All-Orthodox ‘Pre-Conciliar Consultation’ Set for Chambesy in June

From Interfax:

Moscow, May 26 – The 4th all-Orthodox pre-conciliar consultation is to be held in the Constantinople Patriarchate Orthodox center in Chambésy on June 6-13, 2009.

“Participants will touch upon the topic of organizing Orthodox diaspora (Orthodox believers living out of borders of any local Orthodox church),” Acting Secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Priest Igor Yakimchuk has told Interfax-Religion on Tuesday.

He noted that several centuries had passed after the last seventh Ecumenical Council and “there are a lot of questions that need all-church solution for the sake of strengthening unity and avoiding schisms in one Orthodox Church.”

“To settle these questions it is planned to hold the Holy and Great Council of the Eastern Orthodox Church in foreseeable future,” the priest said.

It was decided to get ready for the Great Council by way of convening all-Orthodox pre-council consultations and inter-Orthodox preparatory commissions.

Three all-Orthodox pre-conciliar consultations (Chambésy 1976, 1982, 1986) and five inter-Orthodox preparatory commissions (Geneva, 1971, Chambésy 1986, 1990, 1993 and 1999) were held in the past.

Ten-year break in holding meetings and preparatory commissions was caused by complications in inter-Orthodox relations connected with disagreements between the Moscow and Constantinople Patriarchates on church structure in Estonia. The Istanbul meeting of primates and representatives of Orthodox Churches in October 2008 made it possible to resume inter-Orthodox cooperation for getting ready to the Council.

Next session of the inter-Orthodox preparatory commission is planned for December 2009.


  1. Odd, I didn’t get the invitation. LOL

  2. Michael Bauman :

    Participants will touch upon the topic of organizing Orthodox diaspora (Orthodox believers living out of borders of any local Orthodox church),”

    Look at that definition of diaspora. Is there no understanding of how utterly demeaning and nonsenscial such a definition is?

  3. Tamara Northway :


    Keep in mind the absurdity in their utterances is coming from a patriarchate that is living in a different space/time continuum. They have multiple members on their synod with empty bishoprics. Up is down and down is up.

  4. “Orthodox believers living out of borders of any local Orthodox church”

    Odd. Exactly what it is that I belong to again? I thought it was the Church – must just be some kind of farm team.

    As for “living out of Borders” that might be a novel way for Borders to increase their revenue since has been eating their lunch. (That or get a better translator.) Otherwise, I’d have to concur with Michael.

  5. Moderator,
    Didn’t know how else to express it, but – my thanks (for protecting me from myself) and apologies. (Feeling a bit snide this late.) Feel free to respond to my e-mail address if you feel it necessary.

  6. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    Before you get your undies in a knot about the EP (as I assume that is who you are speaking of in your post), perhaps you should know who is being quoted in this story. I think it is pretty clear that it is not the EP but rather a representative of the MP (“Acting Secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Priest Igor Yakimchuk”)

    So if you have a problem with how he referred to the Church in the New World, don’t take it out on the EP. I know that it does not suit the anti-EP agenda, but sometimes we must say the truth anyway. Maybe it is we who live in a different time/space continuum.

  7. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    I think you comment in #2 is a little extreme. If you look at the definition of diaspora: you can say many things:

    1. the scattering of the Jews to countries outside of Palestine after the Babylonian captivity.
    2. (often lowercase) the body of Jews living in countries outside Palestine or modern Israel.
    3. such countries collectively: the return of the Jews from the Diaspora.
    4. (lowercase) any group migration or flight from a country or region; dispersion.
    5. (lowercase) any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland.
    6. (lowercase) any religious group living as a minority among people of the prevailing religion.

    you can say many things:

    1. It does not refer to Jews only

    2. It does not apply to a growing number of the faithful in the New World.

    3. It does apply (at least at this time) to a very large (perhaps a majority) of the faithful.

    4. According to the definition it is merely descriptive, it is NOT “utterly demeaning”

    5. To say it is “nonsensical” does not make sense.

    6. For reason #1, perhaps a diffferent word could be used.

    Apparently, even the MP believes we are a diaspora.

  8. George Michalopulos :

    I just pray that this was all due to some inability to translate into English. But in reality I know that it’s because these guys are out to lunch.

  9. Michael Bauman :

    Tom, it is a nonsensical unless one takes that position that there are no bishops in the United States or western Europe since the presence of diocesan bishops define the borders of the local Church. (Although given the actions of Pat. Bartholomew, Pat Kryll, and Pat. Ignatius lately that seems to be percisely what they think.)

    It is demeaning because it assumes we are detached ‘Orthodox believers’ just kinda hanging out here looking for someone to send us a priest if we get lucky. It conveys the general attitude that either the ‘west’ is not worth saving or too far gone to save (can anything good come out of Nazareth?).

    There has not been a diaspora in the U.S. for a long time.

    I don’t care whether it is the EP, the MP, or the Grand Pooh-Bah of Mars; it is, at best, counter productive at worst delusional. What is conveyed to me is that they really don’t give a damn. They just want to play their ever so erudite games, puffing up themselves in the process.

    If they want to know what is going on they have come down from their thrones, talk to someone besides other monarchial bishops or their toadies, stop being the fatted calf at ridiculous banquets, strip off their vestments and wash our feet. The way things are going the whole patriarchal structure will collapse like the inch of alum makeup on the face of Queen Elizabeth I when she died.

  10. Can anyone explain why this definition is seen to be so offensive?

    The fact that this definition makes no reference to nationality seems to be a positive one.

    Isn’t it simply a fact that regions such as the Americas, Western Europe, Oceania etc. fall outside the canonical boundaries of any of the mutually recognised local Churches?

