Monday, March 28. 2011
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As it has been pointed out previously here, from 1970 when + Dimitri lost the election for Met., he set up the "Anti-Syosset" in Dallas. All of the current problems of the OCA result from this action. I would hate to characterize "Syosset" as the Democrats and "Dallas" as the Republicans, but somehow, to some degree, this analogy may fit. Ultimately, the OCA has a rogue Met. who insists on making decisions unilaterally and really doesn't care what anyone thinks or wants. + Jonah hasn't become the "Metropolitan of the OCA," but the "Anti-Metropolitan of the OCA." Time for the entire Church to say, "Enough!" He must go one way or another!
#1 Anonymous on 2011-03-28 09:17
I am just seeking to understand here. Why is it bad or wrong that a community (or rather, this particular community) of Orthodox nuns would become part of the OCA? Thank you.
(Editor's note: Until such time as the Synod decides to share Bishop Michael's report, I suggest you ask the the Metropolitan, or a member of the Synod, for they were all there when the report was given. )
#2 anonymous on 2011-03-28 09:46
re: the Nuns -- please list the source that you quote about the Great Schema, the nun's tonsuring, and Met. Jonah's involvement. I was unable to find it.
re: the Synod and the DC monastery -- is this from your sources or can you show evidence of their disagreement with its establishment?
re: "disobedience" -- do you think that +Jonah did this to stick it to the Synod? Is it possible that he is just performing his appropriate pastoral duty to a member of his diocese? Does a bishop need the unwritten approval to tonsure a novice?
re: OCTruth's "lack of evidence" -- this seems obviously wrong. Please address their valid questions.
Also, please address George Michalopulos' site as well. He seems to be giving you a harder time than the posse at OCATruth.
Please feel free to give your opion on your place on the MC in light of the past month and that of Faith Skordinski as well.
(Editor's note: The nuns are not members of his diocese, nor of the OCA - that is the whole point. But the issue is not the nuns, or me, or Dr. Skordinski, or the MC, or conspiracy theories of Mr. Michalopoulos. It is about the continuining disobedience of Metropolitan Jonah to his brother Bishops, and the ill-effects that has had, and is having, as his actions in the last month so clearly demonstrate. The rest is nothing more than sand in people's eyes to distract from the issue at hand. Alas, I doubt I have made you less skeptical, but then, I doubt anything could.)
#3 Skeptical on 2011-03-28 12:20
I am having trouble determining if you are sincere or sarcastic. How would the average person just "ask the Metropolitan" or "ask the Synod"?
(Editor's note: Well, the average person can't - which means unless the Metropolitan or Synod decide to release the documents in question, there is no way for the average person to make an informed judgement on these issues. Hence the need for more transparency and accountability. The bottom line is that given modern means of instant communication, we must as a Church, discuss and adapt to the new requirements of the age of Twitter and Facebook. A meeting every six months, followed by a cryptic press release, without context or background or supporting documents, may have sufficed in 1940; but hardly today. Today the 1940 pace in 2011 just leads to frustration, complaints of "conspiracies", inadquate communication, miscommunication and the like. I am not advocating the Church, or every Bishop, or priest, be on Twitter or Facebook - although would it necessarily be bad?- but the alternative is clearly not working for us well.)
#4 anonymous on 2011-03-28 13:50
in the past, I have always been one of your supporters, but I am beginning to wonder. Perhaps your "power" has gone to your head. You seem needlessly sniping, sarcastic, and mean spirited. Your attitude is contributing to skepticism on the part of your readers as to your ability to report accurately and fairly.
(Editor's note: I am sorry to disappoint you. On the other hand how does one report fairly and accurately on anonymous people making unsubstantiated allegations that one is neither fair nor accurate? To merely state their charges is to repeat the error: to ignore them brings the charge that one is now "too powerful"; to provide context is to be labeled "snippy", and to refute them is to be seen as "mean-spirited". A big fight only assists them in their quest to raise a hue and cry....
So, one can only do what the Lord encourages when one is attacked: turn the other cheek and keep silent. For as Abba Zosimus said:
When I was once with the blessed Amma Dionysia, a brother asked her for some alms; and she gave him whatever she could. However, since he received less than he had asked for, he began to insult her, speaking improperly about her and about me. When she heard this, she was hurt and sought to harm him. Therefore, on learning this, I told her: “What are you doing, conspiring against yourself? You are removing every virtue from your soul. For what is it that you worthily endure, by comparison with those things, which Christ endures for you? I know, my lady, that you have distributed all your possessions as if they were worthless. Nevertheless, unless you acquire meekness, then you will be like the forger beating an iron nugget but producing no vessel."
Well, I am no Abba Zosimos, and meekness is a difficult lesson to learn, but I unsure what I have done, or not done, to earn skepticism from you other than refuse to be baited into topics and issues which are not mine, and are not the purpose of this site or my reporting.
That being said, we are now in the midst of a unique time in the OCA. The Metropolitan and his supporters are free to sling whatever mud, and do whatever they wish; for they have no thought of consequences, which is one of the problems that brought us to this pass. The Synod, the MC, the staff at Syosset, and other responsible parties, cannot defend themselves from the mud without magnifying his problems and compounding his errors. So, what is to be done? The Metropolitan was given 60 days of freedom by the Synod to fulfill promises. Until that time is over, the field is his to destroy, tear up, tear down, ignore, deny, partially fulfill, or complete the promises made - as he chooses. In the meantime, we can all see what he, and his supporters are doing - or not doing. What cannot be so clearly seen - and is not so interesting even when seen - is what the Synod, etc. are doing: waiting. No more - but no less.
I cannot tell you what is going to happen after Pascha: two meetings at the beginning of May will either end this turmoil; prolong it; or resolve it. Perhaps all three - who knows? But until then, do not confuse waiting with lack of reporting, sloth, or acceptance, or lack of concern, or skepticism, or snippiness, or power, or even meekness. It is simply waiting - to see if what was promised is fulfilled.)
#5 anon on 2011-03-28 13:50
"In the past, I have always been one of your supporters, but I am beginning to wonder. Perhaps your 'power' has gone to your head. You seem needlessly sniping, sarcastic, and mean spirited. Your attitude is contributing to skepticism on the part of your readers as to your ability to report accurately and fairly."
Sadly I have increasingly come to hold the same viewpoint. While I have found Mark to be spot-on many times in the past, this current fiasco appears to be nothing more than sour apples in light of his and others part in the failed February putsch led by the Synod with the backing of some elements of the MC and Syosset functionaries. It is quite obvious that there is an agenda driving the rather contrived angst directed against +Jonah - and it's not the one Mark is stating - let's have some true "accountability" and "transparency" all the way around for a change.
(Editor's note: It is impossible to deny a negative - thus there is little point in trying to discuss a "failed February putsch" that only +Jonah and his supporters are convinced existed. The more interesting question is why a slice of the OCA thrives on conspiracy theories? What emotional satisfaction arises from sending credence to the same? However, since you characterize my previous reporting on these topics as accurate, but now see it only as "rather contrived angst directed against +Jonah", feel free to dismiss it, and the concerns I have raised. They won't go away, however.)
#6 Heracleides on 2011-03-28 16:12
Your reports, droll at best, are not an act of simply waiting. Your publishing all the judgements that trouble you. In that case, how can you say ocatruth and the Metroploitan's suppors sling all the mud while you so piously wait with Synod for these weeks to pass? Really!
