Monday, October 21, 2013

Testimony of a Monk

The departure of a large group of monks from Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, MA, last fall left observers with many questions.  The issue of heresy was debated openly, but the accusations of abuse were not.

Observers could ask: If Archimandrite Panteleimon was truly abusing monks, why did the monastery deny it for 27 years and revile accusers who left the monastery?  Why did fathers who had remained in the monastery finally come forward with accusations last summer?  Was it a ploy to justify leaving?  Did Fr. Panteleimon submit to the accusations though innocent, simply as an act of humility?  Did Fr. Isaac lie in protecting him for so many years or did he lie in revealing the alleged abuse?

In the letters below, you will find answers from one senior father who left the monastery and who now lives at Holy Ascension Monastery in Bearsville, NY.  The letters are cautiously and temperately worded.  They express only in the mildest way the violation and betrayal endured by monks who suffered abuse and by those who only learned the truth after living in the monastery for many years.

The first letter was written to a married priest who had been a close friend.  They had worked together to nurture faith in a group of prison inmates.  The married priest remained in the Holy Orthodox Church of North America (HOCNA).  The monk wrote to give over care of an inmate who broke relations with him after his departure from Holy Transfiguration Monastery and HOCNA.

The second letter was written to the inmate in question, answering accusations the inmate had made against the monk in another letter, not published here.

Following the letters are a number of supporting documents the monk provided to the inmate with the second letter.

This site is not open to comments.  If you have any questions about these letters, please contact Holy Ascension Monastery.

A Letter to N.

Dear to Christ N.,

Evlogeite! Greetings in the Lord!

I received your letter dated January 18, 2013. It is not clear if you received my letter to you dated December 12/25 yet and I know you have not yet received my letter dated January 6/19, 2012.

N., Fr. Isaac told me on August 20 in front of a witness (Fr. Barsanuphius) that if he had told me the truth about Fr. Panteleimon sexually harassing and abusing monks in 1986 when the first flush of accusations came out I would have left Holy Transfiguration Monastery. That is correct.

Fr. Isaac has admitted to all of the fathers of Holy Transfiguration Monastery assembled in a formal meeting on September 12 that he had covered-up and lied about Fr. Panteleimon’s transgressions. He has admitted this to the assembled clergy of New England also. I did not tell you Fr. Panteleimon abused me or harassed me, I told you that he touched me in ways I found disturbing and could make one suspicious, but at the time I rationalized it away …with Fr. Isaac’s help…who knew the full truth of what Fr. Panteleimon was capable of.

Your admonitions and speculations are irrelevant in the face of Fr. Isaac’s admissions in front of dozens and dozens of witnesses. Furthermore, several fathers made admissions to many of us after August 20 that the abuse and harassment was far worse than we had initially thought. I will spare you the unedifying details.

At this same meeting on August 20, in front of a witness, I told Fr. Isaac that I could no longer trust him and that I would from that point consider Bishop Demetrius my spiritual father, with whom I had already been sharing confidentialities with Fr. Isaac’s blessing for over a year. I told Fr. Isaac that for as long as he was abbot I would be obedient to him in day to day issues for the time being. Fr. Isaac said, with tears, that this was fine with him.

N., the issue of Name-worship has been a cause of debate in Holy Transfiguration since Bishop Gregory Lourie (an ardent apologist for Bulatovich and his beliefs) took Holy Communion in the altar at Holy Transfiguration Monastery.[1] That was in the fall of 2011. It became even more a concern when Metropolitan Ephraim, Fr. Panteleimon, Fr. Isaac, and bishop-elect Gregory tried to justify the incident and show open sympathy to the heresy at the monastery Corporate Meeting in November of 2011.

I wrote a letter to Metropolitan Ephraim in March of 2012 warning him that if he pushed the episcopal consecration of Hieromonk Gregory through it would fracture the diocese and monastery. Many of the fathers in the monastery and New England clergy did the same. Bishop Demetrius bitterly repents that he acquiesced to Hieromonk Gregory’s consecration after bishop-elect Gregory wrote him [Bishop Demetrius], at his specific request, a document that promised that he [bishop-elect Gregory] would drop the issue of vindicating the Name-Worshippers, which Bishop Gregory did not abide by. Likewise Metropolitan Ephraim also assured Bishop Demetrius that the issue of the Name-worshippers would be dropped.

Father Issac asked me to come to his office on numerous occasions to give me new proof of the validity of the Name-worshipper’s arguments. I would briefly counter him, first and foremost that the issue had been settled long ago by the Church and we had no business revisiting it. If Father Isaac wished to discuss it more I would then engage him theologically, after which he would just say that he did not understand the issues and we should just leave it alone…but obviously he did not. The issue was not and is not a “red herring.” And since you were not there, how would you know anyway?

In a formal meeting of the monastery on September 3, n.s., the entire community told Fr. Isaac that we wished to try to keep the community together. We wished him to tell the Metropolitan to confirm the synodical decisions of the entire Church on the Name-worshipping controversy and to drop the issue. He agreed, but then later reneged to our utter dismay. The Holy Fathers with one voice tell us to depart from Bishops and spiritual fathers that sympathize with condemned heretics and heresies.

I personally witnessed Bishop Demetrius pleading with Fr. Isaac many times to sympathize with the majority of his monks and keep the monastery brotherhood intact and not cave into the pressure being put on him by Metropolitan Ephraim, Bishop Gregory, and Fr. Panteleimon, which would divide the community.

Now, please allow me to address your assertions about our motives being “worldly and ambitious.”

We are living in very rustic, even primitive conditions. We do not know when and how God will provide for us to finish the church and monastery. It may be a few a years, or a few decades or not at all. The difference between 278 Warren Street and 521 Cold Brook Road as far as convenience, “creature comforts” and economic stability are radical. It is not a picnic. But we trust in God.

Bishop Demetrius went from being Bishop #3 in HOCNA to being Bishop #15 in the GOC. We have joined the Church in Greece that our Hierarchs recognized as Orthodox and canonical in 2010. Almost all the bishops (in particular Metropolitan Athanassios of Larissa who was Locum Tenens for a brief time after the repose of Archbishop Auxentios and Metropolitan Akakios of Diavlia who was the first bishop we went under when we left ROCOR on trumped-up charges in 1986 to avoid the matter of Fr. Panteleimon being investigated), clergy, monastics, and laity in Greece that were once with Archbishop Auxentios are now with Archbishop Kallinikos and the GOC. Have you read Metropolitan Moses’ excellent paper on this that he wrote in 2010?

I never told you that HOCNA was the last and only Orthodox Church. I told you that there are many True Orthodox Churches in Orthodox Homelands and that they are separated by minor issues of administration and practice and that for the most part the laity could receive Holy Communion in any of these churches. It was with great joy that I saw HOCNA fully recognize the GOC in 2010, even though they have not fully and completely eradicated the practice of certain clergy not being careful about giving Holy Communion to simple New Calendar laity (even though Archbishop Auxentios did this, i.e. commune simple New Calendarist laity, as well as four-fifths of the hierarchy, including St. John Maximovich, of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad during Holy Transfiguration Monastery’s entire time with them , and even some HOCNA clergymen have). To decry this as a major matter of faith as HOCNA now does is revisionist history and hypocrisy.[2]

I do not believe you have read my March 2012 letter to Metropolitan Ephraim, nor my August 6/19 letter to Fr. Isaac which was read to Fr. Isaac on August 20 in front of a witness and then discussed in a completely unsatisfactory way with Metropolitan Ephraim on August 21 with four witnesses present (Bishop Demetrius, Fr. Isaac, Fr. Haralampos, and Fr. Barsanuphius). I do not think you have seen my letter to Metropolitan Ephraim of August 21 in which I expressed the witnesses’ (with the exception of Fr. Isaac) and my complete dismay with his obfuscating.

We did not threaten a lawsuit, but we calmly discussed in an official corporate meeting on September 11 with the entire brotherhood of the monastery present what the fathers staying at 278 Warren Street would be willing to give us since Fr. Isaac wished us to depart. Fr. Hesychius said that they were giving us a “gift” and at that I point stood up and made it clear that we were giving HTM a gift also because we could, if we wished, take them to court on several issues which did not even involve the immorality of Fr. Panteleimon and that we had received assurance from both lawyers and some of our dads who were corporate executives that it would not go well for HTM at all. It remains to be seen if the fathers will honor their agreement since we did not insist on a notarized legal document.

For you to preach to me about monastic poverty and how wrong it is ask for anything from men who lied outrageously to me for most of my adult life would be like me telling you to just passively accept your fate in prison as God’s will and to just die there in repentance for your sins.

Considering the wealth of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, we have only received a pittance to help get us started. Since they are not legally bound we have simply taken them at their word. At this point it seems that that the property in Maine is going to be sold at almost half a million less than its market value. When Father Isaac offered the property in Maine to us at the official special meeting of the community on September 11 (I repeat we did not ask or demand anything) we thought it would be best if they simply gave us the deed and we would sell it since it would be in our best interest to get the best possible price. Many in the community saw nothing wrong with our request. Fr. Hesychius remonstrated with us that it seemed we did not trust them, and that it would be easier for them to sell the property since they were closer and they would try to get the best possible price for it.

 …. In a few cases one of the monks that left took liberties, and when this was pointed out to us we made it right immediately, returning to them whatever they asked returned… In the consequent months the fathers remaining in Boston have become more and more difficult to deal with. They seem to be angry that they are left with a more than half-empty monastery that is proving to be ever more difficult to sustain.

….I will be happy to send you any of the above documents, but I think it would be best to let it rest for a year. Let the dust settle and your emotions quiet down. You obviously want to return and stay in HOCNA. Well, stay and God bless, preserve, and enlighten you. At present it makes no sense for either us to waste any more time on this.

You remain in my prayers, unworthy though they be.

