August 23, 2014

Greeks losing interest in Hellenism

The anarchists that sank Greece into a near state of chaos late last year are now taking aim at the Church:

Greece is seeing an unprecedented spate of terrorist attacks against churches. Among the churches that were hit, in one case during religious service, were the Athens Metropolitan Church, the Piraeus Metropolitan Church, and the Church of St. Demetrios in Thessaloniki. Greek media have described these attacks, the likes of which Greece has not seen even when the country was under occupation, as a “declaration of war against the Church of Greece.”

All of the bombs were defused in time and only one, at Agia Triada in Pireaus, caused minor damage. The organization “Conspiracy of the Nuclei of Fire – Commandos” along with “The Nihilist Faction” assumed responsibility for the attack and in a manifesto claimed “Religion is a mechanism of power that plays a particularly devious role in subjugating people.” Authorities in Greece are taking the attacks very seriously, especially in view of the Easter period during which thousands of the faithful will congregate at the country’s churches.

Something very dark is going on here. The Orthodox Church, which has served as the ark of nationalist — indeed racial — Hellenism since liberation from the Ottomans in the 19th century, is now under attack in Greece. This violent turn, which authorities are rightly taking “very seriously,” comes at a time when the Church, embroiled in one scandal after another in recent years, is fast losing the respect and trust of Greeks.

An opinion poll conducted in December for the newspaper Kathimerini asked people to rank their most trusted institutions. The Orthodox Church ranked only 22nd, dropping from 15th place in the previous poll. The pollsters surmised that the scandals involving shady land deals linked to the Vatopedi Monastery was a contributing factor. Apparently, not all Athonite monks spend their days toiling in the fields. (To see a depressing catalog of corruption by Greek hierarchs, skip to the bottom of this post.)

Let’s raise a question concerning matters closer to home: If Hellenism is falling out of favor in Greece, where does that leave the “Hellenism and Orthodoxy” project that is being promoted by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America? The GOA has raised $28 million so far to see this program through. No doubt many good things — scholarships, computer labs, Oratorical Festival awards — are funded with these dollars. But none of these projects have anything to do with Hellenism, if by that term we are referring to its theological expression, the marriage of Greek philosophy and Christian theology.

But that’s not what the GOA is advancing. It’s brand of Hellenism is a Greek import: the total identification of Christianity with Greek nationalism. This religious nationalism is comprehensible (even if you don’t accept it) if you’re Greek or raised in a Grecophone culture. You’re nurtured with this Hellenism as with mother’s milk; you get it in school, in the media, and in state ceremonial. And this nationalist Hellenism is a perfectly understandable — though thoroughly objectionable — thing for Greek-educated clergy. This also explains why some Greek hierarchs in the United States can without compunction, without so much as a blush of embarrassment, work so feverishly as lobbyists for the Greek state on earth-shaking issues like the problem of Macedonians calling their country Macedonia.

As one researcher concluded about nationalist Hellenism:

Within the ecclesiastical hierarchy as well as in Greek society and political culture, Orthodoxy continues to be granted national character and is still acknowledged as the defender and perpetuator of the nation. Metropolitan Meletios of Nicopolis exclaims, “It is a given that Greeks who forget the foundations of Orthodoxy isolate themselves from the Greek people — they cease, essentially, to be Greeks, whether we will it or not.” [ ... ] In the words of former President Constantine Karamanlis, “The nation and Orthodoxy … have become in the Greek conscience virtually synonymous concepts, which together constitute our Helleno-Christian civilization.”

Christodoulos, the late Archbishop of Athens, was famous for his diatribes about the inseparable nature of Orthodoxy and Hellenism. In 2000, he organized mass demonstrations against a proposed EU measure that would have removed the religion field from national identity cards, saying it had been “put forward by neo-intellectuals who want to attack us like rabid dogs and tear at our flesh.” He later said Jews were behind the identity card directive. Christodoulos referred to Turks as “barbarians.” In 2003, he claimed that “history teaches us Europeans were always out to harm us. Long before the sack of Constantinople, Hellenism had been subjected to the horrible experience of the Franks, who wanted to achieve, by any means possible, its extinction.” The archbishop also helpfully pointed out that, “The Race [genos] owes its identity to the Church.”

In his “Stirring the Greek nation: political culture, irredentism and anti-Americanism in post-war Greece, 1945-1967″ (Ashgate, 2007) Ioannis D. Stefanidis explained how Orthodoxy was “effectively harnