Concerning Elder Ephraim’s Monasteries In America (Ken McRae, 2005)

NOTE: The following is a segment from an Orthodox Christian debate about Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries. There are links at the end of the article for all the articles referenced.

Map of Geronda Ephraim's monasteries in America (minus the secret ones).
Map of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries in America (minus the secret ones).

Hello to All ~

Thanks for the links. Sorry, but I haven’t had a chance to check them out as yet, though I intend to. In the mean time, I’ve cut and pasted the passages from the links I originally posted that gave me pause to question what’s going on with Elder Ephraim. For the record, though, I regard or esteem him eminently worthy of double honour for his monastic labours. Sixteen monasteries in the North American wasteland is nothing short of miraculous, IMO.

However, I cannot deny that I’m deeply troubled by the number of hierarchs that obviously have a problem with him and his monasteries. Are these hierarchs working for the Adversary? They certainly seem to think Elder Ephraim might be!! What has the Elder done to offend so many Orthodox hierarchs, who clearly think he’s a great deceiver and manipulator?

From the May  2008 SCOBA Meeting.
From the May 2008 SCOBA Meeting.

The accusations made below, and I’m sure you’ll agree, are clearly of the most serious kind, and it troubles me deeply to see hierarchs utter them daringly or fearlessly! I will have to check all the links that have been posted to keep up-to-date on this matter. I am particularly interested to hear how Elder Ephraim’s spiritual father has addressed the matter. Does anyone know who that is and if he’s ever spoken out, at any time, in Elder Ephraim’s defense?

I must confess, though, that I am deeply biased toward Elder Ephraim. My first inclination is to discredit his enemies, and think them to suffer from strong delusions themselves. Nevertheless, I will reserve such judgment(s) for now, ’til I have time to look into the matter more fully. God grant us all spiritual discerment, in Christ!!

Icon given to monks & nuns for their cells. In some monasteries, monastics have a blessing to prostrate before it and pray to Geronda Ephraim for help during difficult warfares.
Icon given to monks & nuns for their cells. In some monasteries, monastics have a blessing to prostrate before it and pray to Geronda Ephraim for help during difficult warfares.

Excerpts from the Links In the Original Post:-

01 – “There is a wide spectrum of feelings about Ephraim, among both clergy and laity. On the extremes, some view him as God’s gift to Orthodox spirituality in America, while others see him as a cult leader who should return to Mt. Athos.” from The Ephraim Question

02 – “At its annual meeing in the year 2000, the Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL), heard a speaker on “Cult Mentality: A Threat to Individual Responsibility in the Church”. The speaker was Greta Larson, a co-founder of the web-site, “Protection of the Theotokos – A Site for Victims of Abuse in the Orthodox Church.” The site address is “pokrov. org”, and it contains other articles on cults. In her speech, Ms. Larson also referred to an article by Metropolitan Isaiah which warned about the dangers of blind obedience.” from Yes, Investigate the Monasteries

03 – “In 1998, Metropolitan Isaiah of the Denver diocese issued a protocol to his priests titled: “The Lord Does Not Want Slaves in His Kingdom”. He wrote in part:

Metropolitan Isaiah, Geronda Ephraim & Hieromonk Nektarios Arvanitakis
Metropolitan Isaiah, Geronda Ephraim & Hieromonk Nektarios Arvanitakis

“This spirit of blind obedience with the deadening of the free will is unfortunately being practiced among some of our people and even by some of our clergy. They will not do anything without first receiving a ‘blessing’ from their ‘spiritual father’. And if they have been convinced that the spiritual father is a walking saint, they will eat his unfinished food after the common meal and even consume other things which may have touched the spiritual father in some particular way. This is nothing more than idolatry. It puts God aside and constitutes the worship of His creature.”