With love in Christ,

P.S. Today (January 28 N.S.) I received your letter postmarked January 22. There are no directions in it about where you want us to send your wooden baptismal cross and baptismal robe. I assume you still have not received my short letter about this yet.

N., we need to look at the Russian in the quotes of St. John of Kronstadt very carefully. The meanings Bulatovich and the Name-worshippers wish to ascribe St. John’s words are not Orthodox. One must always be careful to take everything written by the saints in context. St. John the Solitary says, “God is silence.” So are we to adore silence? Are we to consider silence to be the Energy of God? Certainly God’s Energies can be found in silence and silence is very conducive to experiencing God’s Energies…but silence is not “God!” Nothing created, not even our Lord’s human nature, or His Name can be ontologically God’s energies. 

You will note that St. John says that in that Name you have the Lord’s whole being…I agree…but the Name is not His very Being. The name holds His grace, It does not become His grace.

The quote that St. John looked on the Name of the Trinity as the very substance of God is very suspect; because that is saying that in seeing the Name St. John sees the essence of God. That is either a bad translation or a mistake of the moment in St. John’s diary.

 Regardless, individual Saints can make mistakes, even grave ones. St. John reposed in 1908, so he was not around in 1913 to explain what he exactly meant or to repent if he had made a mistake in the moment. Frankly, jotted down thoughts in what was at the time a personal diary hardly constitutes the basis for formal dogmatic statements of such magnitude.  St. Justin Martyr believed in the millennium, St. Gregory of Nyssa appears to have believed in Universal Salvation, as well as St. Isaac the Syrian, but these great and holy Fathers of Fathers mistakes are not taken over the collective voice of the Church.

I will repeat—not only the cream of the Russian Orthodox Church condemned Bulatovich and his followers, but the entire Orthodox Church. Not one bishop and not one Local Church openly went into dissent over these decisions for a century. It was a historical footnote.

This became an issue in some parishes composed of Russians and converts that were in the GOC and the GOC confirmed the decisions made by the entire Church a century ago. Thus matter was quickly put rest in the GOC several years before it came to blow up HOCNA. We may venerate and worship the name of God but not adore it.

We do the same with all the Holy things of the Church. We adore the consecrated Eucharist because in a unique way God is totally present in an unconfused union with the Bread and Wine in the Liturgy and in a reserved Communion Service. However, we must take note that the Church does not worship the Eucharist outside the Liturgy like the Roman Catholics. His Essence is present everywhere, but unknowable to creatures, His Energies are present everywhere, but communicated only by His Mercy to those whom He alone knows are worthy.

Finally, Fr. Panteleimon is not “gone” but is still very active unfortunately. It is fairly obvious that he is on the phone giving directives. He has been at the monastery in Boston, even overnight several nights in a row, eating in the dining room at the head of the table, standing in the altar, chanting in the services, etc. Fr. Panteleimon served a memorial service and then proceeded to try to serve the funeral, but Bishop Gregory told him not to.

Metropolitan Ephraim and Fr. Isaac are subject to same canonical penalties as Fr. Panteleimon, but since they recognize no other Orthodox bishops in the whole world (even though they did in recent memory) they are accountable to no one except Metropolitan Makarios and Bishop Gregory, who cannot even judge their case for reasons I have told you elsewhere.

N., as painful as it was for me, I had to admit to myself that the grace and blessings I received those 27 years were by God’s mercy in spite of HOCNA’s being in schism from their lawful hierarchs since we separated very prematurely from ROCOR. We see many times in Church history when there are faithful who have been misled and God’s grace does not immediately abandon them.

Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Isaac were canonically suspended in 1986 and deposed in 1987 by Orthodox bishops from whom they fled because they did not want to face up to Fr. Panteleimon’s problems. Would you like to see copies of the documents?

Metropolitan Ephraim was ordained by two bishops who had been canonically deposed by their synod of 20 bishops (15 for deposing Archbishop Auxentios for refusing to appear before a spiritual court of his peers and 5 against), so his ordinations are highly irregular and need to be regularized by a canonical synod of Orthodox bishops. We who do not speak Greek or have access to all the periodicals and documents were lied to about this too by men we trusted. Not only have I come to this conclusion, but three bishops, 37 clergy, and thousands of faithful have also.

The time finally came by a series of events God permitted in His mercy to allow us to open our eyes and to repent. By acknowledging and returning to the GOC we have healed a schism, not created one (just as the vast majority of bishops, clergy, and faithful have in Greece). If those still in HOCNA want to accuse us of schism that is their prerogative. You must know that none of the canonical Traditional Orthodox Synods in the world takes HOCNA’s claims seriously. You really must read Metropolitan Moses’s official presentation on this.

I told Fr. Isaac on August 21 in front of a witness that I feared we were on the brink of schism, heresy, and sectarianism. As things developed further I saw that we were not on the brink, but had fallen into the abyss. There are many bishops, even those formerly from HOCNA and from HTM and/or American converts (Metropolitan Moses is both from HTM and a convert from Roman Catholicism and Bishop Sergios is an American convert from Protestantism who was a priest for decades in the “OCA” who sat at the feet of some of the most noteworthy theologians in the New Calendar churches i.e. Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. John Meyendorff, and Fr. Georges Florovsky) who extended their arms to pull us out. Some of us have humbly and gratefully grasped their hands, and some have not. God forces no one. But I warn you, it takes much prayer, much pain, and much God-given humility. Without God’s grace we will only seek to justify ourselves.

Again, let us let this rest a year or so my friend. Until then you remain in my prayers, unworthy though I be.

P.P.S. N., I have received your letter dated 1/28/13. I will send your cross and robe to Fr. A.

 I would like you to read the papers I have enclosed, which include primary documents, very carefully. I think you should read the extended lives of St. Sabbas the Sanctified (December 5), St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch (January 11), St. Euthymius the Great (January 20), St. Maximus the Confessor (January 25, August 13, September 20) and St. Theodore the Studite (November 11, January 26) because your understanding of monastic obedience is not correct.

The complete lives of the first three written are by Cyril of Scythopolis (The Lives of the Monks of Palestine, Cistercian Press isbn 0879079142). The others are in the Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints that you have there. These would be more to your profit to read and quote than religious novels (the two volumes of “Fr. Arsenie”) fabricated by the deeply corrupt Sergianist and ultra-Ecumenist Moscow Patriarchate….

You qualified that a monk can only be disobedient in the face of “blatant heresy” and you continue to shut your eyes to the fact that this heresy and its propagator Bulatovich have been condemned by the whole Church and furthermore our very own fathers from whom the True Orthodox Church in Greece (and HOCNA for many years was an organic part of the Church of Greece—see Metropolitan Moses’s excellent paper on this indisputable fact) has received its Apostolic succession, most of whom are glorified or un-glorified saints in the Church.

You also seem to be unaware that a monk may, furthermore, leave his place of obedience if there is sexual immorality in the monastery lest he become corrupted either by being victimized, tempted, or become an accomplice.

These are the reasons why I am living in a barn in the mountains now and not in a rather nice suite of rooms on an estate in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country (I am not exaggerating, because it was my obedience to know what the assets of the monastery in Brookline were.) That is why I left a monastery where I was, despite my sins, a respected senior father who was almost unconditionally trusted and had many privileges with everything and anything I wanted or needed within reason and have come to a monastery where I have placed myself in obedience to men young enough to be my children.

Another one of the most senior fathers of HTM, and one of the most respected clergymen in HOCNA, Priestmonk Haralampos, has been asked to leave HTM. He does not want to stay there anymore anyway and has not even received antidoron and holy water from HOCNA, let alone Holy Communion since October 2012. They gave him a deadline to get out and he is moving to Holy Ascension Monastery. At least Fr. Isaac did not give a deadline us this fall; he just wanted to leave as soon as possible.

My dear friend, brother, and spiritual son, your assertions of us having “worldly and ambitious motives” could be laughable in the face of these facts. However, they are not laughable because of the tragedy of the shipwreck of so many souls. This is because of the stubborn pride of men I still try to love and pray for but can no longer trust, respect, or be in obedience to, because they refuse to answer to the Church and be healed of the festering spiritual wounds and sicknesses that have been revealed to our horrified eyes.

Please try to understand that if HOCNA’s bishops recognized the GOC as being Orthodox and blessed its flock to receive the Holy Mysteries from them, they are accountable to them. HOCNA relinquished all ecclesiastical claims in Greece and told the few parishes and monastic communities that still commemorated the bishops in North America to go under their local bishops since there was no impediment.

Metropolitan Ephraim’s novel theory of recognizing another Local Church and yet reserving the right to arbitrarily determine one’s accountability to that Church, especially when it comes to matters of faith or deep corruption of many years standing just does not stand up to the historical record on how the Orthodox Church operates. To suddenly find them heretical (when they are not) or to find practices that make them no longer truly Orthodox (the Holy Communion issue) when it is no longer convenient is disingenuous.

We have now heard that HOCNA wishes to approach the Synod under Archbishop Makarios of Greece. They are desperate to be in communion with someone or anyone who will recognize their claims. This Synod, like the GOC, does have parishes that have the “Trinity” icon. They have some clergymen who give Holy Communion to simple New Calendar laity. They have some clergymen that will not give Holy Communion to the Faithful on Sundays (because you cannot fast from oil on Saturdays). These are some of Metropolitan Ephraim’s favorite “straw men” he sets up to cast mud at the GOC, even though he was well aware that all of these practices existed in the GOC since time immemorial…and all except the no Communion on Sundays because of the fasting rules [also existed] in ROCOR as well.

The Synod of Archbishop Makarios was started by two bishops, one of them (Euthymius of Thessalonica) had fled from the GOC because he was going to be investigated on charges of immorality involving minors. Ah…and they do, however, have a bishop who has written a book very sympathetic to Bulatovich and his errors. They are known to have toleration for immorality in the clergy and subsequently have attracted men who have a history of scandal. They hardly represent the consensus of the Traditional Orthodox Christians of Greece.

