The Real Reason HTM Left ROCOR
Synopsis of the following webpage
Herein, the reader will find addressed several common justifications given by HOCNA for their schism, the refutation thereof, and an explanation of the real causes for the chequered history of this isolated, pseudo-traditionalist group. The proof will be taken from the letters and publications of HTM and associates along with statements made by former-members of their schism. This is not intended to be a presentation of every possible piece of evidence, but what suffices to demonstrate the true character and history of this group and its leaders. This article grew out of correspondence between Bishop Gregory and a HOCNA-member considering leaving that jurisdiction.
The first common justification given for HTM, now HOCNA’s, schism is that they left ROCOR because ROCOR or rather Metropolitan Vitaly ‘redefined’ and abolished the Anathema of 1983 against Ecumenism and hence the ROCOR’s anti-ecumenical confession of faith.
As the following will show, the idea that HTM left ROCOR because Metropolitan Vitaly changed his views on the 1983 Anathema simply does not hold water.
The first reason for this is that as early as the spring of 1984, nearly three years before HTM left ROCOR, Metropolitan (then-Archbishop) Vitaly had already widely-published his view that the anathema was only local and did not affect “the other Local Churches” (i.e., World Orthodoxy).
April 1984 -- Archbishop Vitaly of Montreal and Canada publishes his article “The 1983 Sobor of Bishops” in Orthodox Observer , No. 58 (April 1984) and also as “The Council of Bishops of 1983” in Pravoslavnaia Rus’ (Orthodox Russia), No. 10, May 15/28, 1984. In this widely-published article, he explains:
“As a local Church [the ROCOR] has the right to summon its regular Councils and to enforce its resolutions, which are thereupon fully obligatory for all of its children, scattered throughout the world. Time will tell whether or not the other local Churches will adopt our resolution on ecumenism as the acts of the Ten Local Councils were, in their time, entered into the Book of the Canons of the Holy Apostles, the Sacred Ecumenical Councils, and the Holy Fathers of the Universal Church...By proclaiming this anathema, we have protected our flock from this apocalyptic temptation and, at the same time, have reluctantly put before the conscience of all the local Churches a serious issue, which sooner or later they must resolve in one way or the other. The future spiritual fate of the universal Orthodox Church depends on the resolution of this problem. The anathema we have proclaimed is de jure [“by right”] a manifestation of a purely local character of the Russian Church Abroad, but de facto [“effectively”] it has immense significance for the history of the universal Church...”
Note that Archbishop Vitaly has quite clearly stated, as if he were the Synod’s spokesperson (though he certainly was not), that the 1983 Anathema is of a purely local character and authority and is only binding on the ROCOR flock. Note that he also speaks of the other Local Churches as a part of the Orthodox Church, and not as outside of them due to the heresy of Ecumenism or the issuing of the ROCOR anathema. That he means World Orthodoxy by “the other Local Churches” is obvious from the sentence that follows the first paragraph above: “We well know that all our conciliar resolutions against the Moscow Patriarchate, whose hierarchy is completely subject to the atheist Communist Party, were merely taken note of by the other local Churches -- to their spiritual detriment.”
Furthermore, his statements were well-known since 1984 to HTM and the future leading clergy of HOCNA.
August 20/September 2, 1984 -- “Orthodox Christian Witness” (the HTM group’s semi-official periodical) republishes Archbishop Vitaly’s article with the title “The 1983 Sobor of Bishops” in their Vol. XVIII, No. 1 (804). The co-editors Fr. Neketas S. Palassis and George Macris give the article a laudatory introduction, lacking in any hint of criticism. They conclude the introduction by saying:
“In a modest and humble manner, the following article by Vladyka Vitaly puts in a nutshell everything that needs to be said, and in a few words gives the best answer to Athonite [a critic of the 1983 Sobor]” [p. 3].
Even though, Orthodox Christian Witness (the semi-official organ of HTM and its affiliated parishes) published Met. Vitaly’s view (which was later declared ‘heretical’) with unqualified endorsement (!), no retraction of this endorsement or criticism of Metropolitan Vitaly’s article was ever made. Yet Fr. Panteleimon and HTM surely read this issue of Orthodox Christian Witness.
