in the 18th Century in the territory North America again.

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    Joe says:

    John,

    Re: “Fortunately, Greeks aren’t so gullible.”

    What Greeks do you think are “fanning the flames in order to damage monasticism?”

    These Greeks are: Socialists, Communists, Anarchists, Atheists, Muslims and Westernizers who seek to sever the ties between the Greek Orthodox Church and the State.

    Whose side is the OCA on?

    Sadly, current events in Greece are showing that the nation is reaping what has been sown on its soil.

    Yperaghia Theotoke soson imas!

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    Chrys says:

    While I recognize the lessons of the Divine Ladder (those who ascend the highest may fall furthest), I hope these reports prove unfounded. If otherwise, I am reminded that one often finds the worst sinners in the company of the greatest saints (Judas was one such insider). Even so, it would be unfortunate if the misdeeds of a few were to tarnish the virtue of so many. I do not doubt that many would seek to exploit any such failing. Either way, God will, I trust, will turn it – somehow – into a blessing. (It often seems that God blesses His children by purifying them through suffering, as He did with St. Nektarios, per 1 Peter 3:14. It was for this reason that St. Theresa of Avilla said “If that is how You treat Your friends, it’s no wonder You have so few.”)

    The monks of Mount Athos are, as Joe notes, the spiritual vanguard of the Orthodox Church, heroes and fathers to many of us. I do not doubt that they engage in all manner of spiritual combat, of which this may be an instance. If I can offer up my own heartfelt prayers – grossly unworthy as they are – I am glad to do so. Humbled, but glad.

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    Chrys says:

    Joe, I am a convert who is very much at home in the GOA. My experience of it (the Pittsburgh diocese) has been overwhelmingly positive, far exceeding any reasonable expectation I might have entertained. While I do not anticipate any change in affiliation, I certainly honor the focus and commitment of those on this blog who seem to be affiliated with it. The unraveling of Greek culture is tragic to witness. As with other issues, I am in no place to diagnose the various causes. What does seem apparent, however, is that despite its official status, the Church in Greece appears to be surrounded by an increasingly secular and hostile culture that will require widespread conversion. My hope and prayer is that God will “raise up” (as we used to say in my Protestant days many, many years ago) saints to turn the hearts of the current generation. While I do not know if the challenges faced in Greece are any worse than they are here (though we don’t yet seem to have quite the same problem with anarchists and communists), it is heart-wrenching to see a land with so many spiritual treasures discarding them so barbarously (if I can use the word). I would expect that – for all the contention and angry feelings that various posts here may have aroused – the vast majority of those in the OCA would be wholehearted and unqualified in their support for the faithful in Greece. Indeed, throughout the various posts here, I sense that the only (recurring) concern is for the spreading of the gospel in America among those charged to serve Americans, giving the highest priority to pastoral commitment in America. I have been very blessed to enjoy that in my diocese, but that seems to be rarer than I would wish (no matter what the jurisdiction). Whether here or in Greece, we can not continue to “draw down” the vast spiritual “wealth” of the Church without risking eventual bankruptcy. For me it just keeps coming back to what I am personally responsible for, to what I can do. I am convinced that if we become living temples of the Spirit, as St. Steraphim said, ten thousand around us may be saved. In this, the U.S. and Greece – or, for that matter, the OCA and the GOA – are no different.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    It appears that a sufficient knowledge of the English language should be a prerequisite for honest and open debate. “Providence” is a very good word, often used by many to describe the Holy Spirit and His beneficence.

    Also, it appears that my argument that certain people “idolize” certain “subsets” gains no purchase. My respect for the Athonite/Valaamite presence is profound. I also know from my own confidences with some of these monks, that they consider themselves the first among sinners. That is why monks have fallen in the past and monasteries have on occasion been the venues of sin.

    I remain, the chief of sinners.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Chrys, I believe you said it better than I’ve ever seen it said.

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    Daniel says:

    It strikes me that a lot of folks are missing John’s point about these church officials needing some instruction on business ethics. That is where the church monastics seem to be failing not only themselves, but they may be failing the communities they serve, as well.

    Whether the monastics are found guilty under the law is, in all honesty, irrelevant. It is the perception they have left the faithful with that is important. Some, as the comments above make clear, will look beyond the particular incident and keep their eye on the spiritual teachings that flow from Mt. Athos. Unfortunately, many others will be led to fortify the barrier between one’s business life and one’s spiritual life.

    Why should a businessman question the ethics of this or that deal when those leading his church don’t appear to be interested in those questions? As long as the pilgrimages are made, the candles are lit and the prayers are uttered then life is good. If the monks don’t appear to bring their faith to bear on their business decisions, why should anyone else?

    If we exclude the authority of Christ in our business life, then where else are we excluding Him? If we will not accept the inner rule of our faith, then we are forced to accept the outer rule of the State. And that is not good for business and not good for us as practicing Christians. Edmund Burke wrote, “Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, then the more there must be without.” The monks in these cases have left the faithful with the perception that, when it comes to business, the only rule that matters is what the State can legally prove or disprove. That is not a healthy environment for the faithful, be they in Greece or America.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Joe, the religion Bloom talks about is what is also called American Civil Religion which is morphing into secularism. Bloom is quite correct, as is Neuhaus, but Bloom didn’t make the conclusion you did: Emersonian religion is the religion of America. Rather, Bloom’s point was more nuanced, that the expansion of Emerson notions of religion was part and parcel of “the closing of the American mind.” (He says as much in the quote you provided, specifically “…it is scarcely Christian in any traditional way.”)