You wrote in your letter postmarked January 7, and I quote, “Please do not visit with us any longer here at SCI Dallas.” I have heard you say countless times that P. is “nominal” and I do not know what right you have to speak for M., Q., R., or S. I am not sure why, at this point, we would have much to say to one another. If I have understood your letters of late you consider me a liar and a conspirator, a person consumed by greed and ambitious, and an ungrateful pseudo-monk. Well, God bless you, for the holy fathers have taught me to accept whatever anyone one wants to say about me save two, and that is I am not a heretic or a schismatic. I will not justify a heresy condemned by the Church; I will not consider the Name of Jesus Christ or the Holy Trinity to be Divine Energies. I have gone to bishops that the HOCNA bishops fully recognized as Orthodox and a jurisdiction that HOCNA faithful were given permission to commune in. We gave their faithful Communion as well. Then it became “sour grapes.”

Please tell me exactly what the GOC does officially that I once fought vehemently against? Is it the Holy Communion issue? Well, I cover that issue above. Yes, I can recall going over and over with you the problems with the New Calendar Churches, but we rarely spoke about the other True Orthodox Churches and I never taught you that HOCNA is the ONLY bastion of True Orthodoxy and I was never, ever taught that in all the years I was in HOCNA and I can bring forth dozens of witnesses to confirm this.

N., Fr. Y. and I think you are in way over your head. I cannot blame you for being a victim of misinformation. You simply do not have the knowledge of recent Church history, of what our legacy from the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is, of the lives of the saints who lived in times of dogmatic and moral crisis, and of some very basic dogma. The mere fact that you would quote St. John of Kronstadt saying he sees “the substance of God” in a note in his diary is a case in point. Not only does that contradict the hapless Metropolitan Ephraim and Bishop Gregory (for they claim the Name of God is the energy and not the substance (essence) of God), it contradicts one of the most basic theological truths of Orthodoxy.

Finally, you may wonder and ask how it was that I could be so mistaken about the leaders of HOCNA and their motives all those years. Allow me to defer to the humble thoughts of St. Nikolai Velimirovic found in his Reflection on page 90 in Volume One of The Prologue of Ochrid. You have it in your library. If some of the greatest luminaries of the Church could be fooled, why should I be surprised at my unwitting mistaken judgment?

You may keep me on your visitor’s list if you wish, but I really think we should let this rest for a year as I have written above. In the mean time I do not see why P., Q., M., or R. should be deprived of the consolation of quarterly visits.

Time reveals all things. Let us beseech God to respond with humility and truthfulness to what is revealed.


1. March 2012 Letter from Fr. Sergius to Metropolitan Ephraim

2. August 29, 2012 Letter from Fr. Nicholas to Bishop Gregory of Concord (now Bishop Gregory of Brookline)

3. September 3, 2012 Letter from Fr. Nicholas to the New England Monks and Clergy

4. The History of the Local Eparchal (Regional) Synod of H.O.C.N.A. in the Light of the 34th Apostolic Canon

5. Holy Tradition, the Canonical Order of the Church, and the Good Witness of the Orthodox Christian Faith—A Position Paper by Metropolitan Moses of Portland

6. Addendum to the Position Paper

7. September 13 E-mail from Metropolitan Moses to Fr. Basil

8. September 13 E-mail from Fr. Parthenius to Fr. Basil

9. A Plea Presented to the Hierarchs of HOCNA by a HOCNA clergyman (who is now with the GOC) at the October 2012 Clergy Synaxis

10. Letter to Anastasia

11. An Excurses on the HOCNA Statements of October 8 and 10

On Lies and the Holy Spirit

This letter was written by a parish priest and was presented at the HOCNA clergy conference in October, 2012.

Dear esteemed Hierarchs, clergy and monastics,

It is with a heavy, heavy heart that I write this. I, who am the least among you, have no right to speak, given my sinfulness and general ignorance of spiritual matters. But my conscience compels me to speak, and I am also driven by a sense of pastoral duty.

The circumstances and the atmosphere around the monastery, and at the seat of our diocese and, more recently, at the parishes, have deteriorated so rapidly in recent days, with a resultant virtual fever pitch of tension, anxiety and strife. I have heard and witnessed things in the past couple of weeks that I never would've imagined I would hear in our once harmonious church brotherhood. In an atmosphere of steadily eroding trust, I have seen personal attacks, refusals to concelebrate amongst clergy that were once tightly bonded in Christ, character assassinations, intrigue, offense and counter-offense, with a resultant, rapid spread of fear and hysteria into the life of parishes, families and households. This is tearing asunder the very fabric of our church community.

There are 2 things that I know for certain. Firstly, no one, no one in the clergy is at peace with this. Everyone is grieving. Everyone is anxious. Everyone is fearful. Secondly, the only one that is genuinely rejoicing is the evil one.

Vladyka Ephraim, I have known you for a number of years and have always respected you, looked up to you, and remembered you in my prayers. I have greatly valued your counsel during times of difficulty and challenge. You have helped me immensely with your guidance, love and prayers, for which I am eternally grateful. I also acknowledge that, in your position of Chief Hierarch, you carry a very big cross and have weighty responsibilities.

When the recent news was shared with me regarding the immoral activities of Fr. Panteleimon, I felt like I was hit with a bolt of lightning. The shock has yet to wear off. I don’t know if it ever will. I’ve known Geronda for 32 years. He has always been kind to me. I’ve joined him for lunch at the skete countless times. He was always so gracious , generous and helpful. It therefore took some serious effort and prayer on my part, along with God’s grace, to break down the thick cement wall of denial. Once down, through God’s mercy, my eyes opened. A veil was lifted. I now understand how difficult it is for many to overcome that denial. Geronda has such an esteemed and holy impression in the hearts of so many. As for that denial, clinical psychologists readily attest that abuse, when mixed with manipulation of sentiments, creates walls of denial for many, oftentimes insurmountable even after the truth is known.

I would like to pose a question. If anyone of us has a family member with “a problem”, (a weakness, a vice), like drinking or temper tantrums, for example, and his actions adversely impact others, and the family works to protect him from consequences, hides his vice from the general public, walls him off from personal accountability, will such protective actions of his family cause him to sink into his vices any less? Or, possibly more? Does not such protection and negligence distance him from necessary rehabilitation? At what point does the family bear some of the responsibility for the damage caused by his vices, due to their negligence and cover-up? The answer is clear.

Then there’s the question of TRUTH. We as ordained clergymen have taken an oath to uphold the laws and canons of the Church, and live a Christ-centered life and minister others to do so. Such a life, which is the life of the cross, espouses and embraces TRUTH, for Christ said, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.” In many Holy Scripture references, TRUTH is equated with Christ, while lies are equated with the evil one, the father of lies. The life of Christ is our template and example. Where do we see in Holy Scripture our Saviour encouraging His disciples to lie? Of course, never, and his admonition to the “hypocrites” is severe and firm.

The Metropolitan encourages all to read the lives of Saints. Where in the lives of Saints do we ever see a lie justified to cover another’s sins? When each of us begins a holy service, we beseech the Holy Spirit “the spirit of TRUTH who fillest all things” to enter into us, guide us and work through us. Does not the holy Church teach that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, is repulsed by untruth? By propagating untruth, are we not, in effect, pushing the Holy Spirit away? Is that not the essential source of all of our current woes? I genuinely believe it is so.

We can argue the points of bad administration, poor management principles, deficient communication, poor skills, as sources of our ills. That would certainly hold true in the corporate world. But we are not speaking about a corporation. We are speaking about the Holy Orthodox Church, the very body of Christ. The holy Church is guided, held together, supported and nourished by the Holy Spirit, who is the effecter of all of her Holy Mysteries. Therefore, without the Holy Spirit’s blessings, the earthy Church, (in this case, HOCNA specifically), would not thrive, would not grow, would not enlighten, would not remain a beacon in the world, would become sick. Does this portrayal not fit our Church currently? And in recent years? Are we not now suffering the effects of alienating the Holy Spirit? Through our falsehood? Our deceit? Our hypocrisy? I submit that much of our current ills are direct symptoms and manifestation of a cancerous lie that has infected our Church, seething and smoldering for years, which we’ve covered up, justified, and helped to propagate by avoiding the only certain remedy… uncompromising TRUTH and repentance.

It is believed that a quiet, compassionate sequestration of Fr. Panteleimon, essentially sending him into exile, would be a sufficient remedy, through containment. I say not. It is analogous to placing a band-aid on a gushing arterial hemorrhage, or spreading cancer. The metastasis, which is the dangerous spread of the cancer, has been directly facilitated by the dishonest cover-up, which has been propagated openly, publicly and with a bare-head.

We must take heed of our Saviour’s corrective and healing action towards the thrice-declared sin of the St. Peter’s denial of Christ. Our Saviour guided him to a proper repentance, with a thrice offered confession that offset, essentially canceling out, the thrice-declared denial. What is important here is that the repentance needs to match the sin, (is that not the basis of an epitemia?), and, that our Saviour guides the faithful to a proper repentance. I believe that we, as a body, need to sink into earnest and unqualified repentance, and accept, that through recent circumstances, our Saviour is guiding us to that proper repentance. Without an open, public and bare-headed repentance, I fear that our ills will remain, as we continue to distance the Holy Spirit.

On a more practical note, we have all seen a rapidly escalating trend of anxious inquiry, presumption, and fired-up passions coming from the laity in recent days. Woe to those who manipulate the sentiments of the masses, as they would be following the example of the Scribes and Pharisee who urged the crowds to clamor on behalf of Barabas, and cry out “crucify him” relating to our Saviour. Some of these poor people were the ones who cried our “Hosanna in the highest” only a short time before, but were later swayed by the unscrupulous Pharisees.