So, the idea that Metropolitan Vitaly said something new in December of 1986 which necessitated HTM’s leaving him is an obvious impossibility. The ‘redefining of the anathema’ (by an individual bishop, Met. Vitaly) had already happened in April 1984, with no consequent departure of HTM from ROCOR at that time.
The second reason that the Nativity Epistle excuse does not hold up is because, knowing Metropolitan Vitaly’s ‘heretical’ views, Fr. Panteleimon still asserted that the election of such a ‘heretical’ Metropolitan as Vitaly firmly demonstrated that the ROCOR “is a real standard of Orthodoxy...where the Truth is found”.
February 10, 1986 -- Fr. Panteleimon writes the following to Fr. Alexey Young:
“The Synodal Church [the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad] is a real standard of Orthodoxy.... Therefore, discerning where the Truth is found, we remain in unity under our bishops in the midst of many trials and temptations...because grace abides in the Synod.... We uphold our Synod primarily and foremostly as a standard of Orthodoxy. All others have betrayed the Truth. This was demonstrated of late by the election of our new Metropolitan [Vitaly]....”
[cf. Fr. Alexey Young, The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia: A History and Chronology (San Bernardino: The Borgo Press, 1993), p. 77f. Original source: A personal letter from Fr. Panteleimon to Fr. Alexey Young, dated February 10, 1986 -- a month after the first accusers came forward.]
(The authenticity of this embarrassing letter cannot be doubted since it is admitted to be Fr. Panteleimon’s statement in the last letter HTM sent to Bishop Hilarion on Jan. 28/Feb. 10, 1987.)
The third reason for the falsehood of the idea that HTM left ROCOR because of the 1986 Nativity Epistle is that the Nativity Epistle itself was not yet even published at the time when HTM and her parishes announced their departure from ROCOR. You can see for yourself that it is not even mentioned among the reasons for their departure in the monastery’s letter of Dec. 8, 1986 to Metropolitan Vitaly. Its first mention by HTM/HOCNA is in Orthodox Christian Witness of March 1 (Feb. 16), 1987, four months after their departure.
So, for these three reasons, the idea that Metropolitan Vitaly stated a new, ‘heretical’ idea in his 1986 Nativity Epistle and that it was this ‘heretical’ statement that caused HTM to flee ROCOR is absolutely impossible and only reflects badly on the honesty of HTM. Rather, the letter of departure of Dec. 8, 1986, was provoked by the notification of Father Panteleimon and Fr. Isaac that, as of Dec. 3, 1986, they had been suspended in anticipation of their trial for homosexual and other abuses. This is the most proximate and probable cause, and the only motive that fits the historical facts without contradictions and impossibilities.
The Metropolitan’s statement was a momentary, personal error (he even contradicted his Dec. 1986 statement many times thereafter), which did not effect the validity of the Synod, just as Panteleimon and co. wrote in their last letter to Bp. Hilarion (Jan. 28/Feb. 10, 1987) about earlier individual mistakes in the past of individual bishops. The Metropolitan is the lead bishop of the Synod, but he is not the Synod and his word cannot be confused with a Synodal decision or pronouncement. Only in Papism does one bishop authoritatively speak and rule for the rest, whereas the Orthodox Church speaks and operates synodally.
So for this reason and others one erroneous statement by Metropolitan Vitaly in his Nativity address was no cause to leave ROCOR, and, as we have shown, it certainly was not a reason that HTM and company left ROCOR. Could it be that they had other valid reasons which predated, rather than post-dated, their departure? For instance, they allege (see for instance HTM’s letter to Bishop Hilarion of Jan. 28/Feb. 10, 1987) that even before Met. Vitaly’s Nativity Epistle, which was one bishop’s, not the Synod’s, momentary error, the ROCOR had espoused ecumenism. If the ROCOR Synod’s confession of Faith included such an espousal, then indeed they would have been justified in leaving; however, nothing of the kind, nor even near it, had occurred. How may we ascertain this? Well let us look at the list of reasons given for leaving ROCOR by HTM in their letter, the one just mentioned, to Bp. Hilarion of Manhattan of Jan. 28/Feb. 10,1987.
What reasons are listed?
