Don’t let them do this… you don’t have to just “submit” to crook clergy… the people in Vladimir stood up, and they got action after going to the secular press (not all that they wanted, but they ended the abuse, and that was good enough).
I got some quick replies in re Elder Ephraim from the kitchen cabinet. Several sources sent me a link of a pastoral letter of Bishop Joseph al-Zehlaoui of Los Angeles and the West. It’s very interesting. Click here for it. Note this quote particularly:
Some of you may desire to receive spiritual guidance from Clergy or Monastics outside the Antiochian Archdiocese. In such cases, people run the risk of choosing a spiritual guide who isn’t under appropriate discipline or who may hold to policies that conflict with our Archdiocese’s pastoral standards. To prevent such problems, Clergy and Laity who seek out Confessors outside the Archdiocese must first seek permission either from one’s Pastor or from the local Dean. Once permission is given, Laity are expected to inform their Pastors each time they make Confession, so the Pastors know that the flock is being ministered to.
The sources that sent me the link made it clear that Vladyki Joseph was making a direct and clear reference to the Ephraimites in the above quote. I was told that he had a problem with AOCANA clergy going to the Ephraimites for confession, especially at St Anthony Monastery in Arizona, their “flagship” monastery. It smells like konvertsy, as Arabs have more sense than to seek spiritual counsel outside their Church. Vladyki Joseph’s from Syria, my sources say that he’s traditional, yet balanced. Patriarch Ignatius Hazim of Antioch and all the East is his kum (no lie), and he’s widely considered to be Saliba’s successor. Besides that, all my sources insist that the Ephraimites aren’t a good influence. They APPEAR to be OK on the surface, but things appear “off” in short order. I’ve also heard that some OCA and ROCOR priests warned their parishioners not to go to Ephraimite priests for confession.
Of course, the thing that’s blown things open is the Scott Nevins suicide on 10 June. It’s the equivalent of the Eric Iliff affair. Although SVS has hushed up talk about it, no one in the Church is unaware of the situation, and no one’s indifferent to it. I pray for John and Monica Iliff daily. The fact that they left was the direct responsibility of the crank clergy who covered up the whole matter. This isn’t small beer… however, I’d advise most people to stay away from fighting the Ephraimites directly (they appear to have powerful deep-pocketed friends)… simply don’t give them any money or support. If you’re in the GOAA, put pressure on the authorities to investigate this and get to the bottom of it. If they won’t… go to the civil authorities… it’s what they’re there for.
I stand by my previous assessment. This is a gigantic shit sandwich just waiting for the unwary. Have a care…
18 June 2012