It is not only likely, but, in my judgement, a given inevitability in the prevailing atmosphere, that people will ask about the issue of Fr, Panteleimon’s moral status, as there have already been rumblings. The internet and Facebook is now replete with chatter about conspiracy theories, powerplays and inuendos. I would like to ask a pointed question to our Metropolitan Ephraim. If a parishioner approaches a pastor seated here, and asks pointblank, “Is the question of the Elder’s innocence now being revisited?”, what do you, as our Archpastor and teacher, instruct us to reply? I truly believe that, given the current climate, such tough questions are on the horizon, if not imminent. We have basically two choices. Do we continue “the lie” and maintain the status quo of deceit? Or do we “let the TRUTH set us free” and finally, finally open the door to healing and repentance of our community?

One of the fathers used an interesting phrase last week, namely, that there is an impression, a fear, that Your Eminence’s “moral authority” has been compromised. Frankly, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant and how it applied. I now believe, that if Your Eminence advises us to lie, and continue the deceit, that such an assertion is tragically and painfully true, that your “moral authority” has indeed been compromised and you have effectively lost the confidence of most of the clergy you lead. But if Your Eminence, blesses the humble and painful sharing of TRUTH in an honest, non-judgment and contrite manner, not only will it usher in the healing of our Church, but also the healing of souls.

I have heard about great trepidation regarding the potential fallout and damage to souls of such a forthright disclosure. Despite the initial pain and anguish, which will be immense, in my heart, I know that all will be better in time, because we have invited back the Holy Spirit into our Church, and He, in His infinite love, will make all well for the salvation of our souls. Is this not a true test of our faith?

Finally, in a recent conversation with brother clergy, I was quite taken back when I heard a clergyman expressing anxiety about “having to lie to my wife”, in order to maintain the status quo. Behold what this has come to… Clergy having to lie to their wives is such a hideous manifestation of this dreadful disease of unrepentant deceit. Without proper repentance of our Church, this is a sad foreshadowing of the direction we’re heading, isolating ourselves from the Holy Spirit. For a community, such an environment becomes the devil’s playground, where he heartily rejoices. God preserve us from such a fate!

Lord have mercy!

Fr. X….., sinful priest

From Fr. Parthenius to Fr. Basil

From: Fr Parthenius

Subject: Fwd: reply to Fr. Basil

Date: September 13, 2012 1:27:30 PM EDT


Father Basil has been spreading a great deal of misinformation about the Synod of the GOC under Archbishop Kallinikos.

First of all, HOCNA recognized the GOC as the canonical church of Greece in October 2010. In so doing, it simply recognized what was already the reality: namely, that the vast majority of the Old Calendarists in Greece belong to the GOC. And why is that? Obviously, because the GOC is the linear continuation of the Old Calendar Church of Greece. Archbishops Chysostomos (Kiousis) and Kallinikos are the successors to Arch. Auxentius, and there is no rival claimant to the throne of Athens who possesses any canonical legitimacy. This should all be obvious, because the Synod of Auxentius ceased to exist as a separate body, and almost all of its churches, clergy, and bishops were incorporated into the GOC.

It is not necessary to bring up here the fact that Archbishop Auxentius of blessed memory himself stood on weak ground after 1985. After all, the Holy Synod's vote carried 15 (for Chrysostomos Kiousis) to 5 (for Auxentius). This was the case because apart from his misadministration, it is no secret that Arch. Auxentius did in fact ordain immoral men to the episcopacy – witness Paisius, Vikentius, and Euthymius. Whatever was left of the synod of Auxentius joined up with the GOC under Chysostomos, because the GOC has no toleration for immorality (unlike HOCNA, whose founding members were engaged in immoral behavior over a period of decades.)

The “ecumenist” statements you mention from the GOC bishops are mostly hearsay and are completely out of context, to the point that they have no force or meaning. You know very well that the GOC bishops are not ecumenist, and would not defend any such statement from an ecumenist point of view. None of your quotes which you are so obsessive to track down can change the clear fact that the bishops of the GOC are unshakable in their confession of the Orthodox faith and their opposition to ecumenism. This is easily proven from the official documents of the Synod, such as the anathemas against ecumenism of 1998; the statements from the dialogue with the Cyprianites; and the statements from the dialogue with the Tikhonites. All these documents are crystal clear in their exposition of an Orthodox anti-ecumenist ecclesiology.

Furthermore, your accusations against the GOC are really just hypocrisy, because the same sort of statements and actions which you so oppose in the GOC were occurring during the time of Archbishop Auxentius--but not a word was said. Specifically, Fr Panteleimon called him a "semi-ecumenist" and published it in "The Orthodox Christian Witness," just a little while before joining with him.

There was never a recantation.

Moreover, it was Archbishop Auxentius who accepted the Portuguese bishops, and the Free-Serb bishops (thanks to Paisios of NY) who were masons.

Do people know that when Metropolitan Makarios served in Petroupouli (the residence of Archbishop Auxentius) and made an announcement that only those who follow the traditional calendar can come forward to take Communion, the nuns told him, "PLEASE do not make that announcement again"!

Also, a very faithful archimandrite of the Archbishop who was a very reliable source told us that Abbess Xenia herself (the abbess of the aforementioned convent) took Communion in the new-calendarist Churches. When asked "did the Archbishop know," he said, "of course he knew"!

Or perhaps you didn't see the article which was written by Archbishop Auxentius' official periodical in Greece praising the Patriarch of Jerusalem with his entourage, and welcomed them to Greece after their arrival.

On the other hand, maybe you do remember that after St Photios the Great was exiled, when he returned to Constantinople he went to the "adulterer bishop" Ignatius and made a full prostration to him! It was the same St Photios who said "let God consign all previous events to oblivion."

Not to mention as well the differences of opinion concerning strictness and leniency throughout the centuries. For example, Archbishop Demetrius Homatianos of Bulgaria was the one who (during the 13th century) said that we allow the Latins to take Communion "for their enlightenment." Not because such a thing is correct, it clearly is not, but, according to your mentality, the Church should have ceased to exist centuries ago.

Finally, you praise Archbishop Tikhon to the skies, while overlooking the fact that his Synod espoused a Cyprianite ecclesiology until 2010, when they deliberately changed their ecclesiology at the insistence of the GOC, as a precondition for entering into communion with the GOC. In any case, if you wish to join Archbishop Tikhon, keep in mind that he has name-worshippers in his Church as well.

It would be wiser if you kept your criticisms to a minimum Father, because you may be forced one day to join the Synod of the GOC, which is the canonical Church of Greece.

Letter to New England Monks and Clergy

September 3, 2012 (NS)

Dear Fathers,


The topic of name-worshipping came up, of course, at the clergy meeting on Saturday, September 1, since Metropolitan Ephraim’s mishandling of that controversy is one of the reasons given by many of the parish clergy for his resignation.

In addition to my earlier remarks on the English translation of Patriarch Tikhon’s 1921 Nativity Epistle, I would like now to bring the following points to your attention.

I will discuss here the actual teaching itself. You can find much on it elsewhere. Perhaps you already have. I would urge you to read the 25-page study, written by our Fr. Haralampos and Fr. Basil, in refutation of the arguments of the modern adherents of name-worshipping. (To be sent out shortly.)

The excerpt from Patriarch Tikhon’s 1921 Nativity Epistle is just that — only one passage from a longer document. However, it was presented as though name-worshipping was the main topic of Patriarch Tikhon’s letter. It was not. Further, the Patriarch’s comments should not be taken as a dogmatic statement on which to base dogmatic decisions. It’s a “by the way” to his bishops.

Patriarch Tikhon is saying to his bishops, “If you have any living name-worshippers in your diocese, and they want to reunite themselves to the Church, let me remind you that this is the economia set up already by the Church for doing so, but the condemnations of name-worshipping and the Synodal decisions and resolutions still stand and are applicable.” That is a classic case of canonical economia.

As you all know, economia is applicable in a given place and time, and relates to individual people or cases. Economia is meant to facilitate the return of people to communion with the Church. Economia never becomes the teaching of the Church, nor can economia ever be cited as a precedent to be used to alter the Church’s dogmatic stance. It cannot be done so in the present case either.

I wrote my short explanation on the translation of the 1921 Nativity Epistle (q.v.) simply to demonstrate that Metropolitan Ephraim and Bishop Gregory were basing there attempt at “compromise” on a faulty translation. My work can in no wise be used to imply that I myself favor any such compromise, because I am categorically against such a thing, as are the majority of the fathers here at Holy Transfiguration Monastery.

Please know how strongly we feel about this topic. Some of us fathers here at Holy Transfiguration Monastery have ceased to kiss Metropolitan Ephraim or Bishop Gregory’s hand or to take their blessing over this matter. A couple of hieromonks will not serve at all until this matter is resolved. A chanter will not chant at the services for the same reason. The majority of the fathers will not accept a “compromise” on this issue under any conditions. That was one of the points in the petition some of us submitted asking for Metropolitan Ephraim’s resignation.

And why should we compromise at all on this dogmatic issue? This strange teaching was unknown in our Church before Bishop Gregory joined us. It is he who has cultivated and pushed it. If earlier it was known at all by any of our people, it was known as a teaching condemned by the Church. So now, why do we have to “compromise” at all on this issue? To please Bishop Gregory (and Metropolitan Ephraim, who is too stubborn to admit a mistake and back down)?

This strange teaching has never been a part of our spiritual heritage. On the contrary, Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky and Metropolitan Anastasy were actually present and themselves physically signed the documents condemning name-worshipping with their own hands. Saint Metropolitan Philaret was adamantly opposed to it too, as a disciple of Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky. Are we now to deny our entire spiritual legacy to please our junior hierarch?

