October 22, 2014

EP Fast Track? Homily of Met. Elpidophoros of Proussa at His Ordination

Readers will remember that Met. Elpidophoros gave the controversial speech at Holy Cross a few years back extolling the virtues of Constantinople and castigating America for ignoring it (see: Ecumenical Patriarchate: American ‘Diaspora’ must submit to Mother Church). It didn’t go over well at all. The next year he was invited to St. Vladimir’s Seminary and while not clarifying his remarks he ameliorated his tone (read .pdf).

The homily contains much Byzantineze, some of it necessary because the social context of old world Orthodoxy demands it. What strikes our ears as excessive deference to the high authority, the Patriarch in this case, functions to show the courtiers gathered at the event that +Elpidophoros is a loyalist and will continue the Phanariot policies. Remember this is medieval practice carried forward. Also, the fact that Met. Hilarion was in attendance shows this was not run of the mill ordination.

Still, you can’t help but sense that the grandeur the language hopes to convey is laced with a sense of something already lost. I’m not sure that’s an entirely fair assessment and it is not meant to be unkind. Take the recounting of the history of Proussa for example. It’s tragic. Still, you wonder what is the meaning behind it all? Is the hope that one day Byzantine will be restored? Do the titular hiearchs represent the diaspora of those exiled from these ancient cities that one day will be organized as such, even in the diaspora? Has Byzantium become spiritualized; a kind of living abstraction held in abeyance in the confines of the Phanar yet at the same time the blueprint of that future hope? Take the last two paragraphs for example:

Finally, as the humble shepherd of an Eparchy of the Throne in Bithynia that presently lies in ruins, allow me convey a fervent greeting and modest hierarchical prayer and blessing to all those in the world that are from Proussa, Triglia and Moudania. And by way of conclusion, let me cite some hopeful lines from the poet George Seferis, composed on the occasion of his sojourn in Proussa:

By striking the salinity night and day
none has changed his fate;
By striking the darkness and light
none has changed the crime-scene.
Yet the light can reappear;
there on the heavy palms
the fruit can fall again.
And the blood can blossom once more.

Source: Hellenic News of America

HOMILY

Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Proussa During his Ordination to the Episcopate (Istanbul, March 20, 2011)

Your All-Holiness,
Your Beatitude,
Your Eminences and Graces,
Representatives of the Orthodox Churches,
Most Reverend choir of Hierarchs,
Your Excellencies Ministers,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors,
Honorable members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Honorable Rector of the University of Thessalonika,
Honorable Dean of the Theological School of Thessaloniki,
Honorable Mayors, Congressmen, Professors,
Beloved fathers, ladies and gentlemen,

By the ineffable divine economy and mercy, through the gracious recommendation of Your All-Holiness, and with the vote and approval of the Holy and Sacred Synod, which I have served over the years, I was unanimously elected Metropolitan of Proussa and today receive the third order of priesthood by the laying on of hands of my venerable Master and President of the First-Throne of Orthodoxy, with the concelebration of an apostolic number of revered hierarchs.

Bewildered and awe-struck, I was at a loss for thoughts and sentiments regarding the entirely sudden and extremely prestigious providence of God on my insignificance through Your All-Holiness, and recalled the customary expression of the memorable phanariot hierarchs, that the Phanar – the Patriarchal Court in general and the Synodal Secretariat in particular – constitute an Academy, a School, a University, wherein the younger clergy of the Mother Church as the future officers of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are formed and instructed, especially since the institutional and natural place for this, the Holy Theological School of Halki, unfortunately still remains closed.

The departure of a clergyman from the Patriarchal Court as a result of elevation is accordingly equivalent to a “graduation” from this School with a passing and perhaps even excellent grade. Therefore, I stand before you, Your All-Holiness, as a “graduate” in order to submit to the final test and give account for that which I have learned and with which I have been entrusted. (2 Tim. 3.14)

Nevertheless, since at this Patriarchal Academy there is only one chancellor and teacher and professor inasmuch as there is only one father and head and abbot, all teaching derives from him and all learning has him as a point of reference for all the fledglings of the phanariot education. Namely, the Patriarch! Our spiritual father, leader and instructor. His teaching adheres to the most efficient paedagogical method: personal example. Learning at the feet of the Patriarch signifies observation of his daily sacrificial service, personal experience of his anguish for the concern of all Churches, and cyrenaean sharing in the bearing of his unceasing burden.

