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NSkovran: "You can judge a man by the company he keeps"

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  • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
      There s an old saying…. You can judge a man by the company he keeps . Of course, when you do this, you open yourself up to the charge that you are using
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2012
      There's an old saying…."You can judge a man by the company he keeps".
      course, when you do this, you open yourself up to the charge that you are
      the…"guilt by association" thing. Nevertheless, this article will
      attempt to
      show the numerous misfits whose lives have interfaced in some way
      with Gordon
      Eliel, a.k.a. Fr. Gerasim.

      In his biographical sketch
      (BS), Fr.Gerasim names three people who were
      especially important in his
      early spiritual development, i.e. James Paffhausen,
      Bishop Mark Shavikin, and
      Fr. John Newcombe. We'll take Paffhausen first
      because he's the easiest and
      he's not a misfit.

      JAMES PAFFHAUSEN: At the time of the first meeting of
      Eliel and Paffhausen,
      Paffhausen was a 19 year old (almost 20) student who
      had been Orthodox about a
      year. Paffhausen had no formal theological training
      up to that point but later
      would attend St.Vladimir's seminary and, of
      course, is now Metropolitan Jonah.

      BISHOP MARK SHAVIKIN: As Igumen Mark
      he served at the St.Nicholas Cathedral
      (Moscow Patriarchate) in San Francisco
      from 1959 to 1983. He was elevated to
      bishop in 1963. Retired Bishop Tikhon
      Fitzgerald recently posted on the
      Monomakhos website that Bishop Mark died in
      San Francisco of third stage
      syphilis. Now, I can't vouch for the accuracy of
      anything that BT says. My own
      experience with this gossipmonger is that he
      obviously has been very busy during
      his adulthood compiling and storing for
      future use all kinds of salacious
      stories about people in the Orthodox world.
      Some of disclosures are undoubtedly
      true but other stuff, particularly his
      strong and unwavering admiration for the
      deposed priest Rodion Kondratick and
      the retired bishop of Alaska is really
      off-the-wall and not believed by many
      people. In short, I don't know how true
      this latest gem is.

      Newcomb, a.k.a. Newcombe, a.k.a. Fr. Anastassy, was a former Roman
      seminarian who allegedly never completely lost his admiration for
      Roman Catholic saints etc. He converted to Orthodoxy and according
      Gerasim's BS, he spent time at Mt. Athos and the Holy Transfiguration
      (HTM) at Brooline, MA which for a time was under ROCOR. The BS does
      not say
      when he was at these monasteries but the mention of the HTM raises a
      red flag.
      Prior to ever hearing about Gerasim, I was aware of a particularly
      ugly scandal
      at the Brookline monastery which involved a large number of
      sexual perversion
      accusations by residents of the monastery against the Abbot
      Panteleimon and
      other monks and clergy going back to the mid 1970's.
      very public scandal resulted in the abbot being deposed and the
      monastery leaving ROCOR and forming an entirely new and non-canonical
      jurisdiction called… Holy Orthodox Church in America (HOCNA).

      Gerasim's BS does not say when Newcombe was at HTM, he could very well
      been engulfed in this scandal in one way or another. Remember that
      first surfaced in California in 1979, so he may well have been at
      HTM within the
      turbulent years of the scandal. After briefly researching
      HOCNA, one of the
      first articles I read included an interesting item. In a
      report taken from the
      notes of R.M. made during a conversation with
      Fr.Spyridon Schneider on April 22,
      1997, it was said….