(Editor's note: Because it is the fact. Show mud I have slung. Any. Any at all, about any person personally. I don't refer to the Metropolitan as a "fat geeky kid", nor a James Bond villan - that was one of his supporters. I report what he did and does: as well as what the Synod is doing, and not doing. And that is not mud-slinging. If you claim what I report is false - prove it. But good luck with that, friend, because the number of times I have had to correct things is rather few and far between, and without exception minor.
Finally, I have never claimed to be pious, but I am waiting. That is a fact as the meeting where all this is going to be hashed out is in six weeks. Or so one expects. Really!)
#7 Vicky Bolts on 2011-03-28 16:31
But Mark, it's the tone, the anger, the arrogance of your response to everyone who does not agree with you, the "I'm an insider attitude--I know more than the rest of you ignorant people. I know what's happening, and rest of you dare not question me." As an outsider reading your increasingly hysterical responses to those who disagree with you, I'm dismayed. I think you are basically a good person, but you need to step away from this. You are no longer a reporter, but a very angry partisan. And the mud slinging is not so much from your opposition but from you. Take a breath, shut down this fight until after Pascha, try to help others find peace.
(Editor's note: Ah, it is perceived "arrogance" that upsets you - because to be frank, show me mud I have slung. Anywhere. I report people's actions and sayings about the Church - not about them personally, or their families, or their lives, or gossip, or slander, or just plain lies. Whether I am a "good person" or not, "basically" or not, is irrelevant, and always has been. The only question is: Do I speak the truth, or not?
And if you say : "NOT", then be ready to back up your objections with fact.
As for "arrogance" I fully understand how that allegation arises: I do know things not yet disclosed to the public - as does everyone on the Synod, on various Committees, the MC, the staff, and so many others connected with this turmoil. So what to do about that? As I have explained before, there are a host of legal, pastoral, and other reasons why so many remain so silent in this turmoil- but that may not always be the case. As I reported, accurately, the Synod asked Jonah to take a Leave, fulfill some promises he made - he agreed, and then he reneged on the agreement. We can only wait to see if he fulfills the promises he made, even if he didn't keep his agreement. I openly reported the day after the Synod - not me - the Synod asked him to take a Leave - some of the reasons which led the Synod to do that. The Metropolitan then cries it is all a "plot" to destroy him. On what basis does he assert this? Apparently on an email in which I expressed my private disappointment with him, and acknowledge a growing consensus of many who would agree with that assessment. It is pretty flimsy grounds upon which to disobey one's Synod, and have one's Dean raise the flag of rebellion.
Of course this makes me angry. It should make everyone in the OCA angry. This whole nonsense is unwarranted, undignified, and unnecessary. And so, am I a "partisan" all of a sudden because I expressed an opinion privately? Friend, I was an angry partisan in 2005, otherwise this website would never have been started. However, I reported the facts accurately, as it turns out, despite being partisan and angry with the ancien regime. I continue to do so now, report the facts as fully and accurately as I can, even though I am not a partisan of the nouvellle regime - which, in so many instances is not nouvelle, but ancien in its acts, alas.
If you are looking for a disinterested observer with inside knowledge able to present the news of the OCA, such a beast does not exist. Lots of people observe, but have no knowledge; even more are disinterested; but only the interested follow the OCA, and if interested, they have opinions about it , pro and con. Boy, do they! Nevertheless, I continue strive for accuracy, and try to offer opportunities for various perspectives to express themselves.
Feel free to disagree, as always.)
#8 anon on 2011-03-28 16:55
This is the second time you have posted this, (at least, I suspect it's the same person, but I don't really care, you do make reference to the previous post).
Since you can't bother to get the date right, twice now, and by a rather large margin, you probably don't have much to offer in the way of historical review.
But otherwise, I know a nice blog for you where suspicion and impression and conspiracy theories replace any concern for factual accuracy. Perhaps the greatest benefit would be to at least contain all the wild insinuations in one place.
Fr Yousuf Rassam
#9 Anonymous on 2011-03-28 17:01
Mark, why do you care that +Jonah is being disobedient to his brother bishops? Let them deal with him.
(Editor's note: For the same reasons you should care: Money. Time. Loss of focus and opportunity. He won't pay the costs of his poor decisions - you and I do. The OCA simply does not have the resources, capital or human, to fritter away in constant administrative upheaval, poor pastoral decisions, failure to follow policies, unliateral decisions, failure to follow professional advice, and the like from a rogue bishop. I'll leave aside the questions of leadership, goals and methods. Is this good stewardship?)
#10 Peter on 2011-03-28 17:38
Thank you, Mark, for your work.
#11 Archpriest Christopher Wojcik on 2011-03-28 17:49
If Met. Jonah is "Rogue", the Bishops would have posted it on this blog. But since none of them have said so- anywhere- why do I see individuals repeating this wrongful title? It's not true.
(Editor's note: How absurd. Have you ever seen the Synod of the OCA post anything on this site? LOL. The issue is not whether the title is true, as whether it is just. That he gone rogue, i.e., has separated himself from the herd, in a destructive manner, is clear to everyone. Just look at this turmoil and debate you are participating in to see the damage he, and he alone, caused. So rogue is accurate. Is it just, however? I would argue that it is fully just - because he knew what he was doing when he did it - he didn't fall off the path - he charged off it when he flew back to NY and changed the press release previously agreed upon, as the Minutes of the Synod meeting reveal. Can he get back on the path? I don't know - his decision, not mine. But I am not going to cover up for him, and pretend the path doesn't exist, just because he has gone off it.... Nor should you. And my guess is that the word stings a little too much not because it is untrue or unjust, but because it is both.)
#12 Anonymous on 2011-03-28 17:52
I for one still commend your efforts. In some ways the current issues with +Jonah are more difficult to report on because there aren't a whole lot of documents at anyone's disposal to peruse such as there were with Kondratick and +Herman. Nonetheless, I know for a fact that what you have tried to report about +Jonah is truthful and accurate.
Someone in prior posts repeatedlly asked the question, "What has +Jonah done wrong?" I will answer from personal experience once again. Since his election, he has steadfastly refused to work with his administration. I couldn't care less if he wants to march in the snow and talk about abortion or shake hands with politicians. But I do care deeply about someone who was elected to do a job with a team of people in a specific office in a specific town, and the guy refuses to go there or listen to his staff.
Folks, can you give me any example of a CEO in the U.S. that can steer a company without being aboard the ship and not talking to the people on the ship? I would love for Fr. Tosi to add up the actual days and nights +Jonah has spent in Syosset, NY since his election. I'm sure that it wouldn't add up to a whole month. And who is the confidant, brother Gregory? A man with no college degree, career experience, or for that matter any seminary education to speak of who goes gallavanting around the world with +Jonah. Anyone but me sees this as a little odd? Even +Theodosius and +Herman had the sense to bring Kondratick around. These reasons alone make me question whether or not +Jonah should be metropolitan.
And now the recent controversy over the nun. He unilaterally allowed some monastics to come from Greece without proper canonical releases and to be under his obedience. In the world of Orthodoxy this is a huge slap in the face. Ask the Antiochians what they think of the Jerusalem Patriarchate accepting the deposed clergymen from Ben Lomand into their fold. Orthodoxy has enough problems and political intrigue on its own. It doesn't need more unnecessary controversies.
How about the lack of any investigation into the Archbishop Seraphim matter? Now on this one I do fault the entire Holy Synod for doing nothing. But as the metropolitan, who called a meeting of the Holy Synod in Washington, DC right after his consecration, he had more than enough opportunity to do the right thing. Instead he had to plan his trips to Mexico and Russia.