Knowing from whom I have been taught (2 Tim. 3.14), I dare to list all that I have learned from him during the years of my tenure in the Patriarchal Court, beginning with the fundamentals such as the conduct of a younger clergyman, since a clergyman must not only be a good Christian and faithful member of the Church. He should also be adorned with the so-called natural virtues, including honoring one’s parents, teachers and every elder in stature and age; they also include diligence and industriousness, gratitude to all his benefactors, courtesy and affability, and generally a hospitable attitude to every visitor and pilgrim.

Our teacher at the Patriarchate is distinguished for the respect and honor which he reserves for those who have passed away, whether they be his predecessors on the Throne, hierarchs, clergy, parents, teachers, friends, and even janitors that faithfully served him. Wherever he may go, just as he returns with gifts for the living, he never fails to pray for the departed, sometimes also seeking to repatriate the sacred relics and precious remains of his holy predecessors, Patriarchs who died in exile.

Himself a lover of liturgy and of monasticism, he respectfully upholds the typikon and patriarchal order, simultaneously reminding us that the essence assumes priority over the detail, since “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2.27)

My wise teacher taught me to love the Greek language, reading, studies and languages, encouraging us to learn constantly, to receive higher education, at the same time securing scholarships and other resources for travel to centers of learning in the east and west, all the while despite the fact that this implied deprivation for him of necessary clergy for the administration of the Phanar.

As a good shepherd and Bishop of the Most Holy Archdiocese of Constantinople, he knows his rational flock by name, always meeting with leaders of the community and hierarchs of the City for their needs, for the promotion of education, for the smooth operation of parish administration, for the securing and demand of property entrusted to us by our fathers and national benefactors. He provides for the renewal and adornment not only of the Patriarchal Offices and Patriarchal Church, but also for almost every holy Church, sacred Site, and precious Treasure of our Nation found within the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese and the other Metropolitan regions of our land.

As Patriarch, he is concerned with securing persons and staffing positions with individuals capable of responding to the contemporary demands not only of the Sacred Center but also of the Eparchies of the Throne throughout the world, establishing new missions and metropolitan dioceses, while installing select hierarchs for them and not depriving the overseas Institutions of the same attention.

As the First Hierarch of Orthodoxy, Your All-Holiness, you are a model of reverence for the synodal system, which you sought to promote and strengthen not only at the Phanar – initially by convening a regular Synaxis of the Hierarchs of the Throne and ultimately by reinstituting the invitation by rotation of all the active Metropolitans and Archbishops, regardless of citizenship, to the Holy and Sacred Synod – but also on a panorthodox level by introducing and establishing the institution of the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, which proved most beneficial in responding to matters of panorthodox nature. This boldness of the First Hierarch through these initiatives was rewarded by the granting of Turkish citizenship as well to a number of hierarchs of the Throne. Inside the Synodal Hall of the Phanar, I personally and tangibly experienced the sacred work of synodal consultation in the Holy Spirit.

“Him who comes to me, I will not cast out” (John 6.37) is what my teacher is accustomed to saying, suffering for the division of Christians and not only promoting the official theological dialogues but also cultivating personal relations with leaders and officers of all rank among the non-Orthodox confessions and churches. The same teacher and father of our Nation grieves for the provision of peaceful coexistence and fraternal relations among the faithful of all religions, especially among Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Your All-Holiness,

In full knowledge that I am encroaching upon the modest humility of my venerable Master, permit me to continue a while longer, boasting about my teacher even as I am yet possessed of the violent breathing of the Holy Spirit.

The summit of every thought and concern dominated by the Patriarch’s mind is the Ecumenical Throne, the much-afflicted Phanar, the Great Church of Christ, the Church of Christ’s Poor. His existence, his every intention and effort have as their ultimate aim the benefit of our Patriarchate. Each decision on any dilemma or challenge has as its foremost and exclusive criterion whatever is beneficial for the Mother Church. Above and beyond all lies the good of the Phanar, the projection of the ecumenicity of the Throne. This extremely powerful sense of obligation and duty toward the Ecumenical Throne on the part of my Patriarch, which reaches the point of overlooking his personal health and physical exhaustion, comprises for my insignificant person one of the most invaluable deposits, which I am taking with me from my time in the Patriarchal Court.

These and many others were the lessons that I learned, Your All-Holiness, at the great Academy of the Patriarchal Court. I made every effort to learn and assimilate as much as I possibly could, and I look to your lenient and paternal tolerance for wherever I failed, pledging that, even now outside the Patriarchal Court – although I shall always be within the saving and sacred grounds of the Phanar – I shall continue to serve my Patriarch and the holy Apostolic and Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople with all my strength and with the same spirit of learning.

