New Letter States Fr Panteleimon is Innocent and HTM Extorted; Luriye Condemned

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September 24, 2012
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September 27, 2012

New Letter States Fr Panteleimon is Innocent and HTM Extorted; Luriye Condemned

For a full timeline of the events of the past two weeks in HOCNA and HOTCA, please click here.

While this letter lacks a clear author– it was sent by a hierodeacon– it was obviously intended to act as a sort of answer to some of the things that are being distributed on the Internet, including NFTU. We will try to get independent confirmation of its authorship. For the sake of fairness, we will publish it in advance of discovery. It was published in our comments section here.

The email was dated 2012-09-24.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Our Bishop Gregory visited us over the weekend of September 15-16, and I spoke with him for about a half an hour. Also, this past Thursday and Friday I visited the monastery and the diocese house, and had a long conversation with Metropolitan Ephraim. I also spoke with Fr. Hesychius. I would like to tell you what they said to me, so that you can be accurately informed as to recent events in the monastery and in our Church. Please forgive me if you already have this information.

I asked both Metropolitan Ephraim and Bishop Gregory very pointed questions about the name-glorifying they are accused of teaching, (or ‘imiaslavie”, as it’s called in Russian).

They both affirmed that:
– they do not believe that God’s Name is God’s Essence;
– nor do they separate God’s name from God;
– nor do they consider God’s name to be another deity; and,
– nor do they deify letters, sounds, or random/accidental thoughts about God.
That is to say, they do not believe or teach heretical ideas. Metropolitan Macarius of Toronto in agreement with them.

As for Fr. Panteleimon, both our bishops stated the same thing:
– he is fatally ill (probably pancreatic cancer) and will repose soon;
– he has voluntarily retired from the priesthood, and gone to spend the rest of his days in peace in the skete in Maine;
– before taking his leave of the monastery brothers, he faced them all in assembly and asked their forgiveness in a general sense, (just as we do with each other on every Forgiveness Sunday); and,
– and there were no admissions by our bishops or Fr. Isaac as to any moral abuse on Fr. Panteleimon’s part.

Metropolitan Ephraim adds, “I have known Fr. Panteleimon for over 30 years. He was highly recommended by Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Elder Ieronymos of Aegina, and Archbishop Andrei of Novo-Diveyevo – all of them holy and clairvoyant elders. Saint Philaret of New York wanted to make Fr. Panteleimon a bishop, but Fr. Panteleimon refused. I have seen Fr. Panteleimon heal someone of an illness by his prayers. I do not believe that these holy and clairvoyant elders, and this saintly Metropolitan, were all mistaken in their judgement about Fr. Panteleimon”. Metropolitan Ephraim confirmed that he has never known Fr. Panteleimon to be guilty of any of the slander that has been directed at him for many years.

Fr. Hesychius explained that:
– The monks who have rebelled and accused our bishops of heresy, first wanted to take over the monastery and expel Fr. Isaac;
– A lawyer (Leonid Ponamarchuk from Seattle – Fr. Ihnat Ponamarchuk’s son) asked for the monastery bylaws, reviewed them, and pointed out that the Abbot cannot be replaced except by a unanimous vote of all the schemamonks in the monastery;
– Being unable to take over the monastery or expel Fr. Isaac, the rebels then said to Fr. Isaac that they would not expel him if he would give them 10 million dollars; and,
– The monastery had sold a small property in Maine with a small house on it, worth 1 million dollars; Fr. Isaac refused to give the rebels 10 million dollars, but, being the person he is, he gave them 1 million dollars. They and Bishop Demetrius have joined the Kallinikos Synod of Greece.
About half of the monks have left the monastery, including Fr. Ignatius & Fr. Parthenius. Bishop Gregory says that we will be visited mainly by himself and by Fr. Hesychius.
It seems we may not be getting visits as often as before – but we will see – nobody could tell me for sure.