How about the appointment of Fr. Fester? Here is a priest who was in the inner circle of Kondratick and was/is on the fast track to being the next chancellor (at least in the eyes of +Jonah). Despite repeated requests to please seriously consider the decision, +Jonah just pushed ahead.
And the latest conspiracy, the diocese of the South needs a new bishop. Hello? Anyone listening? Of course they need a diocesan bishop. They have needed one since the retirement of archbishop Dmitri. And who exactly had the power to push forward with a search? I know, it was +Jonah.
And gee, I wonder why he didn't do anything? Maybe it had something to do with his condo in Dallas? This is just self-serving, bad, management.
Mark, I don't know if you're up for it or not, but in the dark days of the initial financial scandal with Kondratick, you periodically summarized what had occurred to date. I'm sure that your memory of events surrounding Jonah since his election are much better than mine. I for one would like to see a synopsis of +Jonah's "great achievements" since his election as metropolitan. Judging from your critics and now the few individuals who have now figured out how to set up a website, there is an enormous amount of revisionist history being written.
And by the way to all the current dissenters, if you havent' noticed yet, the information on sites like monarchos and ocatruth only go one way.
Say what you want about Mark, but he has been the only person to allow a true forum for ideas and opinions.
So Mark, thanks for the opportunity share my two cents.
#13 Anonymous on 2011-03-28 18:13
Really, stay focused.
I did not say you were the one slinging mud, although pointing out the few people willing to sign their name to a support list for Metropolitan Jonah implies he has little support rather than there are unknown numbers who support him but prefer to protect their privacy: not mud, just a murky comment.
Neither did I say you are false as you report His Beatitude's activities. I am not there and could not contradict you. I point out now though that you relentlessly report them rather than wait for resolution at the synod's meeting, waiting as they wait, in silence. Again, to be clear, that's not mud, just a rush to judgement.
(Editor's note: Wrong. First, you did accuse me of mud-slinging. But I forgive you. Second, to report there are few signers, when there are, is hardly murky. As for the "vast silent majority" unwilling to sign their names, well.... one can only say that I understand the reluctance since doing so only gets mud slung at you in this church, it appears. Kudos for you for having courage to do so. Finally, you are free to have your opinion regarding my reportage, but you are not free to re-arrange the facts. My "relentess reporting" of the Synod meeting occurred after it had concluded. The meeting ended on the 24th at 10 AM; by that evening the retired Bishop had published his original reporting, and a Greek site had stated the Metropolitan had been deposed. My first story appeared at the following morning - and accurately reported what had occured at the Synod meeting, i.e. that Jonah had been placed on leave, and that Nathaniel was the Temporary Administrator. I went on to detail reasons for that decision based on information from my sources. The Metropolitan then changed the official press release which did not appear until that afternoon - and critics were quick to cry that I was wrong. Only I wasn't; the Synod, to refute +Jonah's claims - not mine, since I was correct - published their Minutes a few days later showing what the Metropolitan had agreed to - and then reneged on that agreement. In the meantime the Metropolitan raised hue and cry through his minion claiming he was a "victim", etc.. Since +Jonah has never contested the Minutes accurate statements, the facts are clear for all to see, as is who is responsible for this turmoil. There was no rush to judgement here, not by the Synod, not by me, who reported accurately, what they did. The rush to judgement, as is his wont, was +Jonah's. Alas.
I hope this clarifies, although I doubt it will convince, since passions, once stirred, cannot be unmixed. For some +Jonah will always be a victim, because they want, and need, a victim here. For the majority, however, it is simply one more event, in a string of events, that show the Metropolitan has gone rogue.)
#14 Vicky Bolts on 2011-03-28 18:31
There are several mistatements of fact in your assertion.
The primatial election to which you refer was in 1977.
The Diocese of the South was not formed until 1978.
That the DOS has carved out its identity largely post-autocephaly and, therefore, post-Metropolia, is undoubtedly true, based upon its history. It couldn't have been otherwise.
The idea that somehow the DOS was the "anti-Syosset" is a matter of conjecture, at best.
And one need only look, again, at the record of the past five or six years which have demonstrated a DOS with remarkable public and private support, and consolation, for the "Syosset" of years' past.
#15 Fr John Reeves on 2011-03-28 19:03
Mark, in all honesty, I cannot figure out how or why the Synod would have any purview over a bishop tonsuring a nun in his own diocese. According to Article VI, section 4 of the Statute, the Diocesan Bishop:
f. "Shall exercise the right of pastoral action and discipline in reference to the diocesan clergy and laity in all cases not requiring the action of a Church Court;"
m. "Shall exercise the right of supervision over the monastic communities in his diocese and appoint their superiors;" (Now, this community is reportedly not in his diocese at the moment, but presumably this group came to one of his parishes, and he was acting in his capacity as a member of the clergy of the OCA.)
In Article IV, Section 2, the Metropolitan:
i. "Has the right of pastoral initiative and guidance, and when necessary the right of pastoral intervention, in all matters concerning the life of the Church within the framework of the holy canons;"
j. "Receives petitions for admission of clergy from other Orthodox Churches." (this takes care of their hieromonk)
On the other hand, Article II, Section 7, says the Holy Synod has jurisdiction and competence over:
a. "All matters involving doctrine, canonical order, morals, and liturgical practice;"
Granted, I have not seen the SMPAC report. Neither have you, Mark, by your own admission. Assuming the existence of a credible accusation of any awful thing that would result in this group being included in such a report, I insist that the Synod investigate any such accusation against this group and take any and every appropriate action.
However, does tonsuring a schemanun further or condone any sin on the part of the group or any individual within it? No. Does it compel their reception into the OCA? No. (It certainly doesn't change my jurisdictional status if I receive communion in a ROCOR, Bulgarian, or MP church, even though I am not of any of those jurisdictions.) As I recall, during Metropolitan Jonah's most recent trip to Russia, he was privileged to tonsure a Russian nun while he was there. Did that place her under his control? Not that I'm aware of. Will he ever even see that Russian nun again? Who knows?
As far as I can tell, all Metropolitan Jonah did was celebrate a mystery of the Church within his capacity as a prelate of the Orthodox Church. He did not step outside his purview according to the OCA Statute, whether as the Metropolitan or as a diocesan bishop. As his clerical functions are not suspended or removed, he has the right and authority to celebrate the mysteries as he sees fit, according to the canonical and liturgical order of the Church.
(Editor's note: Aye, there's the rub: "as he sees fit". Regardless of the consequences to anyone, or anything else, even the OCA itself. That is hardly a defense of a Primate of a Church, let alone a shepherd. But it does sum the problem with +Jonah up quite well. ( And your read-at-hand defense with copious canonical quotes reminds me of the gangsters hiding behind the Fifth. Yes, it is the law. Yes, I support it. But it doesn't undo what they are accused of doing, nor the consequences of it in the lives of others. Nor solve the problem...Ah well, we must excuse the bad behaviour of our bishops at all costs, no? As Dr. Phil would say: How's that been working for you these past 5 years?)
As for the nuns, the Synod's problems with +Jonah's relationship in establishing, assisting and continuing to encourage that communitiy's presence in DC predates the SMPAC report, although I am aware they are mentioned in that second Report as well. They have ordered action be taken: +Jonah "has not seen fit" to do so.)
#16 Cordelia on 2011-03-28 21:36
Are you saying that Archbishop Dmitri set up the diocese of the south simply because he did not become metropolitan in 1970? Are you saying that his 30+ years of ministry in the south is one elaborate payback for not becoming metropolitan? I would only ask that you would substantiate that claim with facts. I know Vladyko Dmitri personally, and that would have been the last thought that came through my mind when he invited me out for dinner my second or third time in an Orthodox church so many years ago. If you're right, he had me fooled. All these years I thought he actually cared for a confused and lonely soul (me). Your claim is unlikely, and is utterly repudiated by the tangible love he has shown and still shows for his flock.