Despite my shortcomings, I was elevated to Metropolitan of the vacant Eparchy of Proussa, one of the historical satellite cities of Constantinople on the Asian antipodes of Adrianoupolis. The city of Proussa, erected on the foothills of the snow-capped Mt. Olympus of Bithynia, constitutes a sacred city both for Orthodox Christians (inasmuch as it is replete with holy hermitages and monasteries on Olympus) and for Muslim believers (inasmuch as it contains the tombs of the founders of the Ottoman empire, Sultans Osman and Orhan). Many of my predecessor Bishops of Proussa adorn the Church Triumphant as Saints – whether Hieromartyrs, Righteous Ascetics, or god-bearing Fathers of Ecumenical Councils. I invoke the intercessions before the Lord of Saints Alexander, Patricius, George, Timothy and Theoktistos – all of them Bishops of Proussa – as well as of those martyred in Proussa: Acacius, Menander and Polyaenus, both for me and for all the children of the Metropolis of Proussa scattered throughout the world.

The Orthodox Christian population of the city, which thrived spiritually, ecclesiastically and materially, created particular impression on St. Gregory Palamas, whom we celebrate today, while the national benefactors Zarifi and Eustathios Eugenides competed for the establishment and preservation of schools in the region. For reasons known only to the Lord, Proussa, its seaport Moudania, Triglia, Syge and Elegmoi, the principal districts of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Proussa, were forcefully vacated, while those who survived settled in Greece, where they were recreated from the ashes by the grace and support of the holy, miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary of the Visitation. In venerating this renowned icon of the Mother of God and imploring her assistance for my journey henceforth, I bow down before the souls of all those who piously served as hierarchs in Proussa as well as of all the children who, as a result of the wretched turns of history, were painfully uprooted from their birthplace in the Metropolis assigned to me.

And now, Your All-Holiness, in assuming the responsibility of this eminent Eparchy of the Throne, with praises to the Lord who granted me such great mercy, I direct my mind, thought and eyes to you as my Father and Master, to whom – after God – I owe everything, in order that with profound emotion and contrite heart I may express my many filial thanks and gratefully venerate your precious right hand.

Thereafter, I would like to thank His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All-Greece, who greatly honored my modesty by undertaking such an exceptional journey abroad in order that, by his high presence and paternal prayer, and together with his honorable entourage, he might strengthen me as I begin the sacred ministry that lies before me.

Then, I respectfully turn toward the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod, who have honored me with their unanimous vote, gratefully bowing before them for the kindness and compassion which they demonstrated to my humble person. Moreover, I also thank all the holy Hierarchs who served as members of the Holy and Sacred Synod throughout my tenure as Chief Secretary for their affection toward me, for their sound counsel and for their cherished support in my responsible task.

Finally, I am thankful to many for the honor of their presence:

The Representative and other members of the honorable Greek Government
The Representative of the Opposition Party
The honorable diplomatic authorities
The representatives of the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Russia, Serbia, Romania, Georgia and Cyprus
The venerable Hierarchs, who came and concelebrated or prayed with us< The Office of the Chancellor at the University of Thessalonika
The Representative of the Roman Catholic Church
The Representative of the Syro-Jacobite Church
The Representative of the Armenian Church
The Patriarchal Court in its entirety, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Stephanos of Kallioupolis and Madyton
The representatives of the Holy Monasteries on Mt. Athos: Great Lavra, Vatopedi, Dionysiou, Pantokratoros, Agiou Pavlou, Xenofontos and Gregoriou,
My beloved parents Vasileios and Nadya
My brothers Edward, Paul and Xenophon, together with their families
My relatives, refugees from Eastern Thrace and Antioch
My colleagues, Professors at the Theological School of Thessalonika, together with my students
Those representing people from all over the world, who have their origins in Proussa, Triglia and Moudania
All the clergy, dear friends, distinguished colleagues at the Patriarchal Offices, teachers, community leaders and every citizen of this City.

Your All-Holiness, upon “graduating” from the School of the Phanar, in closing these words of gratitude, I wish to express my wholehearted prayer that we shall soon be deemed worthy of consecrating new and promising theological graduates of the Church at the Holy Theological School of Halki, whose reopening we hope for and anticipate as the culmination of your tireless efforts.

Finally, as the humble shepherd of an Eparchy of the Throne in Bithynia that presently lies in ruins, allow me convey a fervent greeting and modest hierarchical prayer and blessing to all those in the world that are from Proussa, Triglia and Moudania. And by way of conclusion, let me cite some hopeful lines from the poet George Seferis, composed on the occasion of his sojourn in Proussa:

By striking the salinity night and day
none has changed his fate;
By striking the darkness and light
none has changed the crime-scene.
Yet the light can reappear;
there on the heavy palms
the fruit can fall again.
And the blood can blossom once more.