He went on to say that: “It may be that some of our people, by following the monastic rule in the outside world, feel convinced that they are becoming more spiritual. However, they are sadly mistaken: for the monastic, as a novice, is willingly obedient in order to determine if he wishes to live the life of a monastic. Once he is accepted as a monk, he must resume the use of his free will in conforming to the way of life which he has chosen. The laity, on the other hand, cannot use the monastery or the spiritual elder as one uses a horoscope, not functioning unless they receive permission.”

He concluded with: “If there are members of the Diocese who have fallen into the error of negating their free will and being totally dependent on what their spiritual mentor instructs them to do, let them know that God does not want slaves in His Kingdom, but obedient children who constantly exercise their free will as sons and daughters of our Father in heaven.” from The Ephraim Question

04 – “When the new Metropolitan (Bishop) of the New Jersey diocese took office this spring, it was reported reliably that at his first meeting with the clergy, he announced that Ephraim and his followers were not welcome in the diocese and that the faithful should go to their own priests for confession. This diocese includes some 50 churches in five states. There has been no further confirmation or a denial of the Metropolitan’s statement. In the absence of any denials, one can assume there is some validity to the reports about the Synod’s concern and about the Metropolitan’s directive.

L-R: Bps. Vikentios and Evangelos of New Jersey.
L-R: Bps. Vikentios and Evangelos of New Jersey.

There was also the warning earlier this year from another bishop, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston. He was quoted by the Herald as saying: “Neither is there a place in Orthodoxy for radical fundamentalism, religious fanaticism or cult leaders disguised as Orthodox sages.” “Was he talking about the Ephraim situation? If not, who was he referring to?

Are these accidental words: fundamentalist and cult? Did the bishops wake up one fine day and decide to use them?” from The Ephraim Question

Bishop Methodios of Boston Liturgizing on Mt. Athos (2011)
Bishop Methodios of Boston Liturgizing on Mt. Athos (2011)

05 – “In the Greek-American paper, The National Herald, English Edition of April 5-6, 2003, it was reported that the Eparchial Synod of America, recently discussed “…the monasteries established all over the U.S. by the former abbot from Mt. Athos, Fr. Efraim. It has been said that some sort of fundamentalist movement with a cult philosophy has been advocated by the followers of Efraim, and is having an impact among the clergy and theology students at Holy Cross School of Theology.” from Yes, Investigate the Monasteries

[Note: Hellenic College Holy Cross sponsors regular pilgrimages to St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery in Roscoe, NY]

06 – “One of the complaints voiced by some clergy and laity is that the Ephraimite confessors have focused on sexual matters. A member of a group visiting an Ephraimite monastery reported that the monk-confessor had a lengthy list of questions, most of them of a sexual nature, and gave severe penances even to married couples, with the penances being longer for the wives. In the evening, the men and women were separated to hear different speakers. The one who addressed the women berated them about being sinful, as women, and that their only virtue was in bearing children. If true, is this an example of the “fundamentalism” that has been referred to? In view of what has been learned these past two years about the clergy abuse problem , particularly in the Catholic church, the monks’ pre-occupation with sexual matters could indeed be seen as a form of sexual misconduct.” from The Ephraim Question

[Note: The sexual sins contained in the 38 Canons of St. John the Faster are the questions asked in confession:

07 – “I understand that Father Ephraim insists that a married couple must abstain from Holy Communion for a forty-day “purification” period after they have had sexual relations.” by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, from Troubling Teachings

Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, censing an icon of Fr. Seraphim (Rose)
Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, censing an icon of Fr. Seraphim (Rose)

08 – “Sadly, in our day, perhaps more in North America than in Greece, but even in Greece, there has developed a new guru cult concept of “gerontes.” Alas, this cultish idea is actually cultivated by many self-styled and even acknowledged “elders.” Gerontes or elders, many of them self-appointed and self advertised, others acknowledged by monastic establishments, have begun to act and be looked upon like the Hindu gurus, and this may be linked in part to the all-encompassing New Age Movement. In English, we call this a “cult.” It means that people have begun to have a “proskynisis” [worship] for the “geronta,” that comes parlously close to idolatry, but often even passes over the border into real idolatry. This is a great danger for us in our time. One frequently encounters people who say with complete conviction, “my salvation depends on Father so and so, my geronta.” Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, from The Problem of Guru Cultism

