Wednesday, August 10. 2011
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Well, will MJ remove his blessing from TEAM JONAH and their website at ocatruth.com?
They claim to be his spiritual children!
He, MJ claims they are his spiritual children.
I think not as they serve his need for self-promotion.
At least we know who runs ocanews.org and the editor delineates his remarks from others.
Thank you Mark for cleansing the OCA.
Looks like the toilet needs flushed again!
#1 anonymous on 2011-08-10 14:32
Mark, I am not surprised that you were dismissed from the MC. I support you and this website. Without it, we would all still be in the dark about so much of what's going on. This is a blog where people can speak their mind, pro or con. I am glad that you will continue it. We cannot speak our minds to our Bishops; infrequent visitations and "protocol" and "business" keeps them at arms length from us. We cam express ourselves here, and I thank you for that opportunity. Janet Damian
(Editor's note: Thanks, but I was surprised. It is a dangerous precedent to be dismissed from a position not for anything you say or have done; but because of somebody's elses opinions that you allow to be heard. We have had secular newspaper editors on the MC before - are they responsible for everything in their papers? Is a parish priest responsible for everything a parishoner may ask? Or a bishop for what his Metropolitan says? I think not. Moreover, are there questions that cannot be asked in the Orthodox Church? How then do we expect to witness to a free society? )
#2 Janet Damian on 2011-08-10 14:41
It is just more homophobic, paranoid gay bashing. We know the source.
The July 28 letter is on poor spiritual ground because it goes to single out one group of people and just goes to show what happens when someone is more worried about gays than little children. The letter is in fact, so poor, no responsible person would iterate it to an audience. Thank God we have some responsible people in the OCA. When should our bishops be exorcised to react? Everytime a state has a new law up for vote? For Pete's sake, this could go on for years. Do we really want our Metropolitan and Bishop writing antigay letters everytime a vote is on the docket? If Mark Stokoe's website became a clearinghouse for a gay agenda, people like me would stop visiting. Bishop Matthias couldn't reprimand him for the website, et al. It had to be for the gay article, which is only an excuse and all of us know it. They don't like the website because it does exactly what you say Janet.
By the way, the [sic] fatwa is the top story on the DoM website. I didn't find any articles about little children on the main page. On the DoM website, there is a story about the flooding in Minot, but I doubt that was required reading in parishes last Sunday by Bishop Matthias; homosexuality was a higher priority.
These two despots will be mad at me for my gentle observations I'm sure, and that is just fine. I'm a better friend to them than all the people that have lost respect for both of them, but haven't said so.
And since you are following this website Bishop Matthias, yes, many (probably too many) have lost respect for you...sorry it is so.
#2.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-08-11 07:19
Speaking of the Minot ND parish, isn't it ironic that the OCA, by fiat of Metropolitan Jonah, won't even speak to the Episcopal Church anymore, yet one of its parishes is now availing itself of Episcopalian facilities? Oh yes, they're horrible heretics with whom we can never associate, until we need them and can use them to our benefit somehow. Speaks volumes about our hypocrisy and, on the flip side, their striving to be Christlike.
#2.1.1 Gregory on 2011-08-11 19:07
The OCA Church in Minot ND is suffering through it's worse tragedy and you make comment like "Metropolitan Jonah, won't even speak to the Episcopal Church anymore." We found a place to hold services. We could just as well held them in a parking lot. The local Episcopal Church was available. Even if we cannot be in our own Chuch Building, we live and breath as a parish by worshipping together.
And by the way, our plight is not over. There will be many months of re-construction and years of recovering. Please do not bring our parish into a discussion that only hurts.
#220.127.116.11 Reader Gregory on 2011-08-12 13:42
And thank God daily, Reader Gregory, for the willingness of your Episcopalian neighbors to open their hearts and their doors to you and your parish so hospitably in your time of dire need, even though the head of the OCA broke off any contact with their church in a rather brusque and undiplomatic manner. May God reward them for exerting a graciousness toward us not accorded to them by our leaders.
#18.104.22.168.1 Gregory on 2011-08-12 19:04
The point I am making is that your plight should be more important for the bishop than any political or religious theatre. Or how about more important than any individual's sins?
Bishop Matthias made the decision on what to highlight.
Unless he advocated a financial collection by all DoM churches and I missed it, I will bring you into it.
If i am wrong, tell me.
#22.214.171.124.2 Daniel E Fall on 2011-08-12 21:17
Let's not fall into the tired rhetoric that opposing this or that legislation is "anti-gay" and "homophobic." That is so tiresom and unhelpful to all, no matter how "progressive" or "traditional." Daniel, you often make valuable contributions, but you often hang your arguments on these wordly and thread-bare categories. To my mind, it weakens your case.
#2.1.2 Rdr. John on 2011-08-12 14:53
gay bashing?? when i read Daniel E. Fall's comments and other liberals here im that much closer to leave the OCA-
#2.1.3 SASHA RESHETAR on 2011-08-15 09:22
I am sure that some folks would want to join instead of leave. Seriously, how can you even think of such a thing? Do you honestly think that the Church is something you can just pick and choose on that sort of flimsy basis?
#126.96.36.199 Carl Kraeff on 2011-08-16 12:38
I agree with Janet, although like Mark I am surprised at Bp. Matthias’ decision. Bp. Matthias’ actions in this matter sends up very serious flags of warning.
To make the accusation that Mark’s website has, “hampered Pan Orthodox unity and encouraged those who disrespect the clergy and the Church,” does not pass the reality smell test.
The question is: Has the newest bishop in the OCA already fallen to the influence of the father of lies, the evil one? The ongoing spiritual warfare is indeed intense.
#2.2 Marc Trolinger on 2011-08-11 17:25
Toilet is the only word that comes to mind when I think oca!
(Editor's note: Then go flush yourself. Adults are speaking here. Come back when you can speak like one.)
#3 SOS (supporter of stokoe) on 2011-08-10 14:48
I would have to agree with +Matthias.
While you may have provided valuable information in the past, which we thank you for, and still provide some important news, your current crusade against +Jonah, posting of the anonymous pastoral letter and other seemingly confidential information, to me (and others) is over the top for someone who is supposed to be working for the Church on the Metropolitan council.
There is nothing wrong with providing people with information, but please dont bias it one way or the other. You shouldve likewise included on your website important news such as the Archpastoral letters from +Jonah, +Matthias, and +Michael, along with the Antiochian resolution that passed, all regarding the opposition to same sex marriage.
Good luck in the future.
(Editor's note: Acutally, I did reference +Michael's, and as you may read for yourself, I stopped that discussion before the others appeared. I try not to break my own rules. As for bias, I find it amazing to be criticized for bias by publishing people's own words - which would seem to be opposite of bias by letting them speak for themselves. As for a crusade against +Jonah, that too amazes me. How is reporting what the Synod actually did, as opposed to what he said they did, a crusade against him? Clearly, the bias is not entirely one-sided here. )
#4 robert on 2011-08-10 14:49
Just to add my two kopek's worth, without OCAnews, I would have virtually no way of knowing what was being got up to behind the scenes. It seems to me our chief concern ought not to be what Mark reports, but that there is so MUCH to report in the first place. Just in the past few years, six bishops, including three metropolitans and an archbishop, have been implicated in a variety of scandals and misdeeds. That surely has to be some kind of record, based on a bishop-to-layperson ratio! And that is just the proverbial tip of the etc.
Some people are always going to want to see Christ's church as perfect, pristine and without stain. Since it is populated by humans, it never will be. We may as well know the worst of it, so we can deal with it. The church does such a poor job of policing itself--and of telling on itself--that I believe we all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Mark Stokoe for keeping us informed in the face of constant, and substantial opposition from church leaders.
Thank you--and bless you.
#4.1 Morton on 2011-09-01 12:14
MANY, MANY YEARS TO YOU, MARK!!!! .... It's called "control". These "bishops", "icons of Christ", "archpastors" remain old school. They don't want what was in the dark to come into the light. They want control. I think it amazes them that we do read the scriptures too and can quote them as well as they can. I think it amazes them that we want them held as accountable and true to theexample of Jesus Christ as the rest of us. I think it amazes them, given the exhalted position they constantly remind us they hold, that we perhaps hold them to a higher standard! But to those whom much has been given much will be asked! You want to wear that king's crown on your head..and stop pretending it has some religious significance by calling it a miter..then start acting like the True King you're called to emulate! If you don't like us talking about you on ocanews.org then stop giving us reason to talk. Talk about a bunch of insecure men! Who in their right minds would follow them anyway. I've always maintained we remain members of the Orthodox Church because of the holy men who pastor us in our local churches and not because of this bunch of men who politically negotiate their "elections" and then try to convince us it's God's will! We're not stupid! You want to charge someone with derision, Matthias? Then talk about all the nonsense that goes on at synod meetings and at the chancery! You think you guys aren't a huge source of derision in the Church!!! The apostles probably disagreed among themselves but I can't think of any example of them splitting the church! That's your honor! So Mark, I say it again, MANY, MANY YEARS TO YOU. Christ promised his followers would be persecuted as was he. I guess that certainly puts you in good company. You shouldn't want it any other way but to be a true follower of Christ.
#5 The Word dwells among US - not just in the bishops! on 2011-08-10 14:50
May peace prevail, at last!!!
#6 nancy forderhase on 2011-08-10 14:59
This is a very disturbing development. As you yourself have said, you were edified by your service to the Church in these capacities, and so I am sorry for you. It must be very upsetting.
The news honestly sent a shiver down my spine, flashing back to days of fiats and wagon-circling, the "Time of Troubles." Increasingly, it seems those days have not ended. First Fr. Garklavs, now you. They set Fr. Fester free, but crush the truth-tellers. It says a lot about the state of our OCA to see you and Fr. Garklavs dismissed. I don't believe history will look kindly on those behind these mistaken decisions.
#7 Sdn. Nilus Klingel on 2011-08-10 15:09
Good luck, Mark. If you keep publishing, I'll continue reading. Everything you said about being open to all opinions is absolutely true.
#8 Vladimir on 2011-08-10 15:11
I too echo the thanks for the work you have done on this site exposing the financial shenanigans of the previous administrations.
However, like Robert, I believe you have been on a crusade against Metropolitan Jonah, and that your recent content portrays an agenda that is not in line with Orthodox teaching. I also question your decision to publish information obtained from e-mails of others that were apparently sent to you by someone other then the author or intended recipients. I find your editorial defenses here weak and frankly, little more than dissembling.
You ask how it can by bias by simply publishing another's words. You are a bright man, and you know that choosing whose words you publish can be a form of editorial bias, as Robert pointed out. Many items relevant to but opposing the viewpoints you published, were not put on this site. This is a pretense of objectivity that is easily seen through. For all the hue and cry over the anonymous nature of OCA Truth, you publish anonymous posts as well. For all the talk of transparency, your sources are immune from disclosure.
Is the site a positive force for the Church? It certainly has been. Of late, I tend to think not. It is a source of division and seems to delight in sowing division. I understand where +Mathias is coming from because I see it too.
Still, I hope that the type of work you have done in the past will continue. But what you are doing of late simply isn't that. I do not join anyone's condemnation of you. No person is all good or all bad -- there are simply too many shades of gray. That includes you. That includes our Metropolitan.
(Editor's Note: Thanks for the reasoned criticism. We continue to disagree; for by your definition of "bias", everything is, since not everything everywhere can be published simultaneously, and therefore bias is exhibited, in what , how, and when information is presented, not matter how "unbias" one strives to be. Thus objectivity cannot exist, and sound judgements cannot exist......
Well, no. I would suggest the problem really lies in your description of "bias". Secondly, I had no problem with people publishing my emails that I had not given them: I find it amazing they then squeal like stuck pigs when someone does the same to them! Moreover, I find it amazing that those who decry it when I did it, were very silent when it does to me. It only becomes clear when it is explained that "Mark is on a crusade against Jonah" - and thus his minions may do anything in his defense; and should anyone else play by their rules, it is "unethical behaviour". Hmmm. Rather situational ethics, don't you think? But the whole debate of journalistic ethics in the email world is interesting and helpful....)
#9 Mark on 2011-08-10 15:23
I speculate that the shortage of news on this website in the past few years may have been because you sat on committes in the OCA where confidential material was reviewed. Therefore there was created an ethical conflict for you not to publish such news so I think you sat on a lot of news-worthy material because of your offical OCA position. Now that ethical conflict is gone and the floods gates have been opened by the stroke of a bishop's pen. Fasten your seatbelts folks, the ride is about to get very interesting.
(Editor's note: Well, a valid observation only in so far as the ethical restraint on sharing information I learned in confidence as a member of the MC - there was never any conflict - has been indeed been lifted. In short, I am still bound, in my conscience, not to reveal information I learned in the past only by virtue of being on the MC; but going forward, we are back to pre-2008 rules. )
#10 Irene Ipassie on 2011-08-10 15:34
Sorry, Mark, but you are indeed still bound by confidentiality of the things you learned. You're not free to reveal those things.
(editor's note: I agree. )
#10.1 Anonymous on 2011-08-12 11:44
so new vladyka! you don't like Mark Stokoe's website! he only told us the truth of what was happening in the OCA! YOU r new to the OCA, so IT would do you good to look at our sad history! And by the way, Fr Thomas Hopko approves this site, he knows that Mark only transmitS what was and is going on and if you have things to hide maybe this site would be to your downfall! Sorry you have made a GREAT MISTAKE, A GREAT MISDOING BY beheading Mark Stokoe! Too bad ! This will reflex on you future of sheparding the diocese! The way i feel, you need to go back to the ACROD!
#11 fr theodore on 2011-08-10 16:07
I’m amazed by the short memories many people have, including Bishop Matthias, who didn’t have to live and function in the old OCA.
Where do people think they would be without oca news, still subject to the corrupt administration of +Herman and Kondratic.
This authoritarian attempt to silence Mark reveals the fear, paranoia and anguish that people, including hierarchs, have in regard to “facts” being revealed.
We are also seeing that even with the vetting process, episcopal candidates are lacking. +Mathias is already showing who he really is and what his agenda is. It’s already all about him and preserving the “good old boy club.” For example, he is filling a very healthy parish whose founding priest is retiring, not with the loyal, dedicated and talented second priest, but with his son. Through his attempt to muzzle ocanews, he is giving shelter to a metropolitan who has clearly exhibited himself to be unable to fulfill the duties of his office.
+Mathias’s assertions that ocanews has hindered Pan-Orthodox unity also reveals his inability to grasp and embrace the facts. While it didn’t stop the scandalizing actions of Metropolitan Philip’s non-canonical actions regarding the demotion of enthroned diocesan bishops, he did facilitate revealing +Philip’s narcissistic, middle eastern dictatorial tendencies. One cannot help but wonder if we are now seeing these same characteristics manifesting in the actions of Bishop Mathias.
An older priest used to remark the problem with most bishops is that they hear “Is polla eti Despota,” so often they believe people really mean it.
Stay the course Mark.