As for the Russian bishop, Gregory (Lourie), whom some people have expressed concern about:
Metropolitan Ephraim and our Bishop Gregory both agree that he is intelligent, but unreliable (Metropolitan Ephraim described him as “a loose cannon”). When he visited the monastery some time ago, they admitted him to Holy Communion, not knowing the full story concerning him. Since then, they see him as I’ve just described, and have publicly admitted their mistake. Metropolitan Ephraim gives this example: “..the Russian bishop Gregory (Lourie) has stated publicly that Saint Nicholas is a mythical figure who never really existed” (!!!!). – Can you imagine a Russian bishop saying such a thing???
All of our convents remain strong supporters of Metropolitan Ephraim and our Bishop Gregory.

I wanted to give you this information so that nobody would be distracted by false rumors.
I will let you know as soon as I find out about more visiting clergy.
Please pray for Fr. Isaac and his monks, and for our bishops.
If you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them as best as I can.
Yours in Christ,
unworthy XXXX, hierodeacon

  • What I read years ago was this, that Panteleimon was warned against by a clairvoyant Athonite elder, and that at one point this man took Panteleimon’s hand and prayed, and the hand withered or something later and after the
    elder’s death, he put his hand on the remains and it was healed. Perhaps all said about Panteleimon was true, but he repented.

    • Actually, the story is that St Irraneous (spelling may be wrong) supposedly told Fr Isaac (whom was an Athonite monk at the time) that “Panteliemon is sufficient for your salvation.” This, Fr. Isaac took to mean that he should follow Fr Panteliemon to America and follow his guidence. Now, AFTER Fr. Panteliemon’s terrible fall, people begain to doubt Fr. Isaac understood the saint. They said that Fr Isaac might have misheard St. Irraneous, and that the St *actually*…probably (they say)…said “Panetiemon is INsufficient for your salvation.” This, ofcourse, is a matter we will never know for sure, now, till the end…The Judgement.
      About the limp hand, that was Fr. Isaac. There was some discipline that a bishop placed on him…which he did not fulfill. Fr Isaac’s hand went limp for this disobedience. After this bishop/saint passed on, Fr. Isaac finally repented of his disobedience…place his hand on the deceased bishops hand in repentence at the service, and was immediately healed.

  • This story about the rebellious monks seems strange. Upon learning that they could not legally expell Father Isaac from Ponomarchuk ( who is a judge, not just a lawyer, by the way) they try to extort 10 million dollars from HTM to not expell him. If they got the money, were they intending to stay there? Father Isaac then agrees to the extortion for 1 million and they leave? Couldn’t he have booted them out for nothing? This band of extortionists is then welcomed by Metropolitan Pavlos? Why would he agree to such a thing, or is he unaware of the character of these rebels?
    I could accept the story of Father Panteleimon’s innocence, but this villification of a group of monks as renegades and extortionists is hard to swallow. Forgive the harshness of this
    statement, but this seems like a typical HOCNA tactic: villify the opposition to distract,once again, from purported misdeeds by Father Panteleimon. I was in Hocna in 1986, and this sounds all too familiar.

  • Hierodeacon Anonymous would appear to be a shill, and this letter bogus. It seems saturated with the same old “disgruntled former employee” type of tactic against any one who leaves “the mighty and all beneficent organization”. I’ve heard this all before and it means little.

    For the record, Mr. Ponomarchuk, at last count on the King County government website is not technically a judge but a Court Commissioner, which, in my neighbouring State of Washington, is essentially a magistrate with limited judicial authority. I believe he ran for a Superior Court position about the time of the catastrophic and orchestrated removal of Metropolitan Moses from his Seattle Cathedral while in HOCNA and lost that election.

    • John, what happened with the removal of Metropolitan Moses? I have asked my sister who is a member of Father Neketas’s parish but she says it was a personal matter between the two clergymen and that she wasn’t supposed to talk about it.

      • Stan Ihoria

        Kate, not talking about it is standard operating procedure within HOCNA. I do believe we are not far from learning what did happen in Seattle!

      • Jason Hunt

        As I undertand it, the removal of Met Moses resulted when Met Moses refused to allow Fr. Panteleimon to visit Fr. Neketas’s parish. Met Moses knows the truth about Fr. Panteleimon, as his own brother is among the accusers. As HOCNA was established to cover the sins of Fr. Panteleimon, disloyalty to Fr. Panteleimon is akin to apostasy. So, he had to be removed.