What sort of pride has seized these modern apologists of name-worshipping to make them think that they comprehend this controversy better than our three Metropolitans of blessed memory, the whole Russian Church, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Holy Mountain?! And why should we believe them, or listen to them? They cannot explain that to us.

Fr. Adrian, who knew Metropolitan Philaret well and many of our other older hierarchs in ROCOR, was horrified to learn that the topic of name-worshipping could even be raised among us — we, who consider ourselves to be the direct spiritual heirs of those ever-memorable hierarchs.

Abbot Archimandrite Ilian (Ivan Sorokin) of St. Panteleimon’s Monastery on Mount Athos, who tonsured our Fr. Panteleimon in the 1957, had been on the Holy Mountain since 1905. He was present during the 1913-14 turmoil, and he sided with the Russian Church and accepted the Synodal condemnation of name-worshipping.

Much is made of the interpretation of Patriarch Tikhon’s letter which supposedly states that it is up to a future council of the Russian Church to make the final decision concerning name-worshipping. Even if one accepts such an interpretation, one cannot violate present legal codes based on the hope that those laws will supposedly be abolished sometime in the future by a, as yet to be convened, legislature! So too here: until such time as the Russian Church revokes its previous decisions regarding the name-worshippers, they are still in force. Imagine the reaction of a policeman if someone attempted to tell him that he cannot arrest him for a crime, since the legislature may revoke that law ten years from now!

And if we should compromise now to “keep peace in the family”, what interpretation can Metropolitan Ephraim and Bishop Gregory put on name-worshipping in the future? What other strange teachings can subsequently be introduced under the same banner of “compromise”?

Bishop Gregory feels a great need to rehabilitate, to vindicate, to exonerate those Athonite monks whom he feels have been unfairly treated. Those fathers and the Synodal hierarchs who opposed them have all gone to stand before the Judgment seat of Christ long ago. Our Lord can set all thing straight among them. In any case, the Orthodox world will never accept any “resolution” of this problem, or “compromise”, from our tiny, marginalized group, so what is the point of all this?

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that we or the parish clergy meet Metropolitan Ephraim and Bishop Gregory’s call for “compromise” on this issue. If later asked by their parishioners or any of the laity: “What is this teaching called ‘name-worshipping’? And what sort of compromise have you agreed upon?” — how many of our clergy or of us monks could give an intelligent reply?

And no matter how many qualification we might try to attach to such a compromise, the rest of the Orthodox world will simply consider us to be bona fide, 100%, name-worshippers. And they will brand us as such. Don’t we have enough epithets attached to us already; do we need this added one?! And what can we reply to them: “Oh, you don’t understand: We are ‘name-worshipping Lite’. Or ‘tweaked name-worshipping’. Or ‘name-worshipping, with the following caveats’”??! They will simply laugh us to scorn.

And there is really no need to compromise anyway. If a modern-day adherent of name-worshipping wishes to join the True Orthodox Church, then all we have to do is apply the economia of the Russian Church which is already in place. There is no need to fabricate some false compromise in order to facilitate a persons return to the Church. But this presently proposed compromise has a much broader, and perilous purpose — to allow unrepentant name-worshippers to still consider themselves to be True Orthodox Christians.

And in this particular case, the enticing term “compromise” is extremely dangerous. By convincing us to accept the 1921 Nativity Epistle as a document on which we can all agree, Metropolitan Ephraim and Bishop Gregory are seeking to reduce the objections to name-worshipping merely to those four points which they themselves have extracted from the text of Patriarch Tikhon’s letter. Thereafter, anyone suspected of name-worshipping by the rest of us can be asked by them: “Do you accept our compromise based on the 1921 Nativity Epistle and reject those four points?” If the person answers in the affirmative, which most people probably would, then it can be declared by Metropolitan Ephraim and Bishop Gregory that such a person is not a name-worshipper, and hence, we can be in full communion with them, etc.! This opens the door into our Church to all sorts of people with whom most of us want nothing more to do with: Bishop Gregory Lourie, Bishop Job, and many others, who indisputably are unrepentant and militant name-worshippers.

Recently, Bishop Gregory Lourie and the now Bishop Job have claimed in postings on the Internet that HOCNA helped them to coordinate Bishop Job’s consecration to the episcopacy, that we approved of it, and that we are still in communion with each other. When some parish clergy sought a written statement from Metropolitan Ephraim and Bishop Gregory declaring that such was not the case, they were stonewalled. Bishop Gregory said that a phone call would be enough.

Name-worshipping is a Pandora’s box which we must not open on any account.

We beg and implore you not to do so, and we tell you bluntly that most of the fathers here will never accept such a decision.

We have no further need to hear from Metropolitan Ephraim or Bishop Gregory on this matter. We made it abundantly clear at the HTM synaxis that we want to drop this topic totally. We accept the Russian Synodal decisions and condemnations of name-worshipping, and those of Constantinople and the Holy Mountain. And we want that stated publicly by our Synod. Period!

We are at the breaking point over this, and will not be provoked further.

Fr. Nicholas Holy Transfiguration Monastery September 3, 2012 (NS)

P. S. As an example of how insidious this teaching can be, take our own Fr. Panteleimon for a warning. We all know the great love and reverent awe he once had for Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, and which he inculcated in us all. Metropolitan Anthony was considered to be an unglorified saint. Then gradually, to the degree that Fr. Panteleimon began to imbibe the teachings of name-worshipping, his admiration for Metropolitan Anthony began to wane, and eventually it grew very cold. Fr. Panteleimon began to make derogatory remarks about Metropolitan Anthony: that he was a scholastic, an administrator, that he didn’t understand hesychasm, that he wasn’t a man of prayer, and so forth. I actually heard him say that those who oppose name-worshipping fall under the condemnations against Varlaam and Akindynos! Recently Fr. Panteleimon angrily told our Fr. Haralampos and Fr. Basil that, for having written the refutation of name-worshipping, they would not decompose when they die. Sad…

Letter to Metropolitan Ephraim

Dear and most respected Metropolitan Ephraim,

Holy Master Bless!

I wished to share some thoughts with you confidentially. I know that you have carried the heavy cross of the episcopacy for almost 25 years.  I do not wish to add to your burden by being anything but supportive and constantly asking the Holy Trinity to guide and enlighten you in these difficult times.

Nevertheless, in times past, when you have ordained or elevated laymen or clergy to higher positions, and then found yourself to have problems on your hands, you have wondered why the faithful and clergy did not come forward to inform you of their reservations.

I have known Fr. Gregory for many years now. I find him an agreeable person for the most part, though rather eccentric in some of his views. I remember being somewhat shocked when he told me that he thought Nazi Germany had been made to look much worse than it actually was and a lot of our perceptions were formed by negative propaganda. Also, from time to time over the years he told me that he was of the opinion that the Name Worshippers had been wrongly condemned and had been misunderstood. On the subject of the Name Worshippers I took his comments into account, but I had never read any first-hand material on the subject.

I have now read Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky's paper on this subject and also the 1913 decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch also confirmed this decision.

The story that has been told so often that Metropolitan Anthony never even read any of the positions of the Name Worshippers, but relied on second and third hand sources, is a lie that has been repeated so often that it has taken on a life of its own. It is very clear that some of the Name Worshippers were confused in their simplicity at best and were openly deceitful and duplicitous at worse, as Metropolitan Anthony's paper so eloquently and clearly demonstrates.

Regardless, it is edifying that both Saint Anatoly and Saint Barsanuphius of Optina read Schemamonk llarion's n the Mountains of the Caucasia with interest and found edifying things in it, but they also had some reservations and after the Holy Synod had condemned the book they neither defended it nor read it again.

It goes without saying what Metropolitan St. Philaret and Bishop Gregory Grabbe of Blessed Memory thought of this issue. I think one can safely assume St. John Maxomovitch was also of one mind with Metropolitan Anthony on this issue.

Who are we, and furthermore, who is a young Hieromonk Gregory to question these theological giants of recent times? And furthermore, to what point? Does anyone doubt that the Name of Jesus sanctifies and is to be held in uttermost reverence? Is anyone saying that the Jesus Prayer is not a channel of uncreated and divine grace? But as the Synodicon of Orthodoxy points out a distinction must be made between essence and energy. Even the Body of the Lord Jesus is not "God" according to the Synodicon let alone His Name. If we are to make a confusion of it we become Pantheists just as the Latins accused the Orthodox of because the Latins said God is simple and cannot be divided. But the Orthodox position is an unmingled union, an unconfused union, a distinction between essence and energy, and that the material world is sanctified but not deified by the uncreated energies.

The Name of God is not essence nor is it an operation of the essence.  It is a name above all names. But to say that the name partakes of the essence or becomes an operation in and of itself is Platonic and not Christian.

Regardless, it is now a dead issue. What point is there is resurrecting it to the scandal of the faithful. If this issue is ever to be addressed again, it must be addressed by not only the Russian Church, but the Ecumenical Church. I hardly think that Bishop Gregory Lourie and those with him constitute the plentitude of the Church.

And we know that Bishop Gregory Lourie has other peculiar ideas as well. His sermon on the "conglomerate" St. Nicholas, his unilateral glorifications of Frs. Antony Bulatovitch and Seraphim Rose, his declarations of the theological incompetence of Metropolitan Anthony and Bishop Gregory Grabbe, and his attitude towards The Dogma of Redemption and God knows what else should raise eyebrows to say the least.

Yes, Bishop Gregory is not an Ecumenist, nor does mince words on the sorry state of the "Official Churches" and likes our publications and opinions on many issues ... but does that excuse everything else? It is extremely disquieting and distressing to observe that our Fr. Gregory is enamored of the person and writings of Bishop Gregory Lourie. Fr. Gregory's mindset is, frankly, alarming to not a few of us who live with him day in and day out.