#12 A retired and again disgusted priest on 2011-08-10 16:20
I am so sorry that you are retired Father, but you have probably fought the good fight for many years and are in need of some rest. However, I am very pleased that you are still actively engaged. Your capacity to discern the truth is what we so desperately need in the Church today.
Thank you for your service to the Church Father. Please continue to speak out for the truth, because the spiritual warfare is indeed intense, and the evil one is clearly focused on our leadership.
#12.1 Marc Trolinger on 2011-08-11 17:57
I know of many with first-hand knowledge who would strongly disagree about the assessment of the health of that parish and the abilities of the second priest, but idefinitely would agree with the assessment of it being all about Bp. Matthias and preserving the "good old boys" club, in appointing his son to that parish.
#12.2 anonymous Buckeye on 2011-08-12 05:25
Sorry to hear of your dismissal, Mark. But thank goodness we don't live in an age, a country or a culture where they can get away with cutting your tongue out of your mouth, a la Saint Maximus the Confessor, to shut you up.
"A prophet is despised only in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house" (Mark 6:4), and some people just can't resist killing the messenger for the message.
"Examples of faithful living and the promoting of the Gospel of Jesus Christ"? Where might we find those? Among our "monastic" bishops who "retreat" at posh resorts and jet off to Russia at the drop of a klobuk on widows' mites while their recession-bitten flocks practice the asceticism of forgoing vacations and cutting back on luxuries to give to their church? In a forked-tongued primate who says one thing and does another, or, worse yet, says two things and does neither? Talk about "serving two masters..."
Really now. Christ never called us to ignore reality. He certainly didn't ignore it.
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children..." (Ephesians 6:4). "Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged" (Colossians 3:21). How different our church life might be if our bishops, as fathers in God, focused on those words as much as they call for obedience from the spiritual children entrusted to them -- and for whom they too must answer for before the awesome judgment seat of Christ. (Laypeople won't be the only ones appearing there!)
#13 Gregory on 2011-08-10 16:48
Well, I’m not surprised. +Matthias is protesting too strongly and it makes me suspicious as I see your dismissals as an attempt to distract from issues, formally presented as dogma or settled theology (warmed over RC moral theology), but which are historically even beneath the level of theologoumena.
Nevertheless, I am delighted to see that you will persevere in your efforts to continue publishing OCANews. These past five or so years you have served the Church well in your journalistic endeavors and now you will be free from trying to walk a very fine line in your service on these councils and your service as a journalist and commentator.
+Matthias’ actions are more counterproductive than he thinks. Sad.
#14 Timothy Philolethos on 2011-08-10 16:54
I think what I find most objectionable any time or anywhere something is published is when it is done anonymously. It always makes people think that this is a tool for the editor to use to put forth his point of view, whether it is or not.
I also question the ethics of anyone who publishes the emails of another without their permission.
Yes, you have exposed some poor practices in the O.C.A., but the above mentioned are things which diminish your effectiveness in the most recent problem. When one asks high standards of others, one should be prepared to have them for themselves.
#15 cheryl morris on 2011-08-10 17:27
Kh. Cheryl being quite educated is showing that post graduate degrees are no insurance of sound discernment. To site an example of her tyrannical primate, look at what happens to dedicated and effective pastors like Fr. Paul Albert and Fr. David Moretti when they were guilty of nothing more than supporting their local bishop. And she wants others to publish without anonymity. We are seeing again, there are far too many authoritarian bishops who will use the sword rather than speak the truth in the spirit of love and fatherly gentleness.
It amazes me that she, or her husband, have not had the sense of propriety to speak out against the abominations perpetrated by Metropolitan Philip. He broke sacred canons, made a mockery of Orthodox ecclesiology, double talked, redirected millions of dollars to buy off Damascus, persecuted a godly bishop, supported favorite priests and Arab millionaires who have threatened and terrorized others, and obstructed investigations of financial misappropriations in parishes and the archdiocese and Kh. Cheryl chooses to critique and scorn Mark Stokoe who has brought the shenanigans of heretofore untouchable bishops and their enablers to light.
There is much more I could say, but I have my own sins to be concerned about. What I will never tolerate, however, is the unrighteous condemnation of a man who has had the courage to reveal the corruption of self-righteous bishops and their obsequious cheerleaders.
#15.1 A thoroughly disgusted priest on 2011-08-11 19:12
This is a tactic often used--change the subject, divert or deflect attention to another topic. I stand by what I wrote about anonymous authors and the lack of ethics in publishing emails belonging to someone else without their permission.
I have not flashed my academic credentials around because I do not think they are relevant. God's not going to ask me about those things. All I know is that when I became Orthodox I was told I had to accept the faith and not come in thinking I would change it.
#15.1.1 cheryl morris on 2011-08-12 18:11
Thank you Father...one of the many good things that Mark did was to help expose Met.Phillip..when are the open audits of the boks going to take place?
#15.1.2 Anonymous on 2011-08-13 03:37
Yes, we Christians ought to embody and practice ethical behaviors. That goes double for our bishops. We have a Metropolitan in AOCNA who for all the good that was accomplished on his watch, has shown once again how power corrupts in proportion to its magnitude. He has silenced his flock who now just suffer him until his passing. Evil abounds when good people remain silent. We need a succession plan, one that is transparent and developed before it is implemented. We need to recoup the millions that he has admittedly taken into his own hand. It would be wonderful if the great Metropolitan would move towards these ends on his own volition. Laity and clergy need to voice these views and not just wait on the inevitable.
#15.2 MWPb on 2011-08-13 12:58
I haven't agreed with everything Stokoe has done, but the fact is that he has, almost single-handedly, made the Synod accountable and accessible to the faithful in a way that it never has been before. MCs and bishops come and go, but that accomplishment will have enormous ramifications for a long time yet.
#16 Matt Gates on 2011-08-10 17:50
Thank the Lord for your Bishop and his words and actions. You may have provided a forum for positivity in the past with respect to Met. Herman, but your forum in the recent past has been divisive and boasting of uncanonical positions. Again, thank the Lord for + Matthias.
#17 Ecco on 2011-08-10 17:58
im glad they got rid of your stupid ass mark. you are garbage and a poison to the church. ..take your filth elsewhere.
#18 Anonymous on 2011-08-10 18:03
This comment is uncalled for. We can disagree respectfully. I probably agree with you about where OCA News has gone in the last year, but this is no time for gloating or ad hominem attacks. It is a time for prayer and, God willing, reconciliation.
(Editor's note: Given the way this antiquated system works, I do not know what ad hominem or gloating comment to which you refer. If you had included an email I would have been able to answer you privately. But feel free to contact me at mine. Thanks.)
#18.1 Mark (not Stokoe) on 2011-08-11 18:28
Sorry Mark - I was referring to the author of comment #18 who needs to grow up . . .
#18.1.1 Mark (not Stokoe) on 2011-08-12 07:19
HAHAHAHHAHAHAH! And I thought I was pissed off, friend you need therapy! Mark is not the problem.....If your going off the rails, read your bible, that is what I do. If you are a victim, pray for the filthy bastards, it will do you more good than them. Meanwhile, give Mark some credit and thanks, will ya?! Oh, and you should apologize for that remark to Mark.
#18.2 broomstick on 2011-08-12 05:22
Well, that's constructive.
#18.3 Anonymous on 2011-08-17 06:43
This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Finally, the OCA gets a bishop that is not afraid of what is right and stands up for the well being of the Church. We need more bishops like him. It is only a shame that Archbishop Job, of thrice-blessed memory, was only out to please people instead of pleasing God. May God forgive him for that and for allowing Mark Stokoe to fall into this horrific sin. May God forgive Mark as well.
#19 Anonymous on 2011-08-10 18:08
You seem to have it in reverse, Anonymous. Archbishop Job is of thrice-blessed memory precisely because he, among his brother bishops, did not seek to please men, but to please God. He was the only one among his synod who had the moral fortitude to ask publicly: "Are the accusations true or false?" The others remained mute as fish or hedged the questions. May he rest in peace and rise in glory for all the trouble and the untimely death it brought him.
#19.1 Gregory on 2011-08-11 18:51
Gregory, when a bishop is consecrated to the episcopate he called to be an imitator of the True Shepherd. When Christ was standing before Pilot and saw all of the wrong going on around Him, he remained silent. He could have prevented His own death. But He gave us the example of silence in the midst of wrong doing so that we could see the power of God. Perhaps if all of us, me being the first, would spend as much time in prayer about the different issues of the Church in North America, as we do gossiping and bashing the very icons of Christ, the bishops, then the Lord Himself may solve the problems for us. Instead we revert to websites like that that aim to take the Lord out of the situation so that humans can solve it. May God forgive us all!
(Editor's note: By your own logic, you should not be reading or commenting on this website. Shame on you. LOL)
#19.1.1 Anonymous on 2011-08-18 15:45
So, Mark, let me get this straight:
Bp Matthias did not speak to you about this matter before he summarily dismissed you, by email.
Fr John Reeves
(Editor's note: No, he did not. I understand an actual letter follows the email by snail mail.)
#20 Fr John Reeves on 2011-08-10 18:21
Good thing we have wiser clergy than bishops or the church would collapse. Yes, you have the chronology right.
#20.1 Dan Fall on 2011-08-11 18:25
Dear Fr. John,
+Matthias also suspended a Deacon on Transfiguration Day without warning for simply sharing confidential concerns over a candidate for ordination to seminary authorities.
+Matthias also essentially banished Fr. Gregory Jensen (whatever you think of his credentials) from the Midwest Diocese without ever talking to him about the issue at hand.
#20.2 Eddie Kayetti on 2011-08-12 06:58
Your reporting has opened up and shed light on the wrongdoings within the OCA Administration. You site and its openness has also been therapeutic in nature by creating a table of conversations of topics sometimes kept in silence.
I support your work and
encourage your probes as Metropolitan Council member or not into the backgrounds of those who have become bishops "Over their wife's dead body" so to speak.
Knowing there is no excuse for Clergy Sexual Abuse and see the current climate of the OCA with one bishop under investigation for Sexual Abuse allegations, it is not the time to respond to any authoritative "door closing". "The doors, the doors', should be open and truth should continue to be sought.
Thank you for the work you do toward that purpose. It could be working to save more lives.
(Editor's note: To save time: " 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. ")
#22 Anonymous on 2011-08-10 18:31
I am disappointed. Certainly, honest people can debate whether a member of the MC should be running a website such as this. That much is true. But your term was up in a couple months. If you're a "troublemaker", then why not just endure you a few months and be rid of you? Why make waves, except to stake out a particular bit of the political landscape?
I certainly don't expect His Grace to be another Archbishop Job. They are different men, in different times, and His Grace is still "finding his feet". He deserves a "honeymoon" from the laity, and he shall have it. But, if I may, His Grace's stridency of wording showed a lack of reflection.
Tradition dictates that we, as Christians, "speak the truth in love". His Grace didn't dispute the truth of Mark's writings, which honest debate would demand, but instead the love thereof. Others may disagree, but I find not the event, but the method, a disturbing harbinger.
#23 Christopher on 2011-08-10 18:31
A lack of reflection. Yup.
#23.1 Anonymous on 2011-08-12 04:15
While I agreed with the content of Bp Matthias' letter - as well as those by Bp Michael, Met. Jonah, their reiteration of the OCA's 1992 document on similar topics, and SCOBA's related statement - I have to admit that the tone, length and order of the letter seemed ill-fitted to a parish reading. The more positive points should have been first rather than last, and it should have been shorter and more contextualized for a mandatory parish reading. A first time visitor to an OCA parish of the DOM would have gotten a quite skewed perspective on the priorities and focus of Orthodoxy on that day - in fact, I was with a first time visitor to our parish on that day. The issue of homosexuality and gay marriage seemed to lack any context regarding the way in which other sins - e.g., heterosexual couples living together, fornication, and other less fleshly sins such as greed, lack of charity, comfort loving, pride, etc. - can and should be dealt with in the Orthodox Church. As a supporter of the content of the letter, I still found myself quite uncomfortable during its (extended) reading.
#23.2 Ps-Iosifson on 2011-08-12 09:41
You found yourself uncomfortable because -the letter singled out one type of sinner in the room and the mandatory reading of the letter goes against basic tenets of Orthodoxy, i.e. sin is not a stain on a person, i.e. spiritual guidance is given to sinners by the person giving them Confession. Jesus would have been uncomfortable. Ill fitted because it doesn't fit with the Teachings of Jesus to go about pointing at that sinner over there and telling everyone in the room how the sinner ought to behave.
#23.2.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-08-16 21:11
I have read, a commented, once or twice, over the years since this site has been in existence. Mark Stokoe has been of tremendous service to the Orthodox Church in American (OCA) and to all Orthodox Christians in the Americas. While some would disagree with what individuals comment or reflect upon on the website, there is no need to, as they say, "kill the messenger." I could vent my anger and blame on +Metropolitan Jonah and his sycophants, but I will not. I will just say that had it not been for Mark's website, the OCA would still be being looted by +Metropolitans Theodosius and Herman, Mr. Kondratick, and others, and +Jonah would be leading a monastery in California or, maybe, just maybe, appointed successor to +Archbishop Dimitri.
+Metropolitan Jonah owes his present position to this website and the pressure it put on those then in power. While we all rejoiced at the speech he gave at the All American Council, our joy has since turned to sadness and discussed, and I, and many others, now wish that the election had settled upon +Archbishop Job of Blessed Memory, instead.
#24 Kostia on 2011-08-10 19:17
I agree, however I believe much of the good OCANews has done has been done in spite of certain aspects of both the writing posted here and the comment boxes. That is, OCANews could have done as much or more if it was more journalism and less op-ed or partisan column. Don't get me wrong, much was revealed that was journalistically important, it's just that it was mixed in with opinion and partisanship far beyond mere transparency and accountability. The fact that Mark and others have been unable to see this has been part of the problem - the baby and the bathwater analogy can cut multiple ways in this case. It is also true that the comment boxes have offered as much in the way of gossip and rumor as they have a forum for the lower clergy and laity to be heard. A volunteer website editor cannot be faulted for choosing against the more difficult, more appropriate, and far more time consuming choice to publish crafted pieces expressing the voice of those in the pews, so to speak. Open comments are a poor substitute, as we have seen, and any good that has come from them has been despite the overarching tone and perspective - not because of them.
(Editor's note: I completely disagree. That is like claiming a parish is worthless because some in it are idiots. Well, in that case, all parishes are worthless. One does not stay in a parish because everyone is a saint, but because even though most aren't, and some people are just unbearable, that one who is saint, makes it all worthwhile. So too the comments here. Most are average, some are unbearable, but every once and a while, someone enlightens and inspires. Brother, if you don't think that is worth it, well, there is no point in showing you a pearl I just bought. )
#24.1 Ps-Iosifson on 2011-08-12 09:33
The OCA is electing bishops who are totally out of touch and believe they operate with unilateral authority. And WHY? Because we continue to look for and elect those with a mentality of "Bishops have absolute power - appointed by God!" Where do we get these bozos? Both Matthias & Michael come from a PA isolated mentality generated by Christ the Savior & St. Tikhon's seminaries. Jonah comes from a convert, mentality influenced by right-wing Russian thought. Is there any hope for the OCA???