The Republican analogy is utter non-sense. You will find some of the fiercest critics of the Republican party in the DOS.
I have gone back and forth on this culture war thing. There are some who say it is utter nonsense and there are no culture wars in the OCA. Yet comments such as the one above make me doubt that. There is clearly a camp that sees a group within the OCA as fundamentalist, republicans, "evangelical". Then there is another group on the other extreme that sees yet another group as being liberal, democrats, mainline protestant. Then there is probably a third group, the bulk I would guess, that are the least vocal, the most interested in simply living their life in Christ in a fallen world with all its grayness and ambiguity, angst if you will. Its the fringe groups that are destroying and causing strife in the Church.
Mark claims it is only Metropolitan Jonah, yet the Bishops have not said that. OCA truth says its Mark and a small group of Bishops and influential clergy and laypersons, yet Metropolitan Jonah has not made an official statement to that effect. Is the OCA really on the brink of destruction? Are the churches on the brink of closing? Are our monastic communities closing? Are our seminaries closing? Are there people leaving en mass? Are clerics jumping ship? I have not seen any. The only chaos I have seen is on the internet.
Whatever friction there is between the synod and the metropolitan, they seem to be handling in a very civil way.
I must be the first to admit that I have been tossed around by both ocanews and ocatruth. Both claim to deliver truth, yet none of their claims are substantiated by facts. They both spread rumors and innuendo.
(Editor's note: Well, we can fully agree that the culture wars are not an issue for most people in the OCA! Thank God. Beyond that, you and I diverge, insofar as the your summary diverges from the facts. Fact: I do claim the problem is mainly with Metropolitan Jonah. So do all the Bishops, as evidenced by their Minutes. They all unanimously encouraged him to take a Leave; not a small group, not some, but all. They did not establish a review, or create a new program to address the OCA's problems: because we have them already. And they are working. So is our Church, Thank God. Fact: They told one man to take a "time out" - and he wouldn't even do that peacefully. Which evidences quite clearly where, and who, the problem is. Instead of taking a break, he through a hissy fit; and unable to get a rise from the Bishops, has continued on his merry way, doing all the things " as he sees fit" to quote another poster, disregarding their counsel and advice, as evidenced by his most recent action of tonsuring of the nun in DC. Feel free to disagree, although I doubt you could get more clear evidence as to what, and who, the problem is.
Finally, I resent and reject your assertion of moral equivalence between this site and OCAtruth. I have spread no gossip nor innuendo because I have no need to. I have no need to defend anyone , nor need to gather an audience, nor do I have an ideological social agenda to push. You look in vain on this site to find any of the above. I let everybody speak, even those I disagree with because that contributes to accountability and transparency - if not always clarity or wisdom of thought. But that is another issue...
And I let the facts speak for themselves. Those facts will keep on coming, despite the hysteria manufactured by others.)
#17 O Hamartolos on 2011-03-28 21:37
And if anyone would like to see the Bond villain or geeky fat kid remarks in context, please follow this link: http://ocanews.org/serendipity/index.php?/archives/607-Fr.-Jensens-Reflection.html#c120923 I was not insulting the Metropolitan, but lampooning certain factions of his opposition.
#18 Cordelia on 2011-03-28 22:10
Mark, your patient and reasonable responses to these commentors is inspiring. Folks, these are not the responses of a foaming-at-the-mouth, power-crazed partisan. The way you people write, one would think Mark actually wanted Jonah to fail as a metropolitan. Has Mark, or anyone on the MC or the Synod, called for Jonah's resignation (as they would have had every right to at this point)? No! They tried to admonish him quietly first, as the Apostle says, and only when he refused to be admonished, they took the matter to the Church by exposing Jonah's machinations to the light, in hopes that he will repent. If any of that exposition could have been proved false, it would have been. When there are facts deployed on one side and only ad hominem attacks and various other fallacies (notably one C.S. Lewis called Bulverism) on the other, the conclusion is painfully evident.
Go back and read the articles on this site around the time of Jonah's election. We all wanted him to succeed, very badly. Jonah had the support, love and prayers of almost the whole OCA, and he has slowly squandered it in service to a bizarre personal agenda to attack the foundations of our common life. This is not about the politics of the world, nor about a power struggle within the church, but rather, it is about the basis on which we exist as a Church- as a conciliar entity, bound by love and truth, or a brainwashed entity bound by the private whims of the metropolitan.
#19 motovilov on 2011-03-29 01:53
The secresy is tearing apart this Church on a national level. It is hardly felt in most local parishes but those who believe in and hope for an American church are quite discouraged by this turmoil.
It appears to me that our Metropolitan made enemies the moment he mentioned moving from Syosset to Washington. Does the albeit probably small beauracracy there now look at the Metropolitan as a threat because they would have to move and uproot their families or consider new employment?
It also appears to me that the same people who are so now concerned that the Metropolitan is attempting to give away the OCA's autocephaly in favor of a chance for a nationally unified church are the same people who were so upset that he spoke so "boldly" albeit indirectly to the Ecumenical Patriarch about the OCA's existance whether the Patriarch wishes it or not.
And last. It seems now that the people keeping "the secrets" have now changed. It used to be Herman, Kondratik and so on. Now some of the very people who decried lack of transparency are now doing the same. And for the same reasons....i'm in a position of responsibilty and must protect the church or there are legal issues ect....
For example...If there's a legitimate reason for not establishing a monastic community in Washington then it should be heard. Why all the secrecy?
I'm not really sure what the heck is going on behind the scenes. Only a few of the chosen "elect" know. Isn't that how we ended up in our previous scandal under 2 previous Metropolitans??
(Editor's note: I understand and appreciate your frustration, Scott. Let me address your concerns in order.
No, concern with the Metropolitan did not arise from, or in any great part, from his desire to move to Washington. Nor is the staff bound to Long Island. A housing allowance works just the same in DC as Syosset. The Washington issue is not about politics, culture wars, diocesan boundaries, history, new starts, old buildings, archives or any of that. It is about process. Are we a Church of whim, or laws? Do we do things because one man takes it in his head to do X today, and then Y, and then Z, tomorrow? Or do we examine major issues ( and moving a national administration involving buildings, archives, people, etc. is a major, multi-million dollar issue) in a systematic, deliberative, conciliar manner, such that decisions can be made on the basis of costs, results, goals, not to mention an on-going strategic planning process?
The Metropolitan expressed his wish to move, the MC balked at the cost, the Synod opined that it deserved more study, and the Metropolitan went ahead and tried to change and move things unilaterally. You can see this is no way to run a railroad; nor does such inspire trust or confidence in someone's leadership.
And this is just episode among many. Now, why haven't the Synod and MC been talking about all this openly for the last three years? Well, we have discussed this particular issue on this site - but it is true you will find few criticisms of the Metropolitan over the past three years here. Why? No one wanted to be adverserial, everyone wanted to give him a chance. I refer you back to my editorial the day before the election, and why I said I would not vote for +Jonah. Lacking experience I feared he would make his rookie mistakes in public - which he has. Witness the EP disaster. Everyone, including me, gave him a pass. Unfortunately, three years in is way past your rookie season; and the mistakes are not from inexperience, but judgement, and attitudes, and poor choices. And they are multiplying, as various reports indicate. The Synod finally thought a Leave was in order. Let's see if it changes anything. So far, nothing has changed has it? He goes about his merry way "as he sees fit". Ouch.
