The following letter entitled "HOCNA: A Call to Repentance" is intended for the clergy and the laity of the "Holy Orthodox Church of North America" (HOCNA). All those who are interested and those who can relay this entreaty to HOCNA followers are also invited to read this appeal.
All should understand: the personal behavior or sins of anyone have absolutely no interest to me, for my tears are not sufficient for my own shortcomings. Yet with HOCNA, there is a very unusual situation, where the cover-up of Fr. Panteleimon's personal behavior has led to a schism from the Church of Christ, and the mere existence of this parasynagogue causes no small confusion among innocent souls seeking to find true Orthodoxy. It is with the intent that the truth about HOCNA is available to those who seek it, and that the leaders of this pseudo-'Orthodox Church' may realize their errors, that this appeal is made.
It should be noted that, since this appeal was written and revised in 2000, more monks and novices have fled from Fr. Panteleimon due to his abusive, perverted sexual lawlessness.
Bishop Gregory of Denver and Colorado
"For I know this, that after my departure grievous wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock, and among your own selves men shall rise up, speaking things which have been perverted, to draw the disciples after themselves [Acts 20:29 - 30]."
It has been fifteen years since one of the greatest tragedies in modern American Orthodoxy occurred. The potential for Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston, MA to be a fountain of true confessors for Orthodoxy has been totally destroyed by the actions of its abbot, Fr. Panteleimon, and others there. Fifteen years ago, six tonsured Great-Schema monks brought charges against Fr. Panteleimon and the rest of the leadership of Holy Transfiguration Monastery for immoral and uncanonical acts.
Every time a new witness or victim of Holy Transfiguration Monastery (HTM) comes forward, as has happened recently, my spirit is moved to call upon all those in the "Holy Orthodox Church of North America" (HOCNA) to come to repentance.
When the accusations were first brought against Fr. Panteleimon, he had stirred up the emotions, hostility and indignation of all his followers to such a pitch that I believe they were not able even to think rationally. Perhaps now, after fifteen years, and so many more victims, they could reread the one canon which invalidates HOCNA, the church which Fr. Panteleimon created. When HTM used this very canon to defend themselves, I remember Archbishop Anthony of Los Angeles (ROCA) saying, "The very canon that destroys them, they use to defend themselves, and their followers still remain with them!" This canon is the Sixth Canon of the Second Ecumenical Council. Reference to a bishop could also apply to a priest or a deacon. It reads as follows:
Sixth Canon of the Second Ecumenical Council
"Because many men, in a spirit of enmity and for purposes of slander being desirous to confound and subvert ecclesiastical discipline, connive to fabricate certain charges against Orthodox bishops managing the churches, in an attempt designing nothing else but to sully the reputation of the priests and to raise disturbances among peoples who are at peace; on this account it has pleased the holy Council of the Bishops who have convened in Constantinople to decree that informers are not to be admitted without examination, nor are all men to be allowed to bring accusations against those managing the churches, nor yet are all to be excluded. But if anyone lay a personal grievance, that is, a private complaint, against a bishop on the ground that he has been a victim of the bishop's greed or other unjust treatment, in the case of such accusations neither the personality nor the religion of the accuser is to be inquired into. For then the conscience of the bishop must be clear in every respect, and the man who claims to have been wronged should receive justice whatever be his religion. But if the indictment brought against the bishop be of an ecclesiastical nature, then the personality of the informers must be considered, in order, first of all, not to allow heretics to make charges against Orthodox bishops in regard to ecclesiastical matters. We call heretics those who have of old been proscribed from the Church, and those who have thereafter been anathematized by us; and in addition to these, those who, though pretending to confess the sound faith, have schismatically separated and have gathered congregations in opposition to our canonical bishops. Further, as regarding those who have previously been condemned by the Church on certain charges and have been ousted therefrom or excluded from communion, whether they belong to the clergy or to the ranks of laymen, neither shall these persons be allowed to accuse a bishop until they have first cleared themselves of their own indictment. Likewise, as regarding those who are themselves being accused from before, they are not to be permitted to accuse a bishop, or other clergymen until they have first proved themselves innocent of the charges placed against them. If, however, certain persons are neither heretics nor excluded from communion, nor condemned, nor previously charged with any offenses, and should declare that they have an accusation of an ecclesiastical nature against a bishop, the holy Council bids these persons to lodge their accusations before all the bishops of the province and before them to prove the charges against the bishop involved in the case. But if it so happens that the provincial bishops are unable to or incompetent to decide the case against the bishop and make the correction due, then they are to go to a greater synod of the bishops of this diocese summoned to try this case. And they are not to lodge the accusation until they themselves have in writing agreed to incur the same penalty if in the course of the trial it be proved that they have been slandering the accused bishop. But if anyone, scorning what has been decreed in the foregoing statements, should dare either to annoy the emperor's ears or to trouble courts of secular authorities or an ecumenical council so as to affront all the bishops of the diocese, let no such person be allowed to present any information whatever, because of his having thus roundly insulted the Canons and ecclesiastical discipline."
