The Forces Behind +Jonah
If the scores of emails obtained by OCANews confirmed that Fr. Fester and Metropolitan Jonah are behind the campaign of disinformation and propaganda at OCATruth.com, they reveal other presences behind Fr. Fester, directly influencing the Metropolitan’s words and deeds to chilling purpose.
Yesterday OCANews published evidence that the confidential Sexual Misconduct Panel Advisory Committee (SMPAC) Report had been given to OCATruth.com blogger Rod Dreher. Dreher has subsequently confirmed the breach -although he denies the Report was given to him by his handler, Fr. Fester, but rather by an “anonymous source”. He could be telling the truth. Emails now confirm it was also given to one of the subjects of that SMPAC Report - the former Bishop of Alaska, +Nikolai (Soraich).
According to the email record, a copy of the 9 page confidential SMPAC Report was faxed from Dallas to +Nikolai. How could this happen?
The SMPAC Report was initially given to the Synod of Bishops on February 12, 2011. +Jonah received his copy in Dallas, where he was hosting Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfayev). +Jonah immediately flew back to Syosset where he dismissed Chancellor Alexander Garklavs for his participation in the writing of the Report the next day - even though Fr. Garklavs had been appointed to the SMPAC Committee by +Jonah himself. Fr. Fester, however, remained in Dallas until the end of the month, when he left to assume his new position as the Dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington DC.
+Nikolai, confused by the Report's fax header, begins an exchange with Fr. Fester on February 19th:
“ What is 214- xxx- xxxx?
I am on this report and there are some very serious issues here.”
“I think it is the Kinko fax number”
There is a Kinko’s less than a half mile down the street from St. Seraphim’s cathedral.
Of A Common Mind
How is it that the Dean of the +Jonah’s Cathedrals (first in Dallas and now in DC) appears to be faxing +Jonah’s confidential Report to a disgraced former bishop mentioned in the Report, one who was suing the OCA for $11 million less than two years ago? Indeed, +Jonah and +Nikolai have had a long and difficult relationship, stemming from the time when both served under +Tikhon of the West. +Jonah was the abbot of a small monastery at Point Reyes, CA (now located in Manton, CA) and +Nikolai was Tikhon’s Chancellor. By all reports, +Nikolai was cruel to +Jonah, for whom he had scant regard. It was Fester who would bring the two together, and for a specfic reason: both +Jonah and +Nikolai wanted revenge on Bishop Benjamin. Thus Fester writes to +Nikolai on February 10th:
“I want the two of you to be reconciled. I told him it is for the sake of his salvation. I think he is willing, but he has got to deal with his relationship with BB, which he is. He doesn’t even feel good about going back to Manton because BB is so jealous. It is just sick and stupid."
+Nikolai's lingering antipathy to +Jonah is clear, but the reference to Bishop Benjamin gets a reponse:
“I am very disappointed in MJ. When he was diagnosed with that cancer in his mouth (I) had to order priests to go for the anointing.
I protected him time and again when he was at Pt. Reyes and now he acts like this. Honestly I could be is best and strongest supporter.
Never did I have eyes on being metropolitan, never was very much at peace being in Alaska and making something out of nothing.
You are right about BB out here he is mainly despised and feared and out of control everywhere.
Love and blessings
The Right Reverend Bishop NIKOLAI”
Fester replies with a single word: “yep”.
In their common dislike of Bishop Benjamin, Fester and +Nikolai appear had found the means to overcome +Jonah’s past antipathy to the disgraced, retired Bishop. What prompted this meeting of the minds was the appearance of two letters of complaint against Bishop Benjamin, allegedly written by +Nikolai to the Synod, on an infamous website in early February. Fester recognized a potential ally:
Well, it appears that this very sad person xxxx has posted letters you wrote to BB (Bishop Benjamin) and MJ (Metropolitan Jonah). The official line is, this is old news. Nothing was done then and apparently nothing will be done now, except I hear that MJ has asked a priest to investigate things more. I pray that BB will come to his senses and do the right thing and come clean on his unhealthy life.
Fr Bob ( The former Chancellor, Robert Kondratick) says that your health reports are great that you are in remission. Praise God. May it be so for many years....