    (a long time reader of this forum who generally agrees with the views of the editors, but is honestly confused about this reaction)

  11. Tom Kanelos :


    I must respectfully disagree with you. You have to make several far reaching assumptions about the motives and intentions of those using the term in order for it to be considered nonsensical and demeaning. According to the definition, it is neither.

    The outrage over the term sort of reminds me the story of a lady who called the police because her neighboors were committing a lewd act in their back yard, in plain view of her window. When the police came the following dialogue took place:

    “See, look at what they are doing”

    “I don’t see what you are talking about m’am”

    “It’s right there, see in their yard, right there!”

    “I’m afraid I don’t see what you are talking about.”

    (frustrated)”Stand on this chair, up on your tippie toes, stretch your neek, look over there, over the fence…see what I’m talkin’ about?”

    Simply put, one has to try extra hard to be offended by the term diaspora.

    At best it is an accurate term albeit becoming less accurate with the passage of the immigrants generations. At worst it is insensetive to some people IF one accepts the perceived ill intention of the ones using the term.

  12. As Met. Jonah said , There can be no diaspora of christians because all christians are citizens of The Kingdom of God ! Only ethnic groups can be dispersed among other ethnic groups. This is a power grab by the greeks. And they should do as Met. Jonah said , “Leave us alone” ! End of story !

  13. George Michalopulos :


    If I may be so bold, the term “diaspora” is offensive because it describes something that is not, that is a “dispersed” population, such as refugees, evacuees, etc.

    As for your statement that North America “falls outside the established boundaries,” that is also incorrect. There is a locally established church in North America. Before 1970, this church was technically an aparchy of the ROC, and before 1917, it was an actual archdiocese of the ROC.

    Anyway, that’s why so many people take the term diaspora as a negative. I personally don’t take it too bad because my mother’s people were evicted from Asia Minor so it’s partially applicable to me personally. But I can see why an American of several generations would be offended by it. His Orthodoxy is just as authentic as mine is, in that he didn’t have to get a blood transfusion to become Orthodox. (Anymore than I had to receive one to become American.)

  14. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, I liked the joke btw. Chrys, don’t be so hard on yourself. Snide is a type of humor, we all need to vent every now and then.

  15. Tom Kanelos :

    It must be nice to have things so cut and dry in your world. Unfortunately, this whole uproar over the term diaspora is really quite silly.

    Just by looking at the definition any unbiased person can see that diaspora can indeed apply to other than ethnic groups. It is just in most of the world, those of a particular ethnic background usually also share the same Faith.

    The uproar is really just another effort at bashing the EP and the Greeks. The funny think is, that it was a representative of the MP that made the referenced statement. So unless the MP is now participating in a “…power grab by the greeks” your point is not quite realistic.

    Get used to it, a large part of Orthodoxy (in fact probably the majority) in the new world IS INDEED a diaspora. That is changing with each passing generation, but it is still an accurate statement.

    This whole “diaspora” ruckus is a whole lot of nothing.

  16. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, I’d agree with you but for the fact that terms can be insensitive. I remember when we called African-Americans “colored folks.” They never liked it even though there was an organization called the NAACP. Although this is a little too sensitivity minded for me, your other point that “a large portion” is a “diaspora” is wrong on its face. (see the reasons indicated over.) Plus the idea that “we must get used to it for the near future,” is incredibly sensitive. Even the EP and the other primates at the October meeting used the phrase “so-called diaspora.”

  17. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Maybe they just don’t know what else to call us. What would be a term that would substitute for “diaspora”? -The Orthodox Church in America? That would imply an independence no Patriarch is ready to acknowledge, and also confers a legitimacy toward the efforts to eliminate jurisdictional divisions.

    “Diaspora” might be the only term that is sufficiently politcally neutral to speak of all American Orthodox collectively.

    Not sure if this is completely accurate though. Given Fr. Elpidophoros’ preoccupation with ethnicity, it may also mean what the term really means: ethnic dispersion.

  18. Tom Kanelos :

    “…your other point that “a large portion” is a “diaspora” is wrong on its face.”

    How is this wrong on its face? Remember, please use the definition of diaspora and not any assumed intentions by the use of that term.

    Some people are being hyper-sensetive when speaking of the term “diaspora” and others are feigning outrage and insult in order to further an agenda.

  19. If I may interject here, the usage of diaspora is self-defined and as such seems quite charged. Furthermore, in light of the normal usage of term, it appears even more inappropriate:

    “The term ‘diaspora (Greek διασπορα, a scattering or sowing of seeds) is used (without capitalization) to refer to any people or ethnic population forced or induced to leave their traditional ethnic homelands, being dispersed throughout other parts of the world, and the ensuing developments in their dispersal and culture.” (from knowledge

    Which leads us to wonder why this term is (still) being used, and as such in this particular context. Are they simply out of touch? Is this term a true reflection of how things are understood? Is ethnicity the underlying factor? It appears to me that it may well be that we are not seen as a natural and organic mission, but rather an abnormality and a problem.

    The words we use matter. Ideas have consequences.

  20. George Michalopulos :

    Fr bless, we know that Patriarch +Kirill at least has different ideas about American Orthodoxy than the other patriarchs, so I’d be wary of putting him in the “all” category. The Orthodox Church of North America is how we should be termed. Not diaspora.

  21. Tom Kanelos :

    George, I would not make that assumption since it was a high level representative of the MP that made the statement.

    Furthermore, at the very least, how can anyone argue with a straight face that the term diaspora is not applicable at least to a large portion (perhaps a majority) of the Churh in America.

    By the definition, every Orthodox Christian in the USA who is an immigrant is in a very real way part of a diaspora. Now maybe the OCA does not have very many of the immigrant generation, but the same cannot be said for the GOA, the AOCA, the Serbian Archdiocese, The Romanian Archdiocese and probably the Episcopate, The Bulgarian Diocese etc.

