Voices from Russia

Sunday, 23 May 2010

He Need Only Have Spoken a Word…

Filed under: Christian,moral issues,Orthodox life,religious,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

For politicians, truth and falsehood are unimportant. So, I never could become a politician… not even a church politician.

We have no more thought of using our own powers to escape the arm of authorities than had the Apostles of old. No more are we ready to keep silent at man’s behest when God commands us to speak. For it is, and must remain, the case that we must obey God rather than man.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

He called on the people to show a sense of responsibility towards their fellow men, he abjured them not to forget the lessons of the past and, above all, he reminded them constantly of the burden of guilt which had to be redeemed before a new life could begin.

Ditmar Schmidt

It‘s interesting… I’ve been having an interesting interchange about Mark Stokoe with some of my usual correspondents. It has allowed me to sharpen and focus my thoughts on the matter. Let’s see how it developed…


The time for Stokoe to have acted was three weeks ago, when this was approved. Had he come forward, he could have torpedoed this. His cowardice allowed Bobby K to get away with it. He has to come forward and repudiate this. Otherwise, he has no cred whatsoever. He was critical when it was SAFE to be critical. I simply say, “Stand up when the shit hits the fan”. I have and I can attest that it’s not pleasant in the least. He has not… draw your own conclusions. I don’t blame you for feeling as you do… however, Stokoe has a mouth on him, and when the time came to stand up, he funked out.

Why didn’t he speak out when the project to pay Bobby off surfaced? It didn’t start yesterday. Sorry… he refused to act… he had the OBLIGATION to speak out once he knew. It would have been costly and painful… yes. I’ve faced that myself. No… I don’t excuse him. He need just have said, “They want to pay off Kondratick. That’s wrong. I protest”. That’s all he need have said to throw a spanner into the whole works.

Mark need only have spoken when this was broached. It didn’t start yesterday, after all. “This is wrong. I protest. I’m going public”. That’s all he need have said. Sorry… he didn’t even do that. I think that he is a rabid autocephalist and Renovationist (he’s a Schmemann fanatic, that’s certain)… and that he feared that torpedoing this payoff would compromise the autocephalist project. I believe that this was first broached some time ago… far before his mother’s death. He was silent when he should have spoken. As Pastor Niemöller said:

Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestierte.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Silence is not passive… it is a choice. It means that Mark shirked his duty when the time came. That’s difficult to state, but it’s true. He funked out. I repeat, all he need have said was, “I protest this payment”. He refused to do that. Sad.

This is a “defining event”… that is, everything was changed by it. The OCA is now in its final phase. It may take a while to die, but it is terminal. Its end shall not be pretty, it shall not be painless, and it shall not be neat. If people think that the bottom has been dredged, they had best think again. The autocephalists will drag as many down with them as they can. We shall be treating those savaged by these creeps for the next generation. It is why the Church shall need at least two generations to recover from this, just as it needed two generations to recover from the events surrounding the Russian Revolution. I weep when I think of all those savaged by the autocephalists and Renovationists so far, and all those who are going to be savaged and scandalised in the last days of the OCA. We will survive, as Donna Summer put it. It’s won’t be easy, though.


“Evil triumphs because good men do nothing”… that’s why I have the quotes that I placed at the head of this post. Think on them and I believe that if you can’t agree with me, you can see where I’m coming from.

Mark Stokoe need only have “spoken a good word”. He need not have given a speech… he need not have led a march with banners. All he needed to have done some months ago, when this was first broached, was to have said, “No… this is not right”. That’s all. It would have sufficed to stop this in its tracks. Now, there is the devil to pay because of Mr Stokoe’s cowardice. Sadly enough, that is the “best face on the situation”. Any other reasonable explanation would require one to believe that he was a two-timing SOB from the top or a fanatical autocephalist bent on the survival of his pet project at any cost whatsoever.

Silence isn’t passive… passivity isn’t guiltless… at every juncture; we make choices, which have consequence far beyond our imagining. This can’t be undone… it’s the Sarajevo of the OCA. Thank you, Mark… by your silence, you are bringing about the demise of your beloved project, perhaps, in a messier fashion than if you have spoken out.

