Update on Metropolitan Jonah’s situation since Summer 2013

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I had sincerely hoped that after the agreement reached on May 27 between Metropolitan Jonah, Metropolitan Tikhon and Metropolitan Hilarion, I would never again have a need to write on this subject. It is a topic which, when I do take it up, causes me some discomfort. Yet it has come to my attention that several Orthodox commentators around the world have re-blogged my May 29 piece, in which I sought to communicate the news of the positive resolution at that time regarding Metropolitan Jonah’s situation, which appeared then to be entirely concluded.

I have remained silent on the subject since this summer, in vain hope that the situation would resolve, but, unfortunately, no new developments have come to light. In the interests of transparency, and desiring to preempt any possibly incorrect impressions readers of several blogs might glean from reading only my May 29 post, I must report a significant change in Metropolitan Jonah’s situation.

This past summer, without any forewarning, the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, informed his predecessor, Metropolitan Jonah, that he would be permitted to serve only at the OCA parish of St Mark’s in Bethesda, Maryland, located immediately outside the District of Columbia. Metropolitan Tikhon’s letter instructed Metropolitan Jonah that he would only be permitted to serve at another Orthodox parish in the event that +Jonah receives +Tikhon’s express written approval. Additionally, Metropolitan Jonah has not been permitted to offer the Sunday sermon at St. Mark’s for some time.

The explanation Metropolitan Jonah received for this sudden, arbitrary change was that it might be seen as unusual or improper for a retired Primate of the OCA to be serving at the DC cathedral of the ROCOR. At the kind invitation of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, the very kind First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Jonah had been serving at St John the Baptist Cathedral here in DC for almost one year following his sudden July 2012 resignation as OCA Metropolitan (at the request of the OCA Synod).

All of us here in the DC area were shocked by Metropolitan Tikhon’s letter, which came without any forewarning or expectation. This change in conditions obviously contradicts the assurances Metropolitan Jonah received in May of 2013 when he met and con-celebrated the Divine Liturgy with Metropolitans Hilarion and Tikhon at St Tikhon’s Monastery in Pennsylvania. At this Monday, May 27 meeting in the presence of Metropolitan Hilarion, Metropolitan Tikhon and members of the OCA Synod of Bishops promised Metropolitan Jonah (among many other things) his full freedom to serve wherever he was invited. Obviously, this includes the ROCOR Cathedral of St John the Baptist.

It is extraordinary to me that the most recently retired Metropolitan of the OCA enjoys such little freedom to serve. St. Mark’s has two attached priests in addition to its very kind pastor, the Rev. Fr. Gregory Safchuk, so there is no pressing pastoral need for Metropolitan Jonah to serve there. I am clueless as to why Metropolitan Tikhon or any of his fellow bishops on the OCA Synod felt it either necessary or appropriate to withdraw their earlier agreed-upon-promises to their former Primate and fellow bishop. The official OCA website has not featured any announcement of the changes in Metropolitan Jonah’s situation, nor have any members of the OCA Synod or Metropolitan Council commented publicly on the matter. 

Given the complete silence from anyone in the OCA headquarters in Syosset, NY on this matter, we can only wonder at the motives or concerns behind the decision to restrict Metropolitan Jonah’s service to this one parish immediately outside Washington, DC. Why would the OCA’s current Primate send a letter deliberately interrupting the ongoing parish ministry of his predecessor at another Orthodox jurisdiction’s DC cathedral? What need was there for this interruption, which caused confusion and concern among many parishioners at St. John the Baptist Cathedral here? Metropolitan Jonah’s ministry at St John’s was very popular, and his Bible studies well attended by parish members, as well as many from St Nicholas, the wonderful OCA primatial cathedral where I was chrismated in December 2011.

Since Metropolitan Jonah’s July 2012 resignation, St Nicholas parish membership has sadly declined, with some of their former parishioners becoming active members at St John’s. As someone who stopped attending services at St. Nicholas in late summer of 2012, returning only several times to the cathedral which I had so deeply come to love, I noticed the decline in attendance there, and the regular presence of many former St. Nicholas parishioners at St. John’s. 

The kind Fr. Gregory and delightful parish community of St Mark’s in Bethesda have warmly welcomed Metropolitan Jonah. He has continued to serve there regularly since the summer. The Metropolitan resumed his Bible study at St. Mark’s prior to his two trips to the United Kingdom over the summer and earlier this fall.

