Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Expelled HCHC seminarian ordained a ROCOR deacon

Can anyone supply some context here?


(Pokrov) - Pokrov.org recently learned that John Smyrni, the Holy Cross student who was expelled from the seminary in 2012, was made a deacon on March 26th of this year in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (PDF). He is now known as Deacon Gregory.

The former seminarian was removed from the school shortly prior to graduation due to “an incident of serious misconduct with a young adult woman. (PDF)” The National Herald reported that Smyrni was a middle aged man with six children of his own at the time. The young woman, barely past the age of majority, was hired by Smyrni to babysit his younger children.

Smyrni was ordained by Metropolitan Hilarian Kapral. The new deacon is now working at Saint Thomas Orthodox Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas, a Western Rite parish.

31 comments:

  1. 😢 Wow. How could this have happened???

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    1. Easily. Hierarchs routinely have, in the past, ordained men without character checks or contact with the jurisdictions/churches these men have come from. It is appalling conduct and it is self serving, lazy and denotes a cold lack of love for the flock which has to endure these men. It is also lack of love for the men concerned. They routinely never have to confront their behaviour but simply jump jurisdictions. They take advantage of the hateful jurisdictionalism that plagues our nations in the oddly termed "diaspora". To the weak self serving bishops and clerics who enable this:

      Anaxios.

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    2. I don't know the details, but I am disturbed that no one seems to consider the possibility that this man repented.

      Six years have passed since the person in question was expelled. It is just possible this man repented and is trying to mend his ways? Or are we advocating for some sort of list of sins after which one cannot become a deacon?

      I mean, would Apostle Paul pass your test having murdered Christians? How about Apostle Peter having denied Christ?

      Let's not rush to conclusions. I am not saying this man is guilty or innocent, worthy or unworthy of becoming a deacon. This would not be the first time something like this happened (remember the defrocked Joachim Parr who lied about his education, time serving as an Anglican priest, and subsequent abuse allegations?*). But please, let's not rush to conclusions without more information. This is a great disease of our "information age."


      *http://www.pravoslavie.ru/97426.html

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    3. One can't generalize requirements for or impediments to ordination on the basis of extraordinary cases such as St Paul.

      After all, that same St Paul puts forth requirements for bishops/priests and deacons, both. "Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless."

      Clergy are held to higher standards. It's that simple. This new deacon will now be a scandal and will have higher than average odds of being involved in legal proceedings in the future.

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  2. I agree, we shouldn't rush to judgement. It may be that the man was falsely accused. I have no way of knowing.
    But I know Metropolitan Hilarion. He does have a reputation for willingness to ordain almost anyone. I understand that he has a good monastic trait of being non-judgemental. This in itself is praiseworthy. But he has ordained some men in the past who went on to cause great scandal in the church. This is NOT to condemn the Metropolitan;it's an observation.

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  3. You have only to look at the troubles of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches to understand the issues. "Repentance" may not enter into this; there are some actions which simply debar a man permanently from clerical office.

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    1. I haven't heard of that before (not that I know a lot about the topic). What can prevent someone from becoming a priest (I mean in Orthodoxy)?

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  4. Father Gregory has been nothing but open and honest about the incident in his past. He indeed has repented, and from what I understand, there were multiple seminarians involved with this women, but he is being unfairly singled out. None of us are perfect, and we should be mindful not to judge the man for his past. Even monks, as reported in our own hagigraphy of the Church, fell to similar misdeeds, and were forgiven over time to later become great saints. He had the approval of 3 different metroplitans to accept ordination, and we should be mindful to accept the rulings of our heirarchs.

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    1. "None of us is perfect" is not a very successful appeal to clerical ranks.
      Monks and priests are not the same thing. There are monastics in prisons and yet no one would countenance making a priest of a murderer. If we take Moses the Black as an example he didn't find his repentance to have freed him from judgement. In fact he mentioned it for the rest of his life.

      That this man was involved with a woman who also had goings on with other seminarians does not lessen the severity of the infraction. It might actually worsen it. Regardless, he was a married man at the time and that has been cause enough to defrock men - much less to remove them from consideration for ordination.

      None of those bishops are my bishop or even in my patriarchate. I feel no compulsion to accept what seems to be an obvious and severe mistake in deference to what they chose to do with or without knowing about this misconduct.

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    2. And yet, those casting judgement do not know the man. Also, sin is sin, and the Orthodox Church has never made a distinction in such manner as the Catholic Church. Now, I am not defending what he did, but I am disagreeing with throwing someone under the bus who has clearly made amends a repented. Ordination chased him, he did not chase it. He is a god man.

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    3. This whole issue is political, and to my knowledge, no public spotlight or complaint was cast upon those others involved when they were ordained.

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    4. I'd ask you to read the list of impediments to the clerical ranks again. It's a long list. It doesn't say "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Someone get this guy an orar!" Avoiding scandal was (is) a very real part of the thinking behind many of those prohibitions.