09 – “Concerns about Efraim have been expressed for several years now. It is about time that there was an investigation. Because monasteries don’t have “parish councils” doesn’t mean that lay people should be kept in the dark about them, here in America or elsewhere. Some of the concerns about Efraim and his monasteries have to do with funding, with personality cults and with blind obedience and mind-control.” from Yes, Investigate the Monasteries

St. Kosmas Monastery in Canada is the only Ephraim monastery with a "parish council," collection plate, etc.
St. Kosmas Monastery in Canada is the only Ephraim monastery with a “parish council,” collection plate, etc.

10 – “Fr. Ephraim who came to America under nefarious circumstances in the early 90’s first joined the Russian synod in exile after receiving a “directive” from God as he proclaimed at the time. However, when he was threatened by the Ecumenical Patriarchate that he would be defrocked, he received another “directive” from God and abandoned the Russians.” from Diocesan Clergy Refuse to Support the Archbishop

11 – “One should be reminded that in the past Fr. Ephraim has troubled the Greek Orthodox Church of America including the Ecumenical Patriarchate by the formation of religious organizations with his devotion to the Russian monks of the diaspora, according to the information he received as he claims from God. Later, he left the Russians and placed himself under the Greek Orthodox American Archdiocese. Nikos Pantanizopoulos, according to the interview with his father John, met Fr. Ephraim through their parish priest in Knoxville, Tennessee, a Fr. Carellas, who presently is in a convent in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania. When Niko’s parents advised him to enter the Holy Cross Theological Seminary and then to decide if he wants to become a priest, he answered them, “Fr. Carellas and Fr. Ephraim told him that the Holy Cross is inhabited by the devil” and they [Carellas and Ephraim] advised him to go to the St. Tikon Theological Seminary [Russian], as stated by Mr. Pantanizopoulos.” from He Became Ill

"Fr. Carellas and Fr. Ephraim told him that the Holy Cross is inhabited by the devil" - John Pantanizopoulos
“Fr. Carellas and Fr. Ephraim told him that the Holy Cross is inhabited by the devil” – John Pantanizopoulos

12 – “The Clergy Brotherhoods of the Detroit and Chicago Dioceses refused to throw their support behind Archbishop Spyridon in his effort to fight off open defiance by the five Metropolitans of the Eparchial Synod of America, by a significant part of the clergy and wide segments of the laity.” And: “In private conversations some priests expressed fears about the climate of divisiveness among the clergy which is fostered by the Archdiocese. Just last weekend the Archbishop visited Detroit and had spoken against the Eparchial Synod of the Metropolitans in front of both the clergy as well as the lay Parish officers (see article, page 3).” And again: “Fr. Ephraim has significant influence in the administration of the Archdiocese. The current Chancellor, Fr. George Passias, happens to be one of the Ephraim’s most loyal followers. Ephraim is also admired by the new President of the Theological School, Archimandrite Damaskinos Ganas, who, according to sources, wants to invite Fr. Ephraim to hear confessions from students.” from Diocesan Clergy Refuse to Support the Archbishop

Fr. George Passias, happens to be one of the Ephraim's most loyal followers.
Fr. George Passias, happens to be one of the Ephraim’s most loyal followers.