During his summer trip, Metropolitan Jonah was a guest of the Orthodox Fellowship of St John the Baptist, at whose summer Triennial International Conference he delivered one of the keynote presentations. During his fall trip, he was a guest of H.E. Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia. On both visits to the UK, Metropolitan Jonah was delighted to visit the wonderful Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex, established in 1958 by the late and venerable Elder Sophrony Sakharov.

Along with so many friends of the Metropolitan across the country, I remain confused and concerned by the inexplicable reassignment of Metropolitan Jonah to St. Mark’s, given that there was no pressing need for his service there, while his ongoing ministry at St John’s was popular, widely beloved, and caused offense to no one. The complete silence from the OCA Synod is deeply troubling, though it is hardly surprising. It astounds me that placing such restrictions on the most recent former Primate of the OCA could be considered Christian in any way, let alone pragmatic. I pray for a resolution, yet what sense would I have to trust men who have so repeatedly broken their promises, even ones made publicly? Still, I must believe this is all in God’s Providence. May His will be done in all things.

 I would encourage any of you who wish to do so to contact the leading clergy in the OCA in hopes of obtaining some answers. They should be able to offer ready explanations as to why Metropolitan Jonah is no longer permitted to serve freely as he was prior to this summer.

 

You may reach His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon at his office at 516-922-0550 or via e-mail at metropolitan@oca.org. You may contact the OCA Chancellor, Fr. John Jillions at his office at 516-922-0550 ext. 130, or via e-mail at chancellor@oca.org. The OCA’s Secretary, Fr. Eric Tosi, may be reached at his office at 516-922-0550 ext. 129, or via e-mail at egtosi@oca.org.

Yours in Christ,

-Ryan

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15 thoughts on “Update on Metropolitan Jonah’s situation since Summer 2013

    • Thank you for sharing this Margaret. I cannot tell from the photos if this is a Western or Eastern rite service of ordination, as Metropolitan Jonah is vested in the Eastern manner while Bp. +Jerome in Western episcopal vestments.

  1. Dear Sir,

    You do a fairly good job of identifying motives Metropolitan Tikhon
    and the Holy Synod of the OCA may have had in informing His Beatitude,
    Metropolitan Jonah that he would need to receive the blessing of both
    OCA and ROCOR Primates each time he desires to serve at St John’s and that he would need to be obedient to the altar to which he is canonically attached. What
    you fail to consider is that the ROCOR Synod may have requested this
    action of Metropolitan Tikhon. In all fairness, you must consider such a possibility.

    Further, your own reporting makes it abundantly clear that His
    Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah is not under such serious restrictions.
    You report,

    “During his summer trip, Metropolitan Jonah was a guest of the Orthodox
    Fellowship of St John the Baptist, at whose summer Triennial
    International Conference he delivered one of the keynote presentations.
    During his fall trip, he was a guest of H.E. Metropolitan Kallistos of
    Diokleia. On both visits to the UK, Metropolitan Jonah was delighted to
    visit the wonderful Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex,
    established in 1958 by the late and venerable Elder Sophrony Sakharov.”

    Doesn’t seem too restrictive to me.

    Finally, I attend St Nicholas in D.C. and while it is true the parish
    has lost many members, it has retained a core community which loves each other. You may only see the negatives when you return, but there have been so many positive things this year – this year’s Bazar at St. Nicholas was the most successful ever.
    We had more volunteers than ever. With many of them being new faces, and the income to the parish was greater than past years as well.

    Whatever may have transpired between the Holy Synod and Metropolitan
    Jonah is none of our business, was a matter that we had no part in, and
    has nothing to do with the building up of the community at St Nicholas.

    Ryan, I pray you can put aside your paranoia that there is some plot
    against Metropolitan Jonah.

    I will close with this quote from Josiah Thompson, author of the JFK assassination book, ‘Six Seconds in Dallas’,

    “If you have any fact which you think is really sinister, right? … is really, obviously a fact which can only point to some sinister underpinning, forget it because you can never on your own think up all the non-sinister, perfectly valid explanations for that fact. A cautionary tale…”

    P.s. I would hope that you would try to contact those in Syosset for an answer and report to us.