I do not know what the solution is, dear Vladyka. I know you are in a difficult position and that there is a need for more bishops and there are few candidates. I do not want to see us do something that will cause problems in the future. Fr. Gregory's consecration is premature at best. I wish my heart was not troubled on this issue, but it is and continues to be after much prayer and reading first hand sources. If things go awry in the future my last wish is to say to you, the Elder, and Fr. Isaac, "Well, we told you so!"

Vladyka, I have been here for 31 years. I came here from Jordanville because, though being of Russian ancestry, I wished to be in an English speaking monastic community that was established and had fairly good order. I have seen not only a disrespectful attitude of Fr. Gregory towards Metropolitan Anthony, but animus, and now, to my utter dismay I have seen Fr. Isaac, under Fr. Gregory's influence, prefer Thesis papers from St. Vladimir's Seminary, Fr. Georges Florovsky's scalding critiques of Metropolitan Anthony, and the arrogant and presumptuous writings and opinions of a rather young, eccentric, and acedemic Bishop Gregory Lourie over Metropolitan Anthony and Bishop Gregory Grabbe. This is more than dismaying for me.

Again, who are we to be suddenly gainsaying our fathers to whom we owe everything? We are cutting off the branch we are sitting on. Do we have more discernment than these saints and bishops of blessed memory, or for that matter, the blessed Elders Anatoly and Barsanuphius of Optina, who after they had heard the decisions of both their local church and the consensus of the other Churches lay this issue of the controversial opinions of Schemamonk Ilarion, Fr. Antony Bulatovich and their disruptive disciples aside?

Usually I am not in agreement with our Fr. Basil because I find his opinions usually extreme and myopic, but in this regard I agree with what he wrote to Fr. Isaac a few months ago. He wrote:
Dear Fr Isaac,  
Please, why we should bother entering ourselves in a new controversy? !Nameworshiping or Name-venerating or whatever is more fitting to call it is a dead issue. If 'name-worshipers' are orthodox,fine! they are members of the Church and glory be to God! Nevertheless, given that most people in the whole world consider today (rightly or wrong) that it is a heresy, why are we suppose to undertake the responsibility to give an account on behalf of them, (when even many official contemporaries at the beginning of 20th century where reluctant to do so), to prove they are orthodox. Don't we give in this way a serious cause, for the people that disagree, to be separated from us? and I mean, people that are still with us: those that remain with our bishops after the still fresh schism of last May.  
To those that accuse us we can simply say that we are not the Name-worshipers they think; we are Orthodox and every one knows or can testify our orthodoxy. However, what actually our smart enemies want is to get us involved in an new, unending conflict that only harm will bring to the Church.  
There are quite enough labels they stick on us up to the moment (anti-triadics, neoiconoclasts, 666, Macracists, .. .). They would be happy to add 'Name-worshipers' in the list (with our contribution!).  
The Elder is going to give a talk, precisely on this subject (defending the 'Nameworshipers'!), this Sunday evening in the Metropolis house here in Toronto ... Good luck!  
I kiss your hand, forgive me
Fr Basil

Unfortunately, Vladyka, Fr. Gregory's views are not unknown. It has become controversial both within the community and without. Fr. Haralampos and Fr. Basil were told not to say anything in the talk after the Corporate Meeting this past year while the Elder tried to put his own spin on the Name Worshippers Controversy. The meeting ended with the brotherhood dissatisfied and perplexed. Our questions were not addressed nor was there a fair and open dialogue.

I have mentioned to Fr. Isaac that the only way to lay this to rest is to have a public debate between Fr. Gregory and Fr. Haralampos and Fr. Basil and any other clergyman who may care to be involved on this issue. Fr. Isaac said that the Elder cannot handle stuff like that. As a matter of fact, Fr. Isaac was floored and dismayed that members of the brotherhood even made a peep during the Corporate Meeting. The fathers were respectful and clear, but wanted clarification. It was not forthcoming. So the Elder cannot handle it, and what will the outcome be? The community and even the diocese will become fractured within because this issue is being swept under the carpet. Is it just going to be a "No ask no tell" policy? But it is too late for that.

It is not enough for many of us that he holds this opinion privately in a Gnostic type of way. He should repudiate his views publicly and in writing until the Pan-Orthodox Decision on the issue of Name Worshippers is, if ever, revisited by the entire Church. Obviously the present times will not allow that, but until that time, to think that Bishop Gregory Lourie or HOCNA or even a few Synods of the True Orthodox Church of Russia represent the plentitude of the Church is ludicrous. Lord have mercy!

I never thought, after all we have been through that an internal crisis of conscience like this would come upon the monastery brethren and the diocese as a whole. I know the Holy Synod wrote that very good notice distancing yourself from Bishop Gregory Lourie's controversial views, but now we are about to consecrate a man who makes no secret of his full sympathies with these very same controversial views and their author.

Also, if the consecration goes through, I have heard that Fr. Gregory's title will be "Brookline." Please forgive me beloved Vladyka, but why "Brookline?" There are no parishes or a cathedral in Brookline, only the Monastery and Convent; why not "Roslindale" since we already have a precedent for that, or "Concord" or "Ipswich?" Not a few of us think that will make us look ridiculous.

It looks odd enough that 3 of the 4 bishops of HOCNA will be living in the monastery ... no doubt, too many will say, under the vigilant eye of Elder Panteleimon. In the past we have been so careful of things like this. Yes, I know that St. Katherine's Monastery has its own bishop, but that is because of its own unique isolation, especially in ancient times. When there was a bishop resident at Jordanville it was "Syracuse and Holy Trinity." Bishop Sergius was "Loch Lomond" but I assume that was because there was not another parish even remotely close to Kelseyville. But here we have many parishes and faithful nearby.

My beloved Archpastor, I have expressed most of these thoughts to Fr. Isaac, but not all. I have opened my heart in the secrecy of confession to you. I am one of your humble sheep whose heart is, to my grief, troubled at what should be a cause of rejoicing and expectation. Fr. Gregory is pleasant enough man, and I have nothing personal against him. I am just afraid that his eccentricities could cause great scandal in the future. I know that out of the clergy of the monastery 6 have great reservations. Many of the monks do too.

Please forgive me for troubling you,

Asking your holy prayers,

sinful Sergius, monk

From Fr. Nicholas to Bishop Gregory

August 16/29, 2012 Feast of the Icon of the Lord “Not Made By Hands”

To Bishop Gregory of Concord

Dear Despota, Bless!

Ever since the meeting between you, Metropolitan Ephraim, myself and Fr. Isaac a few weeks ago, I have been wanting to write to you about some of the things said then.

On a personal level I have always greatly valued our friendship, and I felt that we had a good rapport. Of late, however, some of your actions and statements have caused me bewilderment and sadness. It is those that I wish to speak about here.

At our meeting in the HTM library, and then later in your cell, you expressed your respect for Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, and you stated that no one could question it, since you had translated our synod’s resolution on The Dogma of Redemption into Georgian. We appreciated your labors at that time and expressed our gratitude to you then.

But let’s be honest, you translated the synodal resolution into Georgian not out of a deep and intrinsic respect for Metropolitan Anthony, but in order to keep peace in our Church, and to calm the Georgian flock, which had been stirred up against Metropolitan Anthony and his Dogma of Redemption by meddling busybodies, such as the then still layman, Basil Lourie. (See appended copy of his letter to the Georgian clergy.) Glory and honor to you for having helped to establish peace and understanding on that issue. But let’s not portray it now as something that it was not.

You may indeed have a general respect for Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky as a prominent ecclesiastical figure in the recent history of the Russian Orthodox Church, but you lack that deep reverence and love of him and his teachings which was inculcated in the rest of us by our ever-memorable hierarchs of the “old” ROCOR, and by Fr. Panteleimon himself (at least, in former times). It was, perhaps, a small thing, but it did not go unnoticed among the brethren that neither you nor Fr. Panteleimon bothered to remain to the end of Midnight Liturgy in order to perform the memorial service for Metropolitan Anthony on the recent anniversary of his repose.

As for your claim that you never made the disparaging remark about me that “he’s a product of ROCOR”, I had that information from the one who heard it directly from you. And I consider him to be a trustworthy and reputable source. But I myself — as one who often heedlessly blurts out whatever is on my mind, and then forgets about it — can quite well understand that you have no recollection of ever having made such a statement. And I did not take it to heart, anyway. Actually, I considered it a compliment of sorts.

But then, your ignorance of the “old days” is not entirely your fault, since you were all of three weeks old in February of 1979, when I entered the monastery as a grown man. So I know very well indeed what was the ethos at the monastery and within ROCOR at that time — I lived it. I remember quite well what we stood for, what we believed, what we taught others then, and what was our confession of faith. But, sadly, it’s been changing of late…

The memory of one incident involving you (when you were still just a novice), which took place in the Coach House breakfast room at HTM, has remained with all those who were present. We were discussing Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, and someone mentioned praying for him. I then interjected that one could almost pray to him. At that point you let out a shocked gasp and asked incredulously: “You could?!!” To be very frank with you, your shock over my comment in turn deeply shocked all of us. Fr. Sergius, Fr. Ignatius and I exchanged the same glance, full of surprise and dismay. We all thought to ourselves: “This does not bode well for the future!” Little did we imagine back then that things would reach the sad point where we are now.