(1) Bishop Paul of Australia concelebrated with a Serbian Bishop. Metropolitan Vitaly privately rebuked him, whereupon Bishop Paul repented and promised that no such thing would happen in the future; however, no public, written censure of Bishop Paul and his action was made by the Synod.
(2) Bishop Alypy of Cleveland was a spectator at a ‘Pan-Orthodox’ Vespers service. Again, Metropolitan Vitaly privately rebuked him and Bishop Alypy promised that no such thing would happen again in the future; however, again, no public, written censure of Bishop Alypy and his action was made by the Synod.
(3) There were many rumors and some evidence that Archbishop Anthony of Geneva (a known ‘liberal’) had concelebrated with New Calendarists/Ecumenists during the past year and permitted his clergy to do so as well; Metropolitan Vitaly had promised HTM that he would straighten things out, but, despite Met. Vitaly’s having been in Europe at some point during the past year, it was rumored that not long afterward Archbishop Anthony had concelebrated with a New Calendar Greek priest on the Archbishop’s cathedral feast day.
(4) It was said that a ROCOR priest (a recent convert from the MP) in Houston, TX, had given Holy Communion to a man who was not Orthodox (a Monophysite Copt) and, in a telephone conversation with a friend of HTM, the priest claimed he had Bp. Hilarion of Manhattan’s blessing for this.
(5) It was rumored that a number of Russian clergy and some bishops did not like the prominent and authoritative place Greek ROCOR clergy and HTM appointed themselves in publicly representing the ROCOR Synod.
(6) Metropolitan Vitaly had not yet completely fulfilled his promise made ten months ago to ‘straighten things out’ in the Synod; moreover, he had shown himself to be too busy to deal with all the complaints and questions of HTM and associates in a rapid fashion, and had even rebuked some of them for constantly following him around, demanding an audience and response.
(7) For ten months an investigation of Fr. Panteleimon had been underway and, despite the monastery’s request that the investigators come stay at the monastery, and a request that the investigation stop now and an ecclesiastical trial commence, neither one of these requests had been fulfilled.
Such is the summary of HTM and associates reasons for leaving ROCOR. Now, do even all of these together amount to the ROCOR Synod espousing ecumenism? Not even close. Let us examine them.
Grievance #1 was already resolved in so far as the erring bishop had been corrected, but the reason for stating it again as a grievance seems to be disappointment that the guilty bishop was not publicly reprimanded and/or deposed as a clear condemnation of any hint of ecumenical leanings in any clergyman of ROCOR.
Grievance #2 was not a sin on Bishop Alypy’s part (he was just a spectator, not a concelebrant), but he had told Met. Vitaly he would refrain from future similar actions; however, here the grievance is not Ecumenism, but again the lack of a public reprimand or punishment for what was inferred by HTM to be sympathy with Ecumenists (note, though, that personal prejudice is likely at play here since HTM already bore animosity to Bishop Alypy for being one of the bishops investigating the crimes of Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Isaac).
Grievance #3 is possibly (if the rumor be true) a serious one, but not a case of the Synod professing communion with heretics, but rather only a personal error that made Archb. Anthony liable to correction and/or deposition; thus while serious in itself for the Archbishop, it was no justification for leaving the ROCOR Synod itself. HTM and associates in the same letter admit that some similar uncanonical acts happened in the 1970’s under this same Archbishop, but that they realized it did not effect the Synod’s profession of Faith and gave St. Met. Philaret significant time to bring the erring archbishop to heel. The fact that they did not give Met. Vitaly that time nor did they understand the same issue properly as of individual episcopal but not synodal significance shows that they are applying a dishonest, double standard.
Grievance #4 is a third-hand rumor that an individual bishop gave a bizarre and uncanonical blessing to a priest to commune a monophysite heretic. HTM and associates admit that they have not verified nor do they feel the need to verify that such a blessing was actually given (actually there are many recorded, proven instances of HTM fabricating such stories to slander their accusers). In fact, they say that they expect the accused bishop to deny he ever gave such a blessing. Yet, they consider the fact that there could even be a third-hand rumor of this sort enough to prove the ROCOR Synod is synodally professing Ecumenism. Ridiculous! And one priest’s or bishop’s error is certainly not a canonical reason to leave one’s Synod
Grievance #5 is ridiculous as well. An unsubstantiated rumor that some clergy and bishops would be happy to see you leave the Synod is not proof of the Synod’s official profession of Ecumenism, and hence it is certainly not a canonical reason to leave the Synod.