Asking your continued prayers, as you are in mine,
Yes I heard about the DC move and pray it is good for you. I know it will be for the church.
Father Gregory Jensen is the priest (conducting the investigation into Bishop Benjamin) and sent me two links on that site. I have never been on it before and wasn’t yesterday either, only read the two postings. What horrible stuff!
Poor BB is a mess but still has a chance to make things right unlike Job and that Canadian angel...”
+Nikolai then admits the two letters posted were indeed from him. He continues:
“You know when I wrote those letters no one ever asked if I had written them. The Pokrov girls were saying it couldn’t be as the signature was the same but no one asked and the HS (Holy Synod) dismissed
them as from someone who was ‘angry’. You know all those years I kept everything from HS meetings to myself, never posted a thing and in the last couple years there were several trying to bait me but I kept above that as you read in my letter.
It is never too late to change as long as there is breath but I am not so optimistic. The Metropolitan
has his own detractors among those men and he needs support not distraction from within but you
know all of this better than I do. As much as I am despised by some I always did what was right.
May God have mercy. I should have been sent to the DOS.
Love and blessings,
Fr. Fester agrees:
I also know who I am despised by, and considering who they are, I know that I have made the right choices.
Yes, the South would have been a good choice. Down here, the bishop is respected. Bishop Mark (former of AOCA) came here with a small chip on his shoulder given the way he was treated by Met. Philip (we are not alone with how bishops are treated). I have been encouraging him that he does not have to “prove” he is the bishop. Folks down here know he is and just want to be lead in a Godly manner.
I am encouraging MJ to reach out to you. I spoke with him the other day and was kinda brutal (sic) with him saying that if you act like BB towards BN then you are no better than him and you are better than him but your actions have to show this. BB will never get it but MJ can.
Jensen can expose BB. It may mean you have to bring official charges, but BB must answer for his misdeeds....
Later that same afternoon a frustrated +Nikolai writes:
“I have this as HB’s ( His Beatitude’s) cell and texted him several hours ago?”
“Yes, that is his cell phone. Keep trying.”
+Nikolai, an hour later, complains again, but this time with a warning:
“I sent a text, does he check them?
He’s go to be ready for this next week-- bad stuff is coming down.”
The reference to “next week” is clearly to the forthcoming Synod meeting, held February 22-24 in Santa Fe where the SMPAC report was to be a major part of the agenda.
“He is preparing himself. He is countering opinion and accusations with facts. Point by point.”
As we shall see later, that statement was wildly untrue. But the prospect excites +Nikolai. He replies:
“Excellent. whatever I can do I am here.”
Fester sends the next email two days later, on February 21st:
“Keep up the pressure on BB. ( Bishop Benjamin). You can help by keeping him out of Jonah’s way and on the defensive.”
To which +Nikolai complains that having re-established contact with +Jonah, he now feels he is being ignored again:
“It doesn’t appear the +MJ wants my assistance.”
Fester reassures the Bishop and makes a startling prediction:
“I think that whatever you said to him when you spoke the other day has moved him to a different place in terms of what he is going to say to the HS. His tone is totally different. It is direct. He affirms his election as Metropolitan by the Synod and states in no uncertain terms that he is not going anywhere and he resent any comments being made by the bishops, and states he knows who is saying these things and he wants an apology.
A much different Jonah, so I believe he gets it, and knows that he does not take control of his staff and the Synod, then we are in very big trouble.
So I would say, your help is still needed. Keep him strong,, keep BB out of his way, and start to rebuild your credibility. The time will come when what you are accused of doing will melt away in the face of direct confrontation from those who took you down and a meeting with the Synod to canonically state why you were retired against your will and why your diocese was taken away from you against your will. They have no canonical cause and they need to take you off retirement and put you back to work for the Church.”
+Nikolai’s tenure in Alaska can be fully reviewed by going to www. Pokrov.org and typing in the word "Soraich". The outcry these allegations raised resulted in a preliminary investigation by Chancellor Fr. Alexander Garklavs. The OCA Synod subsequently asked that +Nikolai take a voluntary Leave of Absence, and physically leave the diocese, so that the growing number of allegations against him could be fully investigated. He refused, and was eventually placed on Leave of Absence by the Synod. After his situation was discussed by the Synod, following a more formal investigation conducted by Archbishop Nathaniel and Bishop Tikhon, +Nikolai’s formal resignation and retirement were both accepted by the Synod in May 2008.