This canon states the following points, which I have underlined above, and which the members of HOCNA, clergy and laity alike, should consider very carefully, not to be deceived any longer.
1. "But if anyone lay a personal grievance, that is, a private complaint, against a bishop, on the ground that he has been a victim of the bishop's greed or other unjust treatment, in the case of such accusations neither the personality nor the religion of the accuser is to be inquired into."
The accusations brought against Fr. Panteleimon were those of an "unjust treatment", not of an ecclesiastical nature. In 1986 the accusations of six witnesses/victims of the unjust treatment by Fr. Panteleimon were brought to the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA). Now, over so many years, there are over 20 possible witnesses. To be sexually assaulted or seduced is "unjust treatment" even in secular law. Church law is even more severe.
Fr. Panteleimon cannot defend himself by condemning his monks, the accusers, for the canon states that "neither the personality nor the religion of the accuser is to be inquired into." The Church in its demand for purity among Her clergy, requires only two witnesses. At the time of the accusations, the accusers were six in number. Now, over 3 times that number are accusers, but of course, their voices are not considered, because Fr. Panteleimon is under no ecclesiastical authority, having created his own church. Throughout these fifteen years, not one witness has ever recanted his testimony.
When St. Gregory of Agrigentum was accused of unlawful acts by two clerics, he submitted to punishment although he was innocent. God, seeing his unjust suffering, revealed the truth and restored the hierarch to his position in greater glory.
When Fr. Panteleimon, on the other hand, is accused by six witnesses/victims, as one guilty, he does not submit to punishment. Rather, he runs away. Yet God, seeing his guilt, brings forward more and more people, who have suffered under obedience to him. The holy and innocent suffer; the profane and guilty run. For a saint, two witnesses are sufficient to put him in prison, but for the guilty one, not even twenty will bring him to repentance.
2. The holy Canon says, "We call heretics those...who, though pretending to confess the sound faith, have schismatically separated and have gathered congregations in opposition to our canonical bishops."
This holy Canon calls HOCNA heretical, because they schismatically separated from canonical bishops. They claim that simultaneously with Fr. Panteleimon and his clergy being caught and suspended, all the bishops of ROCA, who were bringing them to trial, became heretics!!! How could someone believe such a statement? One week you are commemorating and kissing your bishops' hands, and the next week they are heretical ecumenists. The only thing they did that week was to suspend Fr. Panteleimon and summon him to trial to defend his person. To run away when you are caught, is to show your guilt. The Church is not mocked, and Fr. Panteleimon was justly deposed.
HOCNA faithful, your "confessing of sound faith" is of no avail to you if you do it in unrighteousness. Only the truly Orthodox have the blessing to preach Orthodoxy, as can be seen when Christ and the saints rebuked even the demons who spoke truthfully.