    This is not the same thing as saying that the legacy of America is Emersonian religion, anymore than saying that the legacy of Orthodoxy is self-serving corruption evidenced by the scandals we have seen in the Church of Greece over the past decade or so (thinking moreso here of the clerical scandals, rather than any comment on the monastery situation which I know little about).

    Look, the unification (as tenuous as it was at times) between Church and State in medieval Orthodox lands was fraught with its own problems. Yes, some of the problems we have certainly did not exist, but others did, some as unseemly as ours. In some ways, the freedom religion has in America (although that seems to be disappearing), despite the problems that freedom brings, also serves as a safeguard against the temptation of rendering to Caesar the things that were rightfully God’s that faced the medieval Churches. Look at what happened to Chrysostom after all. One of his exiles was decreed by a synod of Bishops led by the Patriarch of Antioch. I am sure the King and Queen were pleased by their obedience. The synod no doubt thought they were doing the right thing by exiling the man who dared disturb the God-ordained order.

    As for the term “providence,” you seem to be reacting to it because it sounds, well, Emersonian. Actually, it is part of common American discourse regarding God’s blessing, or more specifically pronoias or forethought in the Greek. George (I am making an assumption here, George can correct me) probably still hears and even uses the term given that he comes from the Bible belt — that part of the country where they still aren’t ashamed of being Christian. The term “providence” comes from the King James Version of the bible (Acts 24:2) which is probably how it entered the English language and my guess it is still used in the Bible belt even today.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Fr, you are correct about my use of the term. I was taught to not use the Lord’s name in vain. Circumlocutions such as “Providence,” “heaven,” and “Lord” used to be used in polite company. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to restrain the tongue of my youth which I am ashamed to say was quite profane. May the Lord forgive me.

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    Joe says:

    The OCA push for a “truly American Expression of Orthodoxy” (Fr. John Erickson’s contribution to the OCA lexicon) is scarcely Orthodox in any traditional way. But it is truly an expression of the American “spiritual atmosphere” that Neuhaus described: “the spiritual atmosphere that permits and indeed invites entrepreneurial success in catering to the tastes of a Christian subculture and calling it, falsely, the evangelization of culture.”

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    I did not read the Neuhaus piece, but I have read enough Neuhaus and I understand Bloom well enough to know that what they were describing is the secularization of religion, a religion of the marketplace expressed in such ways as happy-clappy, seeker-sensitive Evangelicalism, or the private confines of self-directed “spirituality” among others.

    Nehaus is correct in his assessment. You are incorrect in saying that the assessment is the historical legacy of religion in America. That is your conclusion, not Neuhaus’ or Bloom’s (he called it “the closing of the American Mind” thereby implying that earlier it was open to something different).

    American society must be evangelized. And if the Gospel is heard and received, culture will change around it. This is entirely Orthodox. Part of the Orthodox effort may be reach past contemporary culture to renew the memory of a more stable and coherent faith — the kind that Neuhaus and Bloom argue once existed and exerted considerable influence on America — often in good ways.

  21. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Joe says:

    Re: “American society must be evangelized. And if the Gospel is heard and received, culture will change around it.”

    What happens if, God forbid, the Orthodox Church in America breathes in too much of the “spiritual atmosphere” that Neuhaus describes, hears and receives the messages coming from this American spiritual environment and changes the gospel around it? The OCA will have its “truly American expression of Orthodoxy” all right, but it won’t be Orthodox. It’s not a stretch to believe that belittlement of Mount Athos and monastics in general will be a symptom of this change.

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    Chrys says:

    Daniel (re:16), coursework in business ethics may, perhaps, be needed, but (in the event the claims prove to be true) I would hope that a conscience sufficiently sensitive to fair dealing and a concern for the other would have been sufficient. If you have to be taught specific criteria by which to properly judge a commercial interaction, I have to wonder how deeply formed one’s conscience has been by Scripture, the teachings of the Church and the Holy Spirit.

    George, thank you (re:15). You are very gracious to say so. You have been so before and I did not want your kindness to go unremarked.

    Joe (re: 19 & 21), if you are concerned that America will be prone to uniquely American excesses and defects: of course it will. No one gets anything exactly right on the first pass; the novice invariably over-does or under-does his first efforts, often with great exertion, and then typically over-corrects. Effortless balance is exactly what distinguishes the master from the novice. Thus, it would be unfair to expect American Orthodoxy to leap to full-blown maturity without the usual travails of adolescence or young adulthood. But what is the alternative?

    Of course, we Americans are prone to “overdoing” everything because . . . well, that’s part of what makes us uniquely American. But out of that messy dynamism has come so much that is good and, most likely, will come the unique contribution to the Orthodox tradition that remains for us to offer. Maybe that contribution will be, as Father alludes (in the 3rd paragraph of comment 17), to the separation of powers and the establishment of prudent management practices by which meaningful accountability (even business ethics) can be applied.

    As for too much of the world seeping into the ark of the faith (which is how I read comment 21): it may happen. It certainly has, as Father notes above, in the aptly described “happy-clappy, seeker-sensitive Evangelicalism” – that merger of Protestantism and entrepreneurial consumerism which has formed a largely self-serving and self-referential faith. However, I am convinced that the Orthodox tradition with its focus of asceticism and theosis and its monastic witness are, in fact, the desperately needed antidote. Thus, our faith contains within its basic practices, principles and perspective that which will ultimately correct any potential deviation, much as the Bill of Rights unleashed forces that led inexorably to the abolition of slavery and the enfranchisement of women, even though those positions were largely unacceptable in colonial America.

    Finally (re:17), I, too, use the word “Providence” in the manner you describe, Father. So far as I know (and I doubt things have changed that much in nearly 20 years), it is still used in that manner by most Evangelicals.

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    Daniel says:

    Chrys, what does Scripture have to say about banking? How does it deal with the sale of property? Should I use the Greek church as an example of how to dispose of property? What exactly does the church have to say to me before I start a business, and what does it tell me about competing in a market economy? How does it inform my relationship as a businessman in the larger community, and my relationship with employees, subcontractors, and customers? What does the Holy Spirit have to say about dealing with a shrinking economy and the hard choice of laying off personnel?

    “If you have to be taught specific criteria by which to properly judge a commercial interaction, I have to wonder how deeply formed one’s conscience has been by Scripture, the teachings of the Church and the Holy Spirit.” It seems that some of the monks of Mt. Athos, who one would think have a conscience far more informed by Scripture, the church and the Holy Spirit than I, were not taught business ethics. And yet I’m supposed to “just get it” if I pray hard enough, attend liturgy regularly and listen to my priest?

    Ethics, let alone business ethics, are not something one just absorbs. Many in the West believed that business ethics was obvious in Scripture and Tradition, which led them to this thing called “Liberation Theology”, what one might refer to as the baptism of Marx. Refusing to seriously engage these ideas, with the dismissive remark that ethics is obvious if you just paid attention to Scripture, the church and the Holy Spirit, abandons the field to these folks, who would then use State to create their version of the City of God.

    When GOC priests do mention the market, it is dismissive capitalism, and always in the context of the duties the rich owe the poor. These teachings come across to me as nothing more than the Orthodox version of Liberation Theology. What about the businessman as co-creator in God’s world, doing what he or she can to encourage the flourishing of the human person? What about the poor man’s duty to not covet his neighbors goods?

    Business ethics are not something people just absorb. They must be taught. I would think the story John Couretas began this thread with proved that.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Note 21. Joe:

    What happens if, God forbid, the Orthodox Church in America breathes in too much of the “spiritual atmosphere” that Neuhaus describes, hears and receives the messages coming from this American spiritual environment and changes the gospel around it? The OCA will have its “truly American expression of Orthodoxy” all right, but it won’t be Orthodox. It’s not a stretch to believe that belittlement of Mount Athos and monastics in general will be a symptom of this change.

    Very good question because it points out a very real danger.

    My hunch is that the asceticism of the Christian life has to be rediscovered. I am not sure it is possible to stay Christian, let alone Orthodox Christian, without it in this culture. And by asceticism I don’t only mean the simple obligations like fasting on Wednesday and Friday (as important as they are), but moral asceticism, the struggle against sin and the death that reigns in our members ultimately.

    I don’t know enough about the Mt. Athos issue to speak to it. But I do know we have a lot of house-cleaning to do, and since judgment begins at the House of God (1 Peter 4:7), we better do it.

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Father,

    Regarding your comment 9:

    Based upon your analysis of what things are and are not covered on this site, just how does the reporting on the scandals of the Mt. Athos Monastery fit in?

    Your site will report on this however, it will not report on the funny business going on in your own jurisdiction. Come on Father, you do not really believe that, do you? Are you trying to say that the scandal on Mt. Athos has more impact on Orthodox unity in the US than the scandal going on right now in your own jurisdiction?

    It seems that the real problem for many of you is that the EP/GOA seem to be doing things, which disagree with your own political ideology, and you let that color how you cover things on this site. I understand your frustration, as I also am frustrated by the way we often cuddle up to political leaders. But you have to be able to look past that. It does not seem to have been as much of a problem when we were cuddling up to Pres. Bush.

    Please forgive me if you feel I am being disrespectful, but I am very disappointed as I see yet another potential avenue for unity dominated by hateful and mean spirited people who would rather attack the EP/GOA than work in their own circles for unity.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Tom, I told you, if you want to follow the AOA, go to ocanews.org. It’s that simple. Other sites cover what AOI does not (and many do it better than AOI could). It really is no more than that. Remember, no venue, whether print, internet, radio, TV, whatever has any obligation to cover all the topics that readers want covered. Does USA Today cover the financial markets in the way the WSJ does? Of course not. Does the American Spectator cover politics in the same way that Time or Newsweek does? No.

    Now if there are factual errors, they will be corrected. We rely on readers to point that out to us. But your criticism isn’t about facts, it’s about editorial policy. That, Tom, won’t change. You of course have the option to do what every other American can do — vote with your feet. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

    One other thing, like finger-wagging, calling others “hateful” and “mean-spirited” doesn’t really work either unless of course the people with whom you disagree are really hateful or mean-spirited. But nobody here is like that, even the people who disagree with some of AOI’s postings. Discourse here is civil, even when disagreements are expressed.

    And yes, you have a point that some of the complaints about the GOA have to do with political ideology, like the feting of political leaders who are on the wrong side of grave moral questions facing the culture — such as Sens. Sarbannes and Snowe and their support of the culture of death. For that we make no apology.

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    John Panos says:

    Tom

    Ad hominem attacks and ‘bulverism’ (as described by C.S. Lewis) are logical fallacies, not arguments.

    Clarifying issues in moral focus is not easy, but I agree with Fr. Hans; no one at AOI is interested in anything but civil, though robust, discourse.

    Make your arguments, not insinuations or accusations.

    You could always start your own website, like a sister to AOI or OCANews.org! Keeping the GOA hierarchs honest and clear, praising their good work, holding them to account for not following their own vision or rhetoric, rooting out corruption, offering a venue for civil discussion – I’d read it every day.

    I would not be the only one to welcome another website that works to discern the truth of things!

    Beware, though. It’s not as easy as it looks, and you’ll find yourself unfairly attacked by everyone who doesn’t like what you’re doing.

    But you already know that.

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    Chrys says:

    Note 23 – Daniel: didn’t mean to be dismissive of the value of economic education; in fact, I have been a strong proponent of it for clergy. I agree completely that most of the economic commentary that we hear from the pulpit would benefit from a better grounding in economics. (I have posted at length on this topic elsewhere and won’t belabor it.)

    As to Liberation theology, I agree as well – it is baptized Marxism (which is itself, as I noted elsewhere on this blog, something of a Christian heresy – the attempt to realize the eschaton without God). Having studied economics from an Austrian perspective over 20 years ago, it was immediately evident that Liberation Theology was driven by the implementation of a particular political ideology rather than either theology or empirical data. (In fact, free markets have done far more for the poor than utopian notions that invariably deteriorate into the most oppressive totalitarian regimes which, ironically, impoverish everyone.) Like any heresy, Liberation Theology seeks to merge Christianity (at least certain portions of it) with another system of thought and creates something new, different and invariably deformative. Since this is something that took particular hold in (Latin American) Roman Catholicism, we are fortunate that the current Pope has been stalwart in his criticism and rejection of it.

    These questions and the issues you raise do indeed need to be addressed are indeed important, but – at least regarding the assumptions and implications of free markets or liberation theology – they revolve around the study of economics and philosophy rather than business ethics, per se.

    I am far from convinced of the value of studying business ethics – or that this is the lesson of the article posted. For one thing, it assumes the guilt of those charged, which has yet to be proven. But even if that proves to be the case, it seems to imply or assume a certain inadequacy in the work of God, for if we can not learn to “read” the law of God and follow the Spirit of God written on our hearts in our basic dealings with our fellow man – if we must rely on classes to do so – there is little hope of salvation for most of us.

    This is not to diminish the insights and value of specialties or professions, but to note that fraud and other crimes are indeed crimes because they violate the basic fabric of honorable and productive human relations.

    This, then, is the reason for my comment about the relatively limited value of such study. Abraham Lincoln (to cite a classic tale), did not require study in business ethics to know that he should return money to an over-charged customer, nor does steering clear of fraud require study in business law. If we have a sufficient concern for the well-being of the other and for our own integrity, we should be able to sense when we are dealing fairly with others and when not. This is (or should be) especially true for those who are engaged in the systematic examination of conscience and practice of spiritual disciplines.

    Again, this is not to diminish the value of professional training. It would almost certainly be an expression of good stewardship for those who have administrative and business responsibilities in the Church to have some kind of suitable training. So far as we are able, we should offer the best we have in our service to God; for the Cappadocians that may have involved the study of classical philosophy; for us it may involve professional study.

    On the other hand, look what St. Siluoan (or Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection) was able to accomplish in his administrative duties with a prayer-filled heart. This, I believe, is true stewardship to which we are all called.

  29. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Father and John,

    John, “…no one at AOI is interested in anything but civil, though robust, discourse.” That is baloney and you know it.

    “Make your arguments, not insinuations or accusations.”

    That is comical considering that most of the things posted here are accusations and insinuations about the EP and GOA.

    Father your argument:

    “Remember, no venue, whether print, internet, radio, TV, whatever has any obligation to cover all the topics that readers want covered.”

    is accurate but not really the point, is it. YOU made much about the character and integrity of this site. I am merely pointing out that this site, in one very important way, has neither.

    When I asked the following question:

    “Based upon your analysis of what things are and are not covered on this site, just how does the reporting on the scandals of the Mt. Athos Monastery fit in?

    Your site will report on this however, it will not report on the funny business going on in your own jurisdiction. Come on Father, you do not really believe that, do you? Are you trying to say that the scandal on Mt. Athos has more impact on Orthodox unity in the US than the scandal going on right now in your own jurisdiction?”

    your response was essentially “we don’t have to post everything”. So much for discourse.

    Furthermore, I suppose “hateful” and “mean spirited” are subjective terms. You can try to say that no one here is like that, but it does not make it true.

    Finally, you are correct, I do not have to read things posted here. I started coming to this site because I enjoyed your other site and was certain there would be fairness, honesty and integrity here. I thought that perhaps there would be the kind of civil discourse you have mentioned. Something other than the typical whining about the EP and GOA being the obstacle in the way of unity and the source of all that is wrong with the Church in the US. I guess I was wrong.

  30. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    I think we’re all missing a very important point here, one which I confess slipped my mind as well. (Of course, the great point is man’s sinful nature.) That is that the Greek govt may use this scandal as a pretext for taking over the Holy Mountain which is something that the EU has been wanting to happen for a long. It seems the fact that women tourists/pilgrims aren’t allowed is a bugbear to the feminazis.

  31. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Tom:

    Your site will report on this however, it will not report on the funny business going on in your own jurisdiction. Come on Father, you do not really believe that, do you? Are you trying to say that the scandal on Mt. Athos has more impact on Orthodox unity in the US than the scandal going on right now in your own jurisdiction?”

    Actually, I don’t think that either will have much effect on unity. I think the monks, having been burned by a mishandling of business affairs, will probably be more vigilant. I think the AOA will resolve the crisis internally, just like the OCA is doing. But, as I have said before, I have no problems posting the site that handles the AOA problem. In fact, I have no problem with you bringing it up in the comments. I am confident that in one way or another some resolution will be found.

    But I have to remind you Tom, that editorial policy is set by the editors, not the readership.