    It really is a non issue. Unless, as I say, there is a larger agenda which is served by inciting this kind of “outrage”.

  22. George Michalopulos :

    Yes, Tom, I can taht argue with a straight face. Look at Krindatch’s numbers. Even within the GOA, the percentage of non-immigrant-backgrounders is around 36%. That’s an astounding number. It’s quite possible that in the AOCA it’s probably 60% and in the OCA, at least that much. Even within intensely immigrant smaller jurisdictions such as the Serbian and ROCOR, I am constantly astounded by the non-Serbs and non-Russians in it whom I’ve become personally acquainted with, even in their clerical ranks.

    It is indeed very possible that the majority of Orthodox Christians in America are of non-immigrant background. If not yet, then very soon they will constitute a clear majority.

    As to the abrasivenes of the term “diaspora,” read what Metropolitan Christopher of the Serbians said. He was offended, and he’s full-blooded Serbian. He considers himself an American. I do too, and I’m Greek on both sides.

  23. George,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I can see why the word ‘diaspora’ itself can be seen as offensive – however, some commenters seemed to take offense at the definition itself, rather than the word. I was wondering whether there was something in the definition that was seen as offensive.

    Given that the word is unfortunately what is on the agenda, perhaps MP spokesman’s definition as an attempt to steer the discussion to reflect the current reality which you correctly describe.

    I agree with you that the word itself should ideally be dropped.


  24. George Michalopulos :

    Andrew, I look at it this way: all words by definition are neutral. It’s just the context of the word and the spirit in which it is used. An example: “reputation” can be good or bad. In high school, a girl who “had a reputation” was considered to have loose morals.

    As for “diaspora” it signifies something that we are not: a race based on a tribal cult. The most famous example of this is the Jewish nation, which is both an ethnicity and a religious system.

    Please understand, I’m not making an editorial comment on the validity of the Jewish religion, only that you cannot compare Christianity with it. Christianity and Islam (again, no editorial comment here) are universalist creeds which are irrespective of any ethnicity and/or race. Therefore by definition there can be no Orthodox “diaspora.” We are the people of God and are called to manifest the Church wherever the Holy Spirit sends us.

  25. Therefore by definition there can be no Orthodox “diaspora.” We are the people of God and are called to manifest the Church wherever the Holy Spirit sends us.

    Yes. Which makes the usage of this term so inappropriate and heavy laden with policital over tones. But this is nothing new, hopefully it will be something that can be brought out in the open and discussed.

  26. What unites us is the New Jerusalem, that heavenly city. No earthly abode can lay claim to such pre-eminence. As such, we are equally at once scattered (aliens abroad) and equally at once citizens regardless of our race, nationality or locality. Without minimizing the importance of histoy, of the Holy Spirit moving in time and place, Jeusalem or Constantinople (or Moscow, or NYC etc.) is no more or less ‘diaspora’ than any other place.

    May we be delivered from our pride, Lord have mercy and be gracious unto us.

  27. Yes. Which makes the usage of this term so inappropriate and heavy laden with policital over tones. But this is nothing new, hopefully it will be something that can be brought out in the open and discussed.


    The fact is, the word will be on the agenda of the upcoming consultation by virtue of its having been put there during previous meetings. Simply ignoring it prior to the consultation would be counterproductive.

    It still seems to me that the MP representative’s re-definition of the word is quite deliberately non-ethnic – if this is used as a basis during the discussions, then perhaps it will be acknowledged that a different word should be used.


  28. Tom Kanelos :

    This arguing over the word and stretching to find a way to make it isulting is really just mental masturbation.

  29. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, kind of like “homoousios” as opposed to “homoiousios”? That little iota made all the difference in the world to St Athanasius and the 317 other bishops at Nicaea.

  30. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Note 24. George wrote:

    Please understand, I’m not making an editorial comment on the validity of the Jewish religion, only that you cannot compare Christianity with it. Christianity and Islam (again, no editorial comment here) are universalist creeds which are irrespective of any ethnicity and/or race. Therefore by definition there can be no Orthodox “diaspora.” We are the people of God and are called to manifest the Church wherever the Holy Spirit sends us.

    This is a key concept. “Diaspora” (the term) presupposes ethnicity (as opposed to culture) as the key identifier of a particular group. In the American context, Constantinople muddies the picture because they use the term “Hellenism” when they in fact mean Greek, employing a universalist cultural term to denote ethnicity.

    This confuses people because it conflates culture into ethnicity, and then subsumes Orthodox Christianity underneath it.

    Intellectually responsible historiography doesn’t allow the conflation of Hellenistic ideas to one group of people however. While the Greeks can claim a particular patrimony here, the claim is largely symbolic since there is no real evidence that Greece today is any more “Hellenistic” (in terms of implementing the Hellenistic ideals) than many other Western (Christian) nations. In fact, it could be argued that after the fall of Constantinople, the Hellenistic ideas (wrapped as they were inside of Christian cultural forms) were nurtured and further developed in the West (the US Constitution for example).

    “Hellenism” then, has a universal character, but even this needs qualification. Hellenism properly understood is the Hellenism of the Cappadocians, not the Hellenism of pagan antiquity. Put another way, Hellenistic ideals find their proper expression in Orthodox Christianity. Hellenism doesn’t exist side by side with Orthodoxy, rather, Hellenistic ideals have been baptized — brought into Orthodoxy — by the Cappadocians thus obliterating any distinction between them.

    Today, however, the distinction is back in use. It cannot be the distinction of old since pagan antiquity has been superseded by Christianity (through the Cappadocians). What, then, does it mean? What is the unearthing meant to qualify?

