WAPO: Metropolitan Jonah goes to Washington

Met. Jonah

Source: Washington Post | Julia Duin | Sunday, March 20, 11:13 AM

They appeared at the edge of the crowd on the Mall, a group of men seemingly out of a distant century. Their heads were crowned with klobuks, the distinctive headgear of Orthodox clergy. Sporting black cassocks and untrimmed gray beards, with golden icons dangling from their necks on long chains, these visitors stood out among the crowd clad in jeans and winter coats. The man in their center carried a bejeweled walking stick.

Metropolitan Jonah, 51, leads the Orthodox Church in America, the second-largest Eastern Orthodox body in the United States. He was there to rally the huddled masses waiting in the freezing air to begin the March for Life, the annual demonstration protesting the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide. His aim was to boost Orthodox participation in political issues. But his efforts to change the OCA would spark a ferocious reaction from his own bishops one month later. At issue is the very nature of Orthodoxy in the New World.

The tensions began with Jonah’s surprise election as head (or “metropolitan”) of the OCA in late 2008. The new leader, who is the first native-born convert to head the church, wasted little time instituting change. He put word out to his bishops and seminarians that their presence was expected at the March for Life, held every January. It was time, he would later tell a reporter, for the Orthodox “to step out in the public square” on a number of social concerns, including abortion. To encourage such stepping out, Jonah also decided to move the offices of the OCA from its isolated Syosset, N.Y., chancery to St. Nicholas Cathedral in Northwest Washington.

On the morning of the march, Jonah preached an uncompromising Gospel at the cathedral. “We need to see and call things what they are and not in some disguised politically correct language,” he said, dressed in resplendent gold brocade vestments, his salt-and-pepper beard making him appear like an Old Testament prophet. “Abortion is the taking of human life.”


Read the entire article on the Washington Post website.


  1. Geo Michalopulos :

    A very balanced article. Looks like Stokoe’s liberal narrative about an “unstable” (read: clinically insanse tyrant) +Jonah is deservedly biting the dust. His credibility has been completely shot and he took some good men (Hopko, Oleksa) down with him.

    I read this in the broader context of Dreher’s excellent article. As “Muzhik” pointed out over at ocatruth.com, what the progressives want for Orthodoxy is not to turn it into a pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, pro-secular outfit like ECUSA, but to merely neutralize it by making orthodoxy “optional.” They’ve already succeeded in turning the Istanbul-based churches into morally-neutral bodies that won’t engage the culture but they had to take out +Jonah because he wouldn’t accept the Grovelling Spirit of Syosset which is comfortable with the zeitgeist.

  2. I very much liked the article, George, and appreciate that the author, Julia Duin, contacted me for my opinions. I know from subsequent contact with her that she wasn’t able to do any reporting after the Santa Fe debacle, because of her deadline. This piece is going to appear in this Sunday’s WaPo magazine, which has very early deadlines. She called me the day after the Santa Fe news got out, asking if I had any information on it. I didn’t. She said she had to rewrite the ending, and was hoping that nothing big happened in the OCA in the Santa Fe fallout before the story was published, because she wouldn’t have any opportunity to do any rewriting or editing.

    I say that because there is information that has come out since then about the SMC report, Jonah’s firing of Garklavs, the Synod’s frustration with Jonah’s administrative acumen, etc., that arguably should have been in the story, but is not. I imagine some who are against Jonah will think the journalist Duin is ignoring or downplaying this stuff, but I can tell you from our conversation immediately after Santa Fe that she literally didn’t have the option of putting any of that in after the story closed three weeks or so ago. I hope they give her a chance to do a follow-up in the daily paper.

  3. I am also highly amused by Mr. Drezhlo’s meltdown over the WaPo article. He apparently believes Jonah wrote it himself. Mr. Drezhlo, the Schadenfreudian pleasures of whose blog I have only recently discovered, recently said that I am associated with a Gleb Podmoshensky. I had to go to Google to find out who this Gleb person is.

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Drezhlo’s an interesting character, isn’t he?

      • Yes, for about two minutes. But once you’ve gotten used to his hysterical shtick — he has only one mood, and it’s screaming-meemie — he’s awfully boring, except as an answer to the question, “What would Ignatius Reilly be like after smoking estrogenated crystal meth?”

        • Geo Michalopulos :

          It’s funny you should say that! One of my sister’s gave me A Confederacy of Dunces to read. It’s so screamingly hilarious!

  4. Geo Michalopulos :

    Rod, I too know something about the newspaper business and I’m sure that this piece was a long time in the making. Of course, for the +Jonah-haters that won’t make a difference as they probably think that Miss Duin is part of ocatruth.com or some such nonsense. Anc again, I really liked your essay. It was the best encapsulation of what Orthodoxy truly is.

  5. I think that the two recent articles and the March of Life coverage back in January show that WaPo has become a real, balanced newspaper, with fair investigative reporting about things that matter to Americans who might not shop at Whole Foods (no offense, Mr. Dreher). I am quite pleased, and I wish that such a change would occur at the NYT.

    By the way, Mr. Dreher, your hypothetical answer is hilarious. Somewhat mean, but hilarious nonetheless.

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