THE TIME FOR ORTHODOX UNITY IS NOW!

CONTRA “FATHER-ISM” – ON SPIRITUAL AND THEOLOGICAL ABUSE

11

by John A. Monaco

The Temptation of St. Anthony (Jan Mandijn, 1535)

In May 2018, I graduated with my Master of Divinity, and immediately following the graduation ceremony, I boarded a plane to Rome, where I intended to undergo the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Although I had attended a renowned Jesuit university with one of the largest Jesuit communities in the United States, I chose to go to Rome to do the Exercises because the retreat director was an “orthodox” Jesuit, one who was not afraid to speak “the truth” and one who despised the way “liberals” had destroyed the Society of Jesus. As a reasonably conservative Roman Catholic with an overabundance of zeal and vocational angst, I seized the opportunity to make a retreat under this particular Jesuit, leaving the local Jesuits— who helped me grow as a person and a scholar—far behind.

The retreat was, to put it lightly, a torturous disaster. The Jesuit priest demanded that I get off my anti-anxiety medication, claiming that “those who embrace the “state of perfection” (e.g. embracing the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience) have no need for medication, for God’s grace will provide.” Betraying my previous theological education which emphasized that “grace perfects nature,” I obliged and got off my medication. Predictably, the anxiety returned a hundredfold, and after one particular terrible night of distressing worries and intrusive thoughts, I begged the director to allow me to resume my medication. Instead, he dismissed my thoughts as ‘temptations’, handing me Athanasius’ Life of St. Antony. He told me that St. Antony of the Desert experienced “temptations” and that the answer to combating them was to live a life of asceticism, just as Antony did. I read the Life of St. Anthony, marveling at his holiness of life and discipline. I regarded my “anxiety” as a spiritual issue—and not a psychological one. Daily, I met with the retreat leader, and he told me that my recurrent anxiety and depression was actually Satan in disguise trying to tempt me to leave the retreat house and go back to my “sinful ways.” And so, in order to imitate the holy desert ascetic, I stopped eating, and practiced bodily mortification—but the intrusive thoughts still remained. After several days of intense anguish, I emailed my spiritual director back home asking him for advice, and he urged me to leave the retreat house, return to the United States, and resume therapy and medication. And like an obedient spiritual son, I obeyed. “But what would St. Antony do?” I wondered, all throughout the return flight home.

There exists today a serious issue within my own Roman Catholic tradition and within Orthodoxy, as well. The issue is what I call “Father-ism.” In essence, it is a sort of fundamentalism, whereby a person latches onto a particular thinker, saint, or even a local Church council, and rigidly holds onto it—completely disregarding any historical context, critical scrutiny, or opposing viewpoints. Although I am certainly on the “traditional” and so-called “conservative” side of the ecclesial spectrum (as artificial as the spectrum may be), I often need to correct my fellow “trads” who have succumbed to such fundamentalism. In my own interactions with Orthodox Christians in person and online, I have seen “Father-ism” spread like a contagious disease—Church Father X says Y, and that is the final word on the subject. Whereas we should hold the Church Fathers to the standard of Sacred Scripture and the ecumenical councils, “Father-ist” practitioners often fall into a “fetishization or idolization of the Church Fathers as infallible and direct purveyors of divine truths.”

Now, before I continue, I should note what “Father-ism” is not: it is not a call to disregard the Church Fathers as outdated or irrelevant, neither is it a call to abandon Tradition and view traditions as useless. There is no Christianity without tradition, and both Catholic and Orthodox theologians are tasked with being faithful to the deposit of faith. That stated, what plagues contemporary Orthodoxy (especially as it is expressed online) is a myopic view of the Tradition, a distrusting of progress (especially within science and technology), and vacuum of proper catechesis and education in the Orthodox faith, especially for converts. In our current “Information Age,” any prospective candidate into Orthodoxy can be easily led astray by going down the wrong Internet alleyway, leading him to believe that “toll-houses” are integral to Orthodoxy, that Catholic baptism is “invalid,” and that revered Catholic saints (such as Francis of Assisi) represented the Anti-Christ. “Father-ism” is a perversion of tradition, an unhealthy reliance on a particular Father (or a select group of them), which then leads to a closed-minded view of Orthodoxy. Although the period of public revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, that does not mean that there cannot be new articulations of the same ancient faith. It is intellectually dishonest to think that the Church Fathers existed at a “perfect” time in Church history, or that their number is set. For example, who is to say that there will not be another Church Father (or perhaps Mother) whose contributions to theology will rival even St. Gregory Palamas? The Church Fathers may be an invaluable resource for Christians today, but we must admit that they, despite their many merits, do not exhaust the entirety of the Christian faith. And even more so, Christians must accept the Fathers for who they are as well as who they are not. St. Antony of the Desert was a holy man, a wise spiritual guide, and a wonderworker, but he was not a psychiatrist. Or, as another example, we can note how St. John Chrysostom was a brilliant orator, skillful theologian, and a good shepherd, but he was not an expert on eating disorders. A true love for the Fathers will respect their contributions to the Church; a disordered love for the Fathers will idolize them as divine revelation itself.