    • Dear V.Dunn:

      With respect, it does not do you credit to address me as “Sir” and then accuse me of harboring some kind of “paranoia” about some sort of “plot against Metropolitan Jonah”, Why have you put words into my mouth? I never wrote that there is currently some sort of plot going on against Metropolitan Jonah. Where do you find these words from me? I’m quite confused.

      You fail to understand the underlying point of my argument: following Metropolitan Jonah’s July 2012 resignation, Metropolitan Hilarion, acting with the consensus of the Synod of the ROCOR, invited him to serve at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist here. This offer has never been rescinded.

      The OCA was at that time obviously without an incumbent Metropolitan, but those hierarchs then leading the OCA agreed that their former Primate could serve at St John’s. Metropolitan Hilarion never withdrew his invitation for Metropolitan Jonah to serve at St John’s.

      The only change is that Metropolitan +Tikhon informed his predecessor in an e-mail letter this past summer that he would now be permitted to serve regularly only at St. Mark’s in Bethesda, and permitted to serve elsewhere only with Metropolitan +Tikhon’s express permission. Thus, this letter interrupted Metropolitan Jonah’s year-long ministry at St. John’s. Do you not understand how this goes against the agreement reached on May 27, in which Metropolitan Jonah was assured that he would be permitted to serve wherever he was invited?,

      I have considered what you suggest, but it is without any grounding in evidence. No one else that I have talked with has mentioned it. There is no evidence to indicate that the ROCOR Synod did as you have suggested, nor have I heard of this among my friends in either the OCA or the ROCOR.

      As to your point about Metropolitan Jonah’s UK visits as a guest of the Orthodox Fellowship of St John the Baptist and H.E. Metropolitan Kallistos, these visits do not have anything to do with the reality that, since this past summer, his freedom to serve in the United States has in fact been limited in a way it had not previously. The restrictions placed on Metropolitan Jonah since this summer – his ministry at St John’s (where he served at Metropolitan Hilarion’s invitation) interrupted and the Metropolitan assigned to serve only at St. Mark’s, where he has not been permitted to offer sermons – are indeed more strict than those placed on other retired bishops in the OCA. You must be aware, for instance, that +Lazar (Puhalo), whom the OCA received as a retired bishop, gives weekly sermons at his monastery in British Columbia?

      You also put words in my mouth with regard to St. Nicholas Cathedral. I’m afraid that you have not read either my Home page here or my About Me section, or any of the articles I have written on how much I love St Nicholas and miss its community. I worshiped there for over a year before becoming a catechumen, went through catechism there, was chrismated there, and attended Liturgy and vigil there for over two years. I became close with many parish members, and count many still as friends.

      To suggest as you have that I “see only the negatives” when I return to St. Nicholas is both untrue and extraordinarily presumptive, especially given that you have not met me. I am well aware that St. Nicholas parishioners care deeply for each other, which I saw when I was a parishioner there. I attended the Bazaar on both days, publicized it extensively, encouraged Orthodox and non-Orthodox friends alike to attend, and enjoyed it very much. It was a joy to see many dear friends in the parish.

      When you say “none of our business”, do you mean the community of St. Nicholas in particular, or do you refer more broadly to Orthodox faithful in the OCA? It astounds me that you really believe that what happened between your former Primate and the Synod of Bishops is of no concern, since, as a parishioner at the primatial Cathedral, the OCA Metropolitan is not only your primate, but your archpastor. Unless you joined St. Nicholas after July 2012, it strikes me as rather odd that you do not care at all to inform yourself of any of the circumstances of how your former primate and archpastor came to resign.

      With all due respect, I would never have written this article had I already contacted leading hierarchs and staff in the Syosset chancery and received answers.

      • Ryan, one problem with the whole situation with Met. Jonah is that he asked to resign. Of course he was under pressure to do so, but nevertheless he did request resignation. He should have been taken to spiritual court, formally accused, and given the right to defend himself if there were in fact problems that were serious enough to lead the Synod to forcibly retire him. The fact that he voluntarily resigned makes it hard to argue that they treated him unfairly by removing him. Do you know why Met. Jonah submitted his resignation?

        Also, why doesn’t Met. Jonah retire to a monastery where the cost of living may be much more affordable?