After his resignation +Nikolai decamped for Australia. He eventually returned to his former home in Las Vegas, where he then sued the OCA for $11 million for "wrongful termination and infliction of emotional distress". The OCA and Nikolai eventually came to an out of court agreement . The OCA agreed to canonically release +Nikolai to the Serbian Church, as he desired, if +Nikolai agreed to drop his lawsuit. A letter of release was given - but the Serbs have, so far, declined to accept +Nikolai.. Bishop Benjamin, who was appointed “locum tenens” to Alaska, now refuses to allow +Nikolai to serve in the either Diocese of the West, or Alaska, leaving an angry +Nikolai in a sort of canonical limbo. It is hardly conceivable anybody could believe that the Synod would undertake the legal and pastoral risks that would incur from +Nikolai’s restoration - let alone actually do it. Yet it is still more shocking to discover that both Metropolitan Jonah and Fr. Fester are in regular contact for advice, counsel and instructions, as evidenced above, from a Bishop that sued the Church for $11 million just 2 years ago. And it is not less shocking that they appear to have facilitated breaching the confidentiality of the SMCAP Report by giving it to one of the subjects, so he could help them prepare a better defense against it's criticisms themselves. But then, those same emails reveal Fester is in regular and active contact with Robert Kondratick, who although he has been defrocked for more than 3 years, continues to serve a parish in the Diocese of the South.
The Road to Santa Fe
And +Nikolai’s advice, counsel and instructions are specific. The February 21st exchange between +Nikolai and Fr. Fester continues. +Nikolai writes:
“Keep pushing him (+Jonah) if you have the opportunity.
He’s got to line his support and then he’s got to push for an investigation against BB.
I can respond to whatever is asked, but he’s got to drive it.”
Fester replies about the forthcoming Synod retreat in Santa Fe:
“ His first order of busines is going to be remove AG ( Fr. Alexander Garklavs). That will happen.
Next it will be expose the conspiracy against him. That includes five members of the MC and BB and Mel ( Bishop Melchisedek). Dahulich will be at his side and counter BB. Mel is a worm. Bishop Mark Maymon will support HB as will Bishop elect Matt. With BB neutered, Nikon will fall into place and Tikhon wants to side with BB and Mel, he will be making a big mistake. Think he will side with HB. Nat. (Archbishop Nathaniel) will side with him and so will Irenee.
BB is the one who needs to take LOA (Leave of Absence) not Jonah.
Next is to put the MC back in their statutory box.
These are the points he is making in his report. He is not pulling any punches.“
““WOW!” If this is the plan it is AWESOME!!!!
I feel like I am there.
Tikhon is a worm. Nikon has a heart, and don’t forget Alejo also has as vote and will support him.
Does he have Michael on board as that is the clincher, someone to neuter BB.
Once he makes his move, then things start to fall into place.
No Bishop should all those MC members to participate in any conspiracy.
Who are the five MC? I only recall four: reeves, (Fr. John Reeves) faith ( Dr. Faith Skordinski) MS (Mark Stokoe) and DS ( Dr. Dmitri Solodow). All of whom are really BS. “
Fester quickly replies:
“You are right. Alejo has to be on the right side. Michael is totally on board. He (+Jonah) has a great line in his presentation. “Do you want a Church lead (sic) by the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan or do you want a consistory lead (sic) by an Archpriest and laity? The choice must be made today.”
The sentence was clearly intended as an appeal with historical resonances to New York Bishop Michael (Dahulich), who was raised in the Carpatho-Russian Archdiocese. +Nikolai replies:
“ Very Carpatho. nice usage.“
+Nikolai then asks:
“What’s your relationship with Brum? He speaks Spanish fluently so there is no question.
Alejo is a full voting member and could be the swing vote. BTW administrators have all the rights and privileges other (Bishop Mark of Baltimore) and Moriak who is still a priest but should carry a lot of weight as duly elected.”