“Father-ism” does not simply lead to the abuse of theology, but also can lend itself to the spiritual abuse of people, as well. In the personal anecdote that I shared above, the abuse was clear—here, the priest disregarded any scientific and medical explanation for my anxiety, and instead chose to reduce it to being merely a spiritual battle with demons. St. Antony of the Desert was invoked as a substitute—and not a supplement—for my medication. I was given an artificial choice between faith in God’s grace or the acceptance of modern medicine—a false dichotomy which even Scripture does not pose (Sirach 38:1-8). In recent weeks, we have seen “Father-ism” manifest itself in the asinine comments made by a Cypriot bishop, who claimed that homosexuality was caused by a heterosexual couple engaging in anal sex, and that homosexuals themselves have a literal, repugnant odor. When challenged in his comments, the bishop doubled-down, claiming that this was the teaching of the Church and her saints, citing Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia as the anecdote’s source. Is this not “Father-ism,” but of a twentieth-century Athonite flavor? As Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago explained in his recent pastoral letter, “Even the saints are not immune from errors in speaking, as the Bible itself testifies (see Galatians 2:11ff.). In recognizing the sanctity of a person, the Orthodox Church does not thereby put an imprimatur on everything that person ever said or did. While still in this world, saints make mistakes, both factually and morally.”

Metropolitan Nathanael’s words ring true, but one wonders how loud they will sound over the cacophony of fundamentalists, each quoting their particular favorite Church Father and saint who ironically supports their previously-held convictions. The proper response to this phenomenon is not to flee the Fathers, but to engage them with intense study, prayerful reflection, and careful discernment.


John A. Monaco is a doctoral student at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.

Public Orthodoxy seeks to promote conversation by providing a forum for diverse perspectives on contemporary issues related to Orthodox Christianity. The positions expressed in this essay are solely the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors or the Orthodox Christian Studies Center.

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11 Comments

  1. Michal Dvoracek on

    Do not invent new concepts and distorted truths to preserve the space to find true faith and the teaching of Christ.

    Mr. John Monaco presents in his article a heterodox view in a sea of various other opinions, ideas and polemics.

    Obviously, he represents the Jesuit tradition, following in its footsteps, although he himself was not helped by the environment of the “orthodox” Jesuit home in Rome.