    Clearly the only answer is ethnic identification. The claim to cultural patrimony is meant to serve double duty where the cultural patrimony is equated with ethnic identity and then spills over into claims of universal jurisdiction in the persons of ethnically Greek hierarchs. This is essentially the logic of Fr. Elpidophoros in his talk at Holy Cross.

    Only in this context does the term “diaspora” make sense. What is intended by the term is exactly what the term means: a dispersion of people identified by their ethnic heritage. Further, this concept of diaspora militates against the universal character of Orthodox Christianity. Racial boundaries have been superseded as the constituting ground of the Church, which becomes instead a new nation that looks towards a new Jerusalem.

    We’ve seen the conflict before between St. Paul’s claim of the universal character of the Gospel to St. Peter’s claim it was only delivered to the Jews. Moreover, the conflation between the universalist character of Hellenism (properly understood) and Greek ethnic identity that we see in such as examples as Fr. Elpidophoros’s speech should not obscure our sight to the universal character of Orthodox Christianity as the Cappodocians, and not Constantinople, defines it.

  31. Tom KAnelos :


    No, not at all like that. In one case we have the Fathers of the First Ecumenical council deciding which of two words is best suited to help define the Trinity.

    In the other case, those who fear the word diaspora must 1. ignore its definition, 2. attribute motives to those using the word which are purely speculative 3. create complex scenarios (scenaria? scenarii?) in order to try to show that the use of the word is somehow ridiculous, nonsensical and the highest insult and that its mere use is somehow part of a sinister plot by the EP to take over the Church in the US.

    The comparison of the two is almost as ridiculous as the outrage and insult over the use of the term.

    Thus, the argument is really an exercise in futility or perhaps one aimed only at the self gratification of those making the argument. Therefore…mental masturbation.

  32. George Michalopulos :

    Thank you Fr for your apt analysis of the situation. I never could quite put into words what I felt about the Christian humanism of the American founding, but I fervently believe that true Hellenism (as opposed to EP ghettoism) most certainly informed the Founding Fathers.

  33. George Michalopulos :


    let me give you another reason why the word “dispersion” is fraught with peril, it’s because it’s heretical. If you believe that you are part of a dispersion because of your ethnicity, and you continue to consider yourself as such, then you are placing your ethnicity above your religion. Quite simply, your ancestry above your God. This approaches blasphemy.

    Let me give you an excellent analogy. Last year or so, children in the California public schools “went Moslem for a day.” They adopted Islamic names, dress, and practiced the Ramada fast for a day or two. In addition, they began with the Islamic confession of faith (“There is no God but Allah…”)

    I for one, don’t believe that they converted to Islam, however in similar instances in the past, especially in the Balkans, whenever certain young Greek, Serb, Bulgarian, etc. men made this same confession, often only to prove a philosophical point, they also did not believe that they had apostatized to Islam (and then re-apostatized back). Often then went years living in the Christian faith, sometimes as monastics, but their consciences eventually got the best of them and they went to the local Turkish bey, confessed that they had converted to Islam and then “apostatized.” They were then executed because that’s the penalty for leaving the Muslim faith.

    If person A who is Greek-American tells me that he is part of a diaspora then I would ask him if his ethnicity is more important than his faith. If he is a sane man, he will say “no.” However even if he starts qualifying and hemhawing around “well, my faith and ethnicity are interwoven, so…” then he might as well say “no” as well. Jesus said that “your yea should be yea, and your nay should be nay,” therefore when I ask somebody if they’re part of a dispersion I’m really asking them if they’re a Christian or a member of an ethnic minority. A Christian will answer that “my people were dispersed because we would not betray the Gospel,” the ethnic person would say, “yeah, they hate us because we’re not Turkish/Arab/whatever and they forced us out of our houses.” Am I descended from refugees? Yes. Were they forced out of their homes? Yes. They could have remained had they accepted Islam. They did not, therefore they chose a type of martyrdom in which they lost their lands and livelihoods.

    Let me further explain why this distinction is important: Muslims as a rule don’t hate us because of our ethnicity, but because of our religion. That’s why they give us every opportunity to renounce our faith, once we do that, they accept us. They leave us alone, give us economic incentives, let us rise up the social ladder, etc. (Go across the Islamic world, you’ll find thousands of people with light skin, blue eyes, light hair, or black skin, nappy hair, etc., all of these people are descended from Christians, usually slaves who were captured. Sometimes however their ancestors willingly apostatized and became Muslim.

    So yeah, “dispersion” and “diaspora” are very much loaded words, their use indicates where your own heart is regarding your faith in Christ. Just like that “i” in homo-i-ousios. If you use this iota, then you are saying that you are an Arian, not an Orthodox.

    Now admittedly, most of us laymen don’t think this deeply and truth be told, I believe our clergy don’t either. This does not excuse them or us however. Woe be to those theologians who should know better however. Whenever they use this word, they are subordinating the Gospel to faddish PC victimology. In other words, subsuming the Gospel to the whims of the world.

    They need to stop it.

  34. Tom Kanelos :


    This argument is so full of flaws that I am a bit surprised that you even posted it.

    You start out with an erroneous assumption that diaspora by definition refers only to a national group. That is not the case, and perhaps it is becasue you do not understand the word that you cannot seem to grasp the point. Additionally, diaspora is not only those who were forced to leave. Refugees as you put it. The diaspora would also include those who chose to leave for other reasons (usually financial).

    Now, the biggest problem with your argument is that it requires a huge leap to say that if someone considers themselves as part of a diaspora that they have placed their ethnicity above their faith. Why is that the case? Just because YOU believe it to be? Why would you make that assumption other than to try and prove a point?