Comments

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    Harry Coin says:

    Metropolitan Herman appears to have a Greek cousin.

  2. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Scott Pennington says:

    “In full knowledge that I am encroaching upon the modest humility of my venerable Master . . .”

    This does actually open up a bit more understanding as to the culture of the Phanar, at least for me. Just about any American would have been so embarassed by such a shameless load of obsequiousness that they would have stopped him a quarter to a third of the way through and asked him not to flatter them in so graphic a manner. Humility would not permit them to let him go on. The embarassment that would result would simply scandalize them to the point that a sense of humilty would rebel at being deified in such a manner. Recall Obama’s reaction to the remarks of Abp. Demetrios. He couldn’t keep a straight face and Demetrios didn’t go on anywhere near as gratuitously as Met. Elpidophoros. And Obama isn’t exactly modest.

    If I had a court of people talking to and about me this way on a constant basis, I’d think I was the shadow of God on earth.

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      Harry Coin says:

      There was a letter a few years back wherein the EP referred to himself as ‘Our Modesty’. I don’t know if there has been a fishing rod made that could cast a lure that far.

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        Isa Almisry says:

        Like everything else in the Phanar, this language is fossilized relics of an age gone by, with no relationship to present reality.

        When his latest eminence made the speach at Holy Cross, I commented “guess you is on the fast track to succeed His All Holiness.”

        Bursa, er, Proussa, is the first captial of the Ottoman Empire. The Metropolitan of the second, Edirne/Adrianople, +Damaskinos, is in ill health. So his emminence can leap frog to Istanbul, the Ottomans’ capital of perpetual memory. We may live to miss EP Bartholomaios I.

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          Dean Calvert says:

          Hi Isa,

          Kali Sarakosti!

          Your comment reminded me of a particular peave of mine….wondered if you had any thoughts.

          The EA has made statements now (see episcopalassembly.org) about the Japanese Tsunami and the repose of Metropolitan Nicholas..and thank goodness has added the Georgian Orthodox parishes to the EA directory (you think I’m making this up…see http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/news/assembly-news/georgian-parishes-mar2011)

          but it is completely SILENT on the situation of the Coptic Church…the violence..everything.

          I’m convinced this is NOT an oversight. I’ve written to Bishop Basil myself, suggesting a statement…NOTHING.

          Any thoughts on why? Are they soooo threatened by the Copts in this country I wonder?

          Just curious as to your thoughts…

          best regards,
          dean

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            George Michalopulos says:

            Dean, if I may, I believe it’s because if the EA recognizes the plight of the Copts, they will recognize the legitimacy of the Coptic patriarchate. And there can’t be two patriarchates in one city, especially if one has 8 million people and the other has 250K.

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            Isa Almisry says:

            marHabban bik!

            It may be the wishes of the Coptic hiearchy: Pope Shenoudah specifically forbade Copts from taking part in the revolution (a mistake IMHO), and there has always been an argument between Alexandria and the Copts outside about how vocal they should be become on any specific issue.

            The Greeks and Copts and Arab Orthodox iin Egypt get along tolerably well. It’s not the situation in Jerusalem.

            On the Georgian parishes, it might seem small, but it means a lot to the Georgians, who are going through a lot of problems righ now (though many it seems may be of their own making).

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            Isa Almisry says:

            Btw, to give credit where credit is due:
            Ecumenical Patriarch expresses condolences to Pope Shenouda about deadly terror attacks
            Tuesday, January 04, 2011
            We hasten to express to Your Beatitude our sincerest and whole-hearted condolences for the recent terrorist attack outside of Saints Coptic Church. Words cannot adequately express our shock and sorrow at the magnitude of this tragedy; the ruthlessness and cold-bloodedness of the assailants has shaken Christians and people of good will all over the world.
            http://www.patriarchate.org/documents/copticchurch

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        Scott Pennington says:

        Harry,

        It is interesting though just from the perspective of what effect the flattery has on the psyche of the person flattered. If I had people constantly telling me, in so many words, that I’m better than everyone else not just because I’m Greek, but because among the Greeks (the holiest of people, of course), I’m the pick of the litter, then I’d come to believe it – – at least on some level. It is the rare person whose soul can reject a constant deluge of overwhelming flattery. That’s what destroys many celebrities. I understand that this is a remnant of medieval culture, as Fr. Johannes suggests. But even so, it has to have a (negative) effect on those involved if for no other reason than the distorted view of reality that it produces.