    I also have to remind you that the EP and GOA floated the claim that Hellenism and Orthodoxy are the ideological children of ethnic self-identity. Overlooking for the moment that this claim reduces the Orthodox faith to an ideology (a shift fraught with danger that could shipwreck the Church), the fact that it posits ethnicity rather than the the Gospel, and thus Christ, as the pillar and ground of the Truth has ramifications for the entire American Church. Why? Because this claim is used to justify jurisdictional hegemony over it.

    The EP and GOA have pushed forward this audacious and wrong-headed claim, not AOI. And if they really believe it (and all indications are that they do), it will color all decisions and actions going forward. Why? Because if ethnic self-identity is the ground upon which Orthodoxy rests, then the advancement of ethnic identity de-facto serves the advancement of Orthodoxy.

    Moreover, ethnic advancement is necessarily a political calculation; it simply cannot be anything else. For this reason I think you will see politics trumping moral clarity in the Mississippi River trip, just like the feting of Sens. Sarbannes and Snowe trumps any clarifying statement about the culture of death.

    This is almost predictable, Tom. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. Here’s the trajectory: If politics does indeed trump moral clarity, you will see statements that confirm support for global warming, increasing government control of the economy, calls for cap and trade (or such some thing) — all agenda items held by those who see the protection of the environment as a quasi-religious cause. The movement is looking for religious leadership, and by all appearances the EP (his handlers?) is moving into position to provide it.

    I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think I am.

    This is why you see more discussion about the EP and GOA here. This is why the Mississippi River trip is already being analyzed.

    It’s the ideas that warrant the focus Tom, nothing else.

  32. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Note 30. Huge issue George. I used to tell my Catholic friends when Cardinal Law was stonewalling in Boston over the sex-abuse crisis that his intransigence would erode the independence of their Church.

  33. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Father,

    You don’t have to remind me of the editorial policy here. I think I made it very clear that I understand it. You post no news or editorial piece, which is negative about the AOCA because that is your jurisdiction. You post no news or editorial piece, which is negative about the OCA because they agree with your agenda, which is clearly not the promotion of Orthodox Unity as much as it is to place your former jurisdiction in a negative light. It’s your privilege because it’s your site.

    Just don’t get all indignant about refusing to report, “unsubstantiated accusations” because it “goes to the integrity and character of the site” because there is none.

    If you really believed that it is the ideas that deserve the focus then you wouldn’t be focusing on a land scandal involving some monks in Greece (which has absolutely no impact on the Church in the US) and you would be scared to death about the issue facing the AOCA right now and it’s impact on unity. I think you really know that.

    It is easy to do what you and many others on this site are doing, that is standing on the outside throwing rocks. It is much more difficult to actually try to so something positive to create change for the future and perhaps doing it in a way which is not destructive.

  34. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Joe says:

    Word is spreading that Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi has passed away.

  35. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Joe says:

    The Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos today mourns the dormition of our Elder Joseph of Vatopedi, one of the few remaining true Athonite elders who reposed this morning at 2:30, July 1, 2009. The Elder was born on July 1, 1921, on the celebration of the Holy Anargyroi (Saints Cosmas and Damian). After the dormition of his Elder, Joseph the Hesychast, he left the Skete where he lived and went to the Skete of the Holy Anargyroi. St Cosmas and St Damian were those who protected him throughout his life and those who chose to take him with them on the day of their celebration.
    The funeral rite will be held at 18:00 today at the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi.

    MAY HIS MEMORY BE ETERNAL

  36. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Chrys says:

    Joe, thank you very much for the update. There are few times that history has known an abundance of saints and we need them now as much as ever. He will be in our prayers and we hope that we will be in his. For those of us who have not yet had the chance to go to Mount Athos, this is a loss. May God be ever glorified in His saints and may Elder Joseph’s memory be eternal.

  37. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    may his memory be eternal.

  38. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Mark Atkins says:

    Tom,

    As to your main point, I would agree that this site is a site with an editorial agenda. But what’s wrong with that? All media sources, without exception, have editorial agendas. The very nature of a blog is that of directed discussion. And this site is a blog. So what’s the problem?

    As to the secondary point of Orthodox unity, I would submit that the EP and the GOA really are the main obstacles, making it impossible to avoid talking about. It’s not whining, it’s just pointing out the obvious problem that the majority of Orthodox in this country, including many Greek-Americans, fully recognize. The only way to achieve the stated goal of unity is to reject the status quo, which means rejecting the flawed way of thinking that led to the status quo in the first place. Thus, Constantinople’s self-serving position is rejected. This means that an alternative must be found. It is only at this point that positive construction can begin in earnest.

  39. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Joe says:

    The saintly Elder Joseph of Vatopedi reposed in great joy as can be seen on the smile on his still glowing face:

    http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/keidia-5.jpg

    “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

  40. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Michael Bauman says:

    Tom, the ultimate solution to the AOCA mess will actually lead to greater unity, one way or another. If Met. Philip “wins” then he will preside over a rapidly shrinking entity that will likely die when he does–just like all cults. If the Truth prevails, then Met Philip will either be a greatly chastened leader or retired.

    The real tragedy is that folks are leaving the Church and will continue to leave no matter the outcome.

    There is plenty of criticism to go around. The point being made to me in all this is that when we put our faith in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ, we will be disappointed.

    The GOA has always been a block to genuine unity in the country. Surely you know that. So has every other jurisdiction, its just that the Greeks carry more weight and they make such easy targets of themselves. Pointing out, as you do, that there are other targets or that some people don’t seem exactly dispassioned in their criticism helps how?