    Why do I actually respond to this little clarifying but rather calumnious article on Orthodoxy and its followers?
    Perhaps because it is impossible to see the impasse of today’s Roman Catholic believers where they unfortunately got.
    It is blatant to heaven that someone boldly hits the life and faith of Orthodox Christians without being himself enlightened by God´s grace.
    I consider his whole treatise to be a not very successful lunge against what the author actually misses: an undistorted and uncompromised faith and non-misunderstood traditions.
    A piece of elementary advice: just don´t follow only superficial internet resources.
    As far as I remember, the great contemporary theologians of the Orthodox Church teach us, in accordance with the teachings of St. Gregory Palamas, that if we are not ourselves enlightened, deified, then we may always speak of divine things only with reference to Orthodox authorities, and only in this way manifest the spirit of humility and the opposite of pride.
    If the author of this paper speaks of a kind of “Father-ism”, then he certainly has in mind some of his own teachings, mistakenly understood by Roman Catholic believers, who have lost their sense of orientation not only in theology, and perhaps have become more concerned with psychology and dietary habits.
    It is impossible not to see that St. John Chrysostomos was not only a holy man, an excellent bishop, a missionary, but also a dietitian, because he had never taught others his own eating habits, but led his ascetic life according to his principles beyond which he elevated love of the Lord, his own humiliation, restraint and strict fasting that caused him severe health problems. Even if this saint, according to the author of the article, was a good food therapist, he would never abide by these principles, because he died to this world and overlooked himself and his health to experience the spiritual fruits of divine grace.
    Another not very professional and dignified invective is the completely inconsistent condemnation of the Bishop of Cyprus, without understanding what he is doing in this context, without touching any context, and just mentioning some badly-cited information about this Orthodox bishop who was a disciple of contemporary Orthodox saints.
    In its essence, the author of this article, without even realizing it, attacks the very essence of Orthodoxy – and hence its fruits, our Orthodox saints, whose teachings, deeds and fame he seeks to relativize.
    But he can’t do that.
    There is a need for true Orthodox Christians, theologians, who can better than I suggest that our thoughts determine our lives and our actions, as the great Serbian Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica teaches.
    But if thoughts are badly led, distorted, misguided, and not free from passions, they can also cause a fall to those who think they know best the depth of divine truths, although they draw from sources that do not reflect the light of Christ brightly shining in all directions.
    I wish the author of the article goes deeper in his own self-reflection and self-criticism …
    And perhaps he should also study not only the Orthodox teaching but also our Orthodox way of life in order to gain a better knowledge of the Holy Orthodox Church.

    Michal Dvoracek, Orthodox theologian

  2. This article’s a mess. He followed a Jesuit priest who wasn’t helpful to him. So we get a flood of opinions about homosexuality, anxiety, eating disorders, and Eastern Orthodox affairs.

    Why is this article here?

  3. The article is here, in a continuous effort by OCL to send subliminal messages and not only, as to make its case against Elder Efraim. They do not like people to be involved in spiritual awakening and attainment -Good Spiritual Fathers speak the truth. Truths tend to disturb our comfort zones.

    • Ted D,
      I find this post very difficult to reconcile with the excellent ones you wrote on Hellenism. Do you support the Ephraimite monasteries?! They have all the earmarks of a dangerous cult. To me, they fall under the category of “Taliban Christianity.”
      I’ve read as much as I can about this dangerous cult, and I would run in the opposite direction from them. They epitomize “toxic guruism. As you know, they espouse the gnostic heresy of the so-called “toll houses.”
      These so-called “monasteries” detract and damage the local parish church. They make a mockery of Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection, and glorification. Our eternal salvation is not in the hands of demons. I would love nothing better than to see these “monasteries” shut down. Seriously, there have been so many documented abuses by these “monasteries,” that I can’t believe anyone could find anything beneficial or benign about them. These ” monasteries” will crack your brains, and turn normal human beings into zombies. I’m sure I have misunderstood you. Thank you.