        We all wonder how a rational, informed person could embrace the Phanar’s claims regarding Canon 28 of the IVth Council, or his quasi-Roman definition of primacy. We tend to see this (or at least I do) as a disingenuous power grab, a projection of a particular mythology. However, within the culture of the Phanar, they may actually seriously believe in it, given this phenomenon of obsequious deification.

        That’s actually more disturbing than disingenuity. A person who projects something they know to be dubious for political reasons can be reasoned with. If it’s not flying, they can back away and let the dog fall asleep. If a person is so pumped up with glorification by his immediate community that reality becomes a stranger, then there is a much greater danger that he will treat his perceived perogatives as a matter of doctrine rather than a cultural curiousity or political play.

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          Geo Michalopulos says:

          Scott, you raise perhaps the most important point of all, that of the excessive flattery displayed here. As far as I’m concerned, such effusive praise for a “monk” is worthy of canonical censure. It most certainly is not Christian. It’s worse than when the Holy Synod in Damascus end their letters to Pres Asad in the most grovelling phrases, after all, they are having to deal with Caesar, but to speak this way to another Christian, it’s really quite beyond the pale if you ask me. Not only is it detrimental to the soul of the hearer, what does it say about the flatterer? That he has found a more worthy master than Christ?

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        Harry Coin says:

        Well, I suppose when a traffic light in Istanbul has changed from green to yellow, these folk have decided it’s better to push the gas pedal to the floor rather than hit the brake.

        We certainly see no lack of puffery, flattery and flowery language across the high ordained young never married church leadership these days.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    I thought “our Master” was Christ. Silly me. And silly GOA bishops who cast aside their American citizenship for a Turkish one.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Think of the talk as complying to necessary court protocol, the way that relationships are arranged and defined. It emerges from a tribal system that transformed into an imperial system and stayed there. Things like merit, individual accomplishment, and so forth (characteristics common to Western, particularly American, culture) have a different place and value. This is not to say that no accomplishment exists, clearly it does. Frustrating for an American however, is that within this system mediocrity is easily tolerated (the proximity to the leader determines placement, not merit) and true merit is easily (and sometimes willfully) overlooked without necessary justification.

    The salient consideration it seems to me is that there is no real way to reconcile the conflict in cultures. How does the Phanar minister to its American churches with such a woefully poor understanding of how American culture works? And how do they think that a revival of Greek cultural norms will translate into the veneration of imperial personages? It does not work in Greece anymore so why would it work here?

    Attempts at cultural relevance are made of course, the positioning of HAH as the Green Patriarch for example, but that doesn’t really work either since Americans see this as a political gambit and support or criticism mirrors how one views the environmental movement as a whole. Meanwhile, the truly critical questions afflicting the culture are met with silence for the most part. This contradiction is clear to an American, but the Phanar seems to have no idea how critical the contradiction actually is, and how it undermines confidence in their leadership. Again, a conflict of cultures.

    I think most people view the Phanar with a kind of benign incomprehension similar to Avedon’s “The Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution” (view it here, new tab will open). The irony is lost on the Generals (as it seems to be on the Phanar if the language of the homily is an accurate indication). Most people see the Generals, while the Generals think the people see what they represent.

    Some information on the photographer here.

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      Harry Coin says:

      The conflict of cultures Fr. Hans outlines rings another bell entirely: The culture among those in high church leadership appears here not to be defined by the Gospel and the Fathers but instead by secular royal long dead Byzantine court customs generally applied to the emperor of the old days.

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      Scott Pennington says:

      Fr. Johannes,

      Do you not think, though, that given that cultural paradigm and habit of thinking, a person is more inclined to have trouble separating myth from reality? Or even lose sight of a reality alternative to ones mythological-existential cocoon?

      The reason I suggest that that might be the case is out of a willingness, for the moment, to take the Phanar’s claims regarding its version of primacy and its jurisdiction at face value. Not that I agree with them, but let’s assume they’re serious for a moment and that on some level they really believe what they’re asserting.

      It has been hard for me to see how they could be sincere in the past. But if your world is completely immersed in medieval ways of relating, I can see how the mythology would seem more real than a genuine historical inquiry as to how jurisdiction and primacy have been understood over time in light of canon law. That would be a foreign standard. The standard would be whatever prestige the throne has at present according to its received tradition. Whatever the narrative has yielded up to this point in terms of glorifying the throne would need to be preserved, in that mode of thinking. The only question is how to do that.