And how is one to explain the source or cause of the awful disparaging remarks which Fr. Panteleimon now makes to people concerning Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky? Remarks for which we would have been given a severe dressing down and an epitimia by him in days gone by! Who could have imagined back then that the time would come when the junior members of the brotherhood would find themselves in the position of having to defend the memory of Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky to their hierarchs and superiors, especially to Fr. Panteleimon, of all people?! It boggles the mind. And one can’t help but recall those grave words of St. Paul: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you…”

It has grieved me greatly over the years to watch as Fr. Panteleimon’s previously reverent feelings toward Metropolitan Anthony gradually changed 180° (despite occasional public protestations to the contrary by you and him). The same can be said of Fr. Panteleimon’s perspective on name-worshipping. Incrementally, it was being chipped away, and I felt helpless to halt or resist the process. I had neither the time nor the energy to concentrate on combatting it. And once Fr. Panteleimon has something in his mind, no amount of negative “proof” will dissuade him. However, I did mention my concerns to Fr. Isaac from time to time, and I told him that we would have trouble from it down the line. But I have to hand it to you, for you did an excellent job of cultivating Fr. Panteleimon over the years and winning him to your side.

But, as the ever-memorable Fr. Michael Pomazansky once said to someone who, in his presence, accused Vladyka Anthony of heresy: “We will not allow our Abba to be insulted!”


I have heard you say on several occasions that the fact of Bishop Gregory Lourie taking Communion at HTM — and the furor which followed it, especially in Toronto — is what caused name-worshipping to become an issue within HOCNA. True, that may have been the spark that started the public conflagration, but who was it that privately had been heaping up firewood and kindling for so many years? How many times had you — while still just a novice — been warned by me, by Bishop Demetrius and by others to leave that topic alone — that nothing good would come of it? But, alas, you wouldn’t listen…

Nor do I accept your assertion that it was merely an intellectual pursuit, or scholarly research, or a desire to better understand a controversial issue in church history. This has always been a passionate cause for you, a crusade to rehabilitate, to vindicate, to exonerate those whom you feel have been unfairly treated. A praiseworthy undertaking perhaps, but what has it led to? Did the contemporary Traditionalist Orthodox Churches not have enough current controversies and problems, without having to dig up a supposedly unresolved one from one hundred years ago?! And let’s be honest, before you joined us, name-worshipping was not an issue with any of us. And it was Bishop Gregory Lourie who resurrected the controversy in Russia.

And tell me, will the Russian Church, or any of the other Local Orthodox Churches, or even our fellow Old-calendarists accept whatever new “resolution” of the problem our little, marginalized group might propose? Of course not! Can you imagine the reaction if some Russian Orthodox Christian appeared in Greece to announce that he, at last, could now resolve all the divisions within the Old-calendarist jurisdictions there?! Contrary to what Metropolitan Ephraim wrote, fulfilling his four stipulations (supposedly found in Patriarch Tikhon’s 1921 Nativity Epistle) will not “resolve the problem”!

But even more alarming was a conversation of yours which I overheard last spring. I was working at the computer in the third-floor shipping department at HTM, and you were speaking quite loudly in Russian on the public telephone located there. (Thus, it was not a case of anyone eavesdropping.) You were talking to Fr. Job and Fr. Martinian (who, at that time, were still with us) and discussing with them the name-worshipping controversy, especially the negative reaction to it here among us. You told the fathers that there was no point forcing (your choice of words) the question here, since it was not really an issue for us, and, besides, people here don’t comprehend it. However, you agreed wholeheartedly with the fathers that there (in Ukraine and Russia) name-worshipping absolutely was a question of confession of faith. You then went on to assure the fathers not to worry, because the important people here do understand and sympathize with name-worshipping. And you yourself mentioned them by name: Metropolitan Ephraim, Fr. Panteleimon, Fr. Isaac, etc. Does this mean that our Church now has some ‘inner circle’ of enlightened individuals who have been initiated into a ‘higher teaching’ which is not understood by the masses? Well, we all know what that smacks of, don’t we?! Might I suggest that you reread the works of Saint Irenaeus of Lyons…

Simply on a pastoral level your intellectual excursion into the dogmatic minefield of name-worshipping has been a disaster for us all. Has anyone’s faith been strengthened by all this; has anyone been edified? Has anyone been added to the Church because of it? On the contrary, just the opposite has taken place. So what has been the point of it all? You may be enamored of this teaching, but we are not. Forgive me, but I don’t think that you fully realize how many of the clergy, monastics and faithful resent having our Church and monastery practically commandeered and used as some sort of juggernaut to achieve ends which are not our own. Your cause to defend name-worshipping at all costs is not our cause. On bended knees I beg you to please stop disturbing the Church over an issue that most of us do not support.


And I am very dismayed to hear from others that it is now being reported that I supposedly have come around and have now accepted your and Metropolitan Ephraim’s interpretation of Patriarch Tikhon’s 1921 Nativity Epistle. For the record, I am still not at all convinced that you and Metropolitan Ephraim understand that letter correctly. And, as we determined during our meeting, neither you, nor I, have access to all the documents pertaining to that period. So, for the present, I stand by my interpretation of the epistle. (See appended copy.) And as I mentioned there, only after I had arrived at my own understanding of the letter, did I find that the Moscow Patriarchate’s Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev) had interpreted it in exactly the same way. Actually, it was that discovery that encouraged me to send my interpretation to Metropolitan Ephraim. And, unlike you and I, Metropolitan Hilarion — who himself is sympathetic to the name-worshippers, and hostile to Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky — did have all the archival documents put at his disposal so that he could write his two-volume study of that controversy.

In the course of our discussion on the text of the Nativity Epistle of 1921, you seemed exasperated at my repeated observations concerning the translation errors contained in the English text cited by you and Metropolitan Ephraim. I found that odd coming from someone who knows more languages than I do, and who, one would expect, should understand well the need for precision in translating important texts, especially ones on which ecclesiastical decisions are to be based. A couple of times you conceded that there may be some errors, but then, English is not your native language, as it is for me, etc. Those comments puzzled both Fr. Isaac and me, since originally, when we had all assumed that you had indeed been the translator, we were told several times that no, Fr. Andrew Boroda had translated the epistle. So who, in fact, was the translator, and why the obfuscation?

Further, you later told me that, having read my literal English translation of the epistle, you now understood the Russian better. [?!!] Yet, for all that, you and Metropolitan Ephraim still insist on your interpretation of the epistle, based on what you have admitted is a flawed translation of a text which you did not fully understand. You contend that the text must say what you want it to say. Forgive me, but the translation of texts cannot be conducted in such a cavalier manner.


But, for the sake of argument, let us concede that your interpretation of the epistle is correct. Nonetheless, that still would not solve the dilemma for you. Anyone who considers that that epistle can form the basis for a satisfactory compromise on this issue is simply not thinking logically. The epistle does not give succor to name-worshippers, rather, it reiterates their condemnation. Nor can one arbitrarily extract “four stipulations” from the letter and blithely ignore the rest of the text, as Metropolitan Ephraim and you have done.

(Besides, why should we even feel compelled to seek some sort of “compromise” with you and the few adherents of name-worshipping among us? Forgive me, Despota, but you joined us; we didn’t join you. Why should we agree to accept a teaching foreign to us, simply to satisfy you and Metropolitan Ephraim? It’s as if someone had seized a man’s house, and while squatting in the man’s living room, he offers to open negotiations with the owner concerning how much of the house he is willing to give back to him. Such a “compromise” would be a surrender or capitulation. We have no desire for such a compromise on this issue. Instead, why can’t you and Metropolitan Ephraim just drop it all together? If for no other reason, then for pastoral ones.)

No one denies that the Local Russian Church has the right, if she so desires, to return to the issue of name-worshipping at some later date and to reconsider the controversy and her decisions concerning it. But, until such time as she does so (and it is doubtful that she will), her present resolutions, decisions, and condemnations remain in effect and are canonically binding. As you yourselves translated the epistle: “…But, while showing its indulgence, the Synod did not change its previous opinion regarding the error itself, which is found in the writings of Anthony Bulatovich and his followers…” One cannot violate present legal codes based on the hope that those laws will supposedly be abolished sometime in the future by a, as yet to be convened, legislature! So too here: until such time as the Russian Church revokes its previous decisions regarding the name-worshippers, they are still in force.

Thus we see that Patriarch Tikhon, his synod, and the hierarchs that went before him, declared that the writings and teachings of Fr. Anthony Bulatovich and his followers do contain grave errors which have been synodically condemned, and which are to be considered still under that condemnation. However, in e-mail messages to us, you, Bishop Gregory, have declared “…there are no strange or erroneous teachings in Fr. Bulatovich's books.” So, I ask you, whom should we believe; whom should we heed? You, or Patriarch Tikhon and his hierarchs?

And please don’t attempt to use purported post-revolutionary concelebrations to refute the statements made above. Why should we be compelled to accept such concelebrations as proof that the Church supposedly relented and retracted its demands? Perhaps the opposite is true, and the name-worshippers repented? (Why cannot their apologists even entertain such a thought?) Perhaps after the name-worshippers demonstrated a certain degree of humility and obedience, the Church showed them condescension, as in the days of Saint Cyprian of Carthage? As long as the persecutions were in abeyance, Saint Cyprian demanded that the lapsed fulfill the strict epitimia which had been laid upon them. But when the persecutions were renewed, he urged that ‘weapons’ be put into the hands of those willing to struggle in the front ranks for Christ, and so he ordered that the lapsed be accepted back into the Church and allowed to receive Holy Communion. Perhaps something similar took place within the Russian Church after the Revolution and the Bolsheviks persecutions. As I said before, we may never know…

Despota, you sometimes make sweeping statements or categorical declarations, and then later seem surprised or offended when people draw the obvious, logical conclusions. For example, you have told many of us that the councils and synods which condemned the name-worshippers were “heretical” (your choice of words). Well, heretical councils, which make heretical pronouncements, are convoked and attended by… heretics! And those who promulgate, disseminate, and support the teachings of such heretical councils are themselves considered by the Church likewise to be heretics.