    There are a boat load of issues which we face as the Church here in the United States internal and external. Only by facing them together can we be what God calls us to be, the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Theologically and liturgically, we are, but practically we appear to others as fancy dressed Protestants or archaic Catholics.

    The question that should be asked is “How does this action lead to salvation?”

    Our status quo only works against salvation. It has to change. None of the stuff we generally place such importance on really matters all that much, except the the Incarnation, the Cross, the grave and the glorious Resurrection. Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

    All of the bishops will have to lay down claims to power to go forward. All of the jurisdictions must die before God can bring forth something new and better. So far the only one publically approaching that idea is Met. Jonah.

    The Church will be revealed as the Church. We can either be part of that or work against it. Most will do both, that is to be expected.

    Rather than the constant attitude of defensiveness your posts show, how about some positive ideas to move things along? Do you really think that the unity of the Church is such a bad idea? I’ll stipulate right away that unity will not solve any problems at first, in fact it will probably make a few worse. Really though, what is so great about our current state that anyone can reasonably defend it.

  41. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    Michael,

    “Pointing out, as you do, that there are other targets or that some people don’t seem exactly dispassioned in their criticism helps how?”

    When one group feels constantly the target and constantly receives the blame it does two things. 1. It makes even moderate individuals in that organization defensive and 2. It allows those in the other jurisdictions (which are also part of the problem, as you rightly point out) to deceive themselves (some more willingly than others) into thinking “that’s the bad guy over there”.

    Furthermore, when criticism from ostensibly faithful Orthodox Christians is so disrespectful, sarcastic anger filled and petty (you may call that passionate) it also leaves a bad taste regarding those people and the jurisdictions to which they belong.

    “Our status quo only works against salvation”

    The status quo CAN indeed work against our salvation when it makes us argue about things like this and when people use it as an excuse to make say many of the things which are said on this site. However is does not have to be so. In fact, it only works against our salvation when we actively TRY to let it work against our salvation with words suh as are often found on this site.

    “Do you really think that the unity of the Church is such a bad idea?”

    No I do not. But if the attitudes found on this site are common in other jurisdictions, then I would rather not be a part of them.

    “Rather than the constant attitude of defensiveness your posts show, how about some positive ideas to move things along?”

    I have posted positive suggestions to move things along. But these things are not of interest to those here who would rather share anger and disdain than small steps forward.

    I pray that people will soften their anger and hatred and move toward a genuine unity based upon love and respect. But so far, I don’t see much hope for that if this site is any indication.

  42. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    The problem is that Father has made much of the integrity of the site. Implying a level of journalistic integrity and fairness. In fact this is not the case. I don’t mind sites, which are dedicated to complaining and finger pointing, as long as everyone realizes that is the case and they don’t try to pass it off as a site with character and integrity.

    As far as your second point, I believe that is debatable. Met. Philip has done nothing but give lip service to the cause of unity and now that his methods (and the methods of some of his “auxiliaries”) are exposed, perhaps some will see that his actions have been little more than grandstanding.

    All jurisdictions bear a good deal of responsibility for the situation in which we find ourselves. Perhaps the GOA more than some others because we are the largest and the best organized. About 11 years ago I was at an event when the EP visited St. Vladimir’s. At that time Met. Theodosios asked the EP to lead us. He said we were all looking to the EP for guidance out of this mess (my word). Do I wish the EP had taken the bull by the horns in those days and started working this out? Yes. I think we would have been much better off today if he had done so.

    However, that does not mean that the EP and GOA are the greatest stumbling blocks. Because they would not and could not stand in the way of the OCA and the AOCA merging. For all his talk, this is something Met. Philip has been unwilling to do (as long as he has a convenient scape goat).
    Mark Atkins (re # 38)

    I think that among other things, the many scandals in the OCA and the hypocrisy of much of the leadership of the AOCA have been equally great obstacles.

    I was concerned at first with what I perceive as the arrogance and immaturity of several of Met. Jonah’s speeches. However, I believe he is learning and will grow in to the job and I am thankful for his willingness to confront difficult issues.

    Now if everyone can just stop trying to blame the biggest kid on the block for everything, perhaps some progress can be made. Or else, leave the GOA in your rear view mirror and the GOA will either learn to change or it will die out.

    This obsession with the GOA and affixing blame is a convenient excuse for the OCA and AOCA looking into their respective mirror.

  43. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Tom Kanelos says:

    The entire post #42 was intended as a respons to #38.

    Sorry for the goof up

  44. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Tom, you dissemble. The point about integrity of the site was in response to your complaint about removal of a post that contained unsubstantiated charges against an individual. You said other posts were not removed that were guilty of the same thing. I asked for examples. You were unable to provide any.

    You cry unfair about the criticisms of the Orthodoxy-Hellenism apologetic, but are unable to offer any arguments in defense of it. You ignore that this apologetic is the basis of a claim for jurisdictional hegemony over the American Orthodox Church and that no other Patriarch makes such an audacious claim.

    You cry unfair about any criticism of the Mississippi River trip, while offering no commentary on the on convergence between global warming and Orthodox teaching that informs the pre-trip publicity.

    Every jurisdiction has its problems. They will get settled. The problems in the AOA or OCA rise to the same level of problems in the GOA such as the lawsuits issue, but that issue is not discussed here either. They are largely internal.

    If you can’t see the distinction between these internal problems and the larger witness of Orthodoxy — particularly how the Hellenism-Orthodoxy apologetic will impact an American Church if it is adopted, or how Orthodoxy will be perceived (and how it might develop) if a convergence between environmentalist ideology and the moral authority of Orthodox tradition is forged — then you should take your complaint elsewhere.