        • JMP

          If you had your facts straight. Met. Moses’s brother rescinded his allegations. That’s all they were, allegations.

          • Could you please tell me why Metropolitan Moses suspended Father Neketas? Why did Hocna then reinstate Father Neketas and transfer Metropolitan Moses and place St Nectarios’ parish under Metropolitan Ephraim? It’s time all of these events were fully explained.

          • George

            I would also add the following question:
            Why did Metropolitans Ephraim and Makarios *violate* their oaths as Bishops and the Canons of the Church, and *intervened* in the Metropolis of another ruling Bishop?
            Answer: All these things link back to Fr. Panteleimon.

          • jmp

            Who is your bishop? This website is disgusting and all I see is SUPPOSED Orthodox Christians having a happy dance about someone else’s sorrow. Kate, why don’t you call Met. Ephraim and ask him yourself instead of ranting on and on with your second hand news. This website is nothing but a HOCNA blaster. You can have Bishop D. you will see his true colors soon. Do any of you even know Father Panteleimon? I do and when God reveals to us how special he really is, you will all look like donkeys.

          • I am not having a happy dance. This is a cause for sorrow. I am interested because I have family members in Hocna and I am genuinely concerned for their salvation. I know Father Panteleimon and have taken communion from his hand and his blessing.I personally have nothing but good things to say about him but I cannot discount that he may have grievously harmed others. Forgive me if i have offended you.

          • Kate, I have no idea who this JMP is, but I…at the moment in HOCNA still (in prayer and researching whether to stay now, with all of these matters coming out in the open finally…not an easy choice)…completely agree with your sentiment. I am in HOCNA right now, and I feel the same as you. I know Fr Panteliemon, have taken communion from him, recieved blessings from him, have kissed his pectoral cross, and even questioned if he had the gift of *seeing* from time to time.
            Though, there has always been that questioning part of me…something that felt that there’s something *off* about the whole situation at HTM, and Fr. Panteliemon’s role/standing in the front of that feeling. When I found out about the original allegations back in 2001, I was even more concerned, and that *off* feeling about Fr. Panteliemon grew a little bit. But I was repeatedly assured by Fr. Isaac, whom I have always viewed as my *Spiritual Grandfather* (being my Spiritual Father’s Spiritual Father), that *he* was confident that Fr. Panteliemon was innocent of such crimes, and couldn’t see…well, exactly what the letter above says about why they say he couldn’t have committed those crimes.
            But, this month, I found out from one of those priests mentioned above that…that meeting took place, and Fr. Isaac did indeed confess that Fr. Panteliemon was guilty.
            My head is spinning, I am dealing with a lot…especially having just moved to Ohio, with no churches nearby, and with a wife and 3+ children, still looking for a job…and now I am faced with the revelation that some of those I have trusted most for over 15 years, have been lieing to me, about a VERY serious matter, and not just me, but entire church communities!
            Prayers, research, repentence, and a LOT of BIG choices NEED to be made, not just by us layity individually, but by the individual churches in HOCNA, our synod, and the monastery.
            Please pray for all of us…both those who have left, and those who are still strugling to decide where God is leading (stay, or go).

          • Dear James, though I left Hocna some years ago at the insistenceof my husband, the Fathers of HTM,and St. Nekatarios’, and the Mothers of Holy Nativity Convent set my feet on the right path. To realize that some of these people looked me in the eye and lied and villified the young men who were victims is overwhelming right now.
            Pray, have faith that God will lead us to His Holy Church, and know that we are not alone in this troubling time. God bless you and your family, James.

          • Kate, I am not certain, but I believe you can be at ease about the monastic communities at large. I have heard that, even before the truth came out from Fr. Isaac’s mouth, that it was only Fr. Isaac and Met Ephraim that *knew* about all the facts of the matter, and conspired to keep Fr. Panteliemon from being braught to trial (spiritual). The communities at large have not been believed to have the insight about the validity of the charges, nor the reasons behind all the *official moves* of the synod (to protect Fr. Panteliemon).
            So, even most of the victims have always said that Fr. Isaac and Met Ephraim have been the *only* one’s *in the know*…and lieing to all the rest of us. The other fathers and mothers were *informed* with what the three of them wanted them, and the rest of us, to believe.
            Pray for Fr. Isaac, Met Ephraim, Fr. Panteliemon, and all the monastics. The first three, that they may find genuine repentence, and the rest of the monastics, that they may find peace and be able to continue in their honest strugles for Christ.