There’s a bit more to go on this road… God help us all… it shall get FAR worse before we drive a stake into the heart of the autocephalist project and bury it at the crossroads. Why must we live in such times?

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Sunday 23 May 2010

Albany NY


Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol Speaks Out on the Upcoming Visit of the Pope of Rome to Cyprus

Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol… confessor of the Orthodox Faith. Eis polla, eti despota!

In an interview published today, 23 May 2010, in the Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros, Metropolitan Athanasios distanced himself from the Archbishop’s decision to host the Pope in Cyprus. The following are excerpts from the interview:

For us Orthodox, the Pope is a heretic, outside of the Church, and, hence, not even a bishop…

He [the Pope] has been outside of the Church for ten centuries now, he is not a canonical bishop, and he has no relation whatsoever to the reality of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ. It is one thing to receive him as a canonical bishop and quite another to speak to him as [being] a heterodox in order to reveal to him the truth of the Orthodox Faith and Tradition…

Dialogue is not a bad thing when it is carried out based on correct presuppositions. However, it is wrong to say to these people that we recognise them as a Church, that we recognise the Pope as a Bishop, as our brother in Christ in the priesthood and in [the] faith. I cannot accept this, because we are lying [when we say this], since all of the Holy Fathers teach exactly the opposite. Papism is a heresy and the source of many other heresies that trouble the entire world today. A contemporary Saint of the Church, St Justin Popović, said that there have been three tragic falls in the history of the human race:

  • of the first-formed Adam
  • of the disciple of Christ, Judas
  • of the Pope, who, when he was the first Bishop of the Church, fell from the apostolic faith

[He] was cut off from the canonical Church, and he lured away a host of people with him. God is one and the Church of God is one, and that is why we say in the Symbol of Faith [that we believe] ‘in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church’. This is the Orthodox Church, there do not exist many Churches…

When I say to the other that it doesn’t matter that you are Catholic and that we all belong to the same Church, I am playing with him [or mocking him], since all of the Holy Fathers teach that the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ is one…

The Orthodox Church preserves the faith of the Apostles and the experience of the prophets unshakeable up until our own days. The Papists, unfortunately, from the time when they were cut off from the Church, added many heretical dogmas to their [confession of] faith, changed the Symbol of Faith [the Nicene Creed], and, above all, elevated the Pope to the level of being the eminent and unique representative of God on earth…

When you add things to the Symbol of Faith that the Holy Fathers did not write, and many other false teachings, this is heresy. This is the reality of things…



How does the Orthodox Church encounter/deal with heretics?

Metropolitan Athanasios

With much love. We love the Pope, we love the papists just as we love every person; we do not despise them, we do not reject them as persons, but we do not accept [their] heresy, we do not accept the false teachings, we do not accept [their] delusions. Because we love them we must tell them the truth.


Do you think that dialogue can produce results?

Metropolitan Athanasios

It can, if we do it properly and base it on the right presuppositions. Unfortunately, as it is carried out today, it does not produce results, and that is why they have carried on discussions for so many years without coming to any conclusions.

Frankly, and above all, I disagree with the coming of the Pope to Cyprus, and I say with my whole soul that the Pope is a heretic, he is not a bishop, he is not an Orthodox Christian, and this is what the Holy Fathers say. If I am wrong, I am ready to be corrected, but based on the Holy Fathers, not based on the mindset of globalisation. Just because I disagree does not mean that I am being disorderly and am outside the Church [as some have claimed].

The Pope always speaks in a formal manner, he says things which are customary [to his position], as he will say now that he will come to Cyprus, but he will do nothing of essence, because he is not the leader of the Church, but a political person, who cannot come into conflict with the political establishment and system. Did the Pope ever speak up for the Orthodox Church? … However, I am not going back [to a distant past]. The reasons I am reacting today are purely theological. When I was consecrated a bishop, I pledged to preserve the Orthodox Faith.


The Pope said that he wants to make a pilgrimage following the footsteps of the Apostle Paul.