13 – “Monks from the “army” of the mysterious Fr. Ephraim, the spiritual father of Fr. George Passias, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, are participating in the pro-Spyridon campaign.” from Church Life In America Is Being Trivialized

14 – ” … all the rules that were stated about monks not interfering with the ministries of our parish have been broken in our parish.” from Monasticism vs. the Parish

15 – “A message that appeared on the Internet in 1999 may provide a clue or two. It was apparently from an Orthodox priest in Arizona, and said, in part:

“My situation has progressed with the mission group here and there is new pressure on me to be in a more ‘regular’ situation. Let me explain. There are about a dozen convert families here who float between all the ‘ethnic’ churches because they are zealous for traditional spirituality and get impatient with either the closed minded ethnic dominance or a ‘modernized’ and enemic version of Orthodoxy. So these people spend a lot of time at Fr. Ephraim’s monastery in Florence and take seriously the advice of their spiritual fathers there. They have committed themselves to starting a new mission parish that is traditional, not dominated by one ‘ethnic’ flavor, doesn’t have the old world parish politics, has services every day, does outreach to young people, helps bring new converts deeper into the church, etc., etc. They are withdrawing from the Greek, Antiochian, OCA and ROCOR churches to begin this new mission, and are doing it under the guidance of the monks at the monastery.” from The Ephraim Question

SOURCE

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Articles Referenced:

The Ephraim Question

Yes, Investigate the Monasteries

Two Troubling Teachings Reported

The Problem of Guru Occultism

Diocesan Clergy Refuse to Support the Archbishop

He Became Ill

Church Life in America is being Trivialized

Monasticism vs. the Parish

Fr. Panteleimon Metropoulos’ (MA) Relationship with Elder Joseph the Hesychast and his Disciples:

NOTE: Although Fr. Panteleimon Metropoulos is not a part of Geronda Ephraim’s family here in America, there are many overlaps between the two lineages. Fr. Panteleimon claimed that he was a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast: “Fr. Panteleimon was the last and youngest disciple of the Blessed Elder Joseph the Cave Dweller and it was with Fr. Joseph’s blessings that Fr. Panteleimon undertook the establishment of a monastic community in the United States.” Also, several of the letters published in Monastic Wisdom were written to him, as were all the letters that were published in Geronda Arsenios’ biography. 

Fr. Panteleimon Metropoulos.
Fr. Panteleimon Metropoulos.

Brief chronology of Fr. Panteleimon’s relationship with Elder Joseph the Hesychast and his disciples

• 1956: When Fr. Panteleimon was 21-years-old, he met Elder Joseph in 1956 and the newly tonsured rassaphore monk stayed with the Elder for 2 weeks at New Skete. From that point on, Fr. Panteleimon started calling himself a disciple of Elder Joseph (before visiting the Elder, he was a disciple of the abbot of St. Panteleimon’s Monastery, Mt Athos, where he was tonsured). It is uncertain if the fathers at New Skete knew that Fr. Panteleimon was under the authority of the abbot of St. Panteleimon’s Monastery and thus technically stealing a monk. The fathers say that Elder Joseph encouraged Fr. Panteleimon to leave the Holy Mountain.

Fr. Panteleimon visited him for about two weeks in 1956.
Fr. Panteleimon visited him for about two weeks in 1956.

• 1958: Fr. Panteleimon returned to the USA, a 22-year-old self-made “elder,” a new “disciple” of the Elder Joseph, and with the title of a monk and a new name “Fr. Panteleimon.” It is also believed Bishop Athenagoras Kokkinakis, dean of Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, MA, ordained him to the diaconate.

Bishop Athenagoras Kokkinakis is believed to have ordained Fr. Panteleimon a deacon.
Bishop Athenagoras Kokkinakis is believed to have ordained Fr. Panteleimon a deacon.

• 1958: During this period Fr. Panteleimon received a letter from the Elder Joseph. The Elder Joseph exhorted him in this letter to pursue the virtue of purity. He talks about purity more than once and tries also to encourage the young man to love God first in his life. Only 3 of Elder Joseph’s monks started monasteries (Frs. Haralambos, Ephraim, and Joseph the Younger); these three monks lived with Elder Joseph for many years and were under blind obedience to him. What makes Fr. Panteleimon somewhat unique is the fact that he started a monastery, but was only a disciple of Fr. Joseph via having visited for two weeks, not as the others who lived with him for many years. Fr. Panteleimon states that Elder Joseph gave him a blessing to start a monastery.

