(Clockwise from left) Archbishop Kyrill (Dmitrieff), Archpriest Mark Hodges, Archpriest John Peck
On January 10, 2021, Orthodoxy in Dialogue published Open Letter: OCA Priest Participates in Trump Riot, Reported to FBI, bringing Father Mark Hodges’ presence at the January 6 riot to the attention of Archbishop Paul (Gassios) of thrice-blessed memory of the OCA Diocese of the Midwest. The letter unleashed a storm of articles worldwide on news sources great and small, and resulted in Hodges’ temporary suspension from the priesthood. As we subsequently reported here, his suspension was lifted four months later after he issued an ‘apology’ — “in which it is clear,” we noted, “he feels he did nothing wrong in supporting, and continuing to support, the conspiracy theory of a stolen election that wreaks ongoing havoc on American national life and domestic security.”
A year after the Trump riot, as we reported in ROCOR Picks Only the Best of March 12, 2022, the OCA released Hodges to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. We commented at the time,
It seems hardly surprising that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, whose locum tenens has gone on public record in favour of the slaughter of the Ukrainian people—including women giving birth—and the destruction of their cities, should provide a welcoming home to the OCA priest who gained instant global notoriety for his presence at the deadly January 6, 2021 pro-Trump riot.
On June 3, 2022, in a public Facebook post (a ‘public’ post has all privacy settings removed so as to be seen by anyone, friends and non-friends alike, who visits a Facebook user’s timeline), Hodges announced his new parish assignment while continuing to justify his presence—in the garb of an Orthodox priest—at the verbally violent, inciteful Trump rally that quickly escalated with complete predictability into a deadly riot:
Last year, my +Archbishop Paul, of blessed memory, after lifting my suspension for going to DC on January 6th over election integrity (and admitting that I did nothing worthy of discipline), told me explicitly that he wanted me find another bishop to go under. He directed me to look for another hierarch to take me in, and he composed and sent to me unsolicited a generic letter to that effect addressed to any other hierarch.
It was deeply sad to me, but I did start contacting other hierarchs. A small handful expressed some interest, but only one hierarch took me in: Archbishop KYRILL of San Francisco.
The OCA delayed for many months, but I am now a ROCOR archpriest, under the omiphorion [sic] of Archbishop KYRILL (a wonderful man). He has directed me to assist Fr John Peck’s many missionizing efforts in Arizona –specifically to go help Saint Brendan the Voyager Orthodox Mission in Bullhead City, Arizona.
St Brendan is a wonderful, dedicated group of Orthodox Christians. I have gone out to Arizona twice, and I met & served at St Brendan’s one of those times. It’s a long story, but I wound up giving Fr John a six-month commitment of going out there and giving it all I’ve got to help St Brendan’s move forward.
I’ll be going on my own. My whole family, all children and grandchildren, will remain in Lima. Having now partially recovered from neck surgery, I am about to leave, on Tuesday, the move out to Arizona. Please pray for me the bear fruit for the kingdom in Bullhead City!
Three points stand out:
1). Hodges continues to perpetrate the fantasy for his credulous fans that Archbishop Paul admittedly suspended him without cause. This constitutes a serious breach of a hierarch’s canonical duties. Yet the same Archbishop, upon lifting Hodges’ suspension, instructed him to get out, and provided him with an unsolicited canonical release into the ether.
2). As has been amply observed and documented of late, ROCOR attracts , accepts, and already boasts within its ranks laity, clergy, and hierarchy who hold the most extreme and frankly violent political positions—regardless of their glaring incompatibility with the Gospel and with Orthodox theology and spirituality—ranging from justification of the January 6 Trump rally to endorsement of the murderous, patriarchally-blessed Russian slaughter of Ukraine in oceans of blood. (See, for instance, the blurb for Sarah Riccardi-Swartz’s newly released Between Heaven and Russia.) The acceptance and parish assignment of Hodges by ROCOR stand out as just more business as usual.
3). Hodges seems to be a match made in heaven for Father John Peck. Peck’s The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow website promotes Rod Dreher, patriarchy, anti-vaxxism, other conspiracy theories, and the hitherto unheard of Great Martyr Euphemia Orthodox Theological ‘Academy.’
The Peck-Hodges marriage signals a desolate future for Orthodoxy in Arizona.