      Spiridon said that he found that his own prayers, including the prayers
      Confession and Exorism, became just empty words that had no effect on
      In one case, a man battling with depression had always been helped by
      exorcisms, but his no longer was the case. Nothing spiritual worked

      The reference to the use of exorcisms was noted and this will
      be discussed a
      little later.
      Fr.Gerasim appears to have left out some
      important facts about Fr.John
      Newcombe. Another source described Fr.Newcombe
      in this way…

      "Newcombe was a total control and monastic cult freak that
      sought complete
      dominance over people he met. Pony tail, dirty cassock,

      The source also said that "Fr. John used to play tapes of actual
      conducted by
      him". He said that when Fr.John wouldn't stop this
      bizarre practice, he was
      from the Saratoga parish. The website of
      the St.Nicholas (OCA) parish in
      Saratoga, CA
      says that Fr.Newcombe was
      newly ordained into the Orthodox church when he
      arrived at
      Saratoga. He
      stayed at Saratoga from October 1979 to June 1980 (eight
      Gerasim did not include anything about the HOCNA scandal
      and whether Fr.Newcombe
      was involved in any way or anything about Newcombe's
      fascination with demons and
      exorcisms, may we assume that it may explain why
      Eliel found the Southern
      California Orthodox services to be "dull". Perhaps
      he was looking for the
      excitement of
      demons and exorcisms.

      descripiton of Fr.Newcombe is found in a blog by Arturo Vasquez, a
      Fr. John. Mr. Vasquez, a former Roman Catholic seminarian and a failed
      said in
      an article on January 20, 2007 that after Newcombe's
      experience at Mt.Athos and
      interactions (whatever they were) with Fr.
      Georges Florovsky and Fr.Seraphim
      after all this…."Catholicism was
      still in him". It's funny that the most
      Orthodox person I
      ever met turned
      out to be the most Catholic as well." Vasquez said that
      Newcombe's monastic living space where in addition to the usual
      Orthodox icons,
      Newcombe also had pictures of various Roman Catholic saints
      as well as a statute
      of the
      Immaculate Conception as well as a carving of
      St. Therese of Liseiux. Vasquez
      also said
      Newcombe used the Catechism of
      The Council of Trent in teaching his catechumens.

      Neither the definite
      pro-Catholic leanings of Newcombe or the obsession with
      exorcism is found in Gerasim's BS even though Newcombe was
      worshipping in Catholic churches (according to Vasquez) and
      conducting his
      actions re demons and exorcisms at the time he was
      mentoring Gerasim.

      Thus, it appears that Gordon Eliel was catechized by a
      19 year old college
      student, who
      himself entered Orthodoxy the year before
      and an older, newly ordained convert
      who also
      had no formal Orthodox
      theological training and whose prior monastic experience
      at least

      Going forward, Eliel then joined the Platina monastery which was
      started by
      Rose, a.k.a. Fr.Seraphim and the abbot Gleb
      Podmoshensky, a.k.a. Fr.Herman.

      FR.SERAPHIM ROSE: There are many books
      and articles written about Fr. Seraphim
      which I have no desire to discuss
      here. I wish only to point to one thing about
      Eugene Rose that is not found
      in the several biographies of Fr.Seraphim that I
      did read. The Internet
      discloses a portion of a letter written by 22 year old
      Eugene Rose to his
      friend Lawrence McGilvery in June 1956 in which he says

      "Fact number one; my mother has discovered , rather
      illegitimately (I shall tell
      you of it later) that I am

      This apparently was before he converted to Orthodoxy. There
      is no evidence to
      suggest that Fr.Seraphim was an active homosexual after his
      conversion to

      GLEB PODMOSHENSKY, a.k.a. Fr.Herman. In order
      to do Podmoshensky justice, it
      would be necessary to write at least one
      book—and possibly more----.
      Fr.Ambrose, a.k.a. Alexey Young, says that
      before Fr.Seraphim died in 1982, he
      (Seraphim) and Fr.Herman had numerous
      arguments about various issues including
      Fr.Herman's plans to build a
      monastery on Spruce Island, Alaska. Fr.Seraphim was
      very much against it and
      as things worked out, Fr.Herman did just that after
      Fr.Seraphim died.
      Fr.Alexey also said that ROCOR had brought two moral charges
      Fr.Herman before Fr.Seraphim died and this upset Fr.Seraphim a great
      also. The ROCOR synod did not proceed with the moral charges but did
      Fr.Herman for disobedience in 1984. Fr.Herman ignored the suspension
      continued to serve as Abbot. There was another moral charge brought
      Fr.Herman about 18 months after the death of Fr.Seraphim which also
      did not
      result in any action by the ROCOR synod who eventually deposed
      Fr.Herman in