    Further, your analogy is far from excellent. In fact, it does not even make sense. What is the corrolation that you are trying to make? How does this analogy show us that if you believe you are part of a diaspora, you have placed your national identity above your Faith?

    The term diaspora in no way “…indicates where your own heart is regarding your faith in Christ.” To make that assumption requires huge degree of arrogance.

    I don’t think that this is so much deep thought as it is confused thougt. Again, the argument you made in post 33. is a perfect example of the way one has to jump through hoops in order to allow themselves to be offended by the word. Your argument, as attemped above, is indeed mental masturbation.

  35. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, unfortunately your understanding of the dictionary term “diaspora” is flawed.

    Merriam’s New World Collegiate Dictionary (1980 ed.), p 312:

    “GR. dispersion, fr. diasperien, to scatter, fr. dia + speriein, to sow. 1.a: The settling of scattered colonies of Jews outside Palestine after the Babylonian exile. b: the area outside Palestine settled by Jews. c:the Jews living outside Palestine or modern Israel.”

    The destruction of Israel and then Judah was not a good thing.

    For good measure, here is the dictionary term for the English word “dispersion.” (p 327): “The act of process of dispersing; the state of being dispersed.”

    Now, I never was good in English, but the verb is clearly active, not passive. It requires effort to be dispersed. Almost always this effort is negative, i.e. being kicked out of your homeland. Even when they do it on their own, i.e. economic reasons, it’s never a positive. Because they’re poor. Not a good thing. My great-grandpa didn’t want to come to America to work as a coolie on the railroads, leaving his young wife and son to fend for themselves back on their island. He had to. He was lucky, he got to go back. Others were not so lucky, they had to remain and face poverty and discrimination.

    So I guess I’m not getting your rebuttal.

  36. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Conflating a universalist cultural inheritance with ethnic identity in order to establish an authority based on race creates intractable problems when policy is made. When the conflation occurs, you often see the rise of nationalism or, in the case of the US (because the US is not mono-cultural), identity politics.

    Orthodoxy is universalist because the Gospel is universal — it is to be preached unto all nations. Further, the universal character exists above ethnic identification (“…there is no Greek, no Jew..), that is, the Church exists above the categories that define human civilization. (“We seek a city not made with hands…”)

    Constantinople however, by equating Hellenism and Orthodoxy posits two universalist creeds. But this construct is a violation of the Orthodox tradition because the conflict between Hellenism and Orthodoxy has already been resolved through the work of the Cappadocian Fathers, who, in their struggle against Arianism, reconciled the true elements of Hellenistic thought with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a resolution we call “The Cappadocian Synthesis.”

    This synthesis endured and shaped Western civilization for centuries to come, which is why we call Western civilization a “Christian” civilization. Hellenistic ideals, particularly those that conformed to the freedom of mankind as revealed in the Gospel, were incorporated into Christian culture and bore such fruit as the Magna Carta, the US Constitution, notions of universal human rights, and so forth.

    Properly understood, the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it is understood and comprehended in the Orthodox moral and theological tradition (particularly as it is expressed in the Nicene Creed) ought to be sufficient. The positing of two creeds then, is not historically legitimate or sustainable. It only leads to confusion, and confusion leads to conflict.

    Why, then, has the construct been revived? The only reason can be to assert an authority apart from the Gospel. Conflating the universalist character of Hellenism to ethnic identity posits that the assertion of authority based on race has historical ground and thus legitimacy. The purported legitimacy however, is not intellectually credible given that the universalist character of Hellenism was subsumed into the Gospel through the work of the Cappadocians.

    These two historical tracks, in other words, simply don’t exist. The historiography is different than the actual history, and were the construct to be believed, thinking changes. Western history would have two streams — two competing narratives with two different sources: Jerusalem and Mt. Olympus.

    This mode of thinking is what the Cappadocians struggled to overcome. But the Cappadocians don’t figure into the thinking of Constantinople because historical circumstances forced it to function differently once the empire fell. Sir Steven Runciman chronicled the change in his essay “Nationalism in Greek Orthodoxy.” George Michalopulos also wrote about this from a more functional angle in “The Role of Metropolitan and Its Relationship within the Episcopate: A Reappraisal.” Constantinople still works this way today.

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is universal. And to the measure to which Orthodox Christians live in the Gospel determines the universal character of the Church as well. However, recourse to the universal character of Hellenism alongside — and thus in contrast with — the Gospel bases authority on race and thus revives the nationalist spirit and subsumes the Gospel to politics. Nationalist feelings revive, the Church starts serving the political interests of nation-states, etc. We render to Caesar thinking we render to Christ.

  37. Tom Kanelos :


    In the words of the greatest president of the 20th century: “There you go again”.

    Perhaps you should go to more than one source when learning a new word. Or at least read a little further. There are often multiple definitions for a word. Let’s observe the following:

    From Merrriam-Webster online dictionary (in addition to the one you quoted:

    2. a: the movement, migration, or scattering of a people
    away from an established or ancestral homeland b: people
    settled far from their ancestral homelands

    1. the scattering of the Jews to countries outside of
    Palestine after the Babylonian captivity.
    2. (often lowercase) the body of Jews living in countries
    outside Palestine or modern Israel.
    3. such countries collectively: the return of the Jews from
    the Diaspora.
    4. (lowercase) any group migration or flight from a country
    or region; dispersion.
    5. (lowercase) any group that has been dispersed outside
    its traditional homeland.
    6. (lowercase) any religious group living as a minority
    among people of the prevailing religion.