Fr. Panteleimon Metropoulos called himself an elder in his early 20's.
Fr. Panteleimon Metropoulos called himself an elder in his early 20’s.

• 1959: Fr. Panteleimon wrote a letter to Elder Joseph informing him on his intention to return. Elder Joseph replied in April and told him not to come to Mount Athos. The Elder Joseph reposed on the feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary on August 28/15, 1959.

 The millionaire Pateras family from Athens was a benefactor to the fathers of New Skete.
The millionaire Pateras family from Athens was a benefactor to the fathers of New Skete.

• 1961: Fr. Panteleimon visits the Holy Mountain, and since the Pateras family from Athens was a benefactor to the fathers of New Skete, Fr. Panteleimon was directed by those fathers to extend their gratefulness to this family, and thus he became associated with them. (Note this is the same family that would later be involved in the Christine H. Coryell scandal.)

Holy Transfiguration Monastery/Brookline
Holy Transfiguration Monastery/Brookline

• 1962: Richard Stockton of Harvard University and former professor of Holy Cross Seminary was convinced by Panteleimon to purchase a house in Jamaica Plain, MA. The house became Holy Transfiguration Monastery. The young monk, Panteleimon, in his 20s, calling himself an Elder, found that people had difficulties being obedient to him who had never spent even one year under obedience himself.

In 1963, Fr. Panteleimon was tonsured a great-schema monk at New Skete by Elder Arsenios, the co-struggler of Elder Joseph the Hesychast.
In 1963, Fr. Panteleimon was tonsured a great-schema monk at New Skete by Elder Arsenios, the co-struggler of Elder Joseph the Hesychast.

• 1963: During a visit to the Holy Mountain, Fr. Panteleimon was tonsured a great-schema monk at New Skete by Elder Arsenios, the co-struggler of the Elder Joseph. The Church however, ordains that a man should remain a novice for three years of testing before he is tonsured into the Great Schema. The Fathers on the Holy Mountain made use of economia in this case since they tonsured someone they really did not know, except for the fact that he was a disciple of the Elder Joseph by correspondence.

Elder Arsenios and the Fathers of New Skete. John Adondakis (Fr. Isaac of Brookline, MA) is on bottom right.
Elder Arsenios and the Fathers of New Skete. John Adondakis (Fr. Isaac of Brookline, MA) is on bottom right.

• 1964: Around this time, the young 29-year-old monk was ordained a priest. It is said that the millionaire abbess, Mother Maria Pateras, paid Metropolitan Vasilios of the Jerusalem Patriarchate—one one of the many bishops of the Jerusalem Patriarchate who lived with a concubine—to ordain Fr. Panteleimon a priest.

Mother Maria Pateras paid Metropolitan Vasilios of the Jerusalem Patriarchate to ordain Deacon Panteleimon a priest.
Mother Maria Pateras paid Metropolitan Vasilios of the Jerusalem Patriarchate to ordain Deacon Panteleimon a priest.

• 1965: Up until 1965, Holy Transfiguration Monastery was under the Greek Archdiocese. It would most likely have stayed that way for years to come had not the fathers of the Holy Mountain strongly recommended that the monastery be taken to the Russian Church Abroad, under the confessing bishops of that Church. The young “elder” did not have the spiritual discernment to make this move on his own. It was only when they, the monks of New Skete and St. Paul’s Monastery told him that if he did not leave the Greek Archdiocese, they would sever whatever connection they had with him.

• 1967: Fr. Panteleimon was caught and arrested for smuggling while attempting to return from a visit to Greece. He was incarcerated and the abbess, Maria Pateras, used her influence to have him transferred to her home under house arrest. Shortly afterwards, he obtained his passport and Abbess Maria immediately bought him a ticket for the next plane to Boston.

The Russian Convent in Lesna, France, where Father Panteliemon was caught attempting to steal a portion of their relics.
The Russian Convent in Lesna, France, where Father Panteliemon was caught attempting to steal a portion of their relics.