Metropolitan Athanasios

With the exception that the Apostle Paul didn’t travel using a bulletproof car which cost 500,000 euros (19.584 million Roubles 627,700 USD 433,364 UK Pounds), which, I read, the Cypriot government bought for the Pope to travel around Cyprus for the two days he will be here. I was personally quite scandalised by this news and said that a bulletproof car does not fit the Vicar of Christ. For the people to have to pay such a price in the midst of an economic crisis…


The announcement from the representatives of the Pope says that he is coming to Cyprus in order to promote human and Christian values and principles, and that he wants to walk in the steps of the Apostle Paul and in a spirit of the brotherhood meet the Orthodox Church with a good disposition.

Metropolitan Athanasios

I do not doubt his good will… may it be that this is the case. May it be that he resembles the Apostle Paul and that he encounters the riches of the Orthodox Church. We pray that he return to the Orthodox Church and becomes once again an Orthodox Bishop as he was before the schism. This alone is the proper path to unity.


What do you think is the hidden agenda?

Metropolitan Athanasios

The Vatican does not take steps thoughtlessly or naïvely. Every tour of each Pope has as its aim to present him as the worldwide leader of Christianity. At this point, however, he is neither a canonical Bishop, nor Orthodox, such that he is in no place to present himself as having the first place among bishops.


Are there hidden political interests at stake here?

Metropolitan Athanasios

I don’t know; I don’t think that we [the Cypriot people] have anything to gain politically from the visit of the Pope… only a lot of expenses and great upheaval in the consciences of the faithful.


The Archbishop said that all those who disagree would place themselves outside the Church.

Metropolitan Athanasios

I am not aware of the Archbishop’s statements, but I don’t think that whoever disagrees with the coming of the Pope places himself outside the Church. I disagree, I say it boldly and frankly, and I am not outside the Church.

Editor’s Note:

Thank you to Tim Connelly for the link to this. He wrote his frank opinion of the crowd at SVS… I had it here, but Tim said YIKES… Tim, I agree with you and think it was grand what you said… but I’ll accede to your request (I think it should have stayed… they need a kick in the rear)…

This is the real deal… we don’t hate papists in the least… they are what they are, that’s all. I wish that the spurious “dialogue” would end so that good-hearted Orthodox and Catholics could cooperate in secular good works, as we can and should. I have a suggestion that I think that honest RCs would concur in… let’s take a leaky old freighter, load it up with all our pseudo-academic and loudmouthed fringe elements, sail it past the continental shelf into deep ocean, and, then, fire a torpedo into it… and sail away, leaving them to their fate (unfortunately, we can’t leave ‘em to the sharks… good and upstanding sharks have standards, after all (they wouldn’t want to have Charlie Curran or John Behr as an entrée… Yuck…). Think of the savings to the faithful… those hot air gabathons ain’t cheap, you know.

Then, we could concentrate on being good neighbours, as we should be. Guests of good-will are always welcome in the house…


23 May 2010

Pantocrator Monastery (Melissohori, Greece)


Orthodox throughout the World Celebrate Trinity Sunday

“Orthodox throughout the world celebrate Trinity Sunday…” Does Harrisburg PA count? I think so (it better!)… here’s Fr Daniel Ressetar serving a service for Trinity (he’s been a priest for over 50 years)… thanks to his son, Sasha, for the snap.

On Sunday, the fiftieth day after Easter, Orthodox believers celebrate Trinity Sunday, or Pentecost. On this day, the Church remembers the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered in a house on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. According to the gospel narrative, there was a sudden loud noise like a whirlwind, and tongues of flame came down from the sky and hovered over each of the apostles. The Holy Spirit gave the Saviour’s disciples the grace of the priesthood to preach the Word of God throughout the world. This day is considered the birthday of the Church, and has been solemnly celebrated as such since ancient times. As early as the Third Century AD, according to ancient ecclesiastical writers, it had its special customs and became a great holiday. Most believe that the custom of decorating homes with greenery on Trinity comes from St John Chrysostom. In our Russian tradition, the church floor (and, sometimes, the homes of believers) is strewn with mown grass on Trinity, and the icons are decorated with birch branches. In Russia, Orthodox clergy wear green vestments at Trinity, which symbolises the Holy Spirit’s life-giving power and the renewal it brings. By longstanding tradition, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias will serve Trinity liturgy at Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, the main monastery in Russia, which is dedicated to this holiday. Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis of Constantinople will concelebrate with Patriarch Kirill, as he is here in Moscow on an official visit. Tomorrow, Monday, marks the Day of the Holy Spirit, or Spirit Day. Amongst the Catholics and Lutherans, the celebration of Pentecost (The Descent of the Holy Spirit) and the day of the Holy Trinity are divided… Trinity Sunday comes the following Sunday after Pentecost. Today, which is for them the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, Catholic clergy wear red vestments as a reminder of the tongues of fire that descended on the Apostles, and on their Trinity Sunday, they wear white, as for other great festivals.