So, the inescapable conclusion is that (according to you) Proto-New-Hieromartyr Vladimir of Kiev (head of the Holy Synod during the name-worshipping controversy), New Confessor Metropolitan Agathangel of Yaroslavl, Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, Metropolitan Anastasy Gribanovsky (who, as a vicar bishop of Moscow, also signed the proceedings against the name-worshippers), and all the members of the Holy Synod, the hierarchs in communion with them, and all those who supported the synodal condemnation, including Holy Patriarch Tikhon — are heretics too. (God forbid!)

And remember what Saint John Chrysostom has taught us: Even the blood of martyrdom does not wash away the sin of schism and heresy!


You and Metropolitan Ephraim also chose to ignore another very important point in the epistle: “…promising to follow exactly the Orthodox Church and to be obedient to the God-established Hierarchy.” The “God-established hierarchy” mentioned there was not some abstract, faultless, future hierarchy of the name-worshippers’ own choosing, but the flesh-and-blood members of the Holy Synod and the local hierarchs appointed by them. (Certainly that is how Patriarch Tikhon and his synod understood the phrase.) And that is precisely what Fr. Anthony Bulatovich and his followers categorically refused to do. Thus, they themselves negated the conditions of the epistle under which they could have been received back into the Church. Moreover, they publicly declared their “secession from any spiritual communion with the ecclesiastical authorities”.

When I pointed that fact out to you during our discussion, you excitedly exclaimed two or three times: “Yes, but what sort of hierarchs were they?! They were blasphemers of the Holy Spirit!” (Again, your choice of words.) I was shocked and dismayed to hear you utter such a thing.

So let me ask you concerning those same venerable hierarchs of the Russian Church whom I listed above:

  — Did they ever comprehend or acknowledge themselves to be ‘blasphemers of the Holy Spirit’? (No.)

— Did they ever “repent” of blaspheming the Holy Spirit? (No.)

— Do you recall what awful words our Saviour said of those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit?...

And, according to the teaching of the Church, what are the Mysteries performed by heretics and blasphemers?!

So where does that leave us, the direct spiritual heirs of those same hierarchs, from whom proceed the grace of all our Mysteries and ordinations — including your very own?

You profess to have a devotion for Metropolitan Philaret, the New Confessor. Well, I can tell you very well what he would have to say to you concerning Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky and name-worshipping!

Despota, you may consider it unkind of me, or even unfair, to put you on the spot now, but here too, as with the name-worshipping controversy, it is you yourself who have forced the issue. The faithful will “connect the dots”, even if you do not wish to do so yourself. And since, as the Church rightly teaches, the faith of the bishop is the faith of the flock, then the faithful have every right and duty to inquire into the faith of their hierarch.

So, to make very certain that I have not misunderstood you, I am compelled to ask you point blank:

Do you consider yourself to be a bishop and the spiritual heir of the above-mentioned hierarchs of blessed memory, or not?

More importantly, are those hierarchs heretics and blasphemers, or not?

That last question, Despota, requires — nay, demands — a simple answer: “Yes” or “No”. Please do not equivocate or qualify your reply.

If “Yes”, they are heretics and blasphemers in your eyes, then I thank you for your frankness, but I obviously cannot have anything more to do with you as a bishop.

If “No”, you do not consider them to be heretics and blasphemers, then I will rejoice greatly to hear you state it unambiguously and unreservedly. However, to fully convince the faithful, you will obviously need to publicly retract your previous statements in which you have indeed declared them to be heretics and blasphemers, or, at least, you have left that definite impression. Please find the strength and humility to do so.

If not, then I have to be honest and tell you that I (and many others) will find it very difficult to continue to recognize you as the direct spiritual heir of those blessed hierarchs (which you are, willy-nilly, at least by ordination), or to treat you as one of our bishops, lest by doing so we be found to have betrayed our spiritual forefathers. May it never be!

Forgive me. May the Lord forgive, guide and save us all. Amen!

O Kyrios! Fr. Nicholas Holy Transfiguration Monastery

P.S. If I did not care deeply for you and your salvation, and for our Church, I would never have labored to compose the above letter. I am your genuine well-wisher. FN

Reply to Fr. Basil

From: Fr P.
Subject: Fr Basil's False Assertions
Date: September 13, 2012 12:49:37 PM EDT

Reply of Metropolitan Moses to Fr. Basil's false assertions:

We were ordained as bishops of the Church of Greece. That is our canonical Mother Church. The priests were ordained by bishops of the Church of Greece.

When we went under the omophorion of Archbishop Auxentius the Church in Greece was in schism. The legitimate way of describing this schism is GOC-Auxentius and GOC-Chrysostomos Kiousis.

Archbishop Auxentius did not grant any official status of autonomy to the Church in North America.

Everyone in Greece knows that Maximos of Cephalonia ordained Tsakos, the homosexual. Maximos denied this and lied to his Holy Synod and vowed on his panagia, the symbol of his episcopate. For this Maximos was defrocked and excommunicated.

Archbishop Auxentius was summoned to spiritual court three times to defend himself regarding the ordination of Tsakos and he refused to appear. Archbishop Auxentius was defrocked for ignoring the authority of the Holy Synod.

I ask Fr. Basil, do the canons give the authority to a Holy Synod to defrock an Archbishop who ignores the canons? It is my understanding that an Archbishop of a Holy Synod is not an unassailable personality that is above the canonical order of the Church. Perhaps Fr. Basil has a different understanding.

At the time of Archbishop Auxentius' defrockment, Metropolitan Chrysostomos Kiousis had withdrawn from participating in the actions of the Holy Synod. He did not participate in the defrocking of Archbishop Auxentius. He was later asked to lead the GOC and accepted.

At the time of the schism in 1985 only 4 bishops went with Archbishop Auxentius, one of which was Maximos. The 17 other bishops did not follow Archbishop Auxentius. ( A rational person would ask, why did Archbishop Auxentius have so few who remained with him?) Metropolitan Maximos, the ordainer of Tsakos did follow Archbishop Auxentius.

Metropolitan Maximos, the ordainer of Tsakos was the second ordaining bishop of Metropolitan Ephraim, with Archbishop Auxentius. All of the GOC-HOCNA ordinations are from Metropolitan Ephraim's ordination.

Archbishop Auxentius reposed in 1994. Maximos was made the Archbishop and subsequently "ordained" men "bishops," with the help of Demetrios Bifas, a man from Alexandria who was not a bishop of any Church and some say he was not even a priest.

The Holy Synod consisting of Metropolitan Ephraim, Metropolitan Makarios and Metropolitan Athanasios of Larissa summoned Archbishop Maximos to spiritual court in order to investigate and try the case. After Archbishop Maximos was summoned three times and he refused to appear before this Holy Synod, they defrocked him.

I ask Fr. Basil, did this action of defrocking Archbishop Maximos automatically make Metropolitan Ephraim, Metropolitan Makarios and Metropolitan Athanasios of Larissa schismatics or did they actually have the authority to form a spiritual court to judge Maximos?

All of the ordinations in HOCNA come from the ordination of Metropolitan Ephraim, who was ordained by Maximos. The reason why chierothesia was performed over Bishop Sergios and me was "so as to remove all doubt."

We were told that if Metropolitan Ephraim's ordination was by the hand of Archbishop Auxentius and Metropolitan Athanasios of Larissa, things would have been otherwise.

I was never told by any of the bishops in Greece that we were viewed as "graceless schismatics." We were treated as separated brethren who were encouraged to return to unity. I have been treated as a brother bishop during the whole process of my joining the GOC and to this day. There is a camaraderie among the bishops of our Church that has been a source of consolation to me.

The canonical penalties, etc. have been removed form Archbishop Auxentius and his name is in the dyptics of the GOC. I commemorate him at every liturgy.

The canonical penalties against Maximos have not been lifted either by the GOC in Greece or the synod of Metropolitan Ephraim. I was very willing to have the prayer read over me, especially because I knew I was not given the whole history of the Auxentius synod or Maximos before I was ordained.

Fr. Basil speaks in ignorance. He stays in his room at the monastery and constructs a theoretical world that does not exist in reality. In his world the Church has ceased to exist in Greece. His writings on this issue have a veneer of rationality and he uses the word "canonical," when in fact he seems to have an obsession with the personality of the reposed Archbishop Auxentius and a great dislike of being Greek or perhaps of things Greek.

The GOC-Chrysosotmos Kiousis and the GOC-Auxentius both had the same culture and spirituality when we joined Archbishop Auxentius. The only difference was that Archbishop Chrysotomos Kiousis reestablished canonical order and his Holy Synod was actually functioning as a Holy Synod. Archbishop Auxentius was a notoriously bad administrator. I was in Aegina on 7 September and I visited the hermitage of the Elder Ieronymos. While I was there, Mother Eupraxia was talking about the past and, without my prompting, said that the Elder Ieronymos said that "Archbishop Auxentius had the face of a saint, but did not know how to lead." I know that this is a quote from a man who reposed in 1966, but it is the type of quote that one would remember, at least the substance of what was said.

I could point out that Archbishop Auxentius ignored his Holy Synod, when he unilaterally and uncanonicaly "established" the autonomous Metropolis of Portugal, Spain and Western Europe. This group, now called the Milan Synod has a sorry history of serving with anyone and has been a source of confusion to many. I saw a letter from the early 1980's addressed to Archbishop Auxentius, signed by Metropolitan Akakios, Metropolitan Gabriel and Metropolitan Chrysostomos, imploring Archbishop Auxentius to work with and through the Holy Synod and stop by passing them, making unilateral decisions.

Archbishop Chrysostomos provided stability to the Church. The Holy Synod functions as a Holy Synod. The GOC is the largest and only legitimate Old Calendar Group in Greece. I think that the clergy who are moving away from HOCNA should look to the example of Metropolitan Athanasios of Larissa, who united himself to the GOC in 2008 and ended the schism in Greece, rather than a monk who resides in the United States and ponders the fate of Churches from his library.

In Christ,