• It should be noted that almost all the relics that are at Holy Transfiguration Monastery have been smuggled out of Greece. These relics and reliquaries came from the Holy Mountain and more specifically from the monastery of St. Panteleimon. The Russian monks there at that time, when they understood that Fr. Panteleimon was in the Russian Church Abroad, gave him many relics to smuggle from the Holy Mountain and smuggle out of Greece to America.

Geronda Ephraim calls Fr. Panteleimon Metropoulos a spiritual brother in a homily.
Geronda Ephraim calls Fr. Panteleimon Metropoulos a spiritual brother in a homily.

Geronda Ephraim mentions in a cassette homily On the Old and New Calendar that he had visited Fr. Panteleimon Metropoulos in Boston and talked with him:

“…And I, with Fr. Panteleimon, who is in Boston, America. Namely, Fr. Aresenios, the little old man that we have today, as you know, is the next after Elder Joseph, he took as a great schema, and I read as the chaplain in the skete where we were. Fr. Panteleimon removes the ordination of deacon by Athengoras of Thyatira. You know, the one who left history as a non-Orthodox in London—he was the first bishop in Boston and afterwards became bishop of Thyatira, England. Then, Fr. Panteleimon came as a deacon and we co-liturgized below. In the meantime, Fr. Panteleimon was with the New Calendarist Thyatira when he was in Boston, with the church of Iakovos. Then he became a priest in Jerusalem, by the Jerusalem Church, which is perfectly understood to be with the entire Church and is not with the Old Calendarists. He received the ordination from there, too right from both sides. But now he believes that there is no salvation nor…well, to us it is clear I believe it.

When I asked him then, “Father, are you with the Old Calendarists?”

He told me, “No. I’m neither with the Old Calendarists or the New Calendarists.”

Anyway, he has his own firm line and he says that there is no salvation except on his onw side, and he doesn’t commune or confess to people of the New Calendar. Of course, this happened in front of me and no one can tell me that I am wrong. When I went to Boston and went to his monastery, these things happened in front of me and I know them. Certainly, we are spiritual brothers and we have love, etc., but we utterly disagree in these respects. My own geronda told him, amongst other things, that, just as you believe him to be a saint and you have his holy relics and you do miracles with the relic of Geronda, so our Geronda died in the Church, we are ordained by the Bishop, who was in the Church and even then when we were ordained, we commemorated the Ecumenical Patriarch—who was Athengoras then—and Geronda was sanctified in the Church. Now how can we say that this Church, which sanctified Geronda, is heretical? It is terrible! …Better with the error of the calendar in the Church than to become a super-Orthodox and be found outside of the Church by dogmatizing that the mysteries are invalid and men are not saved…”

The Similarities Between Ephraim and Panteleimon in Regards to Founding Monasteries in America

Geronda Ephraim calls Fr. Panteleimon  Metropoulos  a spiritual brother in a homily.
Geronda Ephraim calls Fr. Panteleimon Metropoulos a spiritual brother in a homily.

There are some interesting similarities in the founding of Greek monasteries in America:

1 – Ephraim and Panteleimon were both given blessings by Elder Joseph the Hesychast to open monasteries in America.

Some of Elder Ephraim’s followers dispute Panteleimon’s claim and they insist that Elder Joseph told him not to open a monastery in America.

There are a couple different accounts of Elder Ephraim’s blessing. One states that Elder Joseph gave him a blessing before he died to open as many monasteries as he wanted. Another states that it was an obedience received through the Elder Joseph’s skull. Elder Ephraim has stated on more than one occasion that his Elder, Joseph, would speak to him through his skull during his late night vigils at Philotheou Monastery.

2 – Ephraim and Panteleimon Both Leave the GOA for ROCOR a Few Years After Establishing Their First Monastery in America

In 1965, almost 3 years after Fr. Panteleimon started his monastery in Massachusetts (1962), they left the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese–accusing it of ecumenism and modernism–and joined Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (1965).