        Since you speak with him, what outcome is Met. Jonah hoping for out of all this? does he want to be assigned to another diocese in the OCA? Does he want to live quietly as a monk? Does he want to go to ROCOR?

    • His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion was the one who invited and blessed Metropolitan Jonah to serve and teach at St. John’s to begin with. He and the bishops of ROCOR had nothing to do with this directive from the OCA.

      Ryan is not paranoid. If anything, he is soft-pedaling. Ryan knows Metropolitan Jonah personally and sees him as often as his schedule allows, do you really think he wouldn’t know what the terms of the new restrictions are?

      You say Metropolitan Jonah must not be under such serious restrictions since he was able to visit St. John the Baptist Monastery. Metropolitan Jonah remains free to *visit* most places without serving, and he is still able to visit the ROCOR cathedral in Washington for that reason.

      Serving and teaching are separate issues, which Metropolitan Jonah is supposed to be able to do with the blessing of the local bishop, but the OCA has precluded him from doing so in other churches without cause.

      As for the claim that this is somehow none of our business? They have obviously hurt Metropolitan Jonah who is someone I care about, that makes it my business. They caused Laurie Paffhausen a lot of unnecessary suffering during what turned out to be her last months in this life, that makes it my business. Metropolitan Jonah is not receiving adequate financial support from the OCA and I have to use what would have been my parish tithe to help make up for it, that makes it my business.

      You can label us conspiracy theorists all you want, but these are facts and they don’t lie.

      • Dear Corina:

        Thank you for your thoughtful comment directed to V. Dunn. I was rather shocked by his or her speculation that His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion and the Synod of the ROCOR might have asked Metropolitan Jonah to no longer serve at St. John’s. The thought is quite extraordinary, given that just yesterday, Sunday, when I was at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist here and met His Eminence, he expressly invited Metropolitan Jonah to serve at St. John’s for the Julian calendar Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, as well as Theophany.

        Thank you for your supportive words. For modesty’s sake, I don’t detail every time I have lunch or get to meet with Metropolitan Jonah. I enjoy no kind of special influence on him. He is simply my spiritual father and confessor, my teacher, and I’m just one of his many spiritual children, fortunate that he lives so close to me that I am able to see him quite often.

        You make an excellent, and quite important, distinction between a hierarch’s freedom to be present wherever he is invited, and to actively teach and serve. An example of Metropolitan Jonah being present, but not actively serving, can be found in yesterday’s hierarchical Liturgy at St. John’s. Yesterday, at Metropolitan Hilarion’s invitation, Metropolitan Jonah was present, and remained in the altar, but he did not concelebrate with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, who presided, ordaining two men, one as a priest and one as a deacon.

        Upon his arrival at St John’s, His Eminence warmly greeted Metropolitan Jonah, who had arrived several minutes before him. As expected, prior to Metropolitan Hilarion’s arrival, several people came forward to ask for Metropolitan Jonah’s blessing, but Metropolitan Jonah did this only briefly, before stepping to the side to be ready to greet His Eminence. Following the Liturgy, Metropolitan Jonah was seated at the raised table in the parish hall next to His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion and the other clergy.

        Your reflections on how Metropolitan Jonah’s terribly unkind treatment by his brother bishops have hurt him, and his family, are all too true. The last several months of Laurie’s life were preoccupied with a sense of having to deal with hearing and reading awful rumors, and outright falsehoods, about her brother.

        Yesterday I stood next to Metropolitan Jonah’s mother during Liturgy, and was able to talk with her afterward. She is one of the kindest ladies I’ve ever met. It is clear to me that she feels that the OCA Synod have deeply hurt and betrayed her son.

  2. Dear Jason,

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply. With all due respect, I must point out that you are very much misinformed. Metropolitan Jonah did not *ask* to resign. At no point did he request this. Where on earth did you hear this assertion? It is categorically untrue, and I tell you this as someone who has seen and talked with him numerous times since July 2012, including only a few days after his resignation.

    Metropolitan Jonah resigned under what can perhaps best be called emotional coercion, being told, as he was, that the entire Synod were insisting on his immediate resignation. Hence why he wrote the following, in his letter of resignation composed either for him by OCA Chancellor, Archpriest Fr. John Jillions before the meeting, or by him in Fr. John’s presence at the Metropolitan’s residence here in Washington, D.C adjacent to St. Nicholas Cathedral. Writing to the members of the Synod whom he believed had unanimously demanded his resignation, Met. Jonah wrote:
    “As per your unanimous request, as conveyed to me by Chancellor Fr. John Jillions, I hereby tender my resignation as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America. . .”