          • Stan Ihoria

            Hi James, I hope that you come to a peaceful decision for yourself. I can tell you that I was born and bread into HOCNA. I recall the move from ROCOR but was too young to care much about it at the time. I share this so you understand that myself nor anyone I know parted easily. But what I say with joy is that, as soon I did leave, clarity came immediately, looking back now is actually scary. We are happily in the GOC now and should you decide to come, there is a chapel in Ohio, serve by Fr Longinos who also serves at St Nektarios in Detroit. He was a pleasure to meet, a very kind and giving man if I may say. Anyway, I wanted to pass on the contact onfo for the church should you decide.
            St. Matrona Orthodox Chapel

            425 Kenworth Avenue NE
            Warren, Ohio 44483
            Priest: Fr. Longinos Kakavros
            Phone: 614-883-1170

          • Stan Ihoria: I actually found out about St. Matrona’s in late August when I was just looking for a church where I might go and recieve communion. I knew before that there are some communities where intercommunion have been allowed between HOCNA and GOC before, so I called around after finding St. Matrona’s and finally got Fr Longinos’ number after 3 or 4 people (it was the eve of Dormition, so he was busy, and the people who answered the phone kept having me call back for someone who might help. lol).

            At any rate, if I do indeed feel lead in the end to leave my affiliation with HOCNA, I have seen and read some things about GOC which I need to find some serious, honest answers too before I bring my family into full communion with GOC either. You may know, there is some dirty laundry being spoken of about some of the GOC bishops too…issues I don’t feel make good, genuine Orthodox bishops. But, I’m just at the tip of the iceburg as far as researching those matters right now. First thing’s first…I need to be more certain of God’s guidence regarding HOCNA.

            But thank you for the info. I do need to give him a call soon and see if he ever does serve Liturgy around here, or if he just serves in Detroit, as the other priest I spoke with suggested that he thought he was doing these days, as the GOC is in small numbers (too) here in Ohio.
            God bless. 🙂 +

          • Stan Ihoria

            Very well said Kate, when I say elswhere that looking back is scary, what you say here speaks to it. further, the implications that came from it all can make you crazy if you allow yourself to fall into it.

          • *JMP*…patience and humility. Even if you reject the testimony of the 18 priests that were at the meeting, we are all guilty of sin. God is our vindication. If, somehow, you are still right…though the events are stacked against that being true now (and trust me, I am not happy to hear about it either, but…even Saints are humans, only Christ is without any sin), God will vindicate Fr. Panteliemon better than anyone coming onto a website and blasting neigh sayers.

            Prayer, patience, repentence, and fear of God.

            God bless. Remember me, still a Brother in Christ, and synod, in prayer. And keep Fr Isaac and all the fathers in prayer as well.

          • Nektarios

            Spoken like a true Hocnite.

          • Nektarios: Hey, I’m not happy with my fellow HOCNA member’s behavior here either, due to their *judging* of those who they feel are attacking his/her herros. Don’t be judging either. This is a site about *Christian matters*…let’s treat eachother in a *Christian* manner. Regardless of where or what they are a part of.

          • Nektarios

            Thank you James, you are right. There is no need for insults here. As a former HOCNA member/parishioner, I have endured great temptations as I’m sure everyone else has too. I do not judge Fr. Panteleimon for his indiscretions, nor anyone else for their dedication to their leaders, as no sin is unforgiven. I pray he repents and may God have mercy on him.

          • Nektarious: Amen. +

        • Stan Ihoria

          Seattle was a part of the conspiracy to keep Fr Pateleimone safe. When Met Moses brought new allegations to the Synod on behalf of his parishioners, the Syond responded by conspiring to remove Met Moses from Seattle. This was lead by Met Makarios and his “coffee hour” visit.

