Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Which Side Are You On?

St Francis statue at New Skete

A statue of Francis of Assisi on the grounds of New Skete, Cambridge NY. These people left the Unia in 1979? The mute evidence of this statue says otherwise! For shame, JP! “I profoundly respect them”… that is what he said!

Over the last few days, some konvertsy have attacked my “take” on JP and current events. Indeed, there has been much bloviating amongst konvertsy regarding the depth of the Orthodox formation of Jonas Paffhausen. One should take a moment and listen to the voice of Mr Paffhausen himself… we wouldn’t wish it to come through the distorting lens of a second-hand account, would we? There is one statement of his that is particularly illuminating. Let me quote it in its entirety, so that you can read it for yourself and make up your own mind. Then, I shall quote some internet sources that are NOT from “conservative” or “traditional” sources. Most of the following is the quoted material… you truly have to see it for yourself.


New Skete is a unique place. They live according to their own life and it is not becoming to interfere in it. I profoundly respect them as a community – a mature community. The relationships among the monastics are excellent. They introduced certain particularities in the Divine Services, but, carried this out with great love and devotion – even though these do not always resemble the Russian or the Greek Typikon. In my opinion, they are criticised very hastily.

6 May 2009

Orthodox Christians for Accountability



Here are some items from the web from pro-New Skete sources:

The Feast of St Francis: A Blessing of Animals

New Skete Communities celebrated the Feast of St Francis of Assisi with a blessing of animals on October 4th. Here are some images from the blessing:

11 October 2007

The Communities of New Skete


Blessing of Animals

New Skete Monastic Communities of held their third annual Blessing of Animals last Saturday, the feast of St Francis of Assisi, in the meditation garden between their two churches. Over forty dogs and their human companions participated. Perry’s Orchard Cider and apples, along with the nuns’ cheesecake, were served after the ceremony.

12 October 2008

The Communities of New Skete


The following is taken from the article on New Skete in Wikipedia. As this is an open-edited source, anything on it must be read with extreme caution… those with an agenda can (and do) “doctor” the text to suit their ideological notions. Caveat lector (extremely so, please!).

Among Orthodox Christians, they are unique in that they have instituted wide-ranging reforms to the divine office and eucharistic liturgies of the Eastern Orthodox Church, aimed at rendering the services more comprehensible. They maintain an open stance regarding ecumenical contacts with other Christian groups; the nave of their newer temple features iconographic portraits of prominent non-Orthodox such as Pope John XXIII, Archbishop Michael Ramsey, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and the communities celebrate the feast of the Roman Catholic saint Francis of Assisi. This openness has brought them criticism from Orthodox conservatives and traditionalists; but the Monks and Nuns strongly defend their renewal of liturgy and monastic life as a necessity if Orthodox monasticism is to be more than “museum-keeping” in the modern world.

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopaedia

Downloaded on 14 October 2009


In addition Volume Nine (1986) of the series Liturgical Music issued by this monastic community is devoted exclusively to the “Orthodox celebration of the Feast of St (sic) Francis of Assisi”.


Here one has it. These are the words of Mr Paffhausen and pro-New Skete press releases. They are damning in the extreme. NO grounded Orthodox Christian accepts Francis of Assisi as a “saint”… none. I was just reading an article by Professor Aleksei Osipov of the MDA in Russkaya Nedelya (Russian Week) where he was making it clear that the late Sophrony Sakharov of Tolleshunt Knights was completely in prelest as he was emulating such emotional Latin frauds as Francis of Assisi and Teresa of Avila. Every other legitimate Orthodox theologian from reputable faculties such as the MDA, SPDA, St Tikhon Orthodox Humanities University, and those in Thessaloniki, Belgrade, Bucharest, and Warsaw echo this. In short, when JP approves New Skete without reserve, as he made clear by saying, “I profoundly respect them as a community – a mature community… In my opinion, they are criticised very hastily”; he is acting outside of the mind of the Church. He has no right to approve the veneration of a Latin pseudo-saint and, indeed, praise the community that is doing so. We have no need to tendentiously catalogue the whole list of their transgressions… this is derogatory enough on its own.

Let’s see, JP approves of New Skete and he approves of its semi-Uniate typikon and veneration of papist “saints”. Do take this unalloyed approval of a renegade community (“I PROFOUNDLY respect them”…) and place it next to his approval of an agreement between an Orthodox seminary with an openly-heretical institution (under the TEC of Ms Jefferts-Schori no less!). Thus, he is making no secret of his contempt for grounded and lived Orthodoxy. He intends to spread this throughout the Church, no doubt.

It comes down to a simple question in the end… why is fraud and deceit being used to defend this man? I know that many said, last year, that “anyone” was preferable to Herman. Truly? We have rediscovered a bitter truth, “Sometimes, you get EXACTLY what you ask for”. I have seen many off-the-wall and squiffy things over the years… but, THIS… I can’t believe that people are DEFENDING this man! Even ADS didn’t go so far! These are abnormal times that we live in… it is much like the situation that swirled around iconoclasm or the imposition of the Unia, albeit on a smaller scale. Shall our children have an Orthodox Faith to practise? It’s up to us…


img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Albany NY

Editor’s Postscript:

Someone asked me why I don’t write JP’s name as +Jonas, as the konvertsy do. Simple… in stories about bishops in the press in Orthodox countries, it is NEVER used by non-ecclesiastical writers (it is NEVER used outside official documents, in fact). Look at a RIA-Novosti or Interfax posting in the original Russian, and you will see that. Friends tell me that it is similar in the Greek press. In short, the konvertsy are being “special” yet again. It is not necessary, nor is it usual. It is another konvert affectation, I am afraid, like using “Theotokos” (badly-pronounced) for “God-bearer” or “Mother of God” (just as we say Bogoroditsa in Russian).


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