Recently, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, Greece, wrote a powerful article titled “Healthy and Sick Monasticism”. While viewed as a supporter of some Ephraimite ideals, Metropolitan Hierotheos broke ranks with the Ephraimite status quo by excommunicating one of these fundamentalist-type monasteries in Greece: Holy Transfiguration, in Nafpaktos. In addition, the Metropolitan wrote this article and was well translated by Mr. John Sanidopoulos. It is available on his well-known web blog called “Mystagogy”.
Finally, we deeply commend and appreciate the courage of Metropolitan Hierotheos. We are encouraged that he stood up for the wellness of the laity that he is the defender of. Although we disagree with Metropolitan Hierotheos believing in the Aerial Tollhouse fallacy, we admire his conviction in standing up for what is right. We deeply appreciate his proactive leadership, and not simply remaining silent about serious issues. Remaining silent cannot be a status quo methodology for dealing with serious issues. “Defending the faithful” – what a wonderful example for Hierarchs to follow.
Elder Ephraim’s book “A Call From The Holy Mountain” was published in 1991 by Sarov Press (Blanco, TX). Since then it has been taken off the market reportedly because of the remarkably controversial teachings that are documented in this text. We have obtained a copy and have written a report identifying what these items are. Click here to see for yourself. In a word: shocking.
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This Letter To The Editor is from the prolific writer/author Mr. A.P. Cromidas:
To the Editor:
Theodore Kalmoukos recently reported on the speech given to the Archdiocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox Church in America by its vice chairman, Michael Jaharis. The speech covered a number of topics, including the current status of monasteries in their relationship with the Church. He was referring to the monasteries run by the monk Ephraim.
While we don’t usually learn what is said at those Council meetings, it is encouraging to see that the Church’s top lay leader brought up that issue, although his comments raised some questions that need answers. On balance, however, the faithful should be thankful to Mr. Jaharis for speaking up. Concern about what has been called the “Ephraimite” situation is not new. It has been at least 10 years since questions about it began.
Mr. Jaharis said that a Council committee had been formed some time ago to examine the situation. But, then, he said that “suspicions of irregularities and of existing improprieties, and lack of cooperation, made it impossible for the committee to further act beyond initial observations.”
That sounds like “case closed.” Is that what Mr. Jaharis really means? Is he really telling us that there is nothing further to be done about investigating the monastery situation? Surely, that cannot be true. If it is, then pickets should start marching in front of the Archdiocese headquarters right away. It had been reported that the committee was being chaired by Metropolitan Evangelos. Should we understand that he has not been able to make any progress with his fellow Metropolitans? Where is the lack of cooperation? Should an independent layperson be placed in charge of the committee?
Mr. Jaharis also brought up the very unfortunate case of Scott Nevins, the former novice at St. Anthony Monastery in Arizona who had apparently taken his own life near the entrance to that facility in June. St. Anthony is the headquarters for monk Ephraim. Mr. Jaharis said that after further investigation, “we expect to take severe and appropriate action as required to remedy this existing issue.”
What are we to understand here? What is the “existing issue?” After saying that the Archdiocesan committee found it “impossible” to take further action, how can “severe” action be taken in this aspect of the Ephraim monastery matter?
Mr. Jaharis also spoke of the scandal at the non-Ephraimite monastery in Astoria, where it was revealed some time ago that sexual misconduct had taken place over a number of years. He pointed out, though, that this monastery is under the supervision of the Patriarchate, and so the Archdiocese does not have the “authority” or the “ability” to rectify matters there.
Many would contend that the Archdiocese has at least the moral authority to help rectify matters instead of silently standing by just a borough away (in Manhattan). It certainly didn’t hesitate to take credit when that formerly “old calendar” church and monastery was brought into the fold of mainstream Orthodoxy, albeit under the administration of the now-discredited Archbishop Spyridon. There apparently wasn’t much due diligence done at the time – or much supervision by the Patriarch since then and before the misconduct revelations. One cannot help but wonder, also, whether the patriarch has information and concern about the over-all Ephraimite situation.
Mr. Jaharis is to be commended for speaking up about the monastery issue and other matters. It certainly hasn’t been the Metropolitans, who are supposed to be the guardians of the faith. Perhaps Mr. Jaharis’ strongest expression of concern about the monasteries was when he said that “as a faith we have to make certain to guard our garden from disease.” If this is a call to action, the Archdiocesan Council and the Metropolitans should be leading the way.
The faithful need more help in understanding the seriousness of this disease.
Mr. Cromidas is a faithful Greek Orthodox Christian that has courageously written about many incidents in our Church that leaders (Lay and Clergy) have been too afraid to address. He has been an inspiration to many, and especially to the authors at We Are Orthodox. Thank you Mr. Cromidas.