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    5. I understand. As I said, he was never actively seeking ordination, but it followed him. His Metroplitan from the GOA, as well as 2 ROCOR Metropolitans, all accepted this path with full knowledge of his past. So far, he is doing good work in the Church, and is helping it grow.

      We should be judging a man by his fruits in the present moment, and not wholly by the past he has left behind. We must also remember the Canons are not rigid laws set in stone but guidelines which allow for the use of economia, and its pastoral application. We are not Catholics.

      If you review the individuals pushing this into the spotlight, you will find that not only is this a purely political move, but is in itself the cause of scandal, not Father Gregory.

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    6. I am the father of the girl who was abused by now dn Smyrni. The allegations are true. Secondly, he was a predator and waited till she was just 18. My daughter can testify of him doing this to others.He was sacreligious doing this during Paschal season. Two of my children were suicidal after this event. DN has never once admitted to wrong doing and hence is profaning the mysteries. Numerous witnesses will testify. Clerics are held to a higher standard. May God grant him repentance to at the least seek forgiveness from those he almost caused death. It is better for someone that a mill stone is hanged about his neck, our Lord said.

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    7. To you who say this is political please examine your spiritual compass. You sound like a catholic prelate covering up. Yes judge by fruits. Namely repentance which is first of all to reconcile with an offended brother and sister which he has not. Mt 18. Bibilcally absolution is withheld by a confessor till reconciliation is made.

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    8. This is very sad. I wish there was a good explanation for all of this, and if there is, I would like to hear it.

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    9. The Bible gives us the qualifications required for ordination in 1 Timothy 3:1-13, and among those listed, we find: "Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." One who has engaged in this kind of behavior, while a married seminarian and father of children, does not have a good testimony, to say the least.

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  5. Either this is a political endeavor, or Mr. Moody really has no idea how many seminarians his daughter slept with at Holy Cross. Sure, John was foolish in this affair, but he was by no means the only one. Yet, he was obedient and took the fall for all who did, saving the face of the institution, and the others involved.

    I think someone's daughter is about to get dragged through the mud and into the lime light as a harlot if this gets any bigger. Also, I sense a defamation of character lawsuit in the near future, for such an egregious misrepresentation of facts. There was no investigation. He certainly is not a predator.

    This should be fun to watch.

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    1. Perhaps a seminary should best be closed, if it is filled with such a large number of fornicators. But if what you say is true, you should have the courage to put your real name behind what you say.

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    2. Witness Nathaniel. I am an orthodox priest. I catch your sly intent there. My daughter was not a harlot. Both my children were suicidal after this occurred. This was not slanderous. I truly wish this did not happen. Let dn Smyrni take the stand. It will fold.There is no political motivation. Would you like to see the hand written letter of my fldaughter about this? Or perhaps you would like to talk to EVERY seminarian from that year group about the incident. I simply want him to at least seek forgiveness to reconcile per our Lords admonition. Unless of course you dont believe the biblical commandment.

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    3. Who are you anonymous? In contrast, My full name is fr Christopher Moody. I am an active duty chaplain. I will provide for you my daughters written testimony and letter given to fr. Webster and then to his eminence Hilarion regarding this. The dirt on dn smyrni was public record for 5 years. I had nothing to do with it on pokrov. Nothing. It was already there. I was aware of his ordination this way. It happened this way, I was translating st. Gregory Palamas, on a day off after we came in from the field training, when a friend saw dn smyrni at the camp alarmed he was back. This was not my doing. I then made inquiries to find out how this ensued. At the least dn smyrni, per mt.5, needs to reconcile with my daughter and children. Everything said is public record. There is no slander or defamation.

      Your tone is disturbing. Lastly,this never came up because the time I approached him to reconcile he never responded,left town, and as history shows he retreated out of sight and then show up ordained years later. Thankfully my kids who were traumatized and suicidal after the event are still serving God.

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    4. Fr. Christopher;
      Thank God indeed that your children came through an ordeal which I wouldn't wish on anyone.
      Perhaps we should recall where St. Basil the Great had a deacon deposed for fornication. The deacon repented and was able to work miracles later. He approached the Saint to returned to the altar, pointing out the miracles he was now working. The Saint said something to the effect that his working miracles was between him and the Lord, but as he had scandalized the faithful, he could not be reinstated as a deacon.

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  6. This is a horrible situation. I'm so sorry. It seems to me that face-to-face reconciliation in the presence of a trained Orthodox therapist is a possible way forward. I have some airline miles I could donate.

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  8. Anyone who does not provide sufficient information to specifically identify themselves (including their full, real name) and who is hiding behind a cloak of anonymity (or, in lieu thereof, at least provides sufficient independent documentation proving their allegations) should not be viewed as having any credibility. It's easy to talk big using a pseudonym.

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    1. I agree. People should not be allowed to slander behind the cloak of anonymity.

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  9. Any updates on this case, and what ROCOR is doing about it?

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    1. I don't know about updates, but ROCOR SHOULD depose the man. I have a friend who was a deacon in ROCOR. He had to give it up because his ex-wife had been married before. For all I know, the deacon mentioned here may become a Saint. He still needs to step down because the faithful are scandalized.

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