#25 Anonymous on 2011-08-10 19:17
While I don't usually defend bishops, let me say: Bp. Michael isn't as 'provincial' as you characterize him - and he certainly wouldn't dismiss someone from his Council by email. He is a much bigger man, and a more caring pastor, than that.
#25.1 Sdn. Nilus Klingel on 2011-08-11 19:39
Isolated PA Mentality? and what is that exactly? I'll give you that Christ the Savior serves the needs of a very regional diocese but the majority of both the faculty and student body at St. Tikhon's are from everywhere BUT Pennslvania (As if that in itself is something bad)
#25.2 Anonymous on 2011-08-12 07:57
Don't stop, Mark! Your position might be seen by some as idiosyncratic or even dysphoric or worse, but it is till valuable. and I'm sure you have sources that will point to the truth, even though some of the forces that be won't want us to know them.
You have probably seen this coming, ever since the repose of Bp. Job. Icommend you for all your hard work on behalf of the OCA, in spite of the apparatchiks and sycophants. Keep it up!
#26 Rdr. James Morgan on 2011-08-10 19:26
It would appear that those who become bishops in this Church believe that to express opinions is somehow unOrthodox. How sad.
Where in Scriptures have we ever read "Your criticism of sinful behavior has gone on long enough that I don't like you anymore." When did Christ ever "withdraw his blessing?"
I have never met a misbehaving person who liked criticism or did not try and silence such criticism if given the chance.
Thank you Mark for your tireless resolve.
I do not withdraw my blessing!
#27 Anon. on 2011-08-10 19:51
Well, fiddlesticks, Mark! You had become too much of a lightning rod, I suppose. People want to shoot the messenger.
I only hope that now you won't feel constrained to pull any punches because of your role on the MC.
#28 Kirk on 2011-08-10 20:14
If the bishop wants someone off his council, he can do it. It's his ballgame. I hope he thinks about some things that have been reported on here. Such as the sad episcopate of Nikolai in Alaska, Herman as metropolitan, Philip as...Philip. If there is a danger to "Pan" Orthodox unity (I can't recall seeing that clumsy word used to describe the Church until fairly recently) it isn't because of Mark Stokoe it's because of bumbling hierarchs --- oh, I guess Bishop Matthias does note correctly that the bishops come off as a little tarnished. But they did that to themselves, Mark and others just noticed. If the bishops don't like the tarnish they can work on it themselves.
Throughout the time I've read this website I don't often recall bishops saying things written here were false. Do they want us not to notice or do they want to have us notice better things? Then they can always decide to do better things. Act responsibly and that will get noticed too.
The current crop of bishops seems to be a very poor one. We just have to be patient and wait for better days. The ones we have now won't be around forever. They will have to learn that they can't expect people to act like they do a good job when they don't. A lot of them were never informed of this. They were simply told that if they stayed single they had a job for life.
Being off a council is not the worst thing in the world. It would be interesting to see how the laity of the diocese react. What if Mark were re-elected to the position?
#29 Bob Koch on 2011-08-10 20:30
Well, I'm personally thrilled to see this. You brought shame and divisiveness... I'll be sending Bishop Matthias a note thanking him for acting like a bishop and cleaning out the council!
#30 Root on 2011-08-10 20:32
How is it possible that the late Metropolitan Nickolas,before his death didnn`t "groom" +Matthias to follow him and "clean" the consistory of the Carpatho-Russian diocese(not that it needed cleaning)??? Is it maybe because he knew +Matthias better than the OCA did and didnt think him a worthy candidate for the Episcopacy?Too bad we cann`t ask the late Metropolitan,but I bet that the powers that be in that Metropolitanate know the real answer.It would be so nice to know the truth!!!
#30.1 Anonymous on 2011-08-12 16:56
Don't you mean the hierarchy brought shame and OCAnews.org simply reported it? Even after all of the scandals within the Catholic Church in recent years, and how they used the same excuse you just did (basically shoot the messenger),it never ceases to amaze me to see EO Christians now take up the same type of argument. It's like a smoke and mirrors game, or the Wizard behind the curtain in the Emerald City: don't look at the real case of our problems, blame (fill in the blank, in this case Mark Stokoe.
#30.2 Chuck Shingledecker on 2011-08-20 13:03
Reign of Terror Begins in the Midwest
Bishop Matthias dismisses Mark Stokoe without warning and without discussion, for the opinion of someone else.
In the Minneapolis Deanery, Bishop Matthias just suspended a Deacon for reporting to seminary authorities concerns over a seminarian scheduled to be ordained. Bishop Matthias didn't like that, so he suspended this poor Deacon,who is a very good man, for 6 months without warning .
Lesson: Bishop Matthias does not want to hear what people have to say, and he'll take a canonical stick to you without warning if you buck him.
#31 Eddie Kayetti on 2011-08-10 20:43
Praise God. This rubbish is why I stay far away from the OCA. I hope this is a means to an end of the bickering. Join a Protestant church if that is what you want!
(Editor's note: Did you? THere seems to be some bickering in Protestant Churches as well, friend. If peace and quiet is what you want, visit a museum. The Church is a living organism; and the sounds you hear, like the crying of small children in a church during Liturgy, is the sound of life expressing itself. Get over it.)
#32 Damian on 2011-08-10 20:43
If it's peace and a lack of bickering one is after, then even better than a museum, go to a cemetery. There, nobody has a thought or voices an opinion. But the Church isn't a cemetery; it's alive and living. If Peter and Paul could vociferously disagree with each other yet still live in communion with each other, I suspect contemporary Orthodox Christians could do no less.
#32.1 Gregory on 2011-08-11 18:45
I am in agreement with +Matthias. Your website, I feel, has outlived it's usefulness on the whole.
The original purpose of your site was to report the "facts" of the scandal that rocked the OCA. Ok, mission accomplished. However, after all has been said and done, +Herman removed, Kondratick all but been castrated, +Theodosius relegated to distant memory, it seems as if some people are still not happy with what was achieved and they still want their pound of flesh.
But, the letter you published, opinion or not, regarding homosexual marriage stands in direct contrast to the Church. It's not up for negotiation or discussion. The church is clear. Again, a la carte Christianity rears it's ugly head.
Everyone has bias - I'm a pragmatist on that. But, it's pretty clear that you report on things and then your commentary is not equal across the board. You seem to cherry pick what you want to comment on and what you want to just use as filler. Your reference to stopping +Michael's discussion before it started is proof positive that you are selective.
However, the Bishop's intent was clear. He never told you to shut down your website. Your nanny nanny boo boo response of I will not shut it down was childish. I'm sure you were just setting the record straight that you would in fact continue it's existence. Ok, congrats. His Grace was merely saying, in my humble opinion, you can keep going with it, I don't like it, but it's your choice. However, if you want to continue you with it, and I see it as counterproductive or antithetical to the church, then you may not speak out both sides of your mouth and serve on a panel or board that is supposed to uphold and defend the Church and her teachings as we all struggle towards the eternal Kingdom. I think it was very tasteful.
So, where to go from here? I'm not sure. I'm sure you will continue on this bent. I have gleaned much from your site as informative and enlightening, but you do allow things to get out of hand and simply disintegrate into sadistic drivel (even though it's opinion) when you could stop it and just cut it off. I thought our own diocese was filled with such venom that would be enough for anyone, yet it appears that it's all over the joint. God help us all.
I find it had to believe that these new men are so much worse than some of the swamp that was drained a while ago. If that's the case, then there is no hope for the Church at all. Your website achieved its purpose a while back, I think it's time to take a break, thank God for what you have and work with them to make the Church better. Anonymous posts are not gonna do it.
(Editor's note: An interesting, if flawed, analysis in my opinion. I published someone else's ( not mine) response to Bishop Michael's text - which I also published - and for that I am criticized. Then I stop the discussion because, well, people were going bananas for no reason at all claiming a pastoral question raised by a priest was part of a massive plan to change the dogma of the Church. And then I am criticized for stopping the discussion. Wow. That is not boo-hooing anything, just pointing our the irony of the situation. The only agenda here, as has been the case for six years, is to provide people a forum to discuss - a thing we must learn to do if we are to survive in a free society as the Church - and not just another self-selecting congregation of like-minded people voluntarily associating because of our particular sectarian beliefs. Feel free to disagree, for I will not call you a heretic, a godless thug, or other names for taking the time to think about your faith, even if we disagree. I may even use the opportunity to share with you what I know of the faith- as I hope you will share what you know with me, thus building us both up. THere are those who prefer we all sit in silence, and parrot like repeat formulas. Fr. Florovsky had a name for them, but I won't repeat it here. It is more than possible this appeal will not change your mind; but at least, I give you the opportunity to share your opinion. Glad you used it.)
Mark - Rejoice and be exceedingly glad… for so they persecuted the prophets that were before you. OK, maybe I’m given to hyperbole here but it’s a sad fact that if you’re going to stand for truth & integrity in the Church you’re going to end up on the short end of a stick (or if you’re lucky, on the iconostas). Apparently truth is not a healthy vehicle for the Church, lies and cover ups must be. I didn’t realize that pan-Orthodoxy has suffered because of you although I am blaming the entire economic collapse & global warming directly on your web site. I also hate to disagree with the bishop but I'm sorry, there are some clerics who don’t deserve respect regardless of their office. Lastly, did I miss your promoting homosexuality somewhere?? I mean, I really should read things more carefully. Hang in there. Sadly, this dismissal says much more about Bishop Matthias than it says about you or the web site.
(Editor's note: Yes, I seem to have missed the promoting homosexuality part too. I've looked, but all I could find in six years were two reflections - one questioning the church and one defending the church's position - one pastoral question on the topic being asked by a priest - and a bishop's ukase in light of the state of New York's decision - and all this in a short two week period. After which I ended the discussion. If that is promoting an agenda, wow. What it does reveal however is that for a large number of people in our church , mainly converts, it is a real hot button issue that perhaps speaks more of their pain than anything else. For that we must have compassion and understanding and help them realize that in the Orthodox tradition, asking a question does not mean endorsing an answer because things do change. Ask poor Origin about that. And asking a question does not mean disputing the truth, but is a way of seeking the truth. Just read Ecclesiastes sometime. Christianity conquered the world, not only by its virtue ( because we all sin), not only because of miracles ( the Egyptians could change staffs into snakes as well...) but because the greatest minds of the 4th century turned to the Church to explain the questions of the greatest minds of the previous 800 years. It was their openess to these questions that led to Christian Hellenism, which is the permanent expression of the Church, in the words of Florovsky. If we cannot address the questions of this world, but live in fear that asking is the same as denying, we will soon have nothing to say to the world. Not that it will much matter - the world will have long ceased to listen to us at all. We are still that Church of the 4th century - or at least should try to be if we take our vocation seriously.)
#34 Andrew A. Lukashonak on 2011-08-10 20:49
Паки и паки
#35 sasha on 2011-08-10 21:18
Congratulations, Bp. Matthias, and thank you for wasting no time in showing your true self. You blew it. You've just demonstrated you're not worthy of the office of your predecessor and your flock sees it. Sending an email to fire someone is cowardly. This is another example in how the Synod lacks the basic ethics and competency of our secular institutions. And then you wonder why our Church is dwindling. You should have directly called Mark, a loyal and selfless servant of our Church for many years, and made an honest attempt to clear any misunderstandings in a direct and Christian manner. Introducing this sort of reactionary, ham-fisted behavior into the Midwest Diocese will backfire.
#36 Richard on 2011-08-10 22:08
Or, in short, 'By their fruits....?"
#36.1 James Morgan on 2011-08-11 20:24
The ocanews is,in my opinion,the voice of sanity and common sense in Orthodox America.The site is a superb illustration of committment to Orthodoxy and American "spirit",that is "frontier" spirit.(And that specifically means to open and openly discuss the existing conditions.)
The site is in factis the hard work and sacriffice of one man who most of the time had nothing to hold,'except the Will who says to them "hold on"".
For me this site is one of the reason I trust Orthodoxy is a fight worth fighting in the New World.
#37 alexandru nemoianu on 2011-08-11 04:45
Mark, you take it too far. OCANews served a valuable service in helping to clean up the corruption of previous administrations, but like so many revolutionaries, it ended up morphing into the corrupt institution it had vanquished. You should have closed the website with the election of Met. Jonah.
I'm sure you'll have a snarky response. Consider that a more mature thing for you to do would be to accept people's criticisms (e.g. Bishop Matthias, Fr. A. Webster), stop the website, and move on with your life.
(Editor's note: Well, this was never intended as a revolution, nor was anybody here interested in one. I've read enough history to know they rarely work. And you think OCANews.org is corrupt? Really?
I have always listened to people's criticisms - its how one grows. However, that does not mean that all criticisms are valid, helpful or even serious. I find the Bishop's reasons weak: and Fr. Webster's not serious. The OCA ethics committee agreed with me. On the other hand, the bishop fired me. There will come a day when this website will close, and I will move "on with my life" as you say. But that day is not today. Sorry to disappoint.)
#38 anon on 2011-08-11 05:56
Your dismissal from the councils for simply providing a forum for discussion is shameful. Thank you for maintaining the website and continuing your valuable ministry.
#39 Stephen on 2011-08-11 06:24
He is a shill.
#40 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-08-11 06:32
Well, here we go again! Another new bishop thinking they can crush any discussion and hide information from the laos. Yep, that's the ticket, kick Stokoe off any committee and threaten those on them to work in secret or be dismissed. Yep, this works! Afterall, who are all those peons out there wanting the "TRUTH?" Who do they think they are - we're the bishops - we make the decisions and policy - we are the rulers of the Church. Remember, the Orthodox Church is a hierarchical church and "BISHOPS RULE!" The people should be kept in the dark and pay & pray!
#41 anonymous on 2011-08-11 06:48
if you all can remember, back in the 1950's if we wanted to know the skinny about what was happening in the orthodox church we subscribed to the american review of eastern orthodoxy published by quasi-canonical bishop gregory adair. the service he did for us was what mark was doing here. althoiugh i may not have agreed with all of what was puiblished here or there, i did support the concept - someone had to do it - i was particularily concerned not about the anti jonah perspectives but how the antiochian situation in troy was dropped so suddenly with no follow up, and what about philip's financila audit? - we need transparency in the church - and i find our leadership afraid of this -- back 50 years ago there was strong indepenednt laity involvement in the church over the years there has been a steady eroding of this power base switching the power to the bishops - a magnificient plan - seems a bit schememanish in my mind - so now with the bishops leading we can see the myriad of problems - diocese to diocese - greeks, oca, antiochians etc. perhaps this is why peter the great abolished the patriarchate and put a lauyman to overseee the church? maybe this is what is needed in istanbul? mark's web site allows us to investigate these topics, to air them, to perhaps place them in perspective - when +gregory adair reposed an era came to an end as well as a very valuable information conduit - mark keep up the good work - on the otherhand i urge all of our bishops to take a year off and go for an executive mba and learn how the real world that you need to function in operates - it may infact be to the greater glory of God and his church. aftger you do, i bet you will endorse such a platform where the vital issues can be discussed May God Save us All - Amen!