    This is what happened, as several people who were in the house at the time with him and Fr. John Jillions have told me. Metropolitan Jonah’s late sister, my godmother, and several others were within earshot of much of the conversation, in which Fr. John made clear his assertion that the entire Synod demanded that the Metropolitan’s resign.

    Metropolitan Jonah was deeply hurt and shaken by Fr. John’s insistence, and did not have the opportunity to meet with the entire Synod and request an explanation, nor were any hierarchs of the Synod present at the time. Fr. John simply conveyed what he informed Met. Jonah was the Synod’s unanimous insistence that he resign as Primate.

    The Metropolitan only agreed to resign after Fr. John had told him that the Synod unanimously expressed its insistence that he resign. Yet, what Fr. John told the Metropolitan in fact is not true. Several friends of mine have spoken with several of the OCA bishops, including His Grace Bishop +Michael of New York and New Jersey, and he was one of the bishops who had not, in fact, been present when some of the OCA bishops decided that they wanted the Metropolitan to step down immediately.

    As for your speculation that Metropolitan Jonah should perhaps retire to a monastery, are you entirely unaware that he is the sole means of financial support for his two elderly parents? When he became Metropolitan, he moved them from San Diego here to Washington. His parents are both in their eighties, and his father in some degree of frail health. Just as Metropolitan +Tikhon currently does much to look after older members of his family, so too does his predecessor.

    Metropolitan Jonah is very much hoping to start a monastery some day. Until his jurisdictional situation is resolved, he does not wish to do this.

    Metropolitan Jonah very much desires to be released to the Russian Church Abroad. This almost happened in February of this year, but just before he was to be received into the ROCOR, leading hierarchs and clergy in the OCA met with the leading hierarchs in ROCOR, insisting that Metropolitan Jonah’s situation should be resolved within the OCA. I hope I may be crystal clear in underlining to you that Metropolitan Jonah deeply loves the people he has served, and continues to serve, in the OCA, but that from a basic matter of interpersonal relations, he would prefer, given all that has passed between him and the Synod of Bishops, to be released to another Orthodox jurisdiction.

    Of course, I do not know who has told you everything that you seem to believe about the circumstances surrounding Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation or his future plans, but with regard to his resignation, whoever has told you that he voluntarily resigned as Primate is either woefully misinformed or deliberately spreading a lie. I would urge you to convey to whomever you have talked with about this that, in fact, Metropolitan Jonah did not resign willfully, but under emotional distress and the misleading impression that the entire OCA Synod of Bishops were demanding his resignation.

    Yours in Christ,
    -Ryan

  3. Dear Ryan,

    Ok, fair, maybe I shouldn’t have played the paranoia card.

    But the fact remains: you are very much misinformed about many things. I know Vladyka Jonah very well. I have spent more time with him than most. And, as many of his close advisors and friends, I have been burned by him. Don’t you find it curious that those with whom he was closest, those that supported him till the end, are no longer around him? (More on this later)

    With regard to his serving at St John’s in D.C. – it was members of the ROCOR Holy Synod who asked that Metropolitan Jonah not serve on a regular basis at St John’s. I am not sure who you know in ROCOR, and whom you have asked; further I am not sure who you are that you are even entitled to an answer.

    Ryan, you make statements like “Metropolitan Hilarion never withdrew his invitation for Metropolitan Jonah to serve at St John’s.” Unless you are Metropolitan Hilarion’s kelenick, personal secretary, member of the Holy Synod, secretary to the Holy Synod or in some other position of confidence within ROCOR, I don’t understand how you can possibly know what Metropolitan Hilarion has or has not done. Further, I wonder does Metropolitan Hilarion himself know how much you know about the work of the ROCOR Synod?

    With regard to St Nicholas Cathedral: to be fair I may have misjudged here; I hope that you can be a bridge between the two communities. We need to know each other, support each other, and together witness our Orthodox faith to the District.