As for secrecy, that is a problem, because many of the mistakes in judgement, attitudes and poor choices, I referred to above are detailed in the SMPAC report, to which I have referred to in previous articles. That has not been released, and for legal reasons, may not be. That is the call of the Synod and MC, who would have to defend the Church should legal action follow.
So, then, how is this different than the ancien regime? There is a profound and fundamental difference. First, the issues are being discussed and dealt with by the appropriate authorities - not just two people with the most to hide. There is a SMPAC Report - before the disaster hits, rather than after! The Synod as a whole, not just the Metropolitan, is reviewing these concerns: so is the entire MC, insofar as they deal with finances and legal matters - not just a handpicked Admin Committee of syncophants . The staff at Syosset offers professional and pastoral advice now. They are not just enablers as in the past. (And as proof of that, you can see where that got Fr. Garklavs...)
So, Scott, the system is working as it was envisioned to work: accountably, responsibly, with the long-term future of the OCA, not the crisis of the moment, in focus. It requires cooperation by the Synod and MC, and the Metropolitan, which is currently lacking. Is it fully transparent yet? No. Hence I am still here. Will it ever be? One hopes to the extent, legally, it can be. I still have hope. Is it fully accountable? Well, May's meetings will tell that story. If we continue to enable bad behaviours without consequences, as we have in the past, I am not sanguine about our future. If we stop enabling, well, our family will stop being so dysfunctional, and perhaps be the source of strength, comfort and joy, we all want it to be.
Healing is never easy, and often messy. But we have choose to heal, and that means dealing with the real problem, not just being distracted by the symptoms.
Hope that helps.)
#20 Scott Yonkin on 2011-03-29 04:54
I agree with the previous posters re: Mark's partisan editorializing thinly veiled as unbiased reporting.
In one previous comments section, I asked you what you needed to disclose in terms of conflicts of interest serving on the MetCouncil and reporting on the MC, Synod and Metropolitan. I was extremely disappointed with the lack of self awareness you expressed by completely dismissing it stating, "So, no, in that there is no conflict of interest." These criticisms are not manufactured against you, Mark. They are very obvious connections that I am surprised you cannot see. It boils down to a basic logical ethic that those who make the news cannot report it. Please re-read your Jonah Retreats post and pay attention to the passion-ful and angry tone (and complete factual inaccuracies that OCATruth is somehow Jonah's... "quel surprise"... full disclosure, I don't like OCATruth at all but Met. Jonah as a person is clearly not behind it). I offer this advice since you like to lecture about what an awful job Met. Jonah is doing, how pathetic the bishops are and the stupidity of your competing websites. I share the same high level of distrust for your reports as the other posters in this forum.
(Editor's note: I have never said the other website is "stupid"; I said it was "hysterical". Count the exclamation points. I never said the Bishop are "pathetic". I said, privately, "they couldn't find their way out of a paper bag". Taken out of context it does make them seem pathetic; but in the context I was speaking, that is technologically, in relation to their inability to use modern communication methods to discuss problems, it is true. Ask if any use an I-pad, or even have a smart phone, let alone Skype. One? Two at most? They are, as a body, proud Luddites. They are totally dependent on others to arrange their communications as a group - and when the Chancellor was fired, as was the case to which I was referring, there was no one to arrange for them to speak together in a crisis. Ouch. (LOL: This is price we pay for celibacy; they lack teenage children who function as most of our personal IT managers!)
Now, to the substance of your complaint: that those who make the news cannot report it. Why does the OCA have a website then? Or any government, or company, or organization? The point is the objectivity that you desire is a phantasm and myth. The issue is credibility, disclosure and accuracy. I have disclosed my goals: transparency and accountability, not to mention my bias for conciliarity. I am unusually accurate, and thus have been a credible source for the last 5 years. Being on the MC, or not, has not changed any of that, nor influenced in any major way. (I did not publish, by choice, legal discussions of the OCA prior to my membership; I do not publish them now by virtue of my position. The reason has changed, but not the end result.) Feel free to disagree. )
#21 ASP on 2011-03-29 05:15
Well, well, well. All the anonymice seem to be springing out of the woodwork. Any and all of you who are SO afraid of Mark's awesome superpowers that you can't man up and OWN up to your accusations really SHOULD be silent! Or better yet, do as the man asked and PROVE where in the past 5 YEARS he's been wrong and NOT corrected it! But no, you just want to hurl ANONYMOUS accusations! ENOUGH!
For the love of God, it's Great Lent! If you gonna talk trash, at LEAST own it! Otherwise, maybe you really ought to concentrate on the last stanza of St. Ephraim's prayer????
#22 Alexander Ivsky on 2011-03-29 06:08
On the list of Metropolitan Jonah’s field of destruction may be Bishop Mark who has been left hanging in the wind. The Metropolitan and Synod sent him to Dallas in hopes that the clergy and laity would get to know him and realize the talents he could bring to the DOS. Without promising election, the prospect of +Mark being among the nominees seemed likely.
Now he is caught in the center of the storm vortex. He is privately being accused by Jonah’s apologists as not strongly enough supporting the metropolitan and not being a “good fit” for the DOS. After what Bishop Mark endured with +Philip and corrupt Antiochian church politicians he does not deserve to be hung out to dry by the OCA Synod who just several months ago welcomed and embraced him in their midst.
(Editor's note: One cannot help but notice that the poor Bishop is a no-win situation, having entered the OCA in the middle of the storm, and really, in the eye of it. One would hope there are more voices in the South than just Jonah's apologists in Dallas involved in such a decision, though, if, as you say, voices are being raised against him. One has to imagine the Deans from across the South would consider him, among other candidates, once the Diocese is declared vacant; if not, one wonders what is their standard? In the end, though, it is the decision of the clergy and people of that Diocese to nominate their candidates for election by the Synod.)
#23 A once again disgusted priest on 2011-03-29 08:01
To all the Mark Stokoe detractors posting anonymously (Alexander Ivsky's points are well taken):
A week or so ago, I asked Fr Thomas Hopko to tell me, without violating any confidentialities, what occurred at the meeting in New York, where he was present when +Metropolitan Hilarion spoke with +Metropolitan Jonah and others. Fr Tom's response was succinct: "It all occurred exactly and as accurately as Mark Stokoe has reported it!!!" Period!!
As Mark would advise: Let's stop allowing ourselves to be distracted by "spin" topics and concentrate on the real problems at hand!! 'Nuff said!!
#24 David Barrett on 2011-03-29 09:36
I would imagine the issue with Metropolitan Jonah tonsuring one of these nuns to the great schema concerns the fact that their diocesan metropolitan in Greece has not released them to the OCA and, I assume, did not ask Metropolitan Jonah to tonsure any of them to anything. This isn't just taking communion in another jurisdiction's parish that you're visiting over the weekend - this is a blessing that has been numbered among the mysteries and that centers on obedience. What obedience is it if you leave your hierarch for another and are tonsured by him without a proper blessing? Metropolitan Jonah may have tonsured someone in Russia, but I am sure it was done with the blessing of the relevant hierarch. In this case (if all is as it has been reported) he has acted against the unity of the Church by tonsuring a member of another bishop's flock.
Sorry, to remain anonymous, but I can't resist-- it is a little bit like an infinite regress problem-- isn't it mocking the last stanza of the Prayer of St. Ephraim to point out that others (that would be: *others*) are not paying attention to the last stanza of the Prayer of St. Ephraim? And now I am joining in the sin, when we all should just remain silent. Lord have mercy!