  4. It is very peculiar to see people and Orthodox Christians comment on topics with twisted or limited knowledge on the issue at hand. Orthodox Christianity, 33 AD, has a long track and historical continuity as non-other – It has a specific path that is so precise (Ortho-doxy), that is the shining beacon through the centuries showing the only way to Salvation.
    “Hellenism is the capital of Christianity ” according to Fr Metallinos, professor, historian, researcher, and theologian – Monasticism is the backbone of Orthodoxy, was, is and will always be. John the Baptist, Theotokos were the first monastics/ Monasticism flourished from the desert of Egypt and Palestine to Mt Athos and even in Constantinople with Aghia Sophia being “the mega monastiri” as the saying goes.
    The rest is historically and indisputably documented. In North America, for well over 80 years, the Orthodox Church and the Greek Archdiocese stood like a flamingo on one leg (parish) – No major monastic effort is recorded (outside of the small steps taken by the Slavs). Fr Efraim, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, established 18 monasteries in North America (Canada, USA) – Healthy Orthodox Monasticism arrived in the New World.
    Fr Efraim is a well-known and respected Athonite monk, Abbott (egoumenos) of one of the 20 big monasteries on Athos – FACT – Fr Efraim is a Spiritual child of the spiritual giant elder Joseph Spileoti the Hesyhast on Athos who along with Fr Aimiliano from Simonoptra (another Athonite, came from Meteora) are credited for the revitalization of Mt Athos after WW Ii – FACT – Fr Efraim is a canonical monk properly ordained Hieromonk under the Ecumenical Patriarchate – FACT – Fr Efraim was never called to an ecclesiastical court to be questioned or tried for heretical teachings, behavior, Orthodox dogma violations, or any other accusation, moral or otherwise – FACT – Fr Efraim established monasteries in Greece and in America with approval and blessings of all local Metropolitans -FACT – Fr Efraim enjoys the “kali martyria”, good reputation standing and respect, by the entire Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, The Church of Greece, The Church of Cyprus, Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Patriarchate of Alexandria, The Russian Church and the Serbian Church, with many hierarchs having visited monasteries in America – FACT – Fr Efraim is well-respected by Metropolitan Ierotheos Vlahos of Naupaktos, probably the biggest theological mind in the Orthodox World today! FACT – and that of Fr Metallinos as well – FACT – Fr Efraim opened a monastery in the Volos area in Greece where the metropolitan was the late Archbishop of Greece Christodoulos of blessed memory – FACT- Fr Efraim is a simple Orthodox monk, never a “cult leader” on Mt Athos, Greece or in North America – FACT- Fr Efraim has established a total of 28 monasteries (Greece, Canada, USA), second only to St Pachomios with 32 – FACT – Feel free to take cheap shots at this man – Not the first time, same and worse was done to St Necktarios when he was living.
    People who use the word “cult” either have no idea what the word means or they use it purposely in a character assassination campaign along with the use of the word “Taliban” – Monasteries were always the backbone of the church, Orthodoxy, and Hellenism! Without the monks, most of the Ancient Greek ( Ellinilki Grammatia ) scripts would have not survived – Monasteries were places of education and shelter/hideout for the Greeks during Ottoman Occupation! The famous Greek hero Kolokotroni was always hiding in monasteries.
    The Hellenic spirit was kept alive by the monks along with the fire to revolt (see Pappaflessas from Messinia) all capsulized in the face of another Athonite Monk, St Kosma the Aitolo, whose feast day we celebrated last Saturday – BTW Fr. Efraim was the Abbot of that monastery.
    The paramount role and importance of monasticism in Orthodoxy and in the future the newly-founded Republic of Greece in 1826 are indicated by the decision of German King Otto to close 422 monasteries! The ambassador of Italy in Athens told Makrigianni ” you are terrific people but you are too Orthodox …”!
    Fast forward to North America in 2019. Many despise the monasteries for the same reasons; knowingly or unknowingly, they are shooting themselves in the foot – Not to mention of course what St John Chrysostomos said: “He who decided to fight monasticism has made a conscious choice to fight the one Godhead”. Please let me know of the outcome.
    It is wise and intellectually appropriate to look deep, research properly and objectively before rendering opinions on people and situations, especially if those who opine have not made the effort to meet that person or the work he did. Basic civil manners. Otherwise, we resemble the gullible crowd shouting …
    ” crucify him, crucify him” ……………..

    • Ted, you quote Fr Metallinos as if he is an absolute authority. I have no idea what “Hellenism is the Capitol of Christianity” means. The central figure in Chritianity is Christ. He and He alone is the foundation of the Church, the Capitol of the Church. The apostles then carried the message of salvation and new life offered in Christ, establishing the Church. Let me know one Saint who confirms or supports the fusion of Hellenism with Christianity as you state. In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek. Read St Paul’s impression of Athens, the flagship city of Hellenism, in Acts 17. Pedophilia was practiced publically in Ancient Greece. Greece and Hellenism needed/needs the salvation offered in Christ. Yes, the NT was written in Greek, but the language is only the carrier of the Good News. It is the Good News which should be the focus of the church – FACT.