23 May 2010



“For the Good of the Church”: A Call for Mark Stokoe to be Accountable to Orthodox Christians for his Actions

THIS is what it’s all about… not JP… not his HOOMie pals… not the so-called MC… nor the overblown Mark Stokoes of this world. It’s the ordinary Orthodox faithful… do recall what Our Lord said about those who scandalise believers… I have 250,000 reasons for saying this, don’t I? This is “the good of the Church”… not the protection of known thieves and fraudsters.


Editor’s Foreword:

Some correspondents seem to think that the recent death of his mother absolves Mark Stokoe from all responsibility for the consequences of his actions. I disagree emphatically. In his hubristical and all-consuming ambition, he didn’t rest until he had vilified Herman and secured for himself a seat on the OCA Metropolitan Council. Therefore, he should expect criticism of his actions. One is sorry for and extends sympathy for his personal loss. That’s only decent; it’s part of the human condition (and obligatory, in fact). However, that doesn’t change the fact that Mr Stokoe agreed to shell out payola for Bobby K, and, then, kept it secret for three weeks, nor does it cancel out the consequences of that action. If Herman had done only a tithe of that…



As I reflect upon the payoff to Bobby K by the Metropolitan Council, it gains in enormity. Here’s what one of my correspondents wrote me:

I’ve got your back. I have no problem with calling a spade a spade and a fraud a fraud. Those people are Orthofrauds. But I especially don’t have a problem calling a dick a dick. So, if they come calling, they’ll only get it with both barrels. Whenever I hear of settlements like that, I think instantly, “That’s hush money. He threatened to squeal about something even bigger, and this is to keep him quiet”. In other words, it’s blackmail. The only surprise is that it’s only $250K. That shows the lack of imagination of these people. Or, maybe he feels he’s stuffed his pockets well enough over the past several years. Or, maybe that’s only the first instalment! I’ll keep you in my prayers. I know there are good people in the OCA like yourself who are only going to suffer, or really, are suffering even if they don’t know it. I don’t expect the OCA to last much longer. It just doesn’t seem to fit, does it? The healthiest Orthodox parishes are all “ethnic” to one degree or another. The OCA is just…  meh. Form without substance, it seems. Anyhow, I don’t care what those scumbags say. I don’t read their shitty little blogs or fora. How Orthodox is that shit, anyway? Going around slandering people… yeah, that’s the work of Saints! Keep the Faith! It’s much more important than keeping the peace!

Another wrote:

I think that Mark made a big mistake allowing them to elect him to the Metropolitan Council. The MC is sworn to secrecy concerning its official actions, and that’s compromised his reporting. I also think that he was dead wrong to suggest supporting Jonah for metropolitan and to believe that Jonah would change the old order of things. Of course, I think Jonah has made things far worse… BTW, the next step in the program to reform RSK is afoot. That is, the forced retirement of those priests who served on the SIC is being demanded, and no doubt they’ll be discredited in some fashion. Scuttlebutt is that RSK will go to the MP… I’m not surprised that RSK was paid off. After all, he knows too much about the moral decay in high places in the OCA…

Here’s a third:

Yeah… I just don’t see the OCA keeping afloat much longer. If anything more comes out, I think it’ll be over for them. I did have to laugh at the HOOMie retreat in the DOS. Boy, Jonah sure tried to build that up. The turnout was pathetic. Mark Stokoe has sure been quiet. Then, he’s compromised by being a member of the MC. He’ll only go so far.