Fester answers with one line:
“Brum and I are friends.”
Indeed. Fr. David Brum, together with Fr. Fester, were members of what the SIC Report called Kondratick’s “Inner Circle”, as the Secretary to the Metropolitan and Secretary to the Chancellor respectively, between 2000 - 2006. Both resigned with Kondratick was dismissed by Metropolitan Herman, with Fester heading to the Diocese of the South, and Brum going West. Fester has since promoted Brum to be a candidate for the episcopacy in the South, while +Jonah encouraged him for the Diocese of New York. (Fr. Brum withdrew his name from the latter election at the last minute.)
Nikolai concludes the exchange with a prayer for Santa Fe:
“I’ll have a special supplication for this meeting.”
+Nikolai on +Nikolai
Nikolai’s “moving” of the Metropolitan before the Santa Fe meeting, and his advice and counsel to Fester as to how +Jonah should offer his report, +is especially significant because +Nikolai feels no remorse, repentance, let alone guilt for his past actions. In his 2011 holiday letter to friends +Nikolai makes his anger and state of denial clear:
“Greetings it is 2011!
My dear friends,
This has been one of the most difficult updates I have written. It has been a struggle what to say and how but some things have to be said and some even repeated before I can move on.
There are three things in my life that I can recall causing me burden and weighing heavy on my soul and heart. Of course as one makes the journey there are things that are difficult and some even unresolved but these three seem to weigh more heavily than some of those others.
It is now some four years since the barrage of attacks against me as a bishop and a person started to openly take place. The internet is where I was accused, tried and sentenced. I fought this battle with some of the best canonical papers written. It wasn’t about canonical order it was all about uncanonical order. There were no charges ever brought against me only allegation and innuendo. I might add that there were few clergy and no hierarchs on the Synod supporting me as their bishop. That report of sorts written by Archpriest Garklavs was never given to me-never! I received it from pirated sources as I did many other documents during this process. I brought canonical charges against Archbishop Job and it was Archbishop Nathaniel at that same Holy Synod begging me not to pursue this as it would destroy the church so I withdrew the charges. This is one of the three for which I am sorry. Had I brought those charges he would have been convicted and deposed and could have had time to prepare for his death. Rather, he died an obscure death in a parking lot and under what circumstances still we don’t know. All of us pray for time to prepare and not to have a sudden death. Remember the papers I mentioned ‘Conspiracy against Nikolai’ that were sent me? All at the leadership of Metropolitan Herman who today has been forced out and still no reconciliation.
Bishop Benjamin was another who was so filled with himself to destroy me personally. I knew him since I came into the OCA, spent many wonderful hours in his presence but there were also difficult times for which I had to confront him. He became too filled with envy and desire to rid the church of me and Metropolitan Herman that he was willing to implore any means to destroy and that is not an attractive characteristic for a hierarch. I pulled strings to pull him out of that unfortunate incident when he was arrested and that too is something for which I am sorry, sorry that a man whom I thought could humble himself was willing rather to impugn my character for his own self aggrandizement. Look at SIC even to this day they have proven nothing against Protopresbyter Rodion Kondratick whose deposition I vehemently opposed. His worst crime is being loyal to his church and her first hierarch. Attacks against my character was the easiest way to destroy me. My Father told me when I still a teenager that when your character is destroyed nothing is left, to always be honorable. I have always been honorable to my oath and have always followed the canonical norm in the church. Had I not done that don’t you think these men so intent to destroy would have brought charges against me?