      That’s why all the hubbub when people question their claims. They perceive it as diminishment of something to which they are entitled having acquired it by tradition/custom, a diminishment of them personally, of their self worth. That would explain the sharp tone of Patriarch Bartholomew’s letter to the late Pat. Alexi as well as the way in which Pat. Bartholomew was “defended” from the “attack” of Met. Jonah in his famous Dallas address (responding to the then Fr. Elpidophoros’ remarks at Holy Cross).

      Or I could be totally mistaken. It’s such a strange little world over there. It must be a very strange dynamic in their relationship with the Turks. In any case, it doesn’t surprise me that they have a very hard time relating to the Russians.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Yes, I think they really believe that Byzantium will be restored. The last five lines of the the poem +Elpidophoros read indicates as much:

        By striking the salinity night and day
        none has changed his fate;
        By striking the darkness and light
        none has changed the crime-scene.
        Yet the light can reappear;
        there on the heavy palms
        the fruit can fall again.
        And the blood can blossom once more.

        Here’s the attack on Jonah after his comments about the Phanar that you referenced (which he is still taking heat for despite his apology).

        I had this thought a little earlier. Say there is a restoration of geographical Byzantium in the future sometime. Say the Muslims fall, Christian civilization in the East is restored, whatever. I can’t see these men leading it. The most likely leaders (if it were to occur) would be the Russians, it seems to me.

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          Harry Coin says:

          Yup, the good old ‘blood blossoming’, and I thought the Spanish bull-fighting thing was a hard one to understand.

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            The obsequious language used is Byzantine, from the latter days, when it was a shell of its former self. In the earlier days, the political and religious mandarins were polite, but not to the exaggerated extent used in this speech. Usually, the patriarch was called “Most Reverend Archbishop X,” and then more direct language was used. Conversation and speeches as a rule were terse and to the point.

            I have a hypothesis that when a civilization is struggling (or dying) it reverts to increasingly polite and exaggerated language. We saw this in Byzantium. We see this in the Arab world where courtiers have to find circumlocutions to talk to their leaders. And we see this today in America with our bizarre cult of Political Correctness, where you can’t even point out obvious things without being branded a reactionary.

            That is why even if Byzantium was restored, it will not be because of the clownish games played by these Metropolitans of Nowhere. Byzantium, even in its worst aspects, never shied away from proclaiming Christian truths or sending missionaries to the furthest reaches of the Empire. It sincerely believed that its role in the world was to spread the Gospel, and not some poems that don’t rhyme.

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            Harry Coin says:

            George, I think you’re on to something there.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      One more thing: if they truly believe that Byzantium will rise again then they’re truly delusional, and engaging in idolatry. The purpose of the Church is to spread the Gospel, not put on fancy dresses and play-act, hoping that an extinct empire will be restored.

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        Isa Almisry says:

        Just look at the reinterpretation of the icon of St. Sisoes the Great and the body of Alexander, the iconic exaple of this idolatry of which you speak.

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        Theodoros says:

        For the record, those of us who are Greek are not expecting a resurrection of Byzantium, simply the triumph of Christianity in the regions where it was nurtured and thrived. To a certain extent this may already be happening. The liturgies that have been held in the holy places of Cappadocia in recent years, and most recently the liturgy at Panagia Soumela at Trebizond last August 15 represent the triumph of the faith. For many decades, in the aftermath of slaughter and the construction of Islamic minarets and prayers, the divine liturgy took place. The chanting of the glorification of God in a region known for death and maryrdom took place. The Eucharist was served.

        The revival of Christianity in Constantinople and Asia Minor is possible as it was in Russia. Metropolitan Hilarion of Moscow last June at the liturgy in Cappadocia urged the Ecumenical Patriarchate to fight and compared the plight of Greek Orthodoxy there with the dark years the Russian Church faced under Communism.

        Orthodoxy has always maintained sacred shrines and Churches from the beginning. Read Steven Runciman and see how the early Christians made pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Constantinople and Asia Minor are the places that have many holy and beautiful Churches and Monasteries.

        In a sea of Turkish Islam, the Church continues to function and the glorification of God has not been silenced. I also do not see what is wrong with vestments worn by Orthodox Bishops in their ceremonies. Should they wear suits and ties?

        Theodoros

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          Geo Michalopulos says:

          Theodoros, speaking as a Greek-American myself, I too believe it is possible to see Christianity revived in the area and that every effort be made to keep it alive and spread it. My disagreement comes from the tunnel-vision that this produces, i.e. let’s keep on “electing” fantasy metropolitans for extinct sees against the day when the Church will be revived but let’s do everything in our power to prevent Christianity from arising in the “barbarian” lands.