#26 Anonymous on 2011-03-29 11:11
dear feel free to disagree (but only as you see fit it seems), jesus called the pharisees those foxes if you'll recall. i remember the retort of a Olympic runner when told by the prince of wales that he was being arrogant in refusing to run on Sunday (from the movie *chariots of fire). Eric Liddell, the runner, a Christian retorted, with no lack of passion *It is arrogance rather to ask a man to go against his beliefs, Sir!*.
those who would use acceptable and polite (and/or *Christian) to conceal the truth in the name of religion end up becoming tools of evil. that said, i do not think Mark has even approached any Lenten lines of judging anyone, but has courageously stood, in the face of being judged, on the unwavering line of truth.
#27 karen jermyn on 2011-03-29 11:20
"Indeed, there is a new nun in Washington, DC, thank God. The woman is in her sixties, lives full time in a hospice facility, and having learned of the monastic path, is experiencing a joy previously unknown to her. You see, she is terminally ill, dying of cancer. " (from OCATruth - http://www.ocatruth.com/?p=656)
Mark, what do you say regarding the above quoted assertion?
I still for the life of me don't understand what Metropolitan Jonah is supposed to have done that is so dastardly. I've read your postings and just don't see the reason for the outrage. Would you please spell it out for those of us who just don't get it?
And I must say, for a man who seemingly had no scruples using 'unnamed' or 'anonymous' sources in the past, your attitude regarding the same in this situation seems most puzzling.
(Editor's note: The nun is not the issue; nor is her tragic situation. May God offer her peace in these final days. Nor did I express "outrage". I reported what the Metropolitan did - which was, no matter how worthy the candidate, or situation - neither of which I reported on because it is irrelevant - the issue at hand. That is, the Metropolitan was told not to establish a community in DC, and did; and not to support it; and did; and to return the nuns; which he didn't. He dealt with another's servants - which one can argue was reasonable or not given the circumstances - but this is violation of the Synod's and the Orthodox Church's polity - especially given this involves another local Church. That is inappropriate for a Metropolitan to do, according the customs and standards of the the Orthodox Church. Could not an exception be done for this instance, given these circumstances? Perhaps - but none was requested of the Synod, or the Church involved, rather the Metropolitan did " as he sees fit", regardless of consequences or established practices. Ah, well, that's the problem and issue - not her.)
#28 A Nony Mouse on 2011-03-29 13:06
I don't think it's completely fair to blame +Jonah by saying he didn't do anything to find a bishop for the DOS. I had heard months ago from friends in the DOS that +Jonah did find a priest he wants to be bishop for the DOS but another bishop refused to allow it because he wants him to be bishop somewhere else. (As rediculous as that sounds, that's what I heard happened. Maybe someone else heard more about it? I never heard anything more such as names.) It seems to me more and more that the craziness in our OCA is truly a team effort, and not all on one person. It's sad.
(Editor's note: You may have conflated stories. Indeed +Jonah hiimself was on the short list for the Diocese of WPA candidates, when he was "taken" as your describe by Archbishop Dmitiri to be his "vicar" three years ago. There were several potential candidates informally paraded through Dallas, all of which have been dismissed as not acceptable by the former Archbishop, Deans, and others. Few recently. But the fact remains that the Diocese has never been declared "Vacant", which is necessary to formally begin the search in a serious manner.)
#29 Anonymous on 2011-03-29 13:07
Sorry you don't agree, but I've seen this happen from the inside. + Dimitri, although a very good man, always wanted to "beat his own drum." There are many instances, but he insisted that the KJ version be used; he ordained priests without any Ortho. theo. training; etc. There are many things which have resulted in an "attitude" of "we do this" while "those in NY do that." An anti-Syosset, anti-Schmemann; anti-OCA; anti-Synod attitude. And, here we are. + Jonah the rogue bishop thinking he can do whatever because someone gave him a white hat. Apparently, his time at SVS was wasted!
#30 Anonymous on 2011-03-29 15:23
Mark - please just tell the truth! Be a real man and print this comment. It's clear what kind of person you are if this comment does not see the light of day.
I am a parishioner of St Nicholas Cathedral in good standing and I am writing to you in order to offer a clarification of something recently posted (March 28) to OCAnews.org under the title “News From Across the OCA”.
The author of OCAnews.org is often mistaken, and often posts false or half-true items about life at the cathedral. This is understandable, as St Nicholas is a large and vibrant community, and even members of the community have been known to enter the gossip mill before getting the facts straight. However, being close to one of the events enumerated in this latest posting, and finding the latest negligence of the author’s posting to be too much to ignore, I offer the
Indeed, there is a new nun in Washington, DC, thank God. The woman is in her sixties, lives full time in a hospice facility, and having learned of the monastic path, is experiencing a joy previously unknown to her. You see, she is terminally ill, dying of cancer. When God calls her, she wants to die not as a laywomen, but as a nun. She was tonsured a riassaphore a few weeks ago before being tonsured last week to the schema. One of the nuns sewed her a habit that ties in the back like a hospital gown, because she is bedridden except for complete necessity and would be unable to dress herself in a conventional habit. Consumed with joy, she has yet to take off the habit, something that her caregivers have recognized and haven’t yet pushed her to do.
Last week, in the hospice chapel, surrounded by her nurses and caregivers and with heroic strength, sitting up in a wheelchair, she received tonsure at the hands of the Metropolitan. Weak and handicapped by cancer, she has taken on the yoke of monastic obedience. Dying, she has received new life in a baptism of repentance. Bedridden, she is running towards God, her Father.
Is there anything more beautiful? Is this not an icon to be revered?
To be fair, the main fact of the author’s post was correct. That is, it is true that the Metropolitan performed a sacrament within his own diocese. But every other sentence in the paragraphs that surround that fact are designed to discredit that fact or to obscure its merit. But the question is, to what end? Aren’t we to rejoice in this, as it says in scriptures that the angels do, when a person comes to God? Who are we to judge what the Metropolitan has discerned
is unto this woman’s salvation? Who? The author, who lives in a different city, in a different state, halfway across the country, who has never met this dying woman, who has never seen her joy? Who are we to sit in judgement of such pastoral counsel?
To conceal the fullness of what has happened to this woman, and to use facts in the manner that the author has, is to abuse those who go to the author’s website for an account of transparent and accountable process within the church. The author writes with an authority that betrays his underlying factual basis, and it misleads the faithful. Frankly, it seems sinful.
I hope you find this clarification fit to print. I’d sent it to the author of OCAnews.org, but I don’t think it’d see the light of day there.
A parishioner of St Nicholas Cathedral
If granting a terminally ill woman’s wish to die as a nun is what Stokoe calls “defiance,” then God bless our defiant primate.
(Editor's note: See my reply above.)
#31 Truth on 2011-03-29 15:49
ok, snarky Mark, glad I could aid you to "LOL" . . . at least someone is laughing. So, if not on this blog then send letters to the faithful, the usual way to communicate if THEY -the bishops - want us to know something as important as a Rogue Bishop on the loose. So far I've not heard it from them and from what I see MJ. is staying put. He's of sound mind-not unbalanced as reported. Nor has he broken any Canon Laws (tonsuring a nun-are you serious- how terrible). As far as I can see, it is you who splatterd this story all over the church and made this bigger then it needed to be. It should have stayed amoungst the bishops. Now you look snarky and we have to bear this burden. Thanks a lot!