My dear ones, I apologize for this but want to say some other things before I can move on. Some of you over the last period have asked me to defend myself on the net openly. I left quietly for Australia thinking to live my days out in a monastery there working as I have all my life for the church. I served the Orthodox Church in America for twenty years and then without notice, illegally and uncanonically was retired. This retirement was without any means of support, no pension and no place to lay my head. Thank God that the OCA summoned me to Syosset for a Holy Synod Meeting on April 1, 2009, which is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene but I am afraid was more like the secular holiday we better know. I went but never met with them as I refused to sign their papers and have not and will not ever. Shortly thereafter I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and told that I had no more than two months to live. That was a wakeup call and yet there were no calls from any member of that Holy Synod. It is still astounding that after the death of Archbishop Job there wasn’t any sense of reconciliation. And now we are in the midst of the Archbishop Seraphim debacle. BTW he wrote me some horrendous letters accusing me of dastardly deeds and now the church administration is running to hide and washing their hands like Pilate. I am not defending him and I am not condemning him as that is yet to be proven. Reading some of the nonsense written by clergy about a defense fund and the OCA running scared again of a lawsuit? Rest easy knowing that lawyers go for the big picture and writing such nonsense will not deter them from holding the church accountable. The Holy Synod was given information and did nothing, rather said it was written by someone who was angry. Well, angry after the fact for sure that nothing was done to prevent yet another scandal in the church and her hierarchy.
Those sites run by Mark Stokoe and the Pokrov girls have done more damage than they have ever done well for the church. I was told that Stokoe was fired twice for his antics once in the West and the second time in New York and now sits on the Metropolitan Council?"
(Editor’s note: The Bishop was told an untruth. I have never been fired from any position. I resigned my position in the Diocese of the West, to become the Assistant General Secretary of SYNDESMOS in 1981. The first time I resigned the Bishop would not accept it. Six months later he did so relunctantly after I was offered the position yet again. As Bishop Rodzianko is now deceased, there are multiple persons who were present at that time who can vouch for the truth of that statement. Almost 10 years later I resigned from my position in Syosset because I would not countenance donations given specifically to the Youth Department being used by Robert Kondratick, then Chancellor, for other departments and as I later found out, God-knows-what. There are also witnesses that can verify this was the case. I have actually been on the Metropolitan Council twice - briefly in 1998-1999, when I was removed, along with Chief Auditor John Kozey and Treasurer Dn. Eric Wheeler, in the aftermath of ADM scandal ; and again from 2009 - to the present, having been elected again by the Diocese of the Midwest. )
"The Pokrov girls have tried to make themselves look like this torch of right waving all over Orthodoxy. I am sorry for them and sorry that they too, didn’t heed the warning when their co-founder Laura died at such an early age. Nothing happened in San Francisco with their children and Sam Allen. He was a three time loser and when interviewed in prison from where he’d never leave at the time, admitted that he was preparing for the right time but was arrested on another charge before it occurred. Yes, the rector at that time was responsible for not watching him and the families, in my opinion, were not supported and thus we have Pokrov. Would the Mother of God really approve of this? Would she want this to really be under her protection I doubt it. Who brokered the pay-off? None other than the diocesan administrative assistant Vincent Petersen! Don’t you think they are beholding to him?"
(Editor’s note: Vincent Peterson was Bishop Benjamin's secular name. As for his claims that "nothing happened" in San Francisco, the SF Weekly in 2002 described the story in the following terms: “In 1999, Larson, her daughter Greta, and family friend Melanie Sakoda founded the Protection of the Theotokos (”Mother of God”), an organization devoted to exposing sexual abuse in the Orthodox Church. It is a personal matter for them: In 1991, two of Sakoda’s children and one of Cappy Larson’s were allegedly molested by a monk at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Both Sakoda and the Larsons sued Holy Trinity’s administrative body, the Orthodox Church in America; though the OCA denied any wrongdoing, it paid over $200,000 to settle the case with both families.”)
"I could spend all my days defending myself on the internet but so far have chosen not to. During all this time I have kept myself out of the mud because you only get dirty if you play in it. I have been blessed with eighteen months to prepare myself for the next life. During this time I have and continue with some very aggressive therapy but can report that I am feeling almost 100% and am ready for whatever is coming next. During those days of assault and abandonment I was given the Akathist to St. Nektarios which I read even that morning before that Synod meeting April 1st. Did I ever think that I would lose my diocese and my dignity, no not at all, I believed in the canonical church. And thank God that the Church is made up of wonderful people, parishes and priests but honestly the administration is lacking in general Christian action. This diagnosis brought me closer to St. Nektarios and others but I want to mention him right now. He was schemed against by his brother hierarchs out of envy and was eventually sent from his residence with a leave in hand with no means of support but he is a great saint and an inspiration as difficult as this journey might be. He spent the next thirty years growing in the faith and finally reposing to prostate cancer. Repentance and reconciliation are necessary otherwise we won’t have an end to this earthly destruction as we see hierarch after hierarch fall in shame. Little did I realize it would be the intercessions of St. Nektarios that gave me these extra days and not preserving my diocese and my dignity....”