    Please do not allow yourself to be lead down another path of untruths: I have been attending St Nicholas since long before the Summer of 2012. And I know that the departure of Vladyka Jonah was no great loss to the community at St Nicholas. Sure, those who think Metropolitan Jonah was run out of the OCA because of his supposed stances on the moral hot-button issues, will think it was a great loss, but Metropolitan Jonah did more to divide this community than anyone. Why do you think Fr Constantine was so ready to leave? Are you familiar with the amount of financial debt Metropolitan Jonah saddled the Cathedral with? Oh, and by the way let’s talk for a moment about the rector that Metropolitan Jonah installed. Where is he now? Did Metropolitan Jonah support him? or, did he do as he did to many others, throw him under the bus?

    With regard to his resignation: He did indeed resign. He may have been pressured, he may have been duped, but in the end it was absolutely his right to ask for a canonical spiritual court. He was advised by those close to him to do so, but he decided not to. In his decision not to ask for a spiritual court, in his decision not to get on the phone with the bishops of the Holy Synod to ask if they indeed were calling for his resignation – he took the way out that was most expedient for himself. He did not take into account the lives of those young men who gave up their own lives in the world to be with him in monastic community. Where are those young men now? Why don’t you see those young men by his side, supporting him? You paint an interesting picture of what transpired at his house the day of his resignation. Please tell me, what stopped him from calling each member of the Holy Synod? I offer to you that he did not call Bp Michael or any of the other bishops because he simply didn’t care. Sure, he may have been fed up, but the fact is he did little to engender the good will of his brothers on the Synod while he was there. I am not going to rehash a billion posts on this topic, but I simply leave you again with the question: Today, where are those young men who supported Vladyka Jonah, who gave up their lives to serve the church under his omophor?

    Who told you everything you know? +Jonah? Check around with those who used to be close to him. You will find a path littered with half-truths and lies.

    I don’t know you, although I am sure we have met. I have no motives in writing to you other than for the good and proper order and maintenance of Christ’s Church. I pray you will accept my comments in the spirit of Christian charity and love.

    I ask your forgiveness if I offended you with my first post.

    • Dear V. Dunn,

      Please excuse my delay in responding, as I have been quite busy with many other projects and only check this blog every so often.

      You had my forgiveness, without hesitation, for how you offended me with your first post. With your second post, however, I have to say I’m lost for words at how to express my distaste.

      You reveal from your comments here “I know Vladyka Jonah very well. I have spent more time with him than most. And, as many of his close advisers and friends, I have been burned by him”, that you are hardly an objective “source” on Metropolitan Jonah. You seem, instead, to have a considerably hostile view of him. Who are you? “V. Dunn”, what is your full name? How did you “advise” Metropolitan Jonah, or in what way were you his “friend”? I ask not in any hostility, but out of genuine curiosity.

      You are entitled to think whatever you like of him, but please be aware that, as someone who has seen him very frequently (at times every week, other times once or twice a month), I have also met many friends of his — bishops, priests, monks, nuns, and lay people — whom he has known for years. Do the testimonies of only those who were or are critical of him count in your view?

      You write, “Don’t you find it curious that those with whom he was closest, those that supported him till the end, are no longer around him?” I have no idea what you are talking about, since I see the exact opposite, but such speculation is the very essence of gossip. In terms of people with whom he has been “closest”, I know literally dozens of people I could name who are still “around him”, who love him dearly and have known him for years.

      Where do you have any proof that “With regard to his serving at St John’s in D.C. – it was members of the ROCOR Holy Synod who asked that Metropolitan Jonah not serve on a regular basis at St John’s.” No one active in ROCOR has ever mentioned this, or written of it.

      Your comment here reeks of what can, at best, be called condescension, and at worst, pettiness: “I am not sure who you know in ROCOR, and whom you have asked; further I am not sure who you are that you are even entitled to an answer.”

      If you are going to write in such a manner, please do not write here again.

      You write: “Unless you are Metropolitan Hilarion’s kelenick, personal secretary, member of the Holy Synod, secretary to the Holy Synod or in some other position of confidence within ROCOR, I don’t understand how you can possibly know what Metropolitan Hilarion has or has not done.”

      I have two dear friends who are close associates of Metropolitan Hilarion’s. They have almost daily access to him.

      You write: “Further, I wonder does Metropolitan Hilarion himself know how much you know about the work of the ROCOR Synod?” Do you enjoy writing to me in a deliberately condescending manner?