(Editor's note: I suggest you check your facts. It was a retired Bishop who splatted this all over the internet - and the Metropolitan who changed the press release - and the Synod who released their Minutes to refute his claims. Now the Diocese of the West has issued a resolution. I had nothing to do with any of the above - so while you may find me snarky, for using LOL?, you are not accurate in your criticisms. )
#32 Parasha on 2011-03-29 17:58
Dear Mark! You have a good reputation for fairness and objectivity. There are a number of walking wounded who will decry your efforts, but you have my back here.
It is sad that such a tiny little 'jurisdiction' as the OCA has such hurdles but I suppose it is the result of Satan's deceit. We have to get closer to the Lord to overcome this.
As one who has met some of the hierarchy in my past life, I have nothing bad to say about them, but I think they should all be obedient to each other.
Consensus wins the day.
And that is the Orthodox way,
as we say.
Sorry fpr the poetry,
#33 rdr James on 2011-03-29 18:00
I felt tossed about too over the current Church political 'issues', and so I decided to play the skeptic and visited ocatruth. From there I linked to Fr. Gregory Jensen's site http://palamas.info/?p=5989&cpage=1#comment-4540
After posting a comment and several replies to Fr. Jensen's replies to my comment, my last reply was answered with deletion (something I've not known Mark to do here) and I am now blocked from posting any further comments or replies on his site.
I find the 'arguments' presented by Fr. Jensen in support of right wing political activism ludicrous, but then he's a commentator and writer at OrthodoxyToday.org and American Orthodox Institute websites of Hans Jacobse, where right wing transvestitism parades itself in Orthodox Christian drag. Once, he responded to my comment in the OT forum to accuse me of cutting and pasting without understanding the content. He then claimed to have been received into the Greek Church solely on the academic 'strength' of his non seminary dissertation on Met. Heirotheos Vlachos, and to accuse me of misunderstanding Vlachos, that he would never say that heterodox or nonChristians weren't 'real persons'. I later found a quote in Vlachos' The person in the Orthodox Christian that supported my statement in saying that such people were potentially persons but could not be considered as such, and emailed it to him, but never heard back or received an apology for his assessment of me and for deeming me as not having been properly catechized as the fault of the priesthood (a slander against my priest). This behavior of someone who bills themselves as an "independent scholar" is indeed indicative of a priesthood naturally selects for left-brain, cerebral types by nature of 'academic' training.
As one of my replies indicates, he 'modified' his stance after being challenged over it. No doubt, my last reply was deleted because he has no reply. My comment and replies there speak for themselves.
I'm thankful for the presence of OCAnews.org, otherwise I'd be clueless about my intuitive gut uneasiness over Orthodoxy in America. For some time now, I have been aware of something rotten in Denmark, and will be glad when the stench is finally purged, so recovery can begin.
The following is my reply that was answered with deletion at palamas.info -
"It is not witness in the agora that is problematic, but the manner in which political activists rationalistically 'think' such 'witness' should be conducted. Your lengthy reply conveniently skips over that point, that such 'manner' as is continually being promoted is effectively foolish.
And BTW, 'fundamentalist groups' are typically those that pontificate about moral issues in the agora, particularly homosexuality and abortion, who believe in such apostasies as 'rapture' millenialism and 'christian' zionism, so please don't try to taint the Amish with the broad brush of 'fundamentalism'.
If not mistaken, the Amish don't participate in any of the fundamentalist nonsense, and can hardly be considered 'fundamentalist' for being nonviolent and not sucking up to consumerism,
which BTW you fail to address that by participating in consumerism and not 'witnessing' to the 'moral' failure of the covetous western lifestyle renders the political activist 'witness' mute, "all hat and no cattle".
I think the Wisdom of God would not 'witness' in the agora with such little creativity as is being exhibited, and that Christ would upbraid the approach of "all hat and no cattle", talking head march/pontificating instead of living walk. Political activism in the typical worldly manner is focus on others instead of self. The Holy Spirit converts; it takes knowing someone on a personal level, and the right moment at some failure of their life for them to turn to a Christian and be open to 'hearing' the Gospel. That is agora witness, not 'protest' marches, and official bureaucratic 'statements', etc.
Political activism is a manner of forcing the message down people's throats, which renders the 'good news' unpalatable. Such is getting in God's way, and forcing human ways as if such is of Christ. But of course, those dedicated to left-brain, academic, cerebral, linear thinking will not find any option, especially such a 'personal' one described above, as palatable to their way of 'thinking', only an institutional approach by which they can revel in the celebrity spotlight. So much for not letting the right hand know what the left is doing or for praying 'in secret', in the 'closet'.
For centuries, the activist m.o. hasn't worked for heterodoxy, so why would it work for Orthdoxy, especially an Orthodox m.o. that makes Orthodoxy indistinguishable from heterodoxy.
The burden of proof that political activism is and has been part of the Church and is essential to her witness is on those who insist on conducting such activism in the agora. Come up with an approach that is effective, and I'll fall in step. Until then, count me out.
BTW, those churchmen who insist on political activism would be 'wise' to take council from Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, the Church social liason in Canada. See -
A concept of god that does not promote violence
Your moralism is killing you
Eastern Orthodox perspective on "the End Times"
Interview about christmas
Directory of links
Mark, the reason I dug up those quotations is to show that the situation with the monastics is likely entirely under Metropolitan Jonah's purview. Unless the stipulation in II.7.a is triggered by some aspect of the situation, the thoughts of other bishops on the matter are not really relevant. There is no contingency in the Statute for when the Holy Synod "gets to second-guess every decision the Metropolitan makes in his own diocese, but still keeps him as active primate." They have no authority beyond II.7.a, which as far as I can see, only might have bearing on the issues surrounding their failure to get a release from their Greek bishop. I don't know why they weren't released. For all I know, it could be that their release is being denied for a bad reason, and Met. Jonah's ministering to them is a good-faith act to protect and save innocent people, even if it costs the OCA something on the political front. The point is, you don't know for a fact that he's doing something wrong. Maybe it would be best to dig deeper into the issue before sending Met. Jonah before the firing squad?
I imagine if the objections of the unnamed others were serious and had merit, either the Metropolitan would have taken them into account, or the other members of the Synod would have taken the Metropolitan to the woodshed. They have not; otherwise, instead of teaching, preaching, and tonsuring in DC, he would be walled up in a monastery right now.
You appear to have taken issue with my use of the words "as he sees fit" with respect to the Metropolitan's recent actions. I am sorry that this disappoints you, but bishops are allowed to use personal knowledge and pastoral discretion in their decisions. Sometimes this involves statements and actions that you don't agree with personally. I know I don't agree with some things Metropolitan Jonah has said and done. This doesn't make him a bad person or a bad bishop, especially when the supposed justification for questioning his leadership is based largely on a private document you have never seen.
I think you are blinded by your emotions, Mark. I suggest you go read what was posted on OCAtruth about the nun in this situation, and learn something about the emotions going into your opponents. Consider that there are probably not too many hieromonks in the DC area who could have done this, as only bishops can tonsure to a higher rank than the one they themselves hold, and hieromonks cannot. Consider that the nun in question is terminally ill, with the calling to become a schemanun before she died, and Bishop Mark, Met. Jonah's auxiliary, lives in Dallas. As far as I can tell, Metropolitan Jonah was the only member of the OCA clergy, within a hundred miles of Washington, who was capable of tonsuring this nun to the Great Schema, to fulfill her life's calling and dying wish.
The bottom line for me is that either this is much more serious than the Synod has been treating it, making them derelict in their duty to remove a true rogue Metropolitan, or it's really not the clear-cut issue you think it is.
