ON JOSIAH TRENHAM: WHY THE DEAFENING SILENCE FROM METROPOLITAN JOSEPH?

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Metropolitan Joseph (Al-Zehlaoui) and Archpriest Josiah Trenham of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese

Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s publication earlier this week of An Open Letter to Metropolitan Joseph: Stop. Trenham. Now. by a clergyman of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese (AOCA) represents the culmination of several articles in which we have voiced our opposition to Father Josiah Trenham’s alarmingly harmful, misogynistic, homophobic, inhumane, anti-Orthodox, and sacrilegious “teaching,” “preaching,” “pastoring,” and even “liturgical practices.”

Our earlier articles, in chronological order, are as follows:

After Sexuality and Gender and Ukraine, our articles on Father Trenham’s pastoral malfeasance comprise our most popular topic: cumulatively—together with Sunday’s Open Letter—they have been read 20,000 times around the world. 

Following the advice of the clergy author of Sunday’s Open Letter that everyone should contact the Metropolitan, we sent the following letter to His Eminence this past Monday, January 13, with a cc to hierarchical assistant Father Nicholas Belcher, Father Josiah Trenham, and John Maddex and Bobby Maddex of Ancient Faith Ministries:

Your Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph:

Master, bless.

On behalf of girls, women, and LGBTQ children, teens, and adults in the Orthodox Church; those who come to our Church as seekers, inquirers, and potential catechumens; those who look to Orthodoxy from afar for spiritual guidance and inspiration; and Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s several tens of thousands of readers around the planet, I am writing to draw your attention to your own clergyman’s detailed exposé of Father Josiah Trenham’s many instances of misogyny and homophobia which we published yesterday evening. 

I can vouch for the author’s identity as an active member in good standing of the clergy of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. 

Already, in the middle of the night (I have very poor sleep habits), this Open Letter has been read several hundreds of times around the world. From experience, I know that those numbers will grow to the thousands before day’s end. Cumulatively, our articles on Father Trenham’s pastoral and theological malfeasance—while few in number compared to other subjects that we cover—constitute our readers’ second or third most popular topic.

My work as editor of Orthodoxy in Dialogue positions me to be almost daily on the receiving end of confidences, inquiries, and appeals for clarity and spiritual support from people around the world, both Orthodox and outside of our Church, many of whom have been deeply wounded by priests such as Father Trenham and the silence of our hierarchs. The brief stories that these latter have shared with me only confirm the more detailed narrative provided by the clergy author of our Open Letter.

Respectfully I encourage Your Eminence to order all of Father Trenham’s internet content taken down from wherever it appears—Ancient Faith, Patristic Nectar, YouTube, etc.—until it can be thoroughly evaluated for its appropriateness and its consistency with the Orthodox faith; to have Father Trenham issue a retraction and apology to be published by Orthodoxy in Dialogue and the AOCA website (as Father Warwick was ordered to do); and to communicate your awareness and handling of this troubling situation with our readers. Orthodoxy in Dialogue stands at the ready to publish whatever words of reassurance you submit to us.

Our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ, whose incarnation unto our deification we have just celebrated, was never profiled by a Hatewatch Staff, nor has His Church, Body, and Bride ever been designated a hate group.

The world is watching and placing its hope in your paternal care for us.

The unworthy servant of Christ,

Giacomo Sanfilippo, Editor
Orthodoxy in Dialogue

On the same day we sent the following short letter directly to Ancient Faith Ministries:

Dear John and Bobby,

I am writing pursuant to this open letter to request that Josiah Trenham’s content be completely removed from Ancient Faith until evaluated for appropriateness. 

I imagine that you’ll be hearing from a number of our readers about this.

I look forward to your kind reply.

In Christ,

Giacomo Sanfilippo, Editor
Orthodoxy in Dialogue  

When we had heard nothing by Wednesday, January 15, we wrote again. This time we added vicar general Father Thomas Zain, hierarchical assistant Father Paul Matar, Deacon John El Massih, and administrative assistant Mariline Abou Hamad to our cc list:

Your Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph:

Master, bless.