THIS is why I care… our children deserve a REAL Orthodox Church… not a sectarian cultish HOOMie imitation… it’s well-worth fighting for…


Firstly, let me state that I’d rather go to jail than to divulge who wrote this to me. As I stand for decency, I must act decently, or be exposed as a lying hypocrite. You write me… I may use it… but it’ll always be anonymous with all “tell-tales” removed. That’s how responsible journalists protect their sources… and that goes double for priests.

What’s this about being “sworn to secrecy” for the MC? Let me tell you, the MP Holy Synod, Archpastoral Council, or its Local Council doesn’t act that way. Neither do the MP bishops (it leads to some hot exchanges in the Russian press, let me tell you). If they tried being secretive, the government and press would have them as the centrepiece of a gigantic and public Dixie Fry (the Greeks and Serbs have a similar attitude… real Orthodox don’t have a sense of humour regarding clerical foul play… that’s why the bishop in Kosovo got the axe… he had sticky-fingered associates). For instance, they caught some of Dmitri Banditsky’s associates (a couple of priests) with their hands in the till. They got LEARNED, friends and neighbours. They’re now guests of the Russian government… they’re absorbing the full meaning of каторга (katorga, “corrective labour”) in a Siberian corrective labour colony. Another priest was caught in naughty doings with kids… he now has the Butyrki as his new address… hey, he’s got three hots and a cot, doesn’t he? My Greek and Serb friends tell me that nasty priests and their associates are treated similarly there. By the way… the thing that they don’t cotton to at all is homosexual doings on the part of the clergy… is that why the MC is “sworn to secrecy?” In short, this is sectarian and Masonic, and we should drop it immediately… we should be open about things the way the MP is… read the official report of the Osborne Affair… it’s on the Internet. The MP ain’t perfect by a long shot (there are imprisoned priests to prove it)… but it doesn’t skulk around in secret like a bunch of crooks…

On 1 May, Mark Stokoe knew that the payoff was in the works. I would have protested LOUDLY. If the sheeple officeholders shouted me down, I’d have done two things:

  • Resign immediately on the spot, and, then, hand in a written resignation, which I’d make public
  • Reveal all the details that I knew of the impeding payoff and encourage people to oppose it with all their might

Mr Stokoe didn’t do this. It was obviously before his mother’s death and he was obviously present for at least one discussion regarding the payola to Bobby. This proves to all comers, even the slow learners, that Mark Stokoe is a consummate liar and hypocrite, who only opposed Herman Swaiko for one reason only… AMBITION. He got his cherished seat on the MC, didn’t he? As soon as he secured that, his criticisms of the OCA muted into innocuousness. He approved of this payoff by his inaction… as did all of the MC members. Indeed, they’re the same people who didn’t go public with the fact that Ray Velencia had sent them e-mails with private details of a parishioner’s life. This is damning evidence against Alice Woog, Faith Skordinski, Gregory Nescott, and all the other members of the MC… including Mark Stokoe. Mr Stokoe should post a written apology on ocanews.org, stating his contrition for not having the guts to go public about this hush money for Bobby K. He should then resign from the MC and demand that all other members do so as well in protest against this extortionate action by the Kondraticks (Hey, Bobby… I didn’t call you an extortioner; it’s my opinion of your action, which you did in public for all to see).

This secrecy and this payoff are “for the good of the Church”. A friend of mine one wrote on that:

“For the good of the Church”, this is the same as “raison d’état”, which justifies assassination and torture by our intelligence agencies. One of the things about these people is that they hate the Truth and people who try to tell it as it is. That’s why they use censorship.

Mark Stokoe screams to you about accountability… that’s a proper exhortation. Only… it applies to Mr Stokoe and his actions as well, wouldn’t you say? If Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, what does this say about Mark Stokoe and all of his associates on the MC (what does it tell you about Terry Mattingly and his fulsome praise of Mr Stokoe?)? What does it tell us about the OCA episcopate in general and Jonas Paffhausen in particular? That’s for you to answer…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Sunday 23 May 2010

Albany NY

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