By now you have been bored to death and count two things for which I am feeling badly and I said three. The third is the most difficult and for which I still am sorrowful. I can’t change any of them, maybe the relationship with Bishop Benjamin but the other two are gone. There was a child of God, Natalia, born with multiple disorders and placed in hospice shortly after birth where she would eventually die. Her Mother in particular was guilty of her previous lifestyle and was sure that this was God’s curse so she didn’t even hold the child and didn’t visit until after the child died with the Father. I was called to the hospital right after the birth where I baptized this child and followed her to the hospice. Right now I can’t tell you how long she lived but I held her in my arms at least daily and usually at the end of my day until I couldn’t stay awake any longer, someone had to hold her. That last night she looked straight into my eyes, something she wasn’t able to do. It was wonderful seeing what appeared to be a normal newborn looking at you. After she fell asleep I put her back in the crib as I had done many other nights and went home to sleep. She died that night and for this I suffer for having abandoned her. A child of God forgotten and passed off to die alone with no one. I am sure that she is under the Protection of the Mother of God as I pray I am and as I offer my unworthy prayers for all of you who have suffered with me in this journey .
With love and blessings,
Bishop +Nikolai may identify with +Nektarios, but unlike the Saint, his holidays seems dominated by unfulfilled resentments and the desire for revenge. For Fester, Bishop Benjamin is a roadblock for “Team Jonah”. For +Nikolai it appears to be far more personal.
Fester and Kondratick
Fester has often and publicly stated he resents the Special Investigative Committee’s appellation that he was a member of Kondratick’s “Inner Circle”, claiming that he personally never knew anything Kondratick was doing - not that he ever admited that Kondratick did anything wrong. But once again, one has to ask what the Dean of the Metropolitan’s Cathedral and then Chancellor of the South was doing in almost daily phone contact (according to witnesses in Dallas), and in constant email contact, according to these emails, with a disgraced, defrocked former Chancellor who until recently was suing the OCA for $26 million dollars? Of course, Kondratick himself was serving then, as he still is, as the “administrator” of the DOS parish in Venice, Florida.
But the ties between Fr. Fester, Kondratick, +Nikolai go much further than just personal friendships, a common dislike of +Benjamin, a desire to influence and then use +Jonah for preservation and/or restoration of figures of the ancien regime. It extends to actively helping the disinformation campaign against "those who brought you down." Among the chief targets of Fr. Fester and Kondratick is OCANews and its editor, Mark Stokoe. As the emails show, it was Kondratick who furnished Fr. Fester Stokoe’s reports and musings to fellow MC members in the wake of Garklav’s firing over the SMPAC Report in early February. The emails, ( entitled “ Many Rats in the Nest” ) were not stolen - they were simply passed on unwisely by a recipient to member of Kondratick’s former team in Syosset, by which they ended up in Venice, Dallas, and Los Angeles with +Bishop Tikhon. There are indeed many, and surprising ways emails can end up places - and none involve hacking, theft or criminality.
Best Laid Plans
But Jonah, Fester, +Nikolai and Kondratick’s plans to re-shape the OCA, literally, in the sense of restoring it to the status quo ante-scandal, went awry, as it was the Synod who requested +Jonah undergo a medical/pyschological evalution, not Bishop Benjamin in Santa Fe. So on the evening of Friday, February 25, 2011, just a day after Santa Fe, in an effort to undo Jonah’s agreement to the take a Leave of Absence, portions of the MC emails began appearing on the Indiana list posted by retired Bishop Tikhon of Los Angeles claiming it was all “a conspiracy”; and on the following day +Jonah appeared before the cameras in DC claiming it was not a “leave” but only a “rest”. A week later OCATruth.org appears and the campaign for "Team Jonah" went viral.
