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Honoring Celibacy – yet still not evidence of Character

Ambrose’s work “On Virgins” is beautiful. For those clergymen that actually were Virgins when they were ordained Celibate, I applaud and revere them. Even the one’s that were not but remained pure afterward, I applaud their beautiful commitment also, that witnesses to Christ and His Gospel.

As for my comments on Celibacy, you (and maybe others) misread my spirit. This is commonplace with regard to online comments like the ones here.

I acknowledge that any normal human being that chooses to make the faithful step of being ordained celibate, is truly making a huge sacrifice. Respect should be given.

Being, and remaining, celibate is a sacrifice with the intent to pursue a truly spiritual life. I think St. Paul refers to it as being like the Angels.

It is not, however, something that should be used as evidence of accomplished authority and knowledge. And while it might be an indicator of a proven character, it is not a litmus test for character, nor character necessarily itself.

The same can be said for marriage. It is a beautiful state. The union of 2 people is a sacrament of the Church ordained by God. The crowns that the bridal couple put on are the crowns of martyrdom. You really give up living for yourself.

Celibacy is not proof of being a loving priest, anymore than being married is.
Celibacy is not proof of being extra holy, anymore than being married is.
Holiness can be found in the Monastery.
Holiness can be found in the local parish too.

There are examples of “celibate” priests that are scandalously disgusting. The same can be said for a few married priests too. Conversely, there are examples of celibate priests that are a deep inspiration and manifest the loving presence of Christ. The same can be said for some married priests too.

I do not think it reasonable to start saying one priest is better than another because he is married or celibate. How low have we sunk to start judging the holiness of a man because he is celibate or married?

I believe that part of the reason our Church is in such a turmoil is because of the following:

1. We have a critical absence of true Hierarchical leadership that proactively involves itself with issues of today in a substantive manner. “Feed my sheep” the Lord said to Peter. We get platitudes and cliches, not nutritious enough. I am saddened to say that I would not want any of my sons to emulate any of our Hierarchs. Had our Hierarchs been parish priests for 20 or 30 years, I feel they would have a keener understanding of their flock, and the real world we all live in, and therefore would have been a better leader.

2. Spiritual arrogance has run rampant in our Church under the banner of Ephraim’s movement, which does NOT represent true Athonite Monasticism. Ephraim’s monasteries have undermined the local parish. The irrational excuse is that this-or-that clergymen at the parish is not spiritual enough. Had Ephraim and his followers just had their monasteries and not undermine the local parish, and, exploit and divide us, I don’t think there would have been any problem. But this was not the case. The line was drawn with statements such as “only true Orthodox Christians worship like Ephraim and his followers” For the sake of brevity, I will refer to them as fundamentalists. This arrogance and divisiveness has done a great disservice to our Lord’s Church.

3. People have left our Church in disgust because of the uncanonical and unscriptural teaching of Aerial Tollhouses that insults the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. It dismisses the notion of Divine Grace. It is not in the funeral service. It is not in the Liturgy. It is a notion that is not Christian. Fr. Maximos Constas is clearly against it. Common sense and logic see it for the nonsense it is. It has so little credibility that obscure citations are made and mischaracterized as “universal”. Our Church has very few proclaimed Ecumenical Fathers and Theologians. Fr. Rose is not one of them. I do not disrespect his piety. Nor do I disrespect the piety of any Saint, no matter how obscure. But the Church has not always agreed with the writings of every saint that ever existed. In typical fashion, our Hierarchs are woefully silent and inarticulate on this and other real matters.

4. I started speaking up against the Ephraimite Fundamentalist movement and its many outspoken arrogant adherents because of their critical and judgmental statements. When asked to go deeper, their arguments are self-referencing, circular, or just ridiculous. As evidenced with some statements I have read here, they cannot articulate a deep thought with substance. I am not speaking about the sincere pious ones that attend a monastery service. I am talking about the big-mouths that like to condemn clergy and laity alike.

I have witnessed these people damage their own families and divide communities with their shallow and myopic arrogant statements. Not one of those people could ever hold a candle to the accomplishments of Mr. Stotis, and yet they assassinate his character with great zeal and vigor. Disgusting. I see what kind of Christians they are. They have shown me.

I am short and pointed with them, because I do not like loud mouthed bullies that are basically stupid. They have no clue how blessed our Church was to have men like Mr. Stotis.

Mr. Stotis was personally asked by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios to serve on the Archdiocesan Council, to participate on the Monastery Review Committee, and help our Church address some of its problems. Mr. Stotis is a remarkably successful businessman, trial attorney, bank founder with stellar reviews, Greek basketball team owner, and CEO/Partner of a large reverse logistics company where just one of its buildings is over 600,000 square feet. Here we have a man that has excelled in life, and the self-possessed and self-acclaimed super-Orthodox cast his name out as evil, when they should be grateful that such a man wants to serve our Church. He is not celibate, but has been married to his one and only wife of many years, and has raised a beautiful family. I did my homework. That is more than his critics could say. Mr. Stotis is a man of faith and action. I hope my sons turn out like him.

How many other such people, like Mr. Stotis, have we chased away? Wait, I can here their predictable rationalizations “oh but we are not the ‘country-club’ Orthodox”. What bullies and character assassins! Yeah, we have chased away a lot of people – just look at the Pew report. Of course “they are not Orthodox” could be their rebuttal. I would reply, your doctor (or surgeon) is probably not either. I know who I would go to in a time of need. As for our Church’s time of dire need, may our Lord save us.