    Not all ideas are equal. The ability to distinguish between them is a minimal requirement for discussion on this blog.

  45. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Joe says:

    Funeral of Blessed Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi: A Smile From Eternity

    Report from: http://vatopaidi.wordpress.com/
    Translated by: John Sanidopoulos

    July 2, 2009

    Yesterday at 6:00PM the farewell service for Blessed Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi took place in the Katholikon of the Sacred Monastery of Vatopaidi, and at 9:00PM was followed by refreshments in the Synodikon of the Monastery and Trapeza.

    At the funeral there were 4 archbishops, 10 abbots, the Holy First Elder Symeon of Dionysiou with the Sacred Supervisors of the Holy Mountain, as well as dozens of priests and hundreds of faithful who upon hearing of the passing of the Blessed Elder came to the Monastery from many parts of Greece and Cyprus leaving behind any pending tasks or activities (one of whom was me).

    Those who spoke at the funeral were the following in order: His Excellency Metropolitan of Limassol Athanasios; the Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Vatopaidi Archimandrite Ephraim, who as a spiritual child of the Elder was especially moved and emphasized the great paternal love of the Elder having lived all these years and associated with the Elder. There followed His Eminence Metropolitan of Kastoria Seraphim who spoke of the Elder offering himself towards lay christians with his comforting and discerning words and letters, and further became a model of forgiveness and forbearance to those who wrongly criticized and slandered him. At the Synodikon the Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Simonas Petras Archimandrite Elisaios emphasized that Elder Joseph was a point of reference for the Holy Mountain, who counseled with the desire for the monks to love God. Every meeting with the Elder was an experience.

    Those who attended the funeral had the blessing to give the Elder a last embrace and to receive for the last time his blessing. However those who were there were not found to be with a cold relic, but gazed at a jovial, personable person as if he was giving them a smile from eternity. As for me, this was the first time in my life that I saw such an expression as if he was alive, though dead (you can see the face of the Elder in the photographs).

    The entombment of the Elder did not take place at the cemetery of the Monastery, but in a place northeast of the Katholikon which he had prepared for himself a few years before.

    All those present were confident of the Elder’s rest at the right hand of God. The emotions were mixed, sadness mixed with resurrection joy. May we have his blessing.

  46. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    ray blue says:

    May God rest his soul in peace and among the saints !

  47. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Michael Bauman says:

    Tom, obviously, the mess in the AOCA right now is magnitudes worse than anything in the GOA. Obviously we have some house cleaning to do.

  48. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Dean Calvert says:

    Michael,

    Re: Tom, the ultimate solution to the AOCA mess will actually lead to greater unity, one way or another. If Met. Philip “wins” then he will preside over a rapidly shrinking entity that will likely die when he does–just like all cults. If the Truth prevails, then Met Philip will either be a greatly chastened leader or retired.

    Does anyone else get the feeling that “the church”, specifically the OCA and now the AOCA, is being cleansed? This reminds me of my readings of Isaiah…it’s almost as if we are being purified, for some future purpose.

    I had honestly thought that all the way thru the OCA scandal..and had mentioned it to quite a few people. It was as if God was preparing us for something. Voila…we end up with an uncompromised, courageous, yet spiritual and humble metropolitan…seemingly out of nowhere.

    Now, the same type of thing seems to be occurring in the AOCA. Who can predict the outcome? Will Met. Jonah’s overtures finally be accepted? Will the convert wing of the AOCA become disgusted with the shenanigans, and bolt to the OCA (along with some bishops)? Who knows.

    I really get the feeling we are witnessing the Holy Spirit at work…it’s like watching God paint – breathtaking. I’m also reminded of something Archbishop Nathaniel has always told us at St. Andrew House – “It’s His church, and He will take care of it.”

    In any case, Michael, I think you are right…either way this leads to greater unity. And for those who disagree with unity…my advice remains the same: “Leave the dead to bury their own.”

    Best Regards,
    Dean

  49. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Joe says:

    “All-Good God, I beg you! You attracted me, you made me wear these cassocks, I beg you All-Good God! Don’t abandon me! Help! You called me and you brought me here and you gave me the keys of the Vatopedi Monastery. You, Yourself! The Son of the Living God! When I was begging Him to show me His will through Elder Porfyrios, He talked to me. Himself! God-Logos (Word)!

    “He gave me the keys of Vatopedi. And, I used these keys to open Vatopedi and what you see now took place. God-Logos Himself came, His affectionate Mother came, His Mother, our Mother, our consolation, and She spiritually renewed Vatopedi. And She put us on the path of the terminοlogy of the Holy Fathers. I’m not denying anything.

    She gave us the ability to write, to write with details the whole terminology of the Holy Fathers. Have consolation in the continuous future. All these, and I kindly invoke your love, your kindness, to accept them with humility and obedience, to continue your path with self-denial, and comprehensive assiduity. The first beginning is obedience, after obedience,the first beginning is the Jesus prayer, the unceasing Jesus prayer, that should never stop, after the unceasing Jesus prayer, humility and obedience come. After humility and obedience, the comprehensive assiduity comes. And then, the person learns how to resist to the various excuses of the false needs: to succumb to concupiscence and egoism.”

    Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi

  50. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Dean, Michael, you are right. “Judgment begins in the House of the Lord.” Let us pray that this same type of cleansing and repentance will occur in the GOA. I agree with Fr Mark Arey: “No one will be left behind. We’re all going to be united together.”

  51. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Joe says:

    Having re-watched Matthew Namee’s Myth of Past Unity presentation and revisited Fr. Oliver Herbel’s works in progress, I find myself in awe of the cleansing work that God is doing for the ecclesiology of the Orthodox Churches in America through this next (post-Schmemann), bright generation of young Orthodox Christian scholars.