That this was indeed a campaign, and that it was duplicitous on the part of +Jonah and Fester, is evidenced by the fact that one of the most oft-cited “conspiracy” emails from Dr. Faith Skordinski addressed to “Alex” was purported to be from Skordinski to Fr. Alex(ander) Garklavs. It was, as Kondratick and Fester well knew from previous emails, actually addressed to Ms. Alex(andra) Makosky, the former lawyer for the first SIC Committee and Dr. Skordinski's friend. And while the public at large - not to mention Dreher - wondered why Stokoe remained so silent as these emails were published, and both he and his parish priest's reputations were trashed, the answer was rather simple: Fr. Bobosh turns the other cheek. Stokoe, less a Christian, was at this pivotal moment, out of the country, with no internet connection. (Quite the conspirator, to leave at the crucial moment, when his plan was to hatch, right?)
But the truth was is hard to keep down.
Consider the following exchange late on on February 28th, between Fester and Metropolitan +Jonah, detailing Fester’s “chat” that evening with Bishop Mark of Baltimore, the new administrator of the Diocese of the South, in the immediate wake of Santa Fe. After a few lines of greetings Fester gets right to business:
“me: I was told that your announced in NC ( North Carolina) that Jonah was on a Leave of Absence.
Bishop: Are you the grand inquisitor? People asked specific question to which I did not lie, nr speak outside of class.
me: But Vladyka, His Beatitude is not on a LOA (Leave of Absence) Its just confusing when they hear one thing and they (sic) His Beatitude makes it clear that he is not on a leave.
Bishop: That was the specific terminology used at the synod meeting. They categorically rejected the word retreat. My meeting was on Saturday, His Beatitutde’s statements were on Sunday.
me: well, as you know, the press release on oca does not state he is on leave. What Saturday meeting? the one in which his Beatitude was not included?
Bishop: the one with the pc (parish council) in NC.
me: ah, yes. well, you are right. Timing is everything, but I am sure that it will all be cleared up. It just important that folks in the ODS and the Cathedral know you support His Beatitude as we know, he is much loved. but that is a given, you know that, Thank God.
me: WE all love him and want him to succeed.
me: yes, You should know that the information that has been gathered from Fr. Alexander’s email account, which is the property of the OCA, which was handed over when he resigned is painting a very different picture of Fr. Garklavs and some of the members of the MC and sadly some members of the MC. I am sharing this with you because I don’t want you to be used or hurt. That is all I can say, but it will be made clear soon
Bishop: His Beatitude agreed to a LOA. I heard it with my own ears.
me: Vladyka, please. nothing was signed. He is not on a leave. Don’t get sucked into something by Benjamin and Melchesedek.(sic) It was all set up ahead of time. It was a trap. The information is there.“
The Bishop does not reply.
Father Fester continues to argue that “... HB never signed anything.”
Finally, Mark replies:
“ Bishop: I am too new to all this and it is best for me to stay out of it. I do not even have a vote.
Fr. Fester continues , rambling “ I don’t want you to get hurt. Please believe me” and “I want you to succeed”. Fr. Fester concludes by saying: “ I think you are right. stay out of line of fire. Not having a vote now is a blessing...”
Staying out of the line is not so easy these days if one is not appropriately supportive of "Team Jonah". Today, Bishop Mark, who is in Chicago for the consecration of Bishop Matthias, received a letter from the Dallas Cathedral’s parish council asking +Mark “to clarify his position and his understanding of his position” in the Diocese of the South. A second letter to Metropolitan Jonah, also orchestrated by Fr. Fester, asks for an ‘”Intervention” and documenting complaints about + Mark was sent today as well. This is all part of the plan to remove +Mark. With Jonah, Fester, +Nikolai & Kondratick, if you know the truth, even “keeping your head down” will not save you.
The tipping point is indeed here, as the Synod meets tomorrow to begin two days of discussion as to what to do in the face of "Team Jonah". Do we return to the culture of the "old" OCA, with even a restoration of the "old" faces secretly advocated, figures and a culture we labored so long, so hard and at so great a cost to free ourselves from? Or, recognizing the same old, masquerading as the "new", do we reject them, and all their divisive works, and all their duplicitious ways, once more?
- Mark Stokoe
Next: +Jonah In His Own Words