          The neglect that Istanbul has shown to the Americas for decades cannot be ameliorated overnight by the hyperactivity shown since the election of the +Bartholomew, especially if the type of pastoral concern shown includes the quashing of an organic American Orthodoxy (Ligonier), a type of Gaia-worship, and the propogation of a Phanariote-based neo-papalism.

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            Theodoros says:

            I happen to fully agree with and sympathize with the establishment of an Autocephalous Church in America. There is no reason why all Orthodox in America should not be fully united and take their place with the other Autocephalous Churches. This is required by the Holy Canons.

            By no means do I agree with everything the Phanar does. Ecumenism is a perfect example. I am of the opinion that the Ecumenical movement has been a disaster and a failure. I disagree with the Phanar’s participation in it.

            However. I do sympathize with and support the Phanar’s plight in a Muslim country, and he does have a very small flock left. The flock is very small, but it is still a flock.

            Theodoros

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    Andrew says:

    These words make your draw drop…..

    Nevertheless, since at this Patriarchal Academy there is only one chancellor and teacher and professor inasmuch as there is only one father and head and abbot, all teaching derives from him and all learning has him as a point of reference for all the fledglings of the phanariot education. Namely, the Patriarch!

    I am a believer that God can work through broken people and confused people. That being said, if the new Metropolitan finds himself a shepherd in America I can easily see his ministry having the unintended consequence of converting even the most fervent skeptic to the cause of American unity and autocephaly. Maybe Met. Elpidophoros has a part to play in an ever unfolding script that is unknown even to him.

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    Dean Calvert says:

    Fr. Hans, Scott and others,

    First, I think Fr Hans is right…the language is simply medieval. And all of the terms used and mentioned by Harry above, “Our modesty” and
    “Our Serenity” are right out of the Byzantine imperial texts…this is the same language used 500 to 1000 years ago by the Byzantine autocrats to describe themselves. I recall even St. Constantine using that language in one text.

    Second, I think perhaps you are all beginning to understand why some of us (who grew up in the GOA and have had experience with these folks) have no patience with them. This is NOT like the Daughters of the American Revolution. As serious as the DAR may appear, none of them really expect the early American aristocracy to reoccur. This is different.

    I’ve been told, by people I trust, that the current patriarch actually made a comment at a conference one time about the transitory nature of American law. HAH actually responded to this person, “Yes, but when the Byzantine law comes back..things will…” he was dead serious.

    Ditto for my personal experience with the representative of the EP, Met. Panteleimon of Tyroloi, back in the early 2000’s when he represented the EP at one of the GOA Clergy Laity congresses. Confronted with the reality of the various Slavic national churches, His Eminence responded, “All of these Balkan churches…they are not real ecclesiological churches…they are political churches.” He was dismissing them all as “non Orthodox”. later in the conversation, he added the Antiochian patriarch to that list (of non churches). “The Syrians, they want to control everything,” he said.

    We all need to understand the degree of detachment from reality that these people are living with. All of the above, the effusive language that Scott points out would embarrass any self respecting American…this is right out of the panagyrics of the Byzantine days. Go back and read Psellus (not the Secret history…the other ones…LOL). This is vintage Byzantium hagiography…in 2011. And don’t forget what another GOA rep once told me, “Dont’ forget Dean…they only let the brightest ones come over here (to America).” How’s that for a scary thought?

    All of which serve to underscore my continuing point: the real divide we see now in the Orthodox world, is not so much Greek vs Slavic, as it is “Live” vs “Dead”. The real reason we need a Great & Holy Council is to rectify this 11 centuries old nonsensical view of the world. These anachronistic and moribund bishoprics need to be demoted, and the “live” churches need to be promoted. That’s the real reason a new council should be called…and the real reason the EP would prefer to have the Council remain paralyzed in the minutia of autocephaly recognition etc. Because that way, the REAL questions could be ignored….questions which go to the core of organization of the Orthodox Oecumene. That way no one will notice, “the emperor has no clothes.”

    Look at it this way…the bustling metropolis of Grand Rapids Michigan has more Orthodox than Bursa or Istanbul. Yet Istanbul has a patriarch, and Bursa has a metropolitan – with NO people?

    This is NOT what the Church Fathers ever intended…NEVER. They did not intend to bequeath to us a Church “fossilized in the 10th century” as Metropolitan Philip likes to say. The Church is supposed to be the living, breathing Body of Christ.