#42 rjklancko on 2011-08-11 06:50
Thank Your Your Grace, Bishop Matthias for the courgage to do the right thing and removing Mrk for these positions!
It is about time someone stand up for the Church and not allow the non-sense gossip.
#43 Anonymous on 2011-08-11 08:16
But gay bashing by other Orthodox blogs in clear violation of the [sic] fatwa is just fine?
We have interesting standards, now don't we?
Probably best to remain Anonymous.
#43.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-08-11 19:49
Glory to God!
This site was indeed useful for helping to winnow out some of the OCA's moral failures in the past, but it jumped the shark some time ago, which became all the more apparent in its recent promotion of homosexuality as consistent with Orthodoxy.
The inherent conflict of interest of its editor actively both governing and undermining the OCA has finally been put to rest. Revolutionaries almost never can govern. Once they have the taste for blood, it will not be sated.
(Editor's note: One doesn't really know where to begin here, aside from denying almost everything you have written, such that the only thing to point out is the absurdity of your secular point that "revolutionaries almost never can govern." Well I guess Washington, Adams, Madison, Jefferson, etc. were pretty miserable, come to think of it. Oh, and that English thing in 1688 was a real disaster too. Sheesh....)
#44 A Reader on 2011-08-11 08:25
Good response, Mark,
"If the past few years in the OCA have taught anything, it is that denying, ignoring, delaying or dismissing those who ask questions does not work."
Amen. When there are certain questions that can't be asked, it's a sign of something deeply wrong.
#45 Dave O'Neal on 2011-08-11 09:35
It amazes me that the bishop begins his letter to Mark Stokoe with the Orthodox platitude, "Christ is in our midst!" (the content of the greeting is not a platitude, just the over-use of it, to the point where people saying it aren't any more sincere than the person who unconsciously asks, "How's it going?" without caring how the other person is doing), yet takes action against Mark for behavior that our Lord, Christ Himself, did, which is, specifically, to ask questions!!! Our Lord did this not only with human beings, but also His *divine Father*, when He asked, while hanging from the Cross and quoting the Psalm, "My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?" I guess that some recent consecrators to the episcopacy from Potemkin Village don't want questions asked or the truth known. They also seem to be talking through their klobluks, for Mark has not fostered anti-clericalism here. In fact, many times, he has defended clergy who were being prematurely judged and bashed before facts were known (see, for example, his responses in the past few months to those who were quick to tar and feather +Archbishop Seraphim of Canada). Furthermore, if Mark were really promoting anti-clericalism here, do you really think that a cleric as respected as Fr Thomas Hopko would publicly go on this very website and encourage people to trust what Mark was saying and reporting?? Fr Tom stated on here, earlier this year, that what occurred in Syosset when the Patriarch from Russia visited +Metropolitan Jonah was accurately reported by Mark, and that what Mark wrote concerning that and other events was clearly, honestly, and truthfully what had actually happened!!! The more I see of the sad and tragic behavior of our so-called spiritual "leaders" moves me to agree, more and more every Sunday, with what we sing in the Second Antiphon from Psalm 145: "Put not your trust in princes, in sons of men, in whom there is no salvation!!"
#46 David Barrett on 2011-08-11 09:47
I'm very sorry to hear that this action has been taken. The reason I began reading ocanews.org is because it promised to be an open forum to learn of and discuss issues within our Church. There is much to be learned from hearing news and in hearing other people's opinions. I don't agree with many of the opinions, but that is what makes Orthodoxy and America great: "Intelligent people can disagree and still get along." Mark, I hope your work for the Church, as the Body of Christ continues. It is currently the only forum I am aware of that can ask questions. Thank you!
#47 Sean O'Clare on 2011-08-11 11:59
I have followed with great interest your website since it's inception. I believe your information to be true and accurate to contemporary current events in our Church.
It is clear that our heirarchs along with those of other religions clearly have a difficult time accepting responsibility and accountability for their actions and those parishioners to which they are spiritually (and legally) liable.
It seems to me (from a purely outside and opinion perspective) that any time you mention financial impropriety or sexual misconduct that you are admonished, rather than challenged accurately on factual counterpoints.
It further seems to me that your most recent and shocking revelation and speculation of OCA events in Russia was your downfall this time. Should there potentially be sexual abuse there as well (and I say as well based on the ongoing silence of former Archbishop Seraphim) +Jonah must be held responsible.
Please let's acknowledge that not every bishop is questionable, as I too follow the amazing transformation of the former dysfunctional Diocese of NY / NJ. +Michael is a true leader to date, at the forefront of the political issue of the sanctity of marriage weeks before our Metropolitan.
Please continue your good work. Nothing is perfect. But your reporting and views at the very least should pause all to question and reflect on what really is happening in our Church. Anything else is humanly ignorant and spiritually defeating.
(Editor's note: Thanks, I think. Let me be clear however. Recent events in Russia regarding Fr. Zaccheaus had nothing to do with Bishop Matthias decision to remove me. I take the Bishop at his word, and there is no reason to conflate the two events.
As for anybody in America being in the "forefront" of the same-sex marriage debate, friends, every single bishop in the Orthodox world who has dealt with this issue, from Finland to England to Belgium to Estonia, has written the same thing - because that is their job, to defend the traditional teachings of the Church, which no one inside the Church is really questioning. Alas, it hasn't made any difference in any of those countries; which only goes to show that our traditional rhetoric is no longer persuasive. That's the problem - not whether some wrote or didn't or when they did.)
#48 Anonymous on 2011-08-11 13:00
It seems to me that Bishop +Matthias acted rightly, but reasoned wrongly. I regard this site as a great positive for the life of the Church in America. However, as its positive effect, by the very nature and purpose of the site, necessarily involves controversy, it seems inappropriate for the editor of the site to serve in any capacity with governing responsibilities for any aspect of church life.
In the secular world, the appointment of a newspaper editor to a cabinet post would require that he resign his editorial duties, or at least pass them to another while holding office. A cabinet officer who opened up a newspaper as editor-in-chief, would likewise be asked to resign one or the other post. This is good stewardship, whether the context is secular or ecclesiastical.
(Editor's note: On the other hand the Commander in Chief of the Iraq Theatre regularly blogs on the war. The former Archbishop did not see a problem with my service, nor did I; and so it is not the reality, but the possibility of conflict of interest that is in question. But what is the possible conflict? I made it clear before being on the council I would not report on legal strategies; nor did I after being on the Council either. So nothing changed in practice or theory. I agree it appears to some as a tight rope, but one I have walked for three years almost ,without a fall. If you think I have, tell me where... But then, really, the issue is now moot. I go back to where I was in 2008 - only with more sources, rather than fewer. )
#49 DNY on 2011-08-11 13:09
Arise oh Lord for a wild boar is trampling thy vineyard! Uh.. sorry wrong century.
In the profound words of Groucho Marx "Any club that wants me as a member I wouldn't want to be associated with" Or something like that.
Mark I once was nominated for vice-president of our Parish Council and was completely unopposed yet still had Council members vote against me. Why do I tell you all this this? What profound or mysterious purpose is being revealed?
Ya know I just don't think they liked me. I know, I know, pretty weird? Hope this helped.
#50 Kevin Kirwan on 2011-08-11 14:00
I wouldn't belong to any club that would have me as a member.
Thanks for using the wit of Groucho on a sour situation.
Thank you Mark for your outstanding service. The infestation of far right politics is clear by this action. They have used Alinsky's Rules for Radicals (tactic 13 Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.) and in doing so have demonstrated their moral bankruptcy.
It is totally inappropriate for you to have been dismissed by e-mail without having the courage to talk to you first. The Bishop has no sense of decency to act in such a cowardly and uncharitable manner.
#50.1 Ex Cult Member on 2011-08-12 04:48
Here's a thought experiment:
What if someone, without permission from Mark, had forwarded the bishop Mathias, Mark Stokoe's personal emails? Bishop Mathias then turned around and posted them on his diocesan web site. Who would be in the wrong? The person who sent the bishop the emails or the bishop for posting them on the web site?
If bishop Matthias is a coward for sending Mark an email dismissing him, how much more of a coward is a person who publishes ill-gotten private emails and publishes them for all to see? If it would have been honorable for the bishop to directly contact Mark face to face, it would have been just as honorable for Mark to contact the owner of the private emails prior to lampooning them publicly. goose. gander. whatever.
(Editor's note:No thought experiment needed. For the record, goose, people did forward my private emails without my permission. Did I complain? Never. I am many things, but not a hypocrite. The issue some are complaining about with the Bishop is not that the deed was done with an email, but without prior discussion. Hope that clears it up for you. )
#50.1.1 Anonymous on 2011-08-13 19:49
This is quite simply disingenuous. If you intended to provide a genuine service to the OCA and unbiased information, you would have posted my brief comment with a link.... rebuttal of the twisted account of Orthodox canon history provided by Anonymous in the 7/27/11 reflection, and which your automatic email reply assures me was received. It's been clear to me for some time that there is an agenda at this site, and, I regret to have to say, I do not believe for a minute it is to protect the flock, promote HONEST and open discussion, nor true healthy transparency in the Church.
(Editor's note: I refused to post that link because it was not a just a rebuttal, but concluded with an unfounded and factually incorrect attack on me. I believe in honest and open discussion, and in turning the other cheek. But I am not going to fall for your sucker punch.
Game. Set. Match. )
#51 Karen on 2011-08-11 14:50
Okay. How about inviting its author to post his rebuttal as a reflection w/o the last paragraph then--or posting the link with your own rebuttal to his "unfounded" assertions? What are you afraid of? Worse has been said about you. Nope, Mark, sorry, I'm not buying it. Bp. Matthias' methods perhaps were not perfect. Much better to take care of these kind of things in person, no doubt. On the other hand, I can really relate to that very dubious "reflection," being the "last straw" for him. This is not a tennis match, (nor a video game, I admit). Something more than points are at stake here.
(Editor's note: Well, since you started the analogy I couldn't resist finishing it. Guilty.
In answer to your questions, the simple fact is that I don't solicit reflections. Never have. I print what people send me and ask me to print. Most often I do, not because I have an "agenda" but because that is what is on people's mind and that is one of the functions of this site.( Since I don't sell advertizing, I don't care how many people read or don't read the site. Amazingly, thousands do every nite. Go figure....) I don't publish everything sent to me for reasons of repetition, style ( writing is a dying art, and yes, I am guilty of beating up English as well) and for editorial discretion. I recently stopped the questions raised by Fr. Arida publicly, because well, the discussion was turning personal, ugly and stupid. Lots of heat, little light. Your suggested column fell short in two of those areas: it had already been widely re-posted, adn thus was reptitious, and it was more heat that light. Feel free to disagree.
Finally, it has never been the case that this website has been about me. I started writing about events, and lo, my recent critics decided they could not deal with the facts I was disclosing , so they decided to try to make me one of the events. I was told to join the mob to protect myself and my work. But, Jesus, remember him?, said when people attack you, you don't "cosh them back" as I am told one blogger advised; you turn the other cheek. Thus, I have not, and will not attack those who attack me. Nor will I join their lynch mob. Nor will I defend myself against whatever they want to call me. In this I am not being a martyr, or deceptive, or coy. It is not a "game" for me, nor a "strategy", but a choice to follow the moral example of another King, from another land, centuries later.
Why? I have recieved scores of hate emails, on a daily basis, emails and phone calls saying things I couldn't even imagine Christians would ever say, from people who know nothing about me, or my life, but simpy want to express their hatred for a particular group with a particular sin. I had no idea what that was like, because such things had never happened to me in my life. People had attacked me before for things I had said, but never for just what they thought I was because someone else who knows nothing about me says I was. Boy, have my eyes been opened to the reality of hate in America. And this from co-religionists!
I understand now why young gay people kill themselves. I am 58 and shaken; I can't imagine undergoing this as a young teen. God forgive me, I didn't know. I really didn't know.
There is a legend that when the German occupiers of his land required Jews to wear yellow stars, King Christian X of Denmark appeared on his daily ride through Copenhagen wearing one. The legend is not true. The Germans never required Danish Jews, of which there were very, very few, to wear yellow stars. But, in a documented conversation with his minister of finance, Vilhelm Buhl, the King did say that if the German occupation tried to introduce the yellow star in Denmark, " then perhaps we should all wear one. After all, one Dane is a good as another."
Well, that King was right. Damn right. And that King sums up my whole "agenda" regarding homosexuality in the Orthodox Church. The Church teaches all sin kills; labelling and separating people from the church, or worse, in the Church, because of their sin, is wrong. I am a sinner - and if you want to accuse me of this sin, or that sin, or any sin, go ahead. I'll wear that star, for my sins, because one star is a bad, or as valid, as any other. More importantly, if so refusing to join in the judgement, hate-mongering and bashing just to avoid wearing that star, gives only one scared, troubled, confused Orthodox young person, hope that maybe the Church is a place he or she can deal with that sin, rather than something to fear, or worse, ignore; or even more importantly, they read one public Orthodox person who doesn't want them to die, but to live in Christ, even if they aren't perfect, and so decide to live, just live, then I will be a happy man, for all my sins, before the dread judgement seat. That's my agenda friend. And it should be yours too.
#51.1 Karen on 2011-08-11 20:49
I appreciate your extended response.
Having loved ones who have been sexually exploited by authority figures and others who are gay (actively so, not necessarily happily, for a good portion of their adult lives) and who, though having been raised in Christian traditions, with the support of those denominations' policies and non-traditional teachings do not consider their SSA desires passions to be struggled against and in opposition to their sanctification in Christ. I love my family members and would not wish any unkindness upon them, nor do I wish any upon you. I'm not here calling you names, and on sites where others have indulged in that kind of gossip and slander, I have made my views and objections known. Still, if the rebuttal in question is even approximately accurate in its account of historic Orthodox canon practice around issues of sexual morality, the offending 7/27/11 Reflection by the Anonymous author, entitled, "Orthodox Pastoral Response in the Past . . ." is promotion, istm, of rank heresy in which you, by posting it, become complicit! I fail to see how this serves any of your stated objectives. Forgive me.
Also, so your readers clearly understand, I'm not talking about Fr. Arida's essay. Until proven otherwise, I consider that a good-faith attempt--if perhaps a bit misguided in some of its inferences--to address the issue by a Priest of the Church, and I certainly do not resent the question being asked, nor discussed. What bothers me is when people insinuate that upholding the traditions of the Church (such as refusing to commune those who want to justify continuing in violation of the moral standards of the Church--could be a heterosexual couple living together without marriage or a same-sex couple) is incompatible with compassion and salvation. I think the genuine Orthodox perspective would be that the opposite is true.