    Cambridge Online Dictionary

    1. the spreading of people from one original country to
    other countries

    MSN Encarta Online Dictionary

    1. a dispersion of a people, language, or culture that was
    formerly concentrated in one place

    Oxford Englisd Dictionary

    1 the dispersion of the Jews beyond Israel,
    chiefly in the 8th to 6th centuries bc.
    2 the dispersion of any people from their traditional

    Webster’s New World College Dictionary

    1. the dispersion of the Jews after the Babylonian Exile
    2. the Jews thus dispersed
    3. the places where they settled
    4. any scattering of people with a common origin,
    background, beliefs, etc.

    Do I need to continue? I believe it is intellectually dishonest to take only one narrow meaning of a word out of many accepted definitions in order to prove a point.

    So now to add to my argument, not only does one have to strech and twist the meaning of the word in order to be offended by it, one must also ignore many of the accepted definitions as well. This seems to me to be one of two things:

    1. The absolute height of hypersensitivity or,
    2. The desire to promote an agenda even to the point of
    intellectual dishonesty.

    Now about your Grandfather. First of all, I don’t believe he worked as a coolie since the perjorative term coolie presupposes the individual is from Asia.

    However, if in fact he did not choose to come here but rather was “forced” (I would generally agree with the term as you are using it) then he really was part of a diaspora. Again, this only proves my point further.

    Furthermore, since you ignored or did not address the main point of my rebuttal I can only assume that you now understand that your assertion that if someone considers themselves part of a diaspora that they have placed their ethnicity above their faith, are completely baseless.

    Let’s not be so hypersensative or so dedicated to an agenda that we cannot be honest in our arguments.

  38. George Michalopulos :

    OK, Tom, my point stands. Even your definitions of Diaspora and dispersion are negative. “Scattering,” etc. In other words: Not good.

    As for Reagan, yes he was the greatest president of the 20th century. However I really doubt he thought that “submitting” to foreign “thrones” was in the American character.


  39. Tom Kanelos :


    You live in a different world. First of all, since when is “scattering” by defenition “not good”.

    Face it, you have a weak argument on this one. Being wrong is not the worst thing that can happen. Not being able to accept when you are wrong, now that is not something of which Pres. Reagan would have been proud.

    Oh, well, you are a true Greek. Unable to admit error or defeat. I salute you for that…but you’re still wrong.

    Tom K

  40. George Michalopulos :

    Also, my point regarding continuing to identify oneself as a member of a dispersed ethnicity is heretical. You’re either of the people of God or the people of a nation. To continue to view oneself as an ethnic anything (except the nation in which you reside) means you place that identity above the Christian one. Anytime a person place anything that is worldly above that which by right belongs to God, that person approaches blasphemy. That’s why my point about reciting the Muslim creed stands, even Christians who recited it to prove a point turned themselves over to the Muslim authorities so they could be martyred.

    This brings me to other points: like why I don’t call Muslim suicide-murderers “martyrs.” If we do that we might as well call the Islamic message of submission the “gospel,” or “kerygma.” These are Christian terms and only Christian terms. Diaspora is a Jewish term or at best, a term that describes ethnic cleansing.

  41. Tom,

    Maybe we are being too sensitive.

    You consider yourself, then, an Orthodox believer “living out of borders of any local Orthodox church”?

  42. George,

    You write:

    To continue to view oneself as an ethnic anything (except the nation in which you reside) means you place that identity above the Christian one.

    While I agree that many people do place their ethnic identity above their Christian one, I cannot agree with this ridiculous generalisation.

    For one, it certainly does not apply to me.

    And why is the nation where you reside exempt?

    I see many Orthodox Americans who quote the “Founding Fathers” and the Constitution as if they were words from Heaven, or American democracy or capitalism as divinely inspired. I see this as being equally heretical to any kind of Greek, Serbian, Russian etc. nationalism that you will find.


  43. Tom Kanelos :


    Baloney! The only way you can make that argument is to make huge assumptions about a persons motives. Face it, you are wrong.

    “To continue to view oneself as an ethnic anything (except the nation in which you reside) means you place that identity above the Christian one.” This statement is just plain foolish.

    As far as not calling suicide bombers “martyrs” of course you are correct.

  44. Tom Kanelos :

    Robert F.

    I consider myself an American of Greek ancestry. I am thankful for my Greek ancestry for many reasons, chief of which is that it provided me with the opportunity to be born into a family which was Orthodox Christian and to grow up in that Faith. It does not make me better or worse than anyone else. Or more or less Orthodx than any other member of the Church.

    For the most part, I do not believe myself to be a part of a diaspora. Though I believe that my grandparents probably did and many of the immigrant generation probably do. To then make the assumptuion (as George did) that they were heretics for considering themselves part of a diaspora is just plain hogwash.

    I don’t personally consider myself as living outside of the borders of a local Church, because I feel I am inside the borders of the Church of Constantinople. But I can understand the concept of the term diaspora as being applicable for a time and I just don’t get offended by it. It has no impact on my life and growth in the Faith.

    Let’s be honest, most people are against the word because they feel it signifies claims made by the EP. The reality is that all of the Mother Churches (as evidenced by the article which started this discussion) look at the new world as a diaspora, because for a time and in a very real way it was.

  45. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, the Mother Churches can be wrong. Heresy can and has been preached in the past by erudite bishops.

    Andrew, we are called to love our nation, not worship it. Every American has the right to look with favor upon the words of the Founding Fathers, not to idolize them however.

    Every Russian has a similar right to revere the words of Dostoevsky or khomiakov. Again, not to idolize them.

    Every Greek can look at the writings of Phereos or even Byron (who was an immoral man) in similar vein.

    And so on. I believe it’s in 1st Peter: “Fear God, honor the king, love your neighbor.” We are called to “honor the king” and give him his due. As Paul said, “The king does not hold the sword in vain,” and “pray for the Emperor.” Peter and Paul were writing these words in a time when the “king” was Herod Agrippa (who murdered James) and Caligula (who was a madman). Even though I did not vote for this president, I am called to pray for him. I do so personally and corporately.