    St. John Chrysostom and St. Photios must be spinning in their graves.

    Best Regards,
    Dean

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      Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim says:

      Dear friends, I’m afraid that Dean has keenly identified the root of the problem: Churches that are “Live” vs “Dead”. However, I’ll be even more bold say that this vitality or mortality is contingent upon faithfulness to the apostolic tradition or lapse into heresy, respectively.

      Yes, I actually did use the word heresy (αίρεσις) which simply means to choose one’s own beliefs and/or practices over and against the established beliefs & practices of the Church. I am a physician and having knowledge of organic chemistry & pharmacology I can attest that even the slightest change in the molecular structure of a drug can literally mean the difference between efficacy and inefficacy or worse yet between life and death. It is no different with our Faith.

      I am specifically referring to basic Orthodox ecclesiology in all its multifaceted richness. As many of us here at the AOI know the “one, holy, catholic & apostolic” Church that we speak of in the Creed is nothing other than the phenomenon of the local ecclesia (έκκλησία), the assembly of those called out, that is, the bishop surrounded by his presbyters, deacons and lay faithful, all gathered together in a specific place for the particular purpose of celebrating the Eucharist and other Holy Mysteries in order to participate in and make present the Kingdom of God in their given geographic area. The local Church is the Church in all its fullness, and all the local Churches together are also the Church. However, you can’t have the latter without the former.

      The bishop is central to all of this, and without him there can be no Church. The local Church’s unity is dependent upon communion with the bishop. The local Church’s sanctity is derived from the Holy Mysteries, which by virtue of the grace imparted to the bishop during his ordination and the operation of the Holy Spirit, flow from him as from a fountain imparting the local Church with catholicity in the sense that nothing lacking for the spiritual perfection of its members. The local Church’s apostolicity is two fold. Its bishop is in the stream of apostolic succession, sharing both the faith and lineage of the apostles, and given that apostle (άρόστσλος) literally means one who is sent forth, the local Church under the direction of its bishop is committed to the mission of bring the Kingdom of God to all people of its territory.

      If it is true that there can be no Church without the bishop then the converse is also true: a bishop cannot exist without his Church. A bishop without a flock is nothing more than a glorified bureaucrat holding a “desk job”; he is certainly not an active shepherd of the souls entrusted to his care and the guarantor of the holy mysteries for this flock. I am not speaking of bishops who at one time had flocks and were subsequently exiled from their sees being temporarily or permanently separated from their flock as we have seen in various periods of history. I am talking about titular bishops, men ordained as bishop of sees that no longer exists to pastor flocks that do not exist. Let us remember that the term bishop (έπίσκοπος) actually means overseer; without an actual Church there is nothing to oversee. Without a flock the titular bishop is not even a pastor let alone an archpastor.

      This shameless practice is diametrically opposed to our Orthodox ecclesiology. In short it is legalistic hypocrisy and I would argue an ecclesiological heresy that desperately needs to be confronted along with so many other aberrant aspects of ecclesiology including authority, primacy, conciliarity, jurisdiction, ethnophyletism…

      With this in mind, I would like to point out that there is nothing else that +Elpidophoros could have said aside from offering remarks about his nonexistent flock/Church & praising the Patriarch for the “promotion”. I am not speaking ill of +Elpidophoros personally. I actually met him at St. Vladamir’s Seminary last summer and had the chance to speak with him after his talk. Although I disagree with his views on Constantinople’s primacy and jurisdiction (i.e., the Phanar’s interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon), finding them to be altogether without scholarly merit and inconsistent with Holy Tradition, nonetheless, he was a remarkably warm and compassionate person.

      At any rate, if it is not sheer heresy then at the very least this whole business of ordaining a titular “metropolitan” is a pathetic and embarrassing exercise in ecclesiastical pageantry and politics, and the fact that so many hierarchs from the other autocephalous Churches participated, especially +Hilarion, just makes my heart heavy.

      Lord have mercy!

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    GregF says:

    Just a note to say that this story and the comments illustrate what is, I believe, one of the best features of AOI. You get news from the Orthodox world, while the comments help to give some historical and present day context to the story.

    Thanks, all.

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  1. [...] The Phanar representative who lectured American Orthodox about their immaturity in 2009 has since been promoted to the rank of metropolitan and is now being talked about as the next patriarch. Does this bode [...]

  2. [...] The Phanar representative who lectured American Orthodox about their immaturity in 2009 has since been promoted to the rank of metropolitan and is now being talked about as the next patriarch. Does this bode [...]

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