I was hoping to have received at least a preliminary response by now to my email of two days ago, if not from yourself, perhaps from Father Thomas Zain (whom, I admit, I inadvertently failed to cc).

I wonder if we might hear from your office by 5:00 p.m. Friday, January 17.

Please pray for me, as I do in my unworthiness for you.

Giacomo Sanfilippo

Early this morning we made one final attempt in a note to Father Thomas Zain:

Dear Father Thomas,

Christ is in our midst.

Unless we receive something to publish in its place, we have prepared a piece entitled “Deafening Silence from Metropolitan Joseph” that will go to press at 5:00 p.m. today. We had hoped to impress upon His Eminence that Father Trenham’s pastoral malfeasance is too much a matter of life and death for too many vulnerable people for it to be swept under the carpet or feet to be dragged.

In Christ,

Giacomo Sanfilippo

As of 5:00 p.m. today we have still heard nothing about our concerns. It strains the limits of credibility that Father Aaron Warwick should be swiftly forced to retract an article written to protect the very children, teens, women, and men against whom Father Josiah Trenham travels the world with impunity to incite hatred and violence. 

A highly placed source inside Englewood suggests to us that the Metropolitan’s silence is motivated by two things: first, not wanting to “cave” to Orthodoxy in Dialogue publicly (we think of it as “doing the right thing,” not “caving”); and second, fear of retaliatory, morally compromising revelations concerning His Eminence’s own private life, especially during his ecclesiastical career prior to coming to America but also during his tenure as Primate of the Antiochian Archdiocese. One begins to wonder if this will turn into a remake of old OCA movies from both sides of the US-Canada border.

If you wish to join your voice to ours, you may contact His Eminence at metjoseph@antiochian.org and other members of his staff whose names and email addresses are listed on the AOCA website’s contact page, and/or write an open letter to be published as an article at Orthodoxy in Dialogue, and/or write a shorter letter to be published on our Letters page. Ancient Faith Ministries can be contacted at jmaddex@ancientfaith.com and bmaddex@ancientfaith.com. 

It was mainly out of deference to Metropolitan Joseph that we made the editorial decision to publish Father Warwick’s retraction, which we were under no obligation to do. The content has been removed from said retraction and replaced with a link to this post, which will remain pinned to the top of our homepage—with the anonymous clergyman’s Open Letter pinned immediately following—until the Archdiocese reaches out to us to propose a satisfactory path forward. 

P.S. While the Archdiocese is at it, can they do something about Father Jacobse, too?

See the Sexuality and Gender and Fifty Years after Stonewall sections in our Archives 2017-19, and the Sexuality and Gender section and Warwick Files in our Archives 2020.
Orthodoxy in Dialogue seeks to promote the free exchange of ideas by offering a wide range of perspectives on an unlimited variety of topics. Our decision to publish implies neither our agreement nor disagreement with an author, in whole or in part.
Join the conversation on Facebook and/or Twitter, or in an article of your own or a letter to the editors.

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5 thoughts on “ON JOSIAH TRENHAM: WHY THE DEAFENING SILENCE FROM METROPOLITAN JOSEPH?

  1. Pingback: PASTORING LGBTQ INDIVIDUALS IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH: PUBLIC STATEMENT by Priest Aaron Warwick | ORTHODOXY IN DIALOGUE

  2. Pingback: THE JOY OF SAME-SEX LOVE: A RESPONSE TO FATHER AARON WARWICK (AND BRIDGING VOICES) by Giacomo Sanfilippo | ORTHODOXY IN DIALOGUE

  3. Pingback: IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: JANUARY | ORTHODOXY IN DIALOGUE

  4. Pingback: COMMENTS: A TEST | ORTHODOXY IN DIALOGUE

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