Sincerely in Christ,
Editor's note: Thank you for your articulate ( as usual) and generally reasoned comments. I think you slid of the rails, however, in asserting that my posting something makes me a participant in whatever that person claims? I suppose every father who repeated a rank heretic's teachings is also guilty of heresy? That is absurd. In this case, it is a bit obsessional as well. You focus on one reflection, ignoring the scores of comments and the posted reflection that defended the church's current teachings. By your standard I should get credit for all of those as well. That is absurd too. One should only be judged for what one says or does; not for what somebody else says or does; nor condemned for allowing themselves to make a fool, or saint, of themselves in public. Ofttimes, in our tradition, they are both at once. )
#51.1.1 Karen on 2011-08-12 11:23
Mark, when it is posted not as a comment from the peanut gallery but as a Reflection, and no real rebuttal (even in comments of yours) is posted, I think it tips well over the line of complicity. But, as you so often say, feel free to disagree. . . .
It is one thing to mention heresy. It is another thing to post it as "Reflection," "Editorial," or "News" on a site entitled "Orthodox Christians for Accountability" as if it belongs there right along with true Orthodox teaching (or as an opinion where there is room for interpretation within the Tradition). From my perspective, and apparently that of our Bishop as well, this "Reflection" crosses that line.
(Editor's note: I don't, as a practice, offer a critique of Reflections, nor did I see any reason to begin now. Nor do I mark any as "heresy" or "Authentic teaching of the Church"; that is not my role or purpose, nor would such be a appropriate, since I do not administer this site as a Church-endorsed, or Church-run site. In fact, just the opposite is true. It is clear that you, and many others, think that there a "lines" that must never be crossed, as if erecting them will eliminate questions and discussions. It does not - it just drives them underground, for questions will always be asked, and it is better to deal with them openly than give them power through whispering. Clearly, this is a topic on which we will never agree, so it is best perhaps to conclude by saying we continue to disagree.)
#188.8.131.52 Karen on 2011-08-12 15:53
So you want to withhold the Sacrament from sexual sinners? I suppose that includes those indulging in masturbation, having sexual relations with no ability or intent to procreate, engaging in sexual practices that are purely erotic and stimulating, instead of limiting themselves to vaginal intercourse that is sanctioned by monks and ascetics?
I don't want to live in your world, and I don't want to be in your authoritarian Church where the sexual practices and antics of the laity are the constant preoccupation of the clergy! No way! Most have us have "bigger fish to fry" and "sins" to be concerned about.
As far as I'm concerned, you are stuck in a time warp of outdated thinking and slavish devotion to social practices and attitudes that no longer make sense. You may claim that they are fundamental to Christianity, but as has been amply demonstrated, in the various reflections and comments on this site, they are not. Hence your discomfiture and anger.
Perhaps we need a long dissertation and expose on the hypocrisy of clergy preaching to the laity on "sins of the flesh?" That should really make the Synod shudder.
#184.108.40.206 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2011-08-15 08:38
A wiser man than a couple of our bishops has spoken.
#220.127.116.11.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-08-16 20:18
Kenneth, Really? Are you talking to me? I'm not a Priest and cannot withhold the Sacraments from anyone as I am a woman and not qualified for the Priesthood. Also, I confess I'm extremely disheartened and sad, but it seems to me you are the one who is angry here. So . . . perhaps a little projection going on, eh?
If you are talking to me, I'm not sure your post deserves to be dignified with an answer, but I'll try anyway. As you undoubtedly somewhere in the recesses of your heart understand, I did not suggest the Sacrament be withheld from sexual sinners, but I do believe it should be withheld from any sinners (including me) if and when they cease to struggle to be freed from their sin and who, in fact, by their behavior and words refuse to even define behaviors as sin that the Church and the Tradition very clearly always have.
In any case, my comments here concerned what the historic canons actually say and how they have been applied AS UNDERSTOOD IN FULL CONTEXT vs. what the Reflection I objected to said or insinuated about this subject that was patently a distortion (removing significant context) and IN ERROR.
#18.104.22.168.2 Karen on 2011-08-16 20:59
Give me a break--of course you endorsed withholding the Sacrament (priest or no priestess) and avoided responding to my larger point about a multitude of sexual practices that are also proscribed by our gloriously inconsistent and outdated Canons. I'd love to see your life subjected to a rigorous application of the Canons.. You sure as heck wouldn't be posting here.
I will not shirk from also addressing your point about repentance. We all withhold repenting from many things that may or may not be sins by refusing to bring them to the confessional. So perhaps we should all be excommunicated? The truth is we each exercise our conscience and judgment to focus on those things we find sinful in our own lives when we go to confession. If someone finds their God-given sexual orientation (and yes, I don't believe it is the consequence of choice or Original Sin) a non-issue for confession, so be it.
Reserve your guilt trip for your own sins and leave the rest to God's judgment, which may be quite different from what the Canons proscribe.
#22.214.171.124.2.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2011-08-17 09:48
"We all withhold repenting from many things that may or may not be sins by refusing to bring them to the confessional."
Speak for yourself, Kenneth! Forgive me, but I seriously doubt I'm the only one who has taken to heart the words of the prayer about being sure to bring everything to the doctor's attention lest I go away unhealed. I'm sure there are many things I forget or don't recognize as sin and other things I think are sins which perhaps are not (all of which the Priest's prayers in the rite of Confession cover), but I don't consciously avoid speaking in Confession what comes to my mind during preparation for Confession. Otherwise, really, what is the point?!
I'm sorry, but your comments speak volumes about why some of our churches are in the sorry state they are right now. Are we also to believe that Jesus wasn't serious when He said that whoever wishes to follow Him must take up his own cross and follow?
#126.96.36.199.2.1.1 Karen on 2011-08-17 13:46
Taking Kenneth's comments to a sorry state of some churches is an unleapable leap...
I'd rather not get into the rest of the dialogue; you and Kenneth can hash it out, but your statement goes too far and is worthy of a correction.
#188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-08-17 20:19
Daniel, you are right, and I accept your correction. Kenneth's attitude and beliefs are symptoms as much as they are a part of the problem for which others (including me) likely bear the greater part of the culpability. We know that leaders in Church are called to a greater share of responsibility when the institutions they administer suffer, and though I believe profoundly in the authority of Bishops and Priests when they are faithfully upholding the Tradition and in their responsibility to exercise authority to draw clear and firm parental boundaries around sinful practices within their flocks, that is not a sanction for authoritarianism. Rather such authority, if it is to be administered in accord with the gospel, must be administered in a spirit of profound humility and co-suffering love. Only then does it represent a full cooperation with God's purposes, istm.
In any event, I believe I can recognize certain spiritual dysfunctions and kinds of heresy when I see them, but I am no judge of anyone's culpability, excepting perhaps in a small way my own. Only God has perfect judgment, and I'm content to leave it to Him, with profound gratitude that He is exceedingly merciful to ALL. God knows I have sought here to defend the truth that I know from my own experience is necessary for salvation inasmuch as I am capable, but not to be the judge of anyone's culpability.
Forgive me, Daniel, Kenneth, and anyone else whom I may have offended by my words here.
#220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.1 Karen on 2011-08-18 08:21
Wow! Thanks for this rather inspiring piece of writing. Your disciplined policy of following the King regarding diversionary personal attacks reminds me of the falsely-accused St. Vitalis, of whom St. Nikolai Velimirovich wrote: "But the sinful populace pretended to be righteous; they scorned the monk and spat upon his head. The monk wiped his face, endured and remained silent; he did not respond or become angry at anyone" (Prologue, April 22).
Mark, you're a mensch, and do not deserve this shabby treatment.
Rdr. Stephen Schumacher (OCA-DOW)
#51.1.2 Anonymous on 2011-08-12 23:00
A comment on your response: A friend tells of an older Roman Catholic priest, whom I think taught moral theology, who told him: "There are two kinds of sins: sins of weakness, and sins of maliciousness. Sins of maliciousness are far worse." When one encounters the kind of hate that you and many of us have encountered, one has to wonder if anyone really hears the Gospel--the whole gospel, not just the parts that confirms the person's own views. Sadly, it seems this included many priests, and not a few bishops.
#51.1.3 another Mark on 2011-08-13 05:16
Once again the 'Orthodox' Church is demonstrating it's disconnect with the real world - I joined the Church 8 years ago after years of avoiding any Christian church, having been in every spectrum of christianity, from fundamentalists to the little 'b' brethern. I avoided these because in eveery case, ultimately the 'leaders' allowed their evelated opinion of their superiority to degrade the faith [though not in Christ].
The same has happened in the Orthodox Church I joined - SOCAUNZ - the new bishop there is bent of getting abosulte control of all the monetary aspects of that diosese.
And this action against Mr. Stokoe reminds me of the saying "Political correctness means diversity in eveerything but thought."
So much for the church clergy reaching out to the masses with the gospel.
#52 Jon Starr on 2011-08-11 15:23
Mr.Starr,I am sorry to point out to you that even though you have been Orthodox for 8 years as a member of the SOCAUNZ you have missed some of the basic teachings of the Church.NO Orthodox Bishop controls the monatery resorses of his diocese as he has a Diocesan Council to help in their administration.There is a diocesan treasurer who pays the bills as directed by the same council,the Bishop does not even sign the cheques.The Bishop oversees ALL the properties in his diocese and makes sure that the local parish councils are good stewards of God`s property!The diocesan bishop is the main steward of God`s Church in all of its aspects.Nothing belong to him,everything belongs to God and to the diocese that has been entrusted to a bishop.The bishop is here today and gone tomorrow but the Church is eternal "for not even the gates of hell..." and then a new bishop will come and be the steward of the diocese.I speak to you as a priest and a member of the diocesan council of the Eastern Diocese of America.Forgive me but it seems to me that you do not know your bishop and that you have been listening to gossip and it has left a bad taste in your mouth.Get to know him and get to know the heavy burden that he carries.If its any consolation to you,you have been blessed with one of the finer bishops around.May God open your eyes and may you grow in the Faith and let us look at our sins before we judge others as we are ALL sinners.God bless you,Protopresbyter Dragan Filipovic
#52.1 Protopresbyter Dragan Filipovic on 2011-08-12 18:26
Is Bishop Matthias going to ask that OCATruth be shut down as well as Monomahkos and OCALaity?
#53 Stephen on 2011-08-11 15:46
Bishop Matthias didn't call for THIS website to be shut down, so I doubt he would request that either of them would. The fact that I keep seeing people somment like this shows the powerful selective reading skills of many Stokoeites.
(Editor's note: Friend, you need glasses, or a remedial course in English. That is exactly what the Bishop said, and I quote: " I personally hope and pray that Mark Stokoe will come to the conclusion that this website is not a healthy venue for the Church and that he take down (sic) this site." As Polonius said: "'tis true, 'tis true 'tis pity, And pity 'tis 'tis true."
#53.1 Anonymous on 2011-08-12 08:22
None of them serve on the MC. Even now, Mark can continue reporting undisturbed, just minus his seat at the MC. From the comments one would think the bishop IS closing down this website. That is not the issue. The issue is Mark's dual role of news maker and news reporter. Mark can be just as effective simply being the news reporter. It's the conflation of the two that is most disturbing to many people. Mark will flatly deny there is any conflict of interest in wearing both hats.
In my opinion, it would be similar to a city council member owning one of the two news media outlets in the city. The council man holds certain views and would like to push them through the council. How does he drum up support for his views and agenda? Through his news outlet. He may be an upstanding citizen and really wanting to do good. So, people tolerate the situation.
Is that ethical? We don't see any ethical problem with it until the owner of the other news outlet is elected to the city council. He's not as squeaky clean as our first council man. He too hold certain views and would like to impose his agenda on the council. How does he influence the decision making process? You got it, through his news outlet. Now's we're beginning to grasp the ethical dilemma of electing the news reporters to the council. They use their news outlets as a way of pushing through their agenda on the entire city, for good or for evil.
Personally, I would as soon avoid the situation entirely. Those who report the news should be content with simply reporting the news.
Mark, keep reporting the news. Thank God, however, for Monomakhos, ocatruth, aoi, and others that also report the news. For too long we have allowed Mark to be the sole whipping boy of the OCA. It's time for all of us to be bold enough to call our bishops and clergy out to their faces. We don't have to be rude, we just have to be bold enough to simply ask them questions, and not just one or two of us, but everyone. Until then, self-appointed saviors will take the heat for all of us. The existence of Mark's website is nothing more than a tribute to our collective dereliction of duty. If our spiritual ancestors had the boldness to literally run bad bishops out of their cities, we can at least be bold enough to ask them a few questions, face to face.
#53.2 Anonymous on 2011-08-13 05:00
The first two sites/blogs you mention are run by members of parishes in the DOS, Locum Tenens Bp. Nikon. I pray that he will take action to curb if not close OCATRUTH and Monomakhos.
Seeking Christ's peace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
First, as you know, I sent you a strongly-worded email several weeks ago about your thinking on several issues. As I mentioned, perhaps too strongly, I do not share your thinking.
Nonetheless, that being said, you have the absolute right and ability to say whatever you want within reason on this site. It is your site. It is not anyone else's site. If a person does not like it, then that is just too bad. Caveat emptor.
Here in China we wrote emails to ALL of the Bishops in the OCA telling them what we what thought (meaning NOT very much and NOT very highly) of what this Bishop Matthias did. A cheap, discount-store like reaction.
Even worse, as we pointed out in our email, was the quality of the English language that this Bishop deployed in his letter to you. Can this man write English at all? Is this man literate at all? Any Year 3 level Chinese High School student can write BETTER formal English than this Vladyka.
A lack of literacy speaks to a lack of education which speaks to a lack of tolerance and a lack of serious understanding of the world-at-large.
As we told your Bishops, this is NO longer the 15th Century.
Finally, dear Mark, you should have the rude, crude and vulgar answer that we received from Matthias. It was ghetto-like in its rudeness and taunting manner.
Please continue Mark, please continue. We don't have to like what you say; we don't have to agree with you. Nonetheless, you do a fine job in an important medium.
And suffer no one's verbal injuries please.
(Editor's note: I did not publish your note because you disagreed with me - many do - but as you say - you did so in a graphic manner beyond my editorial standards, low as some may think them. But then, you are, in another life, an acrobat, so maybe some of things you suggested be done were indeed possible. Just not for me. We all say rash things, and hurtful things at times, for the times are hard; it is best we all take our words and the words of others with a grain of salt -- and remember that though we live in America and China, for example, we are all striving to be brothers in Christ. God be with you in these difficult times.)
Many thanks to Bishop Matthias for having the courage to start cleaning house. One hefty-bag of rubbish sitting curbside; one can only pray that this is just the beginning of true "accountability & transparency" in the OCA.
(Editor's note: From prophet to hefty bag of rubbish curbside in the same thread. Wow. A friend told me not to be upset, that if I counted them all, I would probably come out pretty average. I told him that was like putting one hand in the freezer and one in oven. On average, your fine....)