I've told you before that I don't subscribe to the so-called Brum Doctrine, that the Metropolitan can act without accountability. I will freely admit to being somewhat biased towards Metropolitan Jonah personally, if only because I've met every member of the Synod save Archbishop Nathaniel, and Metropolitan Jonah was one of the few that I was at all impressed by. As a refugee from one of America's other troubled jurisdictions, it takes a lot for any bishop, or widely-worshiped so-called starets or geronta, or even a protopresbyter generally thought to be halfway decent, to amount to much in my eyes. I don't mean to be coy, but I also don't want to air my personal life as I think there's been entirely too much of that. I just want to say Metropolitan Jonah earned every bit of the respect and love that I have for him, and that I don't maintain those blindly.
#35 Cordelia on 2011-03-29 22:55
So...let me get this straight..the Holy Synod decides not to admit these nuns into the OCA but Met.Jonah goes ahead and admits one...am I crazy or has he really stepped outside of what a Metropolitan should do with his brothers? Is it right for him to ignore a decision made by the Holy Synod?
#36 Stephen on 2011-03-30 01:46
Your facts are wrong! + Dimitri lost the election to + Theodosius at the Sobor in late 1970, I believe. + Dimitri had the popular vote, but not the vote of the bishops. He did go to Wash, Florida, Mexico and then Dallas. However, it was in Dallas that + Dimitri formulated his own kingdom!
#37 Anonymous on 2011-03-30 08:32
"She wants? " i thought part of embracing the monastic life was obedience and submission to the will of God. .. And the monastic who is the Metropolitan disobeyed the Synod who told him(and he agreed with their request) to retreat into spiritual reflection for the good of the church. Do we believe the Synod is acting in accordance with the will of God? Would the nun be happy that her life's wish came to her through disobedience? If she truly embraced God's will, could she have accepted that it was not in God's plan that she died a nun? I am happy this poor suffering woman is happy. But I think the "iconic" nature of this moment is quite tarnished...touching in a Hallmark kinda way, but not inspiring.......
Are there no parents reading these posts? Can't anybody see the difference between the child who, respectful and chastened, goes to his room and the defiant child, who goes to his room after kicking the dog, punching the wall, and sticking his tongue out at his sibling as he slams the door in his face?
#38 margaret on 2011-03-30 11:46
The Metropolitan did not accpet the nuns into the OCA. He tonsured a dying woman into their schema, something canonical that is practised often without much attention.
#39 Skeptical on 2011-03-30 14:51
ahhh... margaret. have you mistyped your name? Your words reminded me suddenly of a woman long ago named Martha who spoke against her sister to Jesus Christ... no, on reflection, rereading your post, I was mistaken. You are margaret after all. Saint Martha would never of spoken of her sister Mary before the Lord Jesus in the way you have spoken to the whole world about this woman, our sister.
#40 Anonymous on 2011-03-30 20:45
Your thorough response has allowed to me better understand what is actually going on. It's still not a great situation. But it appears not to be any of the many un-christian possibilities that people (including myself) who are not close to this situation can conjure up in their mind.
Thanks for making this a lot clearer Mark.
#41 Scott Yonkin on 2011-03-31 05:39
Dear Anonymous (there are so many posts by you!) My criticism was for the behavior of the Metropolitan, not the sick woman. I was also more bothered by how something that could have been beautiful, was ruined by the less than proper circumstances, therefore, i didn't share the parishioner's feeling the scene portrayed an icon. (I guess that's my Martha-ness?) I wouldn't want to be the recipient of a gift that came to me by questionable means(that is,+Jonah is not supposed to be functioning in this way right now,no?) Is your point that it WAS God's will that he disobey his brothers so this woman could die a nun? Guess that's possible...
I'm sorry, but if my sister/brother thought I was wrong about something, I would hope she would point it out to me. I assume it's in that spirit you respond to me? I assume, as angry and exasperated as we all get,everyone on this site is doing just that....and speaking "to the whole world" about our brothers and sisters before the Lord, because i don't doubt He sees/hears all this? And I personally don't have a problem with the Lord knowing I think +Jonah has acted like a disobedient child and that I'm sorry a woman's vocation was fulfilled amidst scandalous behavior. Thank you for pointing out my writing probably needs to be clearer about my actual point. I hope I did better this time......
#42 margaret on 2011-03-31 15:29
Actually you are wrong. I will refer you to the Holy Synod Primatial Elections of The OCA.
Fr. Reeves has always done a great job at getting his facts straight before publishing.
#43 Sarah on 2011-03-31 16:25
Peace be with you.
I don't know enough about most of this controversy to pretend to know what is what, let alone take sides - especially since I am not at this time in the OCA (though I was previously).
"Skeptical" is quite right about the custom of tonsuring a dying person into the monastic schema. It is an ancient and venerable custom. I know of other examples of this within the OCA, particularly involving someone who lived as a monastic "in the world," although not free to enter the monastery she loved and supported. The Holy Synod has no role in such a decision, any more than they would in a baptism or marriage.
Nonetheless, simply as a monastic and brother in Christ to all who post here, I would like to point out that, unless there is a newly enacted OCA statute to the contrary, the establishment of a monastery, admission of persons to that monastery, and their tonsure to any given rank is the prerogative of the diocesan bishop, not of the Holy Synod. While this does not address the question of proper release from previous canonical authorities (as is alleged), it does mean that there is little point in dragging this issue into the debate as if His Beatitude had done anything different from what any other diocesan bishop is entitled to do.
Since the debate concerns the need for all to act within the genuine boundaries of their authority or prerogatives (as is fitting and most healthy for the Church), I thought it germane to point out the above. It would be the Holy Synod that acted wrongly if it tried to interfere in the prerogative of a ruling bishop to further monastic life within his diocese (which does not rule out the members of the Synod offering brotherly counsel if they see a problem). If I have, indeed, missed some newer statute or constitutional decision, I apologize and acknowledge my comment as irrelevant.
May God have mercy upon us all.
(Editor's note: Thank you father, but in this instance you have missed the point of controversy. The nuns are only resident in his diocese, but not canonically part of it; indeed, they too are not canonically part of the OCA. The Metropolitan did not, it is reported, have the permission of their bishop to conduct the tonsuring- hence the rub. If this were his own monastery, in his own diocese, with his own nuns, no one would have a problem. Unfortunately it is not the case.)
#44 Schema-monk Theodore on 2011-04-04 09:14
Apparently, no one seems to consider
1. that the woman tonsured to the Great Schema is dying and, therefore, that time is of the essence;
2. that being tonsured before one reposes is an ancient and entirely praiseworthy custom, and that to deprive this soul of that opportunity would be both stupidly cruel and wholly contrary to Holy Tradition as it relates to monasticism;
3. that tonsuring a monastic is not a primatial function (and, strictly speaking, not at all an episcopal function, but an abbatial one) and that therefore the Metropolitan did not violate the strictures imposed upon him in a canonically-questionable manner;
4. that a person can be tonsured as a solitary (recalling, of course, that the word "monk" comes from the Greek word "monos," "alone");
5. that using his completely proper exercise of pastoral care as a club with which to beat the Metropolitan is reprehensible and to be utterly rejected. While the issue of the convent may be legitimate, tonsuring a dying woman is not and should not be an issue to any genuinely Orthodox Christian.
(Editor's note: Only, she was not tonsured as a "solitary", which as a diocesan bishop, he could have done without objection. As reported by the Greek press, he tonsured her as a member of the new community, which he had been instructed not to establish, which is a canonical dependency of the Greek community of nuns, into which he should not be interfering. Ergo the problem. But I agree, it would be seemly to move on.)
#45 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2011-04-06 06:52
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