Grievance #6 is ridiculous and hypocritical. It in no way amounts to the ROCOR Synod professing the heresy of Ecumenism. As mentioned above they gave St. Met. Philaret more leeway and time to deal with an erring bishop or two without complaint than they gave Metropolitan Vitaly who was, as even they admit, actually dealing with some of their grievances. And the possible fact that the Metropolitan was not always welcoming to a crowd of protesters at his door does not amount to his or the Synod’s profession of Ecumenism.
Grievance #7 is ridiculous and, despite HOCNA claims, it has no basis in the holy canons. An investigation can be conducted for whatever length of time is required to discover the facts of the case; nowhere in the Holy Canons does it say that the investigation must end “after two months” as HOCNA claims. And as for not staying at the monastery during the investigation, besides not being required to by any canon or regulation, the investigating bishops had good reason not to since not only witnesses but also an intercepted letter from Fr. Isaac to one monk (“tell the bishops nothing about the ills at the monastery” it read) showed that the monastery superiors were attempting to silence witnesses, hide evidence, and deceive the bishops. Thus they questioned witnesses away from the monastery, rather than under their superior’s threatening eye. Regardless, even if the investigation were uncanonical (which is certainly was not), this is no reason to leave the Church, rather than defend and clear your good name in ecclesiastical court. (See Bp. Gregory’s Open Letter to HOCNA for more on this.)
Where in all of this is the proof of the ROCOR Synod’s brazenly, knowingly, and publicly teaching a condemned heresy as the canons (Canon 15 of the 1st-&-2nd Council under St. Photius) require for someone to leave their ruling Synod, which very canon was the supposed justification for HTM and company leaving? Nowhere can it be found. HTM’s blustering and strong-worded speeches were supposed to carry the crowd away where they knew that the evidence (or lack thereof) could not.
If there were any other reasons given by HTM and associates when they left the ROCOR, close inspection will no doubt reveal either a lack of real canonical basis for their grievance, or that it is the private or individual error of one or two bishops, and not a Synodal profession of heresy. It would be different if, for instance, the ROCOR went against its synodal policy restated in its “Notice” (4/61/20) to the clergy of Feb. 10/23, 1987 of not permitting the communing of New-Calendarists or Ecumenists and instead gave Synodal blessing or sanction to Archbishop Anthony of Geneva to concelebrate with or commune Ecumenists. In that case they would be endorsing communion with Ecumenism and hence Ecumenism. However, nothing of the kind had happened. Ultimately, despite all their accusations of Ecumenism, HTM and company actually had no canonical justification for rebelling against their Synod and forming a schism or parasynagogue. Furthermore, as we shall see in what follows, the evidence points strongly to a conspiracy to cover for and protect the criminal leaders of HTM from exposure.
Further Evidence that HTM and associates left ROCOR
to escape exposure of Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Isaac
Five days after Metropolitan Vitaly notified Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Isaac that they would be brought to trial for homosexual and other abuses, the monastery suddenly announced that it had gone under the omophorion of two independent/vagante Greek bishops, Akakios and Gabriel. Internal evidence shows that in the months leading up to this point HTM had not been seriously pursuing a way to leave the ROCOR Synod and join a supposedly better one. They had not done serious research into which Greek Old-Calendar group was the right one to join. Yet within five days of being summoned to trial for homosexual crimes, they had made a decision and joined a group that only a few months later they would leave, alleging it was schismatic and uncanonical.
One of the original friends to leave with HTM, Fr. Anthony Gavalas, in a letter to another HTM associate, Fr. Neketas Palassis dated June 20/ July 3 1987, explains why he was told this happened:
“My position when we left the Synod was that we should commemorate no one until we saw our way clearly in the confusion. I was told that while this would be possible for the monastery, it would be destructive to the Parishes. Then, within a few hours, we were told that we must all go under Abp. Akakios immediately so that the monastery would be covered in the face of suspensions and depositions of Frs. Panteleimon and Isaac, and I, of course, cooperated.”