#55 Heracleides on 2011-08-11 18:35
This is good news. Your crows have come home to roost Mark. You planted your destruction the day you attacked Sayidna Philip.
(Editor's note: Hey, Happy, welcome back! I never attacked Sayidna personally ( although the opposite cannot be said to be true, can it?). Alas, you have me confused with scores of anonymous Antiochian faithful and priests unhappy with Sayidna's attacks on his own bishops. I just gave them all a forum to discuss, debate, challenge and learn about the issue Sayidna raised, which was, alas, lacking in the AOCNA. But those days are all over now , and everyone is happy, like you, in the AOCNA these days. Damascus claims all is well in Syria too. Be well.)
#56 Happy on 2011-08-11 19:07
For #59 and others Antiochian ... PLEASE do not refrain from comments from loyal Antiochians. The despotism of Met.P. is little different than Theodosius & Herman!
The Convention was charmed as usual with a true gutless Trustees and NO accountability. They dare not challenge the lack of listuing of known ASSETS of the Arch'd. Nowhere to be found in the annual report.
All "doctored" by the Met. and his minions! Councils locally begged their clergy to be silent less they suffer transfers as others.
Eis Polla eti DESPOTA reigns. Mark, you are to be commended, not assailed. Leave the door OPEN for Antiochians to express ... they have NO OTHER!
#56.1 Anonymous Mid West Antiochian on 2011-08-12 18:55
This is not the original Happy, Happy days are here again is the original Happy. Mark, you can tell by my IP it's not the same individual. However I agree that it is best that you were removed due to a conflict of interest. Whatever the case may be, it is somewhat considered a conflict of interest. Just wanted to restate, this is the real Happy from the past, though it doesn't really matter. There are a thousand Anonymous' too.
#56.2 Happy Days are Here Again on 2011-08-22 06:39
And the beat goes on. This never-ending situation brings to mind the exchange between Flash and his soul in "Flash's Dream (The Final Elbow)" on the Preservation Act 2 by the Kinks.
Voice: Wake up Flash. Can you hear me Flash?
Flash: Who is this? Who dares to wake me from my slumber?
Voice: Need I announce myself? Am I such a stranger to you?
Flash: Say your name. Speak!
Voice: I am your soul.
Flash: My soul?
Voice: I have come to show you who you are.
Flash: Show me who I am? I know who I am you upstart! How
dare you intrude.
Voice: You lied and schemed and took over a simple village and turned it into a vulgar playground for your own money-
making ends. Before you came people lived simple lives.
This was a happy place. Then you ploughed up the fields,
sold off the land and lined your own pockets with the profits.
Flash: Lies! Lies! I did it to help the nation
Voice: You did it for your own preservation!
Flash: No! No!
Voice: Prepare yourself Flash, there are many who suffered at your hands. They are craving for vengeance. Time is running out.
Flash: Can this be the end? Can this be the swan song? The final elbow? I will not go. The people need me.
Voice: Men like you will always come and go, but the people will go on forever. Take one final look at the past Flash. Enjoy it, because you have no future.
#57 Scott on 2011-08-11 19:49
This action should have been taken a year ago.
The amount of evil you have wrought within Christ's Church over the past year is probably incalculable. I am glad I do not have to answer before God for the things you have done.
If your work can be called journalism, it is certainly "yellow journalism."
It would be best for all concerned if you now folded your tent and simply went away in shame and repentance.
(Editor's note: In 1941 Frank Mott defined "yellow journalism" in terms of five major characteristics
1. scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
2. lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
3. use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudo-science, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
4. emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips (which is now normal in the U.S.)
5. dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system.
Let's review: I don't use scare headlines, nor even particular clever ones - unless of course "News From The Orthodox World" counts, which I agree is often scary. I dont use extraordinary large print on minor stories. The largest headlines ever used was 24 point, above my usual 18 point. Not even double. I don't print pictures or drawings at all. There is no pseudo-science here, only pseudo-theology ocassionally offered, and that by others. I tend to stick to Florovsky. I don't do fake interviews, and I sign my name to every story, unlike some others we all know. I don't have Sunday supplements, nor comics, although we all appreciate a witty posting. And I am certainly never accused of defending the underdog - but more often, by critics - of just the opposite. So, in no way does my reporting qualify by historical standards as "yellow journalism". Sadly, you just don't like the facts I report. And if you can point out out one fact I have misreported - be my guest. Most recently I was slammed for reporting the Metropolitan was placed on a leave of absence - which he denied. Unfortunately for you and him, the Synod confirmed my reporting was accurate.
So if you think I am going to "pull up my tent" and repent for telling you, and everyone the truth, think again. Our Lord did not come into the world to tell Israel what it wanted to hear, or what it expected to hear, but what it needed to hear - the truth. As someone who is trying, poorly I admit, to follow his example, I can hope to do no less for the New Israel. )
#58 Kirill on 2011-08-11 20:11
Mark, This website has been a godsend for both the OCA and The Antiochian Archdiocese. I commend you for not buckling under the intimidation of a Bishop.
Concerning the Antiochian Archdiocese, I noticed that your recent article on the "election" of 3 new auxiliary bishops by the AOCA does not allow for comments. This is unfortunate, for it makes it difficult to comment on these "elections". For example the constitution being relied on by the Metropolitan as authority for the AOCA to elect bishops was never approved by the Holy Synod, and therefore it seems that the AOCA has no authority to elect bishops, but only has the authority to recommend candidates to the Holy Synod in Antioch.
Also it should be noted that at the same national AOCA convention this summer an Archdiocese Board of Trustees member who was thrown off the Board by a lopsided vote of the General Assembly at the last convention two years ago was promoted by the Metropolitan to Vice Chairman of the Board! So much for the Met caring what his flock thinks. But what else is new?
Also at the convention the external financial audit that was promised at the last convention morphed into an INTERNAL audit of only some of the AOCA assets, and - surprise - concluded that everything was in order financially in the AOCA.
All of these things happened and yet no one at the convention made any objections, as many did at the last convention. It seems the Met has finally cleansed his conventions of anyone who uses his mind.
I'm surprised that no one has brought these issues to OCAnews before now. These issues are only a few of the multitude of reasons why OCAnews is so important to those of us who believe that our heirarchs should act properly.
Keep up the good work, Mark!!!!!!!
(Editor's note: I did not post a comment thread because commenting on the men, after they had been elected, is rather like discussing the horse after it is out of the barn. Since discussion was not encouraged, or even meaningful, before the election, post-mortems seem pointless. Rather, the task before the AOCNA is how to work with these new auxiliaries in whatever tasks the Archbishop may assign them. Secondly, I have not covered the AOCNA in almost a year because I originally did so only because there were real issues being discussed that were of greater importance than just a dust-up between their bishops. Those issues ( autonomy, diocesan bishops, accountability) have all been decided by the Synod of Antioch in the negative and my reportage concluded. As much as love the AOCNA, it is not my primary balliwick, and so I returned to primarily covering the OCA once more. I do continue to print ocassional items both nationally and internationally as they affect Orthodoxy and thus, the OCA; but alas, the sad reality of our existence in America as Orthodox is that what happens in the GOA, or the AOCNA, is for the most part, not relevant to the lives of most OCA members - and vice versa. The bishops meet once a year now, utter the usual platitudes, and return to their separate existences until problems demand further cooperation. Given foreign forces and ethnic realities in America, I really don't see that changing in the near term, until those very same foreign and ethnic forces decide it must be. And then, perhaps, it will.)
#59 Disenchanted Antiochian Orthodox Christian on 2011-08-11 20:11
May I take this thread in a different tack? Is it time for the Orthodox to re-evaluate it's traditional stance on homosexuality? Yes or no? Aside from the posting of confidential emails that weren't intended to be made public, this seems to be a major point of contention with this blog and Mark's presence on the Metropolitan Council.
(Editor's note:I do not mean to frustrate you, but it is not a yes or no question, friend. The question initially raised was "what does one do pastorally, given the church's traditional teaching?". Many offered advice, more or less helpful, one person said change the teaching, and many more said stop asking the question. The original questioner thanked everyone for the advice. And I ended the discussion because well, some people maliciously twisted the question, suggesting it was all a plot, the thin edge of the wedge... We were lapsing into absurdity.
Thus, the answer is not yes, or no, but none of the above.While no one is suggesting changing the church's teaching on anything, no one has answered the question in a way that satisfies anybody but those who would prefer the question never to be asked. In short, no one is happy here. Such is life in this world. Come, Lord Jesus!)
#60 James G. on 2011-08-11 21:02
We are all greatly indebted to you for challenging the reign of fear and intimidation that has been "normal business" in our Church for way too long, and for your fortitude, courage and wisdom in face of continuous threats and slander. I am deeply honored to consider you a friend. Never let yourself forget that there is much love and appreciation for you - and those who attack you with vile lies and derisive nonsense while hiding behind anonymity are proving not only the absence of any shred of Christian charity, but also deep uncertainty of their "righteousness" - why else not sign their names while claiming victory? If things were not so tragically divided and hurtful, one could laugh.
(Editor's note: Thanks. One has to laugh. It is a balm given to us by God, for our humility and as an expression of our common fallen humanity, and as a sign of joy, that no matter our hurt or tragedies, God is with us. The Church enjoins tears, which is wise; but laughter is the medicine that heals us so we live long enough to gain wisdom. (At this point, writer is hit with pie in face. Stunned look. Tastes pie and smiles. Readers laugh.)
#61 Inga Leonova on 2011-08-11 21:41
So, I'm no fan of homosexuality and do not think that the Church's teachings need to change at all ... but I think it was pretty beat for you to be removed from the MC because Bp. Matthias doesn't like your website. That's weak.
Thank you for all the time and hard work creating and managing the ocanews.org website. I recall in 2007, the controversy of this web site and Archbishop Job's response to the negative criticism. He was truly an inspirational leader with his virtues and vices like everyone else. He did respect the web site and refused to get involved with trying to dismantle it.
I am sorry that you experienced such an unfortunate situation. We all experience painful situations like these when we try to be authentic and do what we believe is the right thing. From my experience, it is best to turn the situation around to help one grow closer to Christ.
Regarding the Bishop's reason for the removal. The truth be told some of these folks are backed into a corner for one reason or another and they are lashing out. Their responses have helped the Orthodox Church to become a platform that misses the mark in a lot of things. Instead of a platform about Christ: the importance and meaning of his incarnation, passion, and resurrection. However, I think they fear the increase secularization of the American public. Thus knee jerk reactions occur. It is my opinion one can only address these situations with Christ as the chief-cornerstone to be Orthodox. These are times of trials and the Orthodox Church in the US is still experiencing growing pains in response to the changes of culture.
I think overall, many fear that with the total secularization of the American public nobody will care about Jesus anymore. That is already the case for a lot of people. The tragedy isn't the diversity of civil sponsored relationships but the absence of faith towards God. This also brings the point of what is the Christian faith based on? It can only be the fact that Jesus Christ is truly risen and everything else flows from that testimony from the apostles. What type of world or church will we have when the absence of co-suffering love is no more?
I think we already know the answer to that question from current experiences and past history. God save his people. Thanks for being part of that grace, Mark.
#63 Neil on 2011-08-11 23:41
If the public is becoming "totally secularized" to the point where "nobody will care about Jesus anymore," might we at least be honest and admit that just might be because so many Christians have failed to live by Jesus' teachings and example for so long, the public can't see how compelling his message, his vision and his ethic are?
#63.1 Gregory on 2011-08-12 18:51
It is time we remembered that Matthew 23 was not put in the Gospels as a matter of historical curiosity, but as a warning.
"Straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel" indeed. "For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed." (Yes, I just switched gospels). We, the laity, are willing to hold our bishops to a lower standard of probity than we would expect of our own colleagues and employers, let alone our friends. If we have to give up for the moment on finding holy bishops, let us at least insist on the kind of integrity that allows everyone to have their say (and yes, the latter is a precondition of the former), and has the guts to fire someone to their face. Until bishops can lose, in a parliamentary sense, the confidence of the laity, they will never be effectively deterred from the sort of behavior we have just seen.
Many years, Mark. You are in good company among all those who suffer for telling the truth.
#64 Motovilov on 2011-08-12 04:45
Sad to hear that you have been removed from the Metropolitan Council. But I wonder how much impact this will truly have in your website and in your reporting. More than 99% of all American Orthodox Christians never have anything to do (ever) with the Metropolitan Council, and don't even know anyone on it, so welcome back to life with the rest of us.
That being said, I simply believe that what drives a lot of these forces against your website is fear of information being disseminated. Like thousands of others, I never would have known of what was going on with the former Chancellor/former Priest Robert Kondratick and others in previous administrations if it were not for your website. But judging from some of the sentiment and comments here, there seems to be a substantial portion of the American Church that believes that discussion and exposure of what is going on and personal accountability is not good. This type of secretive Orthodoxy will not thrive in America, and I also do believe that it should ever have been or be the norm in Orthodoxy anywhere.
Asking for transparency and accountability is not the same as wanting the church to be a direct democracy. These issues are completely distinct. Even a newly baptized Orthodox Christian or a seeker to the faith understands that the church is not a democracy. But all of us are accountable to others in our lives, in our work. It should be no different for the episcopate or for those who make decisions in our Church, which we all love. If we didn't love the church and care about how to best care for her, we wouldn't be spending our time here discussing these issues. It is not counterproductive at all, as Bishop Matthias asserts in his letter, but the fact that he asserts this suggests that he does not view the public discussion of issues in the same light as many others in the church do.
At the crux of Bishop Matthias' removal of you from the MC seems to be the discussion on homosexuality that's gone on, even though it's gone on not only on your website, but on other online Orthodox discussion forums too.
The fact of the matter is that no one wants to change the church's teaching on this issue, or marry gays and lesbians, or do whatever outlandish things people are being accused of these days. But Orthodox pastors and bishops need to know how to address it because of its worldwide acceptance as normal behavior. (Even opposition to homosexual behavior is thought by some to be not Christian!) The truth is that so much disinformation exists in our world on homosexuality and its origins that the church has to be able to address and to deal with the issue among parishioners and seekers. For example, despite what modern society and the pro-gay political lobby shoves down our throats every day, there is no evidence at all that homosexuality is genetic or inherited. But rather, it really has little to do with sex but has much more to do with a sexualized emotional need, where (as an adult) that emotional need (often the need for male bonding) that exists in all of us has never been filled. Can the church deal with this issue among parishioners or seekers who are struggling with these unfulfilled, sexualized emotional needs (i.e., homosexuality)? What will it say to teens who are encouraged to publicly declare themselves gay by the age of 15? Right now, I sadly imagine most of our church leaders would say nothing at all.