  46. George,

    Never did I imply that you give undue “worship” to your own nation.

    From your name, I would guess that you have Greek ancestry, but choose not to identify as an ethnic Greek. I respect that decision.

    As for myself, I have Russian ancestry, was born and grew up in Australia, and am currently residing indefinitely in England. I have been brought up to speak Russian and will endeavour to raise my own children to do so as well. However, like you, I recognise the universal calling of Christianity, and, like you, I deplore any efforts to subordinate it to any ethnic identities. Likewise, I ackowledge that my choice to maintain my Russian identity is my own, and have no problem with those who, for various reasons, may choose to let it go. I would rather my own children lapse in their Russianness than in their Orthodoxy.

    I am happy to say that I have many friends who think similarly.

    I can see perfectly the kind of problem that you are reacting against – I’ve seen enough of it myself. However, the statement you made is clearly an over-reaction in itself, one that has no scriptural or patristic foundation whatsoever.


  47. Tom Kanelos :

    “Tom, the Mother Churches can be wrong. Heresy can and has been preached in the past by erudite bishops.”

    Certainly. But what is your point? This comment has nothing to do with the argument.

    We see, once again, you choose to change the subject rather than admit an error.

  48. George Michalopulos :

    Andrew, for the record, I am proud of my Hellenic descent and continue to speak Greek with my parents and relatives. I just choose not to subjugate my Christian identity with my ethnic heritage or my nationality (which is American).

    I applaud you for continuing to raise your children with a Russian consciousness and language. I have endeavored to do that myself.

    My statement may be an overreaction, but all heresy begins with a little truth. That’s why I react vehemently against the term “diaspora.” It means I don’t belong here, which leads to the next logical question: “where do I belong?” and also: “why don’t I belong here?” This is where the “diasporist” gets stuck with a racial/ethnic tar-baby (pardon the pun). It defines his personhood which inexorably leads to the necessary dimininution of one’s Christian identity.

    How important is Christianity? One is either a Christian or he isn’t. One can be a Greek (or Russian, Serb, Arab, Indian, etc.) or not. Even the racialist doesn’t really care if one is “not” whatever strikes his fancy. Whether one is Christian or not is significant. I can have fellowship with that person, but I cannot share the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior with him. Obviously that is of vital importance.

  49. I think the word “diaspora,” for better or for worse, is used as a convenient reference to the Orthodox situation in Western lands, simply because the matter of a single Orthodox jurisdiction in, say, North America, has not been resolved (even if it was supposedly clear before the 1920s, it isn’t today, regardless of the arguments about how it ought to be). When that question is resolved, and when the resolution is recognized by all the major players, then the use of the word “diaspora” will gradually disappear and all the sniveling about it can begin to subside. Even if it is imprecise that the Orthodox in America can be called a diaspora, the situation of Orthodox jurisdictionalism in America is the result of a diaspora (several, in fact), giving the term at least a vestige of accuracy. Of course, maybe a better term could be chosen and encouraged, but the real work to be done is not bickering or boo-hooing over the choice of words to describe this mess that exists, but rather it is the setting of a course for our Church that will of itself render such terms obsolete. Honestly, the degree to which people will argue about this stuff verges on the absurd! And I find the comparison of “diaspora” with “homoiousion” to be incongruous. Yes, I understand that words matter, but just as some matters are more significant than others, some words matter more than others, really.

  50. George Michalopulos :

    William, your analysis is rational. The only problem I see with it is the optimistic view that it will be rendered “obsolete” when the situation is going to be “resolved.” The issue is not going to be resolved on its own because too many Old World patriarchates (though not all) have no intention of resolving it. They are not acting in good faith. That’s why it’s up to us to do it one way or the other.

    Although I do see your point that some of us may be overreacting to this word, the point behind this overreaction still stands. I can charitably say that the Old World may not understand its implications and as such can be forgiven for using it (because to them we look like many diasporas), but we who are Americans will be called to account for it.

    Let me explain: because for too long we have viewed ourselves as a diaspora, “we have hidden our light under the bushel.” In other words, we have not acted as a church.
    We will be called to account for that.

    Yes, words do mean things. For example, in the political arena, those of us who are conservative/libertarian tend to be very careful about words. All societies have leaders, ours however is called a “president” not a “king” even though they have many of the same executive powers. We are a “republic” based on certain democratic principles, not a “democracy.” &c.

    The promiscuous use of words likewise harms the Church, perhaps to the same degree that it harms the State. We misuse words like “cathedral” to describe “really big churches,” rather than what a cathedral is: the parish church of the local bishop, where his cathedra is located. In an earlier essay, I spoke about the profligate misuse of the venerable term “metropolitan,” which distorts the office of bishop.

  51. What is wrong with the current the situation in the “western” lands? Yes, yes I know all arguments about jurisdictions, ethnic divisions, multiple bishops in a city etc. etc. But the questions remains, is this situation really wrong per se? There is something unorthodox about the proposed “solutions” i.e. a centralized monolith, akin to Rome. One could make the argument that what we have here has never before been encountered in the history of the Church. But does that make it wrong, or undesirable even? At one time never before was there a state-Church alliance, a Christian monarch, and so forth. These were all new developments at one time or another and the Church adapted, thrived and survived. One can look back and see the work of the Holy Spirit in this. Who is to say we won’t look back on this western so called “diaspora” – with all its difficulties and challenges – as the work of God in our midst? Would we dare elevate our concept of unity above the Holy Spirit? Do we know better than Him? Do we not trust God to work things out as He sees fit? We who claim the “fullness”?