Remember the words of the holy Prophet Malachias' to Israel of old, " I have no pleasure in you,' saith the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands [Mal. 1:10].'" This applies to HOCNA because of their causing a schism and because of their deposition from the priesthood. Tremble, O ye people of HOCNA, for this canon calls you heretics, congregations in opposition to canonical bishops, in opposition to the true Church, even though you may be preaching Orthodoxy.
3. The holy Canon says, "Likewise, as regarding those who are themselves being accused from before, they are not to be permitted to accuse a bishop, or other clergymen, until they have first proved themselves innocent of the charges placed against them."
HTM, according to Church law, could not lay charges against one bishop, much less the whole ROCA Synod of Bishops, "until they have first proved themselves innocent of the charges placed against them." To call ROCA ecumenical, a full seven years before their union with Cyprian of Fili, is absurd. A bishop or Synod falls away from the Faith when he or it openly, bareheadedly, and officially espouses something heretical, or enters into communion with someone who teaches heresy, as happened in 1994, with the ROCA's union with the Cyprian Synod.
Can you imagine the chaos that would be created if every pedophile cleric who is caught and deposed would say that the bishops who caught him are heretics, and would (if they had five thousand people following them as Fr. Panteleimon) start their own church?
Let me ask you people of HOCNA the following questions: Why do you accept the witnesses and testimonies against the actions of Archbishop Mark (ROCA) and his ecumenical activities, yet you will not accept the witnesses against Fr. Panteleimon, that he has corrupted his life and caused a schism in the Church, and led you astray?
Have not the past fifteen years seen the birth pangs and the emergence of a cult? Why is it that only one priest from among you had the courage to search the canons, to talk to the witnesses and to free himself from this cult?
Father Panteleimon said to Archbishop Anthony of Los Angeles, one of the investigating hierarchs, in his letter dated 26 April, 1986, "But to commit the sins imputed to me by Fr. Mamas and Fr. Athanasios, I have [sic] to be an atheist." I ask you this question: Are not his works, the works of an atheist? To separate the souls of over five thousand people from Christ, conceivably, is the work of an atheist. If he is guilty of the accusations made, and he wrote and spoke this sentence, has he renounced his faith? Are you following an atheist for a leader?
HOCNA is similar to a cult in the following ways:
1. Everybody in a cult is ultimately under obedience to a supreme elder, whose authority is accepted by all.
This is especially true in HOCNA, where even the "bishops" obey the "elder", Panteleimon. Indeed, the "bishops" owe their authority (whatever it may be) from him. For the people of HOCNA to say that they are under a bishop, be it Ephraim, Makarios or Moses, is simply not true. For example: after the monastery left the Church, when Fr. Spyridon Schneider was one of their priests, and wished to clear the name of the "elder" because two more monks had just left the monastery and were accusing Fr. Panteleimon of homosexual acts against them, the "bishops", Ephraim, Makarios and Moses, refused any investigation against their "elder". The fact that so many people followed the "elder", rather than the canons, the teachings of the Church, and may I say, even Christ, shows that the supreme authority for them is indeed Fr. Panteleimon.
2. Secrecy is always a convenient cult tool.
HOCNA uses secrecy in every way possible. For example, their web site doesn't provide the addresses of almost all their churches. Why is this done deliberately? Their publication about the Greek Old Calendar Struggle also veils in secrecy much of their own history. The book was published in 1998, but the history (distorted as it is) only goes up to 1994. The accusations against Fr. Panteleimon are also shrouded in secrecy from many of their lay people. Their secret teaching is also a good example. We know of monks and novices who were told that only those who remain in Holy Transfiguration Monastery will be saved!!! Indeed, the secret teaching and interpretation of the Old Testament, which Fr. Panteleimon vomits on his disciples to seduce them, is another example of the secrecy of a cult.