Regardless, Bishop Matthias seems to have done a very irresponsible thing in removing you from the MC for allowing a forum for public discourse. It is not your site that embarrasses the bishops, but it is the bishops themselves. It is not your site that undermines pan-Orthodox unity (seriously, Bishop Matthias? Is it because Mark allowed a public forum to expose Metropolitan Philip's bizarre and often non-Orthodox style of leadership? to expose how the Antiochian Bishops were no longer bishops but are Auxiliaries or whatever the heck they are, who even knows now?). And that this forum is disrespectful toward the presbyterate and the episcopate? Well then, Bishop Matthias, you need to do something about Monomakhos.com and the Yahoo Orthodox group and the Indiana Orthodox List, all of which are much more disrespectful than what is found here!
All of these reasons scream that much of our episcopal leadership want things to appear to be fine, regardless of whether they actually are or not. Sorry, Americans don't go for this, and this type of Orthodoxy where problems are swept under the rug won't fly in North America.
And if a bishop ever closes down your site, then I'm sure a bunch of us might get together and start ocanews2.org.
I'm curious, though, to hear what any other members of the MC think of your removal. But I imagine that we won't here a peep from most (if not all) of them.
I do agree with Bishop Matthias that Anonymous postings are often ridiculous. I can understand the occasional priest or whomever needing to remain anonymous, but I imagine for most anonymous posters there is not a need to do so.
I hope you continue to post on your website, Mark. And a blessed upcoming feast of the Dormition!
(Editor's note: Thanks for your comments. I have heard from many on the Council, actually, and they will choose to speak when they choose to speak, and in the venues of their own choosing as well. )
#65 Gregg Gerasimon on 2011-08-12 09:08
Let me count the ways of why I am weary....Metropolitans with their misuse of power; priests who lie as a second nature, and finally, the continued quest to silence Mark S. I believe Met Phil will be thrilled, along with Jonah.
Silence is not always golden. Mark, please continue
#66 weary on 2011-08-12 09:15
You have a great deal of support and appreciation. This is just one more example of a bishop using his ability to silence and derail anything that he is not in complete agreement with. How about starting a thread of examples of our good priests who have been treated with horrible injustice at the hands of controlling, narcissistic bishops. Bishops can get away with behaviors that are unethical and illegal in civilized society. Our priests know this and are afraid to stand up for themselves and each other. It is a sad state for a church to be in.
#67 Anonymous on 2011-08-12 09:33
The current "culture war" raging among us in the OCA is revealing. It is showing sadly, a lot of things that are lamentable--comments that are hateful but supposedly in the pursuit of truth, ad hominem or personal smears, fear and anger. I am drawn back to the New Testament, where Christ eats with tax collectors and sinner, converses with the heretic-to-Israel Samaritan woman, heals for the total outside the woman from Syro-Phoenicia, and is explicitly reviled for all this and called a drunk and a glutton. In the pursuit of truth or its protection, we should look again at the Lord who made himself the servant of all. We will see the limitless love, compassion and forgiveness of that Christ--something Dostoevsky came back to over and over in his writing, the God whose love, like that of the father in the parabvle of the prodigal son, verges on the absurd.
#68 Fr Michael Plekon on 2011-08-12 10:41
Amen, amen, amen to that, Father Michael!
#68.1 Gregory on 2011-08-12 18:43
So, because as Father Schmemann reminded us in the June 2, 1982 entry in his Journals, "From the very beginning and right up to our times: apocalypses, all kinds of Feraponts." And we have need to be reminded especially now, when, like Dostoevsky's Ferapont, our own
keep shouting, "Casting I cast out!", while we wait for a Paissy to answer, authoritatively, "Get thee hence.... It is not for men to
judge, but for God."
May God keep you, Mark, with all those whom you love.
Father David Lesko
When you accepted election to the Metropolitan Council, I thought to myself that it was probably a bad idea. I kept my feelings to myself for hope that my pessimism was without cause. It seems to me that it is never a good idea for a journalist to become part of the story and that one day you would have to choose between journalism and involvement in the story. I think you made the right choice to accept removal from the councils.
(Editor's note: I did not seek election, but was obedient in serving: I did not seek removal, but was obedient when dismissed. Neither was a real "choice". As for "involvement in the story", that too was never a choice. Starting this website was "involvement in the story"; pretending otherwise is, well, just that. The issue for me was one of acting with integrity: given the opportunity not just to critique, but to help solve the problem, was I willing to do so? The answer was " Yes". I could hardly do less than what I was asking others to do. Ironically, doing that is what caused people to subsequently challenge my integrity. Ah, well, as they say: no good deed goes unpunished. )
#69 Ed Unneland on 2011-08-12 11:53
When someone comes into public office, sometimes they have a business. That business is often put into a "blind trust," so someone trustworthy manages it on their behalf while the official handles public business. This way, (that actually, but unknowingly, tracks a canon) there is no confusion between the goods of the person and the collective goods the official is managing. What happened when you were elected was not evil, but perhaps it was incorrect. I know you absolutely meant well, but I think if a member of Congress or a cabinet member has to put their holdings into a blind trust, then you should have also put OCA News into a blind trust while serving in two legislatures of the church.
#69.1 Ed Unneland on 2011-08-17 18:15
Think everyoen is taking this out of content:
1. Mr. stokoe is under the Authority of his Bishop, who exercised His right to nt have someone on His Dicoean Council and the Metropolitan Council who is conservl, due in part to this website.
2. The problem with this website is not the articles whicha re writen, but rater the open forum of comments which at time could be viewed by some as disresptful to the hierarchs and the institution of the Church, how can someone who monitorn this represent his Church on a diocese and Noth american level
3. Finally with regards to the homosexuality issue, whatever is someone view on the Gay marriage, the Church ahve an official opinionand as a member of the Diocean and MEtropolitan Council he should publicly enforce that decission.
I disagree that His Grace did not discuss it with Mark before-hand however this website and its comments could be viewed by some as a negative force in the Church. If someone represent the Church s alay-person or Clergyt hat should publci support its doctrines.
(Editor's note: Which I have always done, friend. But thanks for writing. I may be wrong, but I think this took a great deal of effort on your part, and I appreciate that.)
#70 Anonymous on 2011-08-12 11:53
Thank You; If I may make a suggestion; remove the comments section of ht ewebsite and just post article that may give this website more creditiblity and not give the image it is spreading gossip
(Editor's note: Sorry, but that suggestion has been made and rejected. Ignore the gossip. I do. But sometimes, just sometimes, there is a real nugget of wisdom here. And like mining for gold, the sludge just falls away. No one is forced to read the comments. You have to choose to do so. Thousands just read the stories. Be my guest. )
#70.1 Anonymous on 2011-08-12 13:42
Just b/c someone has a right to do something does not mean it should be done.
#70.2 Anonymous on 2011-08-17 07:05
"Keep from prying into other people's affairs, for such prying gives occasion for slander, judgment, and other grievous sins. Why do you need to be concerned about others? Know and examine your own self." -- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk
(Editor's note: Of course, if you practiced that you would not be posting this. Because you would not be on the internet. Intentions may not count, but performance does.)
#71 Anon. on 2011-08-12 15:08
"I hate silence when it is time to speak. I hate the one who conforms himself to all ways." -St. Kassiana the Hymnographer
#71.1 Motovilov on 2011-08-13 06:23
Brother Mark, it is not unusual for Bishops to discourage web blogging. Our own bishop has told Subdeacons, Deacons, and Priests to take certain websites down when he deems that they have become damaging or that they have started to damage their author spiritually. When he does so, I believe that he is simply trying to be their shepherd.
Perhaps you should heed your bishops advice, if only for the sake of the discipline of obedience.
Why have bishops at all if we don't wish or intend to obey them? We might as well go back to Protestantism if we don't want to obey our bishops.
We may disagree with their decisions, but bearing what we perceive to be wrongheaded or unjust decisions might be for our salvation and even eventually for theirs.
Bishop Matthias is right to be concerned that the Orthodox views on sexuality be upheld, and that includes how the Church handles Homosexuality. If he perceives that some of the material on your website is advocating a stance contrary to Orthodoxy, it is his duty to deal with it.
In that case, he is just trying to do his job.
Maybe you should take a break for a while and pray about what has happened instead of plunging ahead with more blogging.
I think your bishop has left the door open. You could apologize for some of your latest efforts and maybe someday he will extend his blessing once more for your work.
Many of these bishops are imperfect, but they do have the Light of Christ in them, anyway. Becoming cynical about this truth is dangerous.
Blessings in the Holy Trinity, One God
One should not apologize unless one has not done anything wrong.
A bishop does not have the same say over actions of non clergy as over clergy.
Mark did not seek MC service; it was asked of him while this site was up.
Mark continued that service until his new bishop ended it.
The emperor has no clothes.
#71.2.1 Anonymous on 2011-08-17 07:11
This episode only goes to prove to all that: WE CAN'T TRUST OUR BISHOPS! They do not care about the truth; they do not care about what is right; they do not want transparency or justice; etc. All they want is complete control! + Matthias has shown that he should not have been consecrated. Same with + Jonah & + Michael. We are choosing bishops belonging in the 1940's believing that only "THEY" are the Church.
#72 Anonymous on 2011-08-12 20:15
Thank you, Mark, for all your good work, and for yet better work to come.
The office of bishop is one thing. But a few individual bishops apparently do not realize that they will have exactly the respect they earn.
Perhaps I am nit-picking, but I do wonder what it says that a diocese of the OCA cannot find a bishop who can write standard English. If it is important enough to say, it is important to say it well.
#73 John Belt on 2011-08-12 20:39
Mark, Perhaps Bishop M of the Midwest Diocese has done you a favor by removing you from the MC. You are now free to be completely without conflict of interest, although you disagree with this conclusion. Bishop M is not Archbishop Job. Archbishop Job was not "afraid" of the "freedom of the 'pen', or spoken word." So this shows that our new Bishop does not like "freedom of speech." Otherwise he (Bishop M) would not be asking for you, Mark to shut down your website. Please, for the sake of UNITY of Orthodoxy and for the correcting of the wrongs in the administration of the Church, do not shut down this website.
We had visitors at our parish last Sunday when the Bishop's letter was read, and I was not happy for the impression of the letter did not equate, fornication, and other sins that would prevent an Orthodox Christian from receiving at the Cup. The letter came across harsh and unloving. I at the time did not know that you Mark were removed from the MC.
We need to have a place for open discussion of topics that are timely. the publication of reflections on how to give pastoral care to those struggling with sins; namely homosexuality or other timely topics is very important to the people within and outside Orthodox Church.
Bishop M of the Midwest Diocese is showing us all, that perhaps he is not the right Bishop for our diocese. He came across in his recent actions as wanting to Control people's actions, thoughts, freedom of speech. In other words, you do it my way or the highway. I met Bishop M when he came to our parish, and if I met him prior to his election of Bishop, I would not have cast my "vote" in favor of him being our bishop. PS: I am not in favor of homosexual unions (legal marriage, nor civil unions). I am in favor of people being treated humanly, and lovingly and with respect.
#74 anonymous on 2011-08-13 08:49
I am deeply saddened (no...disgusted) by Bp. Matthias’s action against you. And sadly, after nine years in the Orthodox Church (OCA) it is the kind of behavior I have come to expect from those in authority in this church. Certainly my experiences and what I have seen is not that of loving fathers but rather, too often, that of despotic rulers. You amaze me at your ability to stay positive in the face of all these absurd attacks against you. You are an inspiration to me. May God grant you many, many years!
#75 Rodney L. McCulloh, Crawfordsville, IN on 2011-08-13 09:18
Oh God, deliver us from our bishops! Like the high priests and leaders of the Jews, deliver us from our leaders in the Church!
#76 Anonymous on 2011-08-13 10:45
Mark, I would like to say it's not only your web-site but for all Orthodoxs people, like you have been saying all along in your editors notes, if anyone has been paying attention! keep up the good work. yours in christ sbd John ( from the +Nikolia days)
#77 stepetin on 2011-08-13 11:08
While out of the country with limited internet access, I saw a facebook posting that referenced your removal and said that you'd be publishing the bishop's letter the next day. That left me imagining all sorts of things that could have been the stated reason for your removal ... catching up with the actual letter, I had an odd sense of relief because it didn't live down to my worst imaginings. But, as it sinks in, I wonder if it isn't actually worse than my worst imaginings -- removed because you host a forum for discussion? And a generally constructive forum at that? (Maybe your bishop needs to visit some other, far uglier corners of the Orthodox internet if he thinks this site is destructive.)
On the one hand, in the big picture, your work on this site is at least as important as your work on the councils, and I pray that this work continues. On the other hand, your service on those councils was important and constructive. It's the OCA's loss that you will no longer serve in these capacities.
On a personal level, this must be at least somewhat frustrating, and from your comments above it's clear that you've been subjected to some significant ugliness of late ... for all that, sympathy. For your service on the MC, thanks. And for your continuing work here, appreciation.
#78 Rebecca Matovic on 2011-08-13 15:00
Your site is (and I hope will continue to be) a voice that advocates even the possibility of free discussion for things Orthodox in this country. The Church DOES change; this site is proof of just that.
Keep-up the good fight.
#79 James Moldovan on 2011-08-13 17:43
Mark, I hope the wave of support here gives you some inkling how much all your labors are appreciated.
Bishop Matthias' move seems reactionary and punitive. He could have asked you to add a prominent disclaimer, for example. I can't help dreaming about an alternative reponse, where the bishop would enter the discussion to correct and teach...sad that that seems so unlikey.
#80 Rachel Andreyev on 2011-08-14 18:38
The Bishop of Chicago should be ashamed on many levels, but most especially for blasphemously prefacing his outrageous and illiterate remarks with "Christ in in our midst!" I think not!
So this is the new OCA, with its new cast of characters in the hierarchy? Sounds and acts an awful lot like it infamous and disgraced previous incarnation. It is bad enough that the Metropolitan is, to say the least, a failed and floundering disappointment, even to those who initially placed such high hopes in his selection. That is now compounded by more arrogance and stupidity on the part of others on the Synod, not the least of which are the actions of the aforementioned Bishop of Chicago.
I am happy that Mark Stokoe is no longer burdened with being a member of the OCA leadership. I am even happier that he is now free to continue his far more important work of exposing corruption, lies and duplicity dressed up in pious dribble.
#81 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2011-08-14 19:58
This site hasn't been perfect but it's always been fair and it's fair to say it's been a blessing for Orthodox Christians in America.
#82 Anon on 2011-08-15 05:16
Good. Stokoe's removal from the MC is a very positive development in my view--though it does seem to me Bp. Matthias' reasons for removing his blessing were a bit muddled. In my view it was a mistake for Stokoe to be appointed to the MC in the first place without stipulating that he relinquish editorial control over this site in order to resume that office. This is something that should never have been allowed to happen, i.e., for some individual to hold a high office in the church and at the same time fill a pseudo-journalistic/expose journalism role. This amounts to a violation of all relevant ethical codes--both Christian and journalistic--and only served to make the Orthodox Church appear out of sync with honorable principles of our democratic society. So Bp. Matthias would have done better, in my view, to present his removal of the blessing as a correction of an oversight that had been made in Stokoe's appointment to the MC. The end result, though, as I said, is a positive in my view. I can once again return to regarding ocanews as a possible alternative news source about church life, whereas I had come to think of it as a tool a certain church faction was using to promote its leader's ecclesiastical agenda.