  52. Tamara Northway :

    I for one, have never considered myself part of a diaspora. My grandparents came over here from Syria in the early 20th century with the intention of never returning. My grandfather quickly became literate in English and took the oath to become a citizen of the United States. My children are of mixed ancestry and yet, thank God, are still dedicated Orthodox Christians. We need a local, autocephalous Orthodox Church of North America that can respond to the needs of my children’s generation and to the millions of seekers in this land, who are looking for the true faith. Local synods, with true diocesan bishops who control their own budgets are the ones who know how this culture is trying to recruit and devour our children. Marginalized patriarchates who live thousands of miles away and are held captive by Muslim states, are in no position to know or even be capable of meeting their needs. In fact, in a very short time, most of the ancient patriarchates will need a strong, united, local Church here to be able to help them to survive in hostile Muslim territory.

  53. George Michalopulos :

    Robert, your answer in sentence #2 answers the question in sentence #1. Were you being rhetorical? Among many of my concerns brought about because of lack of conciliar unity, is the growing divergence in liturgy, morals, and teachings, those things that fall under the rubric known as “Orthopraxy.”

    Let’s be honest, there’s more than a little jurisdiction-hopping that’s been going on for several years now. It’s going to take its toll. One of the inevitable outcomes of this will be the formal breaking of communion. I doubt then we’ll be as sanguine about the “work of the Holy Spirit” if and when that happens.

    As for your fear about a “proposed solution” being a “centralized monolith akin to Rome,” you are absolutely right! that would be horrible, and yet one gets the distinct impression that that is what C’pole wants. That is why me and others like me (OCL) admire the authentic Christian model of local, autocephalous churches with all the bishops within the political boundaries of that church in communion with each other and in concilium as well. This model implies that the diocesan boundaries are respected.

  54. Tom Kanelos :


    You said it much more clearly than I have done.

  55. Dean Calvert :

    Dear Robert,

    Regarding your comments:
    “What is wrong with the current the situation in the “western” lands? Yes, yes I know all arguments about jurisdictions, ethnic divisions, multiple bishops in a city etc. etc. But the questions remains, is this situation really wrong per se? There is something unorthodox about the proposed “solutions” i.e. a centralized monolith, akin to Rome. One could make the argument that what we have here has never before been encountered in the history of the Church. But does that make it wrong, or undesirable even?”

    Personally, I think the situation in America is different, but not as complicated as some would like to make it.

    The tradition of the church is for ecclesial boundaries to follow the secular ones. This goes all the way back to the Roman Empire, and had been followed faithfully during the Middle Ages, the Ottoman period, and down to the present. Witness the independence of the various national churches following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and even the independence of the Georgian, Estonian, and Macedonian churches following the breakup of the Soviet empire. You can also see the rumblings of independence taking place in Ukraine.

    Second, we kid ourselves if we think this is the first time in history that various Orthodox nationalities coexisted side-by-side in the same nation. This was true during the first 1500 years of the Church (the Eastern Empire was at least as diverse as the US), during the Ottoman period of the church (all of the Orthodox peoples became subservient to the EP), and in Russia today. I’ve often said the church is organized on a principle which is instantly recognizable to any modern American businessman as the geographic franchise system. In a way, it’s just like Starbucks, i.e. you walk into Starbucks in Moscow, New York or Shanhai – the person behind the counter will change, but you change the coffee and you lose your license.

    There is a quote on our website from the Council of Constantinople, 1872 which expresses the degree of outrage the Church viewed the setting up of separate ethnic parishes. You can see this at This statement was pointed out to me by Archbishop Peter of New York, of blessed memory.

    The key phrase is “…we proclaim that those who accept such division according to races and who dare to base on it hitherto unheard-of racial assemblies are foreign to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are real schismatics.”

    This statement was issued in response to the Bulgarian Church seeking to setup Bulgarian Orthodox parishes in the region of Constantinople, to serve Bulgarian immigrants in that region. The Church responded with disgust, as is evident in the language. As Abp Peter told me, “Dean…they didn’t just say ‘no’…they LAUGHED at these people, saying ‘in 2000 years this is the most ridiculous thing we have ever seen.'” I’ve always thought His Eminence was correct, the sarcasm drips off the words.

    So the real problem is the genesis of the American situation…it was begun by various ethnic groups, each of whom now have a vested interest in controlling those groups in the New World.

    Can we possibly be so parochial and self centered that we are willing to allow the Church to die on these shores, rather than give up control of the various ethnic colonial outposts?

    It’s complicated, but not nearly as complicated as some would have us believe.

    Personally, I think the answer is to return to another time-tested Orthodox tradition…locally elected bishops, sitting in synod. I’d be prepared to seat that synod of bishops, and leave it to them and the Holy Spirit.

    Of course, I seem to be a cult of one.

    Just a few random thoughts.

    Best Regards,

  56. Dean,make that two.

  57. George Michalopulos :

    Dean, make that three.

    Dear-to-Christ: Tom, Robert, et al. To believe anything else is sophistry at best, heresy at worst. It puts our heritages above the Church. Don’t think we won’t be held to account for that. Why? Because if we continue down this path, we will see the extinction of the Church in North America. The Holy Spirit will not go where He is not wanted.

  58. George,

    I certainly didn’t mean to express too much optimism about the process of resolution. Your points are well taken, especially where you say “That’s why it’s up to us to do it one way or the other.” Perhaps we might have to be as drastic as the Russians were when they won their autocephaly.

  59. George Michalopulos :

    Williams, Unfortunately, that’s what it’s going to have to come down to. All too many of the Old World churches have “lost their first love.”

  60. George Michalopulos :

    William, please forgive me for calling you “Williams”. It made me sound like a “toff.”

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