    The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will soon be stepping forward to reclaim their inheritance as the descendants of St. Herman, St. Innocent and St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Russia and Enlightener of America (glorified by the ROCOR in 1981 and the MP in 1989).

    And then we’ve got some more of those fruitful Pan-Orthodox Councils right around the corner.

    The work of God in renewing our ecclesiology is proceeding apace!

    We’ve got seminaries and Holy Trinity Jordanville may soon be switching to English, so our academic theological education is progressing.

    Theology of the experiential kind (patristic asceticism and inner experience of grace) is proceeding nicely with the leavening presence of the truly Athonite monasteries established by Geronda Ephraim.

    Next on the Orthodox Churches in America agenda should be a pan-jurisdictional discussion on the sacramental/mysteriological differences that are keeping the various jurisdictions apart, e.g. reception of converts and sacraments among other issues.

    I’ll use just one example: marriage.

    It is my understanding that though the Orthodox Christian marriage/crowning is available to convert couples in the OCA, this blessing is generally considered to be optional. The OCA (and the Antiochians?) have a tradition (their very own litttle “t”) that when a couple is received, their chrismation fills up not just their previous heterodox baptism, but their marriage vows as well! In the Greek Orthodox Church, if a convert couple does not get married in the Church after their reception, then they are considered “not in good standing” and are not allowed to received the Holy Mysteries (communion).

    How to resolve these differences in a pan-Orthodox manner? Should the Greeks (and the Russians, etc.) just jettison this required blessing on their married converts and do things, or rather, don’t do things the OCA way (the least common denominator path) or should the OCA begin to bless the marriages of their couples so that they are eligible to receive the Holy Mysteries in parishes outside of the OCA?

  52. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Michael Bauman says:

    Joe, I am a convert and an Antiochian (only Orthodox in town). If we are who we say we are (the one holy, catholic and apostolic church) shouldn’t we administer all the sacraments to converts from other traditions as if they have never been done before because, duh, they haven’t?

    None of the sacraments of other communions and traditions are the same in form, intent or content–why should we pretend they are. “Accepting” other sacraments has always seemed to me a cowardly accomodation with the world. The other traditions are, at best, schismatic in nature.

    Spiritually I think it would speed the transition from the former confession as well, less garbage lingering on.

  53. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Joe says:

    Michael,

    I’m 100% in agreement with you.

    The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad baptizes and chrismates all converts (e.g. RCs and Prots). If they were married-in-the-world, then they get a beautiful Orthodox wedding afterwards. Of course there have been cases where the bishops exercise oikonomia, but by definition oikonomia is an exception, not the rule that it has become in many Orthodox parishes.

    If someday in the future, the jurisdictional lines in America are erased, they will undoubtedly be replaced by other boundaries such as Church Calendar versus New Calendar, Traditionalist versus traditionalist, etc.

    Resolving these differences will be much more difficult than the creation of adminstrative unity among the Orthdoox Churches in America.

  54. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Joe says:

    Amazing!

    How the smile of Elder Joseph is from eternity
    http://www.impantokratoros.gr/387DDB11.en.aspx

    The photograph of the reposed, smiling not only with his lips but with the full expression of his face, has greatly impressed the world as we see it from the articles and comments in many websites.

    In fact one could meet people who just reposed with a bright face, or peaceful expression, or with deep restful repose but where is the smile?

    On one side the spiritual fathers say that the hour of death is frightful for man, on the other side we read in “Gerontika” (Elder Literature) that even the most advanced in the spiritual life through humility they would not lose their courage before they passed on to the other life where there is no more danger. Moreover the elder Joseph suffered from his heart and was greatly tormented by the sickness, so how then did he repose smiling?

    The answer is: NO, he did not repose smiling, but SMILED AFTER HIS REPOSE.

    From discussions with some fathers of the monastery we bring you the facts of the event.

    The two monks who were with him till the last moment, ran to inform Elder Ephraim and the rest of the fathers and did not pay attention to the reposed, who was indeed with his mouth partly open.

    They therefore came to prepare him according to the monastic formality. Elder Ephraim ordered not to cover his face. The fathers tried to close his mouth, but it was too late, the mouth would stay open, in fact they tied gauze around to hold his mouth closed, but after they would remove it the mouth would reopen. Some forty five minutes had passed since his repose.

    “Elder, it will look ugly this way with his mouth open, what should we do?”

    “As he is, do not cover his face!”

    They stitched the monastic mandya (cloak) as is the custom.

    The whole process to put the mandya and stitch it, took some forty five minutes more. They then cut the material around his face, by order, and they found the elder like at last all see him, smiling.

    Did he hear them and granted them this small favour, so that he may not sadden them? Or did he want to give us an idea of what he saw and the condition in which he is after his departure from the present life?

    The smile of elder Joseph is the first supernatural event after his repose, and has become a great consolation to all of us.

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    Joe says:

    It looks like God, through his servant Elder Joseph of Vatopedi, gets the last laugh – or least smile, on the unfaithful who have seized on the troubles of Vatopedi as an opportunity to strike at the monastics of the Holy Mountain.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Joe, please make sure that His Holiness +Kirill gets the memo. He seems to be mistaken if I read you correctly. I’m just sayin’…

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    Joe says:

    George, I’d like to believe that your latest non sequitur (something about Patriarch Kirill and Vatopedi?!) has something to do with the want of a new eyeglass prescription that you referred to in your previous non sequitur because that is a problem that can be easily fixed.

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