  • Paul

    What we have to deal with is facts. Below what you will now read are facts. If you do not believe this then you can call any
    of the 18 clergyman who heard themselves. I myself recently made phone calls to four clergyman to verify the below facts.

    On August 25th, 2012 at St Marks there was ten clergyman, Metropolitan Ephraim, Fr Isaac, and Fr Barsanuphrius present.

    On
    Sept 1st , 2012 at the Diocese House there was 18 clergyman of whom
    some where these – 1) Fr John Fleser 2) Fr Christos 3) Fr George Kamb
    4) Fr Demetri H. 5) Fr Demetri Kukunov 6) Fr Otari 7) Fr Andrew Borada 8) Fr Andrew S. 9) Fr Vasili M. 10) Fr Christopher
    11) Fr George Liadis 12) Fr Alexander Butterbaugh
    Metropolitan Ephraim , Metropolitan Makarios, and Bishop Gregory and Fr Isaac.

    Fr Isaac told the
    following at both of the above meetings for everyone to audibly hear :
    Fr
    Isaac said “It was a cover up and the immoral charges against Fr
    Panteliemon are true” . It was reported that Fr Isaac was teary eyed
    while saying this to all those present at BOTH meetings. He then asked forgiveness from all those present.

    At
    both meetings Metro. Ephraim said there will be an investigation in
    this matter. Yet to this day they have not had an investigation
    as he promised and thus we get the letter stating that he has retired.

  • juan hunoz

    The anonymous
    hierodeacon is not from Boston and was not present at the meeting of the clergy
    with Metropolitan Ephraim or the meeting of the monks with Fr. Panteleimon.

    He is writing from
    hearsay, that is, from a false report of events.

    Fr. Panteleimon was
    accused by monks of sexual molestation in 1986, 1991 and recently 6 monks
    submitted separate depositions against Fr. Panteleimon to Metropolitan Ephraim.

    The conspiracy to
    cover up continues and the same people are in charge. Because of this many of
    the monks have had enough and have departed HTM. The talk about money is just a
    red herring.

  • Paul

    In the above letter it is written “Metropolitan Ephraim confirmed that he has never known Fr. Panteleimon
    to be guilty of any of the slander that has been directed at him for
    many years.” Now if one goes to the new article posted at this site titled “HOCNA-HOTCA : Full Timeline and Documents Archive ” to whit I might add that one has to put the mouse pointer over the first sentence ….”A Full Archive of documents….” and click on that to access the 43 pages. Then one will read on page 4 something completely contradictory in which Metropolitan Ephraim said to 10 clergymen …. “Then and there, the clergy went to Metropolitan Ephraim to present their views regarding both matters. Fr. Barsanuphius was present, and Fr. Isaac was also present and acknowledged to the clergy as a group that the allegations, from many years ago and more recent years, against Fr. Panteleimon were true and that he and Fr. Panteleimon agreed to the cover-up. Metropolitan Ephraim stated that, when he heard about the allegations, he chose not to investigate them. The clergy protested that the Church, the victims, and all the people were used and abused and betrayed in this manner. The clergy also said that the Metropolitan has lost his moral authority to govern the Church, and, at the very least, resignations were in order, and the Name worshipping matter had to be put to rest once and for all because HTM was now permanently divided, and clergy and parishes were being torn asunder by both scandals.” Thus it is obvious that this is completely true as one could say 12 clergymen and Metropolitan Ephraim all heard the same thing and the Metropolitan himself said the lamentable words ” he choose not to investigate them – the allegations”. Thus it seems this letter is one more “disinformation letter”. Yet I will point out given all that has happened it is obvious that no investigation was made or will be made as the Metropolitan will endanger Fr Isaac to be given the full canonical verdict of not being a Priest or Abbot anymore! This is a very serious issue that seems to be raised here at this meeting but yet with no follow thru as it seems the agenda is to bury it with other distractions or postponements that are unending. Personally I will make my position clear that this is for Fr Isaac’s own spiritual good as this canon if ignored will just endanger his soul more as he will most likely continue to “cover up” the fact that he spoke so frankly at this meeting and at other public meetings. That he will also not be healed by the fact that this canon as all canons when applied correctly will bring the transgressor to the humility they need to repent for what they have done.