  5. The “aerial toll houses” – This is a topic tossed around as a major teaching of shorts. It is not even close to that and no one talks about it, except folks who love the controversy and a way to smother mud on Fr Efraim. There is no such teaching as teaching goes in the Orthodox Church – It is mentioned in one of Fr Efraim’s book and not really in a very elaborate way. Fr Efraim does not create new teachings – Nor do other Athonite monks. The idea of “aerial toll houses” in relation to a human soul departing the body and demons and angels is not new – Apostle Paul makes a slight reference in an Epistle; St John Chrysostomos made a reference to that and a few other holy fathers as well. The issue appears to be the fear of the existence of demons and if that they have power over a human soul. Satan and his demons exist; whether we like it or not they exist – “aerial toll houses” let’s forget that. Let’s see what happened to CHRIST himself. Satan put Christ through three tests – tribulations – or even tolls while Christ was in the desert for 40 days – Those three tests capsulize all we as humans go through in our lives – Christ of course could not be held hostage to those nor tempted nor tricked – HE led the way how to avoid the traps and how we should deal with those.
    The Bible is full of stories where we see the existence of demons and their power. Some will say, “well Christ is risen from the dead, Satan was defeated and has no power…”. Indeed, Christ is Risen Indeed and Satan was embittered, epikranthi. But his war against humanity is not gone, and it is not over – Death was defeated and we are not afraid, should not be afraid of going to Hades as the people before Christ did. The catch is that we still need to FIGHT and repent. We need to fight the good fight to avoid the traps and die in good standing in God’s eyes. God gives us all a life to repent of our sins and miss-doings, not a life to have fun assuming that Salvation is automatic. THERE IS NO SUCH THING – Protestants, evangelicals believe that – Not Orthodox – Now, yes, that is a teaching.
    We are going to answer for ALL we did. Like it or not – Demons, yes, will try to take our soul and our angel will try to defend us. What do people think are the mnymosina/memorials we have in the Orthodox Church for just an event to commemorate a loved one? NO. There is a reason for the 9-day, the 40-day memorials. It is not a social family event. The soul of the departed is helpless after the eyes close. We pray for that soul to make it in heaven – Who cares about “aerial tolls?” Call it whatever one wants to call it. A soul will go through great torment; thus we need to be prepared. Those who are prepared are not afraid; those who are not, of course, do not like any notion that we might possibly be questioned about our lives on earth.
    Even the new modern-day Saints Paisios, Porfyrios, and Iakovos talked about all that. Maybe some of us have a direct theological link to God, and He has informed otherwise, I wonder.
    Bottom line, Fr Efraim is worrying about the souls of the people. He is not creating new teachings nor theories of his own – No harm is done. Only gain as to be prepared.
    Last week, the son of a friend passed at the age of 41. In the eulogies, his brother-in-law was saying how he was preparing himself spiritually after he was diagnosed with cancer. We never know when that day will come – Fr Efraim is ringing the alarm, nothing more.

    • Well, Ted D, you said the soul goes through great torment after death. Perhaps, you can explain to me what Christ meant when He told the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” None of this is based on us, it’s what the Lord has already done for us on the cross. As St. Paul said (I’m paraphrasing), I am convinced that neither life nor death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. He also said (paraphrasing), I know Whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.
      The great Saint Symeon the New Theologian never taught any of the nonsense that Ephraim teaches.
      Also, Ephraim has made anti-semitic, bigoted statements against the Jews, even going so far as to cite the notorious, odious, “The Protocols of Zion”. I believe that an Orthodox Christian should run, not walk away from these so-called “monasteries.”

  6. In a previous comment I said that it is “very peculiar” to see people comment; now I must say, it is very sad to see people comment on topics without knowing certain fundamentals about them. Very sad and disturbing to me to see opinions flying out in a way that shows malice and total lack of information and proper understanding of the issue – the insistence on that path indicates a refusal to change position no matter what. There is a Greek saying that goes like that: ” don’t convince me even if you can convince me.”

    I feel as if a Holy Father came and talked today about these issues, people who disagree will still find ways to not agree, and they would challenge him. And here rests the larger point. I engage in conversations in hopes to provide another angle to a posted article or comment and help people see that some things are not as some have framed them to appear. Things are even worse if the truth is twisted, circumvented and altered in a calculated matter in order to serve an agenda.

    Thus, it is very clear that an effort is made, years now, to create a so-called “American Orthodoxy”, as someone here has indicated in a comment. I call it “Orthodoxy Lite” – clinical and away with all that heavy talk about martyrdom, blood, repentance and asceticism, demons, Satan’s influence, and so on. We love peaches and cream; we want a rose garden and a ticket to heaven at no cost to us. Christ did all that, someone said, so we do not have to. HE saved us all. Right? ——well, not that simple.