There had been no decision about where to go and the whole situation was just a mass of confusion, yet the instant (“within a few hours”) that it was learned Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Isaac were in immanent danger of deposition everyone had to leave and attach themselves to bishops they had little knowledge of and no confidence in. Who would act in such a thoughtless and haphazard way? If they were seeking to cleave to the true Orthodox Church, why the sudden, careless, and blind leap out into the unknown, “the confusion”? Because it was necessary in order to cover for Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Isaac.
Elsewhere in the letter, Fr. Anthony expresses his concern about documents disseminated by HTM which approve giving of communion to members of ROCOR. After citing a few examples, Fr. Anthony then adds:
“The same reservations could be voiced about another letter sent from our monastery to a lay woman in which it was said that while we do not give Communion to people who come to us from ecumenist jurisdictions, we do communicate people who come to us from the Synod. And the question arises: If the Synod is not ecumenist, why did we leave it?”
Why indeed? If you can still have communion with the ROCOR Church, and communion presupposes a common belief, then why did they have to leave ROCOR? Heresy in ROCOR? But they are of one faith with it, it seems. Why then did they have to leave? To cover for HTM.
The troublesome evidence cited in this letter and in the first part of this webpage all points to a self-serving motive for HTM’s departure from ROCOR, rather than honest care for being under an Orthodox and canonical synod. To this may be added the subsequent actions of HTM under their new bishops Akakios and Gabriel, for it shows a definite pattern. Having joined the two vagante bishops in early December of 1986, they soon departed yet again for another synod a scant half of a year after joining them. What was the reason? Heresy? Hardly. Again it was to protect the monastery’s interests.
A scant few months after joining Bishops Gabriel and Akakios, Bishop Gabriel removed himself in February of 1987 from this two-bishop synod, troubling many in the HTM circle. Was their concern for the preservation of the “true Orthodox” synod and Church, perhaps the last on the planet, with but one bishop (insufficient to ordain other bishops)? No, actually the concern was for the possibility of bad publicity and disrepute and being small and weak in numbers, i.e., only worldly, temporal concerns, not ones that someone who believes he is in the true Church would have.
Explaining the reaction of Archimandrite Panteleimon and associates, Fr. Neketas Palassis wrote the following to Fr. Anthony Gavalas in a letter dated June 15/28, 1987:
“Frankly, we were stunned and sorrowed by Metropolitan Gabriel’s departure. Actually, it appeared we had been detoured and led into a dead-end street. Without a second bishop to give us support and credibility, we face the prospect of being one of the hundreds of vaganti groups which flood our nation. Without at least a second bishop we can have no hope that the clergymen who are watching us so carefully will ever join with us. Conversations with several of them have confirmed that fact. They are not attracted to us with a single bishop.”
Rumors started to circulate that the Boston monastery was thinking of joining the more numerous, but of very bad reputation, synod of Archbishop Auxentios (who at that time had been deposed by his original synod on charges of having ordained a proven homosexual for money and other crimes). HTM had actually disseminated articles denouncing Auxentios a few years before their going under him. Bishop Akakios wrote a letter (labeled: Protocol No. 287) dated July 1, 1987, to the monastery warning them against joining Auxentios. At this time, Fr. Anthony Gavalas (who later parted company with HTM/HOCNA altogether) also expressed his opinion against joining Auxentios, especially since Archbishop Akakios and a canon law expert were conducting an investigation with a view to exoneration of the charges and verdict against Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Isaac.
Fr. Anthony wrote to Fr. Neketas (ibid.):
“At this point, Abp. Akakios has initiated a sober and useful defense of the monastery and its Fathers to remove once an [sic] for all the rediculous [sic] charges against them, and to neutralize the sanctions uncanonically imposed by the Russian Synod. This will involve an opinion of a Canon Law professor and will be an iron-clad defense against our detractors. He told me that he plans to have this whole thing wrapped up by Transfiguration, when he will bring it himself to America, and serve with all the fathers for the Feast, that is, if what he has already heard from others that we are going elsewhere hasn’t sabotaged this sensible and noble attempt. Although we who know the monastery give no credence to the charges of immorality, the fact is that they are widely believed in Greece. Was not Abp. Akakios’s initial acceptance of us and his coming over to see us and serve with us a heroic gesture of support? Is this how we repay him? Given Abp. Auxentios’s toleration, at least, of homosexuals in his own jurisdiction, of what use will be a [sic] exoneration signed by him? Will it not allow our enemies to say that the monastery is guilty and so placed itself in a jurisdiction tolerant of such violations?” [our emphasis].