In 1991, almost 3 years after Geronda Ephraim started a monastery in Saxonburg, PA (1989), he left the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese [and Ecumenical Patriarchate] and joined ROCOR (1991); though he returned to the EP/GOA less than a year later. Elder Ephraim stated that in both instances–leaving and rejoining the EP–he was just doing obedience to the Virgin Mary who appeared to him and gave him these counsels.

3 – The “Remnant.” Panteleimon believed his church was the last true church in the world. Elder Ephraim teaches that his monasteries will become the “remnant” church and the only place to find genuine orthodoxy just before the end of the world.

Almost 20 years after joining ROCOR, Fr. Panteleimon broke communion with all churches and started his own exclusive church.

Almost 25 years after leaving ROCOR, there is serious talk among Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries of breaking communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the GOA.

4 – Both Ephraim and Panteleimon took relics from Mount Athos to place in their own altars and sometimes give to their most loyal disciples.

Fr. Panteleimon was caught stealing relics from a monastery in Europe that he would have brought back to display in his own monastery.

Geronda Ephraim successfully brought back Elder Joseph’s skull from Filotheou Monastery to his own cell at St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona. Generally, relics are forbidden to leave Mount Athos without the proper paper work and bureaucratic processes completed…and they’re usually only allowed to leave on loan. Many relics in American monasteries were once property of the Athonite monasteries Elder Ephraim took over during the 60s and 70s.

The monks of Mount Athos have recently released a 130 page document concerning Ecumenism.

SOURCES:

A Brief Biography of Fr. Panteleiomon Metropoluos. 

• Geronda Ephraim of Arizona, Concerning the Old and New Calendar:

Audio

Text

Arsenios Death to the world

Yes, Investigate the Monasteries (Paul Cromidas)

Orthodox News – Volume 5 Number 50/April 27, 2003

In the Greek-American paper, The National Herald, English Edition of April 5-6, 2003, it was reported that the Eparchial Synod of America, recently discussed “…the monasteries established all over the U.S. by the former abbot from Mt. Athos, Fr. Efraim. It has been said that some sort of fundamentalist movement with a cult philosophy has been advocated by the followers of Efraim, and is having an impact among the clergy and theology students at Holy Cross School of Theology.”

The Herald deserves thanks for at least reporting something about this matter, brief though it may be. I hope they follow up on this important story.

Concerns about Efraim have been expressed for several years now. It is about time that there was an investigation. Because monasteries don’t have “parish councils” doesn’t mean that lay people should be kept in the dark about them, here in America or elsewhere. Some of the concerns about Efraim and his monasteries have to do with funding, with personality cults and with blind obedience and mind-control. There are families in the Archdiocese who feel devastated because they have “lost” a child to one of these monasteries. That aspect alone needs to be looked into thoroughly.

The bishops are supposed to oversee the monasteries in their territories. We can infer from the Herald article that they are very much concerned about Efraim and his administration. But, the Orthodox laity of this country also have a right to know what is going on in the monasteries. Any proper inquiry should include independent lay people, if it is to have credibility. We should not simply be told that the bishops will handle this and we shouldn’t worry our little heads about it.

At its annual meeting in the year 2000, the Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL), heard a speaker on “Cult Mentality: A Threat to Individual Responsibility in the Church”. The speaker was Greta Larson, a co-founder of the web-site, “Protection of the Theotokos – A Site for Victims of Abuse in the Orthodox Church.” The site address is “pokrov. org“, and it contains other articles on cults. In her speech, Ms. Larson also referred to an article by Metropolitan Isaiah which warned about the dangers of blind obedience.

Because it is difficult to know what is going on in monasteries, the press and the hierarchs have a special obligation to keep the faithful informed. It is to be hoped that they will live up to this duty.

https://web.archive.org/web/20100106032611/http://rickross.com/reference/ephraim/ephraim12.html

Geronda Ephraim in his younger years.
Geronda Ephraim in his younger years.