      Fr.Alexey says in a book review in

      "Although the St. Herman's Skete was a very important influence
      in my life, I
      found it impossible to support the transient whims and peculiar
      ecclesiology of
      the Skete's then Abbot, Fr.Herman (Podmoshensky) when after
      Fr.Seraphim's death,
      he entered into an almost paranoid combat with his
      ruling hierarch, Archbishop

      In this article, Fr.Alexey tells
      why the moral charges against Fr.Herman were
      not prosecuted. One of the young
      men bringing one of the charges left the
      monastery, became a Muslim and thus
      was disqualified to act as a witness
      according to the canons. The other two
      moral charges were dropped because they
      couldn't get the necessary two
      witnesses required by the canons. Obviously, if
      these charges were made today
      in a secular court where the canonical
      restrictions do not apply, Fr.Herman
      may not have been so lucky. It is noted
      that while Fr.Ambrose could not
      continue with Fr.Herman's "peculiar
      ecclesiology", this didn't bother Gordon
      Eliel who remained firmly in place in
      support of the schismatic

      Going forward again. In 1986, the suspended abbot Herman, Gordon
      Eliel and the
      rest of the Platina monastery joined the Archdiocese of
      Vasilopoulis, a non
      canonical jurisdiction not accepted as Orthodox by any
      other Orthodox church.
      They went under the omophorion of "Bishop" Benedict,
      a.k.a. Samuel Greene and
      Metropolitan Panagratios Vrionis.

      GREENE; Greene pleaded guilty in 2000 to indecency with a minor and
      sentenced to 10 months probation. In 2006 Greene told a probation officer
      he had sexual contact with boys over a 30 year period starting in the
      Greene also confirmed that the Blanco, TX monastery's miraculous
      weeping icon
      was a fake and that he had created it. He and four other monks
      were charged with
      child sexual assault and organized crime in July 2006.
      Greene committed suicide
      at the monastery on September 16, 2007 one day
      before he was due to be in court
      re the latest charges.

      VRIONIS; In 1969 Vrionis was charged with sodomy and corrupting the
      morals of
      two teenage boys, 14 years old. In May 1970, he pleaded guilty to two
      of sodomy and two counts of corrupting morals. In December 1970, he
      deposed by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese for disobedience. (Notice how
      these child molesters seems to be deposed for disobedience rather than
      the more
      serious charges of child molestation). On April 18, 2002, Vrionis
      was arrested
      in New York for fondling a 14 year old boy during Greek lessons.
      Finally, in
      the Spring of 2003, Vrionis pleaded guilty to three charges of
      child sex abuse.

      It should be noted that Abbot Herman placed the
      monastery and Gordon Eliel under
      Benedict and Pangratios in 1986. They
      remained under Pangratios until 1999 when
      the criminal records of Benedict
      and Pangratios were made public via the
      Internet wherein the monastery
      establishment, less Herman, but including
      Fr.Gerasim and the other members of
      the Christ the Savior Brotherhood began to
      scramble to find a home in
      canonical Orthodoxy. After being turned down by the
      Jerusalem Patriarchate
      and the Georgian Patriarchate, they finally found their
      home in the Serbian
      Orthodox church.
      The Gordon Eliel's long journey in schism was finally at an
      end but who knows
      whether the journey might still not be going on if the
      criminal records of
      Benedict and Pangratios had not been publicly disclosed.
      After his college
      friend, James Paffhausen unexpectedly became Metropolitan
      of the OCA in 2008,
      Eliel/Gerasim's fortune and future took a miraculous
      turn-a-round and he was
      invited to attend seminary in preparation to being
      named to the OCA episcopy.
      Apparently, his college friend and others assumed
      that the many years of schism
      would be overlooked. And, shamefully, thus far,
      it has been overlooked.

      Without making any charges of "guilt by
      association", Gordon Eliel certainly did
      interface with some pretty shady
      characters. Whether this interface affected
      Eliel's character is yet to be

      Nicholas Skovran, Sr
      July 3, 2012

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