From what subsequently happened some months later, however, we may infer that, having better investigated the situation, Archb. Akakios was beginning to have serious doubts about Fr. Panteleimon and company’s worthiness to be among the clergy. HTM and associates’ consideration of joining Archb. Auxentios, provoked by concern for the monastery’s reputation and future, became firm decision when Akakios visited HTM on its patronal feast and scandalously refused to serve with Fr. Panteleimon.
Here is how Fr. Neketas Palassis writes about this in his already-cited letter to Fr. Anthony (ibid.):
“Archbishop Akakios’ refusal to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with the Elder certainly sent out a very misleading message to our adversaries. In fact, the dignity of Fr. Panteleimon himself was compromised by the unfortunate action of the Archbishop. Only the Lord knows what is being said about his not serving with the Elder.”
Very quickly after this scandal and the reduction of their synod to a single bishop, the monastery announced that everyone was in schism and it was necessary to immediately join the lawful synod of Auxentios. They had just discovered that Auxentios had been wrongfully condemned and deposed and that Akakios was not a true bishop but a schismatic. So, once again, the future HOCNA-ites left a synod to protect the monastery’s reputation and future.
Auxentios was ‘persuaded’ by HTM to ordain several of Fr. Panteleimon’s monks (read “pawns”) to the episcopate and died shortly thereafter. However, the pattern of flight to protect the monastery’s interests was soon repeated again. Auxentios’ successor eventually began a serious investigation of the charges against Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Isaac and the other monks [now ‘bishops’] involved in their unnatural activity, and reduced the HOCNA-bishops to simple monks. It was during these events that HTM and company fled yet again from their ruling synod. However, now with bishops from the monastery and under Fr. Panteleimon’s thumb, they had no need to join any established Old-Calendar synod, but soon established their own: the ‘HOCNA’.
Here is how a former follower of HTM/HOCNA from 1982 to 1992 described it:
“I was one of those parishioners, I went with all the others to A/B’s Gabriel and Akakios. Then a year later to A/B Auxentios. (Fr. Isaac said that we all were in schism that first year) You also left out the part about when A/B Auxentios died, that the new ruling Bishop, Maximos, reduced Bishops Ephriam and Moses and my other dear family friend Bishop Macarios from bishops to simple monks. In the 1970’s HTM verbally butchered A/B Auxentios, calling him names like the garbage pit of Orthodoxy, yet in the 1980’s you duped (that’s spelled with a U, Dr. Dan) non-Greek speaking fools like me into joining him. Also in the 1980’s you spoke only in superlatives about “saintly” Bishop Maximos. In the 1990’s you fled from him and tried to go under A/B Kallinikos of Lamia [who was smart enough not to take them]”
[John Chaplain, posting to : Orthodox Christianity < ORTHODOX@LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU >, entitled: “A Call To Sanity-Part Company-Page 2”, Monday, Feb. 21, 2000; for those interested in reading the letter, the index to this list is at http://listserv.indiana.edu/archives/orthodox.html]
The pattern at this point is very clear: over a ten year period, Archimandrite Panteleimon and company joined and left three jurisdictions always departing when the leading monks were under investigation for homosexual and other crimes. To this incriminating pattern may be added the testimonies of over 22 monks and novices that have left HTM between the mid-1970’s and the present all of whom alleged that Fr. Panteleimon and others there were complicit in homosexual victimization of those under ‘holy obedience’ to Fr. Panteleimon. Over 22 independent witnesses (whom we ourselves have met and spoken with) to a man’s criminal behavior is overwhelming evidence of his guilt. In addition to this, we have the testimonies of those, like then-member of HOCNA John Chaplain, who heard a victim’s testimony and who witnessed a HOCNA-bishop’s attempt to cover it up firsthand. He wrote the following in response to Bishop Moses’ (HOCNA) 2000 encyclical denying with shameless lies the truth of the charges against Fr. Panteleimon and company:
“Bishop Moses’ twin brother Fr. Elias left HTM after many many years and came to Fresno and told me the details about his experience. Every HTM/HOCNA hierarch read Fr. Elias’ related, detailed, 10 page letter that they all now say never existed. The next day after my two day discussion with Fr. Elias, I called my father confessor, Fr. Nicholas Liberis, who couldn’t deal with this, so he deferred me to my dear friend Fr. Neketas Palassis in Seattle, who, while sounding like he was totally in despair, advised that I should call Bishop Ephriam. The next morning I called Bishop Ephriam and told him how concerned I was with so many accusers, when he cut me off with, “talk to Fr. Elias.” When I told him what Fr. Elias said, his response was, “He wasn’t a good monk.” Five minutes later I received a call from Fr. Elias in San Jose, screaming at me for what I had done, and while also assuring me that he would lie to protect his brother. Before Fr. Elias called, Bishop Ephriam had warned me that if I didn’t leave this matter alone that he would remove our new priest from us. I yelled at him (I later asked his forgiveness) not to threaten me and hung up; he took our priest from us. The whole idea that Bishop Moses wrote this letter [blithely denying anything wrong at HTM] speaks volumes about this man, who also was my friend, yet was willing [to] lie and thereby seperate my son and my niece from me in order to protect Fr. Panteleimon. I was no match for HTM; not even in the case of my own children.”
[John Chaplain, ibid., “A Call to Sanity-Part Company-Page 1”, ibid.]
There are many other such like stories of blatant deception on the part of the HOCNA bishops or rather the willing pawns of Fr. Panteleimon. Only just recently a former novice at HTM joined our Church (ROAC) and recounted how awfully he had been abused by Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Isaac, and how Bishop Ephraim so shamelessly sought to cover it up. For instance, one time that the victim complained before Fr. Isaac and Bishop Ephraim about how he was being abused and maltreated at HTM, Fr. Isaac forcefully struck him twice in the face. The stunned and bruised novice turned to the HOCNA ‘bishop’ and said, “Did you see what he just did to me?! Aren’t you going to do anything?! He’s a clergyman! He is not allowed to do that!” Bishop Ephraim, looking to the right and to the left for any witnesses and finding none, coolly replied that nothing could be done and walked away. Before this the novice had thought that, though the abbot was an evil man, the bishops were ignorant of his unnatural and abusive practices. This incident opened his eyes to just what HOCNA is, and he left it for good.
Many more such stories and testimonies have been given and could be cited; for further information, one may either write to Bishop Gregory at BishopGregory@starband.net, or, if someone is interested, two of the many transcripts of testimony given by victims of HTM and other resources are available on the POKROV website (www.pokrov.org), which reports on various so-called Orthodox ‘abusers’. We must warn the reader, though, that certain parts of these testimonies speak of homosexual activity and are therefore quite emotionally-disturbing to read.
Hopefully, the reader has understood by now that the reasons for the existence of HOCNA are totally without basis in the Holy Canons; it exists solely to benefit and protect Fr. Panteleimon, the cult-leader of HTM. Their schism began as a means of covering-up Fr. Panteleimon and other HTM leaders’ guilt, and each successive synod that they fooled their parishioners into joining was eventually abandoned as uncanonical whenever the synod began investigating the charges against the fathers of HTM. The final schism before forming their own independent ‘Church’ occurred when Archbishop Maximos, previously hailed by HTM as a ‘saint’, investigated the charges against HTM and deposed all those HTM monks (Fr. Panteleimon’s pawns) who Archb.Auxentios had been persuaded to make bishops; then he too became an ‘apostate’. Their ‘Church’ today is a farce, for while severely censuring nearly every other jurisdiction for involvement with New Calendarists and anti-canonical acts as a justification for being absolutely isolated, yet this same ‘Church’ has leaders who give communion to New Calendarists and break whatever canon is necessary to cover-up the truth and to protect HTM’s ‘holy’, homosexual ‘elder’.
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