      You write, “With regard to St Nicholas Cathedral: to be fair I may have misjudged here; I hope that you can be a bridge between the two communities. We need to know each other, support each other, and together witness our Orthodox faith. . . ” I hope you might serve as a bridge as well. Please do feel free to come to St. John’s any time.

      If, as you say, you “have been attending St Nicholas since long before the Summer of 2012”, I am sure that our paths have crossed before. I usually attended the English Liturgies there.

      You write, “I know that the departure of Vladyka Jonah was no great loss to the community at St Nicholas. . . but Metropolitan Jonah did more to divide this community than anyone. Why do you think Fr Constantine was so ready to leave?” You make a sweeping, extraordinarily unkind, and quite rude statement here.

      I have not had the joy of talking with Fr. Constantine in over a year. I would not wish to ask him such unpleasant things when I next see him. If you have attended St. Nicholas for so long, and know Fr. Constantine well, I expect you know the answer.

      If, in fact, Metropolitan Jonah “did more to divide this community than anyone”, why is it that so many of the community decided that they were disgusted with the circumstances of his removal? Would you really be so presumptuous as to argue that these many parishioners who ended their affiliation with St. Nicholas did so without pain or regret? No one would leave a parish community only out of a sense of loyalty to someone; they must be convinced that the person who was removed or kicked out was, in fact, treated wrongfully.

      I know from speaking with many of the former St. Nicholas Cathedral parishioners who now attend St. John’s that many “made the switch”, as it were, not with any great relish or joy, but out of a sense of horror at how things transpired, and a sense of moral imperative. They simply found the Synod’s way of removing +Jonah unpalatable and morally repugnant.

      The remainder of your comments are scandalous claims which strike me as hopelessly subjective, in the sense that you present me with no figures, no statements, no fact sheets, etc. The renovation of the Cathedral basement, arranged after Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation, seems to have cost far more than any of the projects that were going on while I was there.

      We will clearly never agree on the circumstances of the Metropolitan’s resignation, which is fine. God knows what really took place (I don’t claim with any infallible certainty to know what went on; I am only reporting what I heard from three people I deeply trust).

      Your comments [below] are presumptuous in the extreme. Since Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation, I have met with and talked with many of the monks from St John’s Monastery in Manton. You might be surprised to learn that I talked with them not by phone or Facebook or e-mail, but in person, while they were here in DC visiting with +Jonah.

      You write: “He did not take into account the lives of those young men who gave up their own lives in the world to be with him in monastic community. Where are those young men now? Why don’t you see those young men by his side, supporting him?”.

      What authority do you have to make such a sweeping assertion? Most of these monks left St. John’s Monastery after the horrific abuses of authority under Metropolitan Jonah’s successor, Fr. Meletios. Are you aware that Fr. Meletios is Bishop Benjamin’s spiritual father? Bp. Benjamin did not inform the Metropolitan of any of what some of the monks had been alleging about Fr. Meletios, nor has Bp. Benjamin given the Metropolitan permission to return to the monastery site since his resignation.

      “Who told you everything you know? +Jonah?” No. Do you think I am so naive as to believe everything one person tells me, without hearing it confirmed by many others? Friends and supporters of his, who are not at all uncritical of him, as well as some who would not describe themselves as friends or supporters.

      “Check around with those who used to be close to him. You will find a path littered with half-truths and lies.” To whom specifically do you refer? You offer me nothing but rumor, slander, and gossip.

  4. V Dunn, your level of misinformation is overwhelming. Ryan told you already that this had been backed up by other witnesses, that this is not something Vladyka Jonah is feeding him or anyone else.

    Vladyka Jonah was greatly saddened by being forced to resign, but he was left with no other realistic choice. He did not do this for his own advantage!

    ROCOR had nothing to do with this new restriction, which came solely from the OCA.

    Metropolitan Jonah sent his monks away for their own protection, so that they would not be blackballed due to their association with him. He did not abandon them, nor did they abandon him. I can’t speak for all of them since I don’t know all of them personally, but I know for a fact that several of his monks still care very much about him, pray for him, and visit with him when they can.

    As for Vladyka Jonah being “no great loss” to St Nicholas, how much has membership fallen off since he was forced out? The English liturgy at St. John’s has been a lot more crowded since then, too. Strange how that works.

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