Exposing Errors of Bishops: Orthodox Priests Joining the Fight Can Help Change Everything

In an article titled The Broken Covenant, an anonymous group of OCA clergy provides a devastating, insider critique of the bishops’ (lack of) leadership during the past year . . .

Originally appeared at: Orthodox Reflections

In March 2020, it felt like the world had shifted out from under us. When we first heard that churches were going to close, like many Orthodox Christians, our first reaction was, “Not our churches. No way.” We did not believe that the bishops would ever close our parishes and deny the Faithful access to the mysteries.

But much to our shock and horror, that is exactly what happened. The Church founded by Christ, closed for the celebration of His most Holy Resurrection. It was too dangerous we were told. As if safety were somehow the aim of a Christian life.

It was heart-wrenching. When parishes did re-open, the liturgical practices of the Church had been drastically changed. Masks everywhere (even when the locality did not require them), no kissing icons, no altar servers, limited attendance – none of us ever expected the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church to change so rapidly for a virus. Let alone a virus that even then we knew had a 99.95% survival rate. We kept asking – how long will this go on? But no one had any answers.

As Summer came, the official narrative hardened into a type of “orthodoxy” itself. COVID protocols were treated as dogma – things to be accepted on faith and rigidly defended. We noticed some priests close to us were unexpectedly forced off social media for too publicly asking perfectly normal questions. When the multiple spoons started, we realized that forces within the Church seemed to be seizing this moment to permanently change the practice of the Faith. We launched Orthodox Reflections in June 2020 to tell the bishops, and the world at large, that the Orthodox Faith cannot, and will not, change out of fear of a virus, fear of physical death, or to placate the demands of secular governments. 

Since launch, priests and Faithful alike have both praised us and vilified us for standing up to the bishops. Some readers have thanked us for making them feel less alone. Others have called us evil and unorthodox. As a response to us defending Fr. Mark Hodges from charges based on “guilty by association” (a standard we reject for any clergy), a Progressive Presbytera wrote this to us:

This is not an Orthodox publication. This is a gossip site dedicated to criticizing the hierarchy and pushing your far-right agenda. I am appalled. Your “works” here are causing immeasurable harm. And the authors of this site are very ill and should seek healing from the Church, remove yourself from this act of infecting the faithful with your unorthodox views.

We will cover more of what Presbytera Jessica had to say to us at a future point. She is a fairly standard-issue political and social progressive in the Greek Archdiocese, so her words are quite representative of how those at the “top” of Orthodoxy in America think and feel. Presbytera reacted with such rage towards us because with our humble blog (roughly 80k visitors so far) we dared to intrude upon the peaceful echo chamber she shares with many of the bishops and clergy. We are unworthy to do so, and so we should just shut up.

Unfortunately for the Presbytera, the terms of debate within Orthodoxy have now totally shiftedPriests are finding their voices and are starting to speak up forcefully. While the Presbytera and her ilk may dismiss us mere laity and our concerns, ignoring the men whose service makes the Church possible is going to be much, much harder.

Though rest assured, they will try their best.

The suspension of Fr. Mark Hodges has prompted exposure of the double-standards within American Orthodoxy. Priests who have progressive politics are left alone by the hierarchy, and sometimes even rewarded. While those who are more conservative and traditional must self-censor out of fear for their jobs. This is a typical cry from the heart of one such traditionalist Orthodox priest:

I am going to leave a comment here, but I am NOT going to leave my name. Why, you may ask? Because I am an Orthodox priest. You may call me a coward if you want to. That’s OK with me. I am writing anonymously because I cannot trust my fellow priests OR lay people OR the hierarchs. On a few occasions I have made comments about injustices done to priests by their bishops and was then threatened by my bishop. The priest was guilty of simply speaking the truth. Guilty of speaking the truth about what the Scriptures teach, guilty for asking questions of the bishops about their compromises with sin, their turning a blind-eye to the scandalous behaviors of wealthy, politically connected laypeople who support abortion and gay marriage and family members who live in open homosexual relationships. There are many hundreds of priests who are afraid to speak the truth because if they do their hierarch will suspend them, or remove them from their parish. In other words, deprive them of their livelihood! There are many good and pious priests who are trying to care for their people and protect them from the secularist agenda of the present political administration. Instead of being supported by their bishops they are censured, ridiculed and labeled as bigots, racists, narrow-minded, malcontents, trouble-makers and rabble-rousers. They are labeled and therefore marginalized I am fearful of the very people who I should trust, but I can’t. If liberal-minded laypeople don’t turn in the priests they despise then other priests will “throw them under the bus.” We are becoming like the Orthodox Church in Russia, in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, when people would turn in others to the church authorities and political authorities for whatever reasons suited them. We are truly living in the “last days” If not the last days before our Lord’s return, then certainly the last days of our American liberty and republic.

Many priests have been hesitant to speak out. But now, it is abundantly clear that an increasing number of Orthodox priests who support traditional Orthodox faith and morals are losing patience with a system that is actively working to suppress both. Going forward, expect to hear from many more priests, even if they must do so anonymously. If individual priests speaking out is important, which it is, then what just dropped on Monokhamos.com is an absolute gamechanger.

In an article titled The Broken Covenant, an anonymous group of OCA clergy provides a devastating, insider critique of the bishops’ leadership during the past year. All Orthodox Christians in the United States and Canada should read this article today, and share it with everyone they know. Before you go, there are two things from the article we would like to highlight for you to think about.

As the priests, one by one, objected they were told that they were the only priest having the problem.  Some priests who objected were told they might need a psych exam.  After all, if someone doesn’t care if people die and are continuing in practices leading to death and are therefore guilty of murder, the priest must be crazy!  Lock him up for his own good!

Modern authoritarianism always misuses psychology. If you question the official narrative, an authoritarian system will strive to convince you that you are the problem.  An authoritarian system will also strive to isolate you. Alone, you are easier to bully and manipulate. Resistance is futile! Everything will be fine if you just join the team and get with the program.

This is demonicDon’t fall for it.

At Orthodox Reflections, we don’t write for the Progressive Presbyteras of the world. We write for those Christians (Orthodox and otherwise) who are at least troubled by the prevailing narratives. We write to support them. To keep them from feeling isolated. To keep them from feeling in need of a psychological exam. We need help in that. Especially if you are a priest or deacon, post and blog as best you can to help those weaker than yourself. If you can’t write or post, then at least read like-minded individuals. Stay connected! We are part of a Church that values being as communion, after all.

The pure witness of our priestly conscience has been replaced with the bishop’s conscience alone. Freewill is replaced with tyranny of a temporal magisterium that can change from day to day. This is the definition of a cult and not the Holy Church. We did not swear obedience to a bishop for anything outside the Holy Tradition. The bishop has no authority in the parish or the life of a priest where he departs from it. Priests are now on the advice of their own legal counsel recording, and documenting conversations between a priest, his dean, and bishop. Threats to one’s status and employment are being documented. Do the bishops have any idea what they are doing to the Body of Christ? Your short sighted, temporal decisions have eroded all trust.

There is no trust in society. There is no trust in the Church. Part of that erosion of trust is no longer believing a bishop can be relied upon to faithfully keep Holy Tradition. From Constantinople trying to promote itself as a kind of “Orthodox Papacy” to the many proposed innovations of Archbishop Elpidophoros to local bishops bullying priests over masks, attendance numbers, or kissing icons – we are witnessing an unprecedented (for Orthodoxy) re-definition of episcopal power as being over-and-above Holy Tradition.

The Progressive Presbyteras of the world are all in favor of this trend. They need centralized, tyrannical authority if they hope to force through their agenda of normalizing abortion and same-sex marriage, female ordination, progressive climate and economic policies, intercommunion, Critical Race and Gender Theories, forever COVID changes, and perhaps even participation in The Great Reset.

The progressives are aware that you can never persuade the Church to stop being the Church voluntarily. For that, you need force. So please read the priests’ article and share, share, and share.

The Orthodox Reflections Staff 

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