    Some like to be called Orthodox Christians but they also cross-eye, squint and look at the Protestants and become envious and want to copy from them. They certainly have copied much over the years , very true in America. Hellenism is exactly that capital of Christianity” – we refer to the exports indeed.

    Monasticism is the backbone of the Orthodox Church. The intensive care of the “hospital, the “special forces” of the Church. Monasticism is a mirror, a prototype according to Holy Fathers like St Basil, and in that mirror, many do not like what they see; thus, in anger, they want to break the mirror and do away with it. America was in desperate need of spiritual awakening. The faithful are thirsty for authentic and original. The epoch we live in is rough, complicated, too fast, too convoluted and full of traps and pain. People need an oasis to rejuvenate. People need prayer. The youth is getting lost and focused on trends and multiple cultural pressures. The youth need prayer and hope. The Church needs to be fortified and rejuvenate itself, God’s providence delivered.

    As far as Elder Efraim is concerned, he is attacked, persecuted by some and found guilty! Wow, how unfair and unorthodox! How uncivilized! Basic manners in our society allow for a trial and an outcome in cases of dispute. Also, we are supposed to respect and address properly all humans, no matter how much we might disagree with one. In the case of Elder / Fr Efraim, some have taken the liberty to bypass basic civility and respect to a canonically ordained Orthodox Hieromonk with NOT even one case and complaint against him from The Church and the Hierarchy! Stunning indeed! And they talk about him as if he was convicted by an Ecumenical Synod for heresy and Unorthodox behavior. NOT THE CASE – Cheap attacks like the misunderstanding of “aerial tolls”, cherry-picking phrases out of his books (btw, all are reviewed by Academic Theologians), mud-slinging comments (Taliban, cult, antisemitic) – his name alone indicates something if one bothered to look it up. All of this is an indication of fear and not of concern for the Church and the faithful – THE CHURCH is aware and very capable of correcting errors if need be. But here we have folks who are above the Church, above the synods, above the Hierarchy, and they feel as if they must dispense judgment at will! Incredible egos and disrespect to the Elder and the Church .
    Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago of blessed Memory, for anyone who knew him well, was anything but a ” cult” member. He chose a monastery as his final resting place. No need, really, to waste time and effort to convince those who do not have the open mind to SEE. God can see, and that is enough.
    No Hierarch is urging the faithful to “run away” from monasteries. The faithful are not blind; they SEE, they experience. Not only do they not walk away / run away, they FLY to monasteries from across the Oceans! So the effort to shut out the monasteries will fail as it did many times over the past 20 centuries.

    Answers to those posted questions are not needed; they are elementary and easily figured out. They only require an Orthodox mindset.

  7. Ted, if and when the hierarchs of the GOA condemn/censor Fr. Ephraim, will you support Ephraim or the hierarchs? It is commonly known that many of the hierarchs are concerned about Ephraim but are reluctant to take action.

  8. Why so much hate? Why such egocentric agendas? Why, some, cannot accept reality and the will of God? Why?
    Two GOA Metropolitans are already resting on monastery grounds.
    Fr Efraim has done nothing worthy of censorship or condemnation. Fr Efraim, for those who know and have done their homework, did not arrive in America to reinvent the “wheel” of Orthodox Christianity nor to create and teach his own theories nor to defy the hierarchy.
    Again, he is a canonically-ordained Athonite monk with a well-known past on the Holy Mount in Greece enjoying the respect of the hierarchy of Greece and EP and other Churches. Why is this so difficult to accept?
    The Patriarchate of Alexandria back in 1893, Patriarch Sophrony issued a synodical paper against the bishop of Pentapolis Nektarios, for accusations based on fake rumors, Later known as THE SAINT NEKTARIOS OF AEGINA! He was asked to leave Egypt. He did. The rest is history. Later the Patriarchate had to issue a new Synodical paper in apology and reinstatement of the Saint.
    The proper question is: Why, some, cannot accept the monasteries in America and the work of Elder Efraim, even though the EP and the GOA have approved and support that reality?
    Is personal ego so difficult to overcome? Is a group agenda more important than the work of God?

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