(Editor's note: For the record, I was never appointed to the MC, I was elected. And those who elected me obviously did not share your ethical concerns about the ability of one to decide on issues in private, while reporting on them in public. As for an agenda, well, the only agenda this site has ever entertained has been one of transparency and accountability. If you see another, you are deluded.)
#83 James on 2011-08-15 07:22
I stand by my assertion that it was a mistake for you to serve on the MC while running a pseudo-journalistic site that reports on ecclesiastical affairs. It doesn't matter how you got on the MC--whether by appointment or election. The fact of the matter is that an oversight was made in allowing you to simultaneously serve in those two roles. In the future the Orthodox church needs to be more mindful about this, i.e., that these two roles--in accord with sound American political and journalistic practice--are not to be mixed.
As for your agenda, if you're a human being with opinions, you're capable of formulating an agenda. So, if you're like the rest of humanity there's a good chance that you have an agenda. How you pursue your agenda as a private individual is something I could care less about--whether you pursue it via this site or through some other means. Once you assume a representational office in the church, however, your agenda becomes a major concern: you should be promoting, not your own agenda, but the interests of those whom you represent. Having a platform like this site through which to disseminate your opinions about church matters, while at the same fulfilling an ostensibly representational role in the church, offers enhanced opportunities for pushing a personal ecclesiastical agenda. I'm sure that, in the personal world of Mark Stokoe where everything he does and desires is pure, good, and beyond reproach, there is no danger in this hybridization of roles. Outside the personal universe of Mark Stokoe, however, the danger is clear and the situation one to be avoided. If you think otherwise, you're the one that's deluded.
I continue to rejoice over your dismissal from the MC and am happy about the end result (that you're no longer on the MC)--though, as I said, I think the rationale offered by Bp. Matthias for removing you was a bit muddled. If you want to serve on the MC, relinquish editorial control over this site (or any other site that publishes about ecclesiastical affairs) and do the job. If you want to run this or other like sites, do it without holding ecclesiastical office. It's very simple. Do one or the other. Don't try to combine them.
#83.1 James on 2011-08-23 11:42
Sorry James, there were too many other things happening at the same time to give credit to the combination of roles; even the bishop himself credited the anonymous posting of a reflection regarding homosexuality.
But it is a nice effort at rationalizing.
Not crediting it as a personal attack on Mark at a time when Mark is easily attacked is 'muddled'.
#83.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-08-23 21:22
A brief story: When I was in college (mid-80s) I served in Student Government and also as a columnist for the college paper. There was an odd setup whereby the Student Government held a majority of seats on the selection committee for the editor of the college paper. I was elected / selected to be editor (a paid position) for a summer term. However, quoting the ethics code of the Society of Professional Journalists, I was told that remaining in Student government would create a conflict of interest. I had to resign one or the other. So, I had the shortest editorial tenure in the history of our college paper - 3 days, zero issues published.
Now, I recognize that there is a huge difference between a college paper and a blog. Knowing our intrepid editor for a number of years, I believe he has done a remarkable job in separating his reporting from his role on the Metropolitan Council.
Yet, the Code of Ethics is indeed specific:
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.
—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, *political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity*.
— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable."
I would also point out the following ethical statements:
"Seek Truth and
Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
— Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
— Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
— Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
— Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
— Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context."
On this last point, I believe our Editor has consistently and reliably segregated reporting from commentary and analysis.
To the extent the Editor intends for this site to be journalistic, and professional, and given my collegiate experience, I think the removal from the Metropolitan Council is in fact a blessing.
I do wish the circumstances had been somewhat different. We seem to be developing a dynamic between ourselves and our hierarchs that somehow misses dialogue and becomes dual, competing monologues.
Metropolitan Jonah and Bishops Michael and Matthias have laid out the clear teaching of the Orthodox Church, as reinforced by our Holy Synod of Bishops twenty or more years ago:
All who are repenting, regardless of how frequently they fail, are welcome in the Orthodox Church and are welcome to partake in the Eucharist of our Lord, for which NONE of us is worthy. Those who choose not to repent are welcome also, but may not join in partaking of the Eucharist. Heretics are removed from the community, however heretics are not those who simply hold contrary beliefs to those of the Church - heretics are those who espouse as truth that which is contrary to the dogma of the Church. One can hold heretical views without being a heretic. See http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/truenather.aspx :
St. Paul advises us that "a man that is an heretick" we should "reject, after the first and second admonition" (Titus 3:8-10). In his Epistle to the Galatians, the Apostle of the Nations again associates heresy with "wrath, strife," and "seditions," contrasting these things with the man of God, who is characterized by "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness," and "faith" (5:20-22). All that St. Paul writes is contained within the consensus of the Orthodox Fathers concerning heresy. They teach that it has its roots, not in incorrect belief and teaching alone, but in a mean spirit and in persistence in one’s error, even after repeated entreaties that he repent. A devout believer can innocently misunderstand the teachings of the Church; this does not make him a heretic. Indeed, one can be a schismatic and still not be a heretic. (See St. Nikodemos’ commentary on Canon I of St. Basil, Pedalion [The Rudder] [Thessaloniki, 1982], p. 589.) These individuals become heretics when they succumb to stubborn self-opinion, contentiousness, and absolute tenacity, and only then, separated from the Church, are they "completely alienated from the Faith," in the words of St. Basil the Great (Canon I). Thus, St. Symeon of Thessaloniki, in his essay on heresy, tells us that "pride and haughtiness" are the "cause" of all heresies (Ta Apanta [Extant Works] [Thessaloniki, 1882], p. 27). (end quote)
We need to ask our Bishops to explain their views and their positions to us, to help educate us, and we need to listen to them. And conversely, they should listen and let us help educate them. We are still missionaries in this land. The missionary effort requires all of us to communicate with one another, in order that we may communicate with our culture. Communication requires listening as well as speaking. Hopefully, such a dynamic in this western hemisphere would lead not only to belief, but understanding. If the reasons are complicated and theological, then so be it. I believe the faithful in our communities are well educated and deserve more than platitudes from the patristic fathers and mothers or prooftexting from the Scriptures. Christ said "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!", so I encourage our hierarchs to go deeper in their explanations, and as such let those of us with ears to hear, hear.
This medium, the blog, is new media and not a "standard" journalistic endeavor, and it is possible I am applying a code to situations for which it was not intended. For that I apologize. I do, however, believe the journalistic code to be normative and have something to offer us in this instance.
(Editor's note: Thanks for that reasonable contribution, in the fullest sense of the word. But while the SPJ ethical standards are instructive, I do not think, nor have I ever thought, that they fit this situation. The issue, however, is now moot - albeit the exchange of information continues.)
#84 Dn. Marty Watt on 2011-08-17 12:06
Please stop rationalizing bad behavior by bishops.
If you were totally 100% correct, the bishop could have given Mark the decision; he didn't.
They don't like.... a website watching their every move. That's a hard pill to swallow, but a bit more accurate than a thorough review of journalistic ethics.
#84.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-08-17 20:34
I don't mind edits, but you need to say [edited or section removed by editor] if there is something you don't want stated. I don't recall whether I made a change or you did, so correct me if need be.
(Editor's note: I usually denote this with an elipsis (....). )
#84.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-08-18 19:02
You fool this webaite has fabricated the truth. ....And he (mark) did it by gossip. Lies what ever.....
#85 Anonymous on 2011-08-20 03:35
Name one lie. And remember: a lie is (1)(A) an untrue statement or 1(B) a failure to make a statement about something important, which (2) is (A) known by the person making the statement to be untrue or (B) withheld by the person withholding it in a situation where the information withheld was and known to him to be important, in order to (3) deceive someone else about the empirical truth of something. So, name a lie, using those ingredients. Don't forget to use facts ... the fewer adjectives the better for that goal, fyi.
#85.1 Anonymous on 2011-08-20 14:36
Too back we can't remove them from their positions of authority. Is there such a recall as "UNAXIOS" and they are gone? They just can't seem to accept the fact that they are not infallable in anything, and that they are accountable too. For so many years, undesirables have hidden in the ranks of all of the churches, and have done so many unchristian things in the name of the Lord. They really hate that they are in the spotlight and accountable to the people. These people are the ones that give the Church a bad name when their laundry gets hung on the line for everyone to see. They just do not get it. If they only did their job and lead the church as they were elected to do. After all Jesus say upon this Rock not from UNDER this Rock.
Keep up the good work Mark. When Jesus said pick up your cross and follow me, I bet you never thought it would be sooooooo heavy. Don't let them beat you and us.
#86 Pete Wallace on 2011-08-20 10:53
You have my support in this too. I think it's telling that you were basically given an ultimatum, shut down the flow of news, or be booted off the council. Thank you for taking the stance you have and standing up to such totalitarianism. I also found the Bishop's statement telling when he said you can serve two masters, and of course he said you can't serve the CHURCH and....well whatever. Not Christ, but the Church. Thank you for choosing Christ over the Church. Don't give up. You're not in this alone. Keep up the good work!
#87 Chuck Shingledecker on 2011-08-20 13:24
(Editor's note: A cute little mammal, who eats pests ( mainly insects). Like the planet earth, mostly harmless.)
#88 Anonymous on 2011-08-20 20:04
Just another attempt of the Church (Temple) authorities trying to suppress the Truth. Worked with Jesus, didn't it?
#89 Anonymous on 2011-08-21 10:55
If I may be so bold as to make a suggestion:
On your website, as part of the "Orthodox Christians for Accountability" banner on the top of every page of your website, I suggest that you add underneath words to the effect: "An Independant news publication NOT approved by nor affiliated with any Bishop nor Jurisdiction."
That would make it clear that your neither your Bishop nor your Jurisdiction is approving of your content.
While I would disagree with your Bishop's decision to remove you from Church organizations simply for running this website, I would agree with your Bishop that it could be confusing to people who might assume that your Bishop was approving or even involved.
(Editor's note: Thanks, Mark, but such a disclaimer appears at the bottom of every page. And has, since day one. And just for the record, some bishops have, and do, approve. Some publicly, as the late Bishop Job; some more quietly. Some publicly disapprove too. But the ability to speak one's heart and mind is not, and never has been dependent on the Bishop's permission to do so. The Bishop is to rightly divide the word of truth"; not to ration it such that only that which has his permission may be spoken. Feel free to disagree.)
#90 Mark Giesh on 2011-08-22 11:32
This news is very distressing. Much controversy exists in what appears to be all jurisdictions of Orthodoxy, so it a common problem. It is also a common problem for the Hierarchs to try to hide things - some of them - who don't want the news out in the open. Thank God we have a few who are willing to speak up and share the truth. The real question is - why was Mark punished - again as they say? What are the bishops hiding? If they have nothing to hide, there is no reason to punish him in any way, because he is being a responsible journalist and exposing that which is irresponsible, illegal and untruthful.
So the question I pose to all of our Hierarchs - what are you hiding? Why are you not being open and honest with everyone? Why are you trying to silence this man who has done nothing but report the truth? This is God's Holy Church, not a political forum. It is not about popularity, money or power, and yet all of these things have taken over what was once good and pure. It seems that Adam and Eve were not the only people to disobey God's Commandments. They were the first people alive, new and uneducated. What's your excuse? Do you wear those crowns with joy and peace and faith, or with power, authority and vindictiveness? You can't do both - you have to choose. If you choose to be "in charge", then it's time to take off your crowns and go work a secular job. If you choose to be holy leaders who truly love their sheep, then stop allowing corruption to ruin the beauty that should reign in every Orthodox parish across the world.
I have followed OCAnews.org faithfully, and I am very honored to have Mark shed so much light on so much distress going on, and to give us the opportunity to post our comments, as I am doing now. Mark doesn't just report negative things going on. He reports about people being ill, about good news that is achieved around the world, sometimes edits our comments when we get too far in left field, and sometimes doesn't post them at all. That's fine - he is balanced and using good judgement. But you cannot shut him up by taking away his position on the MC or DC or whatever you call those committees. As you can see, you tried it before, and Mark kept this site going. Now he is continuing the same thing, because we have to know the truth, and this site is the only place we will find that.
If we had honest and loving leaders who really cared for us, there would be no need for this site. You Hierarchs have created the need for it, so that's why it stays. You created this mess - don't blame it on anyone else but yourselves, and don't keep the truth from being revealed.
The competition of our Hierarchs is what needs to stop, not this site. Our Hierarchs need to pull together, work thru their differences, and stand as a united body in each jurisdiction and do what is best for the entire flock, not just for their own demented egos. Otherwise the unity we are so hoping for will never happen, and the Orthodox Church in North America will continue to fragment and fall away from the teachings of the only God we must follow. Adam and Eve fell away, but they were ultimately forgiven. The same must happen with our modern day leaders. They must love us so that we can love them. It is very hard to obey and respect someone who treats you like you are not one of "them". All Orthodox should be treated with love, respect and dignity, and let us remember that before they were consecrated Bishops, they were commen men, and they will always be common men. When they pass into eternal life, they will do so as common men, created by God, who only asked of them to obey the teachings of the Holy Church that God created. That is not asking too much.
God bless Mark and keep him safe and well with daily news so that we know the TRUTH about everything, good or bad, going on.
IN DEFENSE OF HIS GRACE BISHOP MATTHIAS
In reference to the comments made on Mark Stokoe's blog, I have to go with His Grace Bishop Matthias decision on removing him as editor. I know His Grace personally and I know he is a God fearing man who lives by his strong convictions. I believe peoples harsh words against Vladika Matthias does not only harm the integrity of the Church, but they also harm the souls of men. I would be careful with speaking against His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah and His Grace Bishop Matthias in regards to their decision. St. Irenaeus Bishop of Antioch said, He who acts without the bishop's knowledge is in the devil's service. It is obvious that Mark Stokoe acted without the bishop's knowledge and that is why he is being removed. Many on his blog have shed innocent blood against His Grace Bishop Matthias and their words have sown discord among brethren in regards to his decision.....
The holy scriptures are clear about seven things the Lord detest or an abomination.
16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (KJV)
Elder Joseph the Hesychast said, "humility keeps the demons in chains." I would suggest that everyone on Mark Stokoe's blog should listen to these words and stop puffing themselves up with the words that tear down others -- especially Bishops.
His lowly servant++
(Editor's note: You are incorrect in stating that the Bishop was not aware or informed as to what I was, am and will continue to do. The Bishop simply disapproved of it, which something totally different. If honestly and openly speaking against the actions of Bishop when one disagrees with him "harms the integrity of the Church" or "damages the souls of men", the Church you envision is indeed made of flimsy stuff. The Apostles themselves disagreed - did they harm the souls of early Christians or weaken the Church? Or can only Bishops and Apostles disagree? I think you should reconsider your position in the light of history and and theology, especially the chapter on ecclesiology. )
#91.1 Theophilus on 2011-09-23 19:18
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