As Fr. Christos of Boston can attest to, secrecy conceals the personal revelation of Fr. Panteleimon, that he is permitted multiple communions in one day. Supposedly, these communions are for the dead. For each deceased person, he mentions their name, and then takes communion for them. Secrecy is also used to conceal demonic incidents that have happened there, such as flying icons and leaping crosses, which fall to the floor. If the faithful knew of these demonic incidents, their shock might make them wary, or at best suspicious, of joining such a cult. When two investigating bishops were about to come to the monastery, Fr. Isaac told those monks whom Fr. Panteleimon had sexually molested, to keep secret from the bishops this diabolical behavior of the "elder". Secrecy is a very convenient tool for the HOCNA leadership.
3. Almost all cults have sexual perversion as part of their lifestyle.
From all the victims who have spoken out, HOCNA's leaders are all, without doubt, implicated in Fr. Panteleimon's homosexual lifestyle. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of St. Cosmas of Aitolia, when he said, "The clergy will become the worst and the most impious of all." This has led many to conclude that HOCNA was established solely to protect Fr. Panteleimon from any future attempt at ecclesiastical prosecution. For he started his own church, and ordained his own disciples to protect him, as is happening to this very day. From the evidence of many witnesses, one also comes to the conclusion that his perverted passion has been hidden behind his black rassa for many years, and we do not know the number of victims who will ultimately come forward. One thing we do know is that any young man crossing the threshold of HTM is in danger of sexual molestation. The names of those who have fled HTM as a consequence of Fr. Panteleimon's perversion, are the following:
the priest Justin;
the deacons Barnabas
the monks Athanasios,
Elias (twin brother of their "bishop" Moses),
and the novices Elias
and now others.
Orthodoxy has never taught that its clergymen are sinless. What it does demand is that its priests must not be so sinful as to create a canonical impediment to being a priest. In other words, their sins must not be so great as to prevent them from worthily standing before the altar and offering up incense or the oblation. To serve in a state of guilt for an immoral canonical infraction, is to serve unto one's condemnation every time one stands before the altar. If you destroy one innocent soul, you destroy the temple of God. With such disregard for innocent souls, is it no wonder that HTM can be so ruthless against the Church?
If indeed Fr. Panteleimon is practicing homosexuality, if his real life is his secret life, then one must conclude that all the accusations against him by the six witnesses in 1986 and all those that came afterwards are true.
If the accusations are true, then your departure from ROCA was a schismatic act, and your depositions are valid. Bring to mind all the terrible "accidents" that have caused death and misery to innocent people since your departure from the Russian Church Abroad. Does this not cause some doubt in you?
If all the above is true, HOCNA is NOT the Church; HOCNA is not even part of the Church! Why would you gamble away your souls like Fr. Isaac, who said that "if Fr. Panteleimon goes to hell, I want to be there with him"? God spare us from such foolishness! Do not share the guilt of the man, by your support and loyalty which permits him to continue his evil "eldership"; or rather, seductive ways.
Call to Repentance and to Join the True Church
Saint Peter preached to the Jews, saying, "Be saved from this crooked generation". And to those who crucified Christ, he said, "Brethren, I know that in ignorance ye did it [Acts 3]." To all the clergy, (even Fr. Panteleimon) and lay people of HOCNA, I also make this plea. Repent from your wicked ways. Join the true Orthodox Church of Russia, (ROAC).The ROCOR has fulfilled its mission by returning the legitimate canonical episcopal succession to the land of Russia right before its falling away from Orthodoxy.
So, by the mercy of God, you do have an opportunity to be under true bishops, "Workmen that have no cause for shame, cutting in a straight line the word of truth [2 Tim. 2:15]" if you wish to join. You must understand that the clergy would have to submit to the decision of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church regarding their priesthood. Lay people, of course, would probably have to renounce HOCNA, and pledge loyalty to the ROAC. Like the holy Prophet Jeremias, I have "set before you the way of life, and the way of death [Jer. 21:8]." The choice is yours. There is nothing more I can do. I pray for your salvation.
With love in Christ, Who accepts those who repent,
Bishop Gregory of Denver and Colorado
Buena Vista, CO, 81211
January 25/February 7, 2000
Saint Gregory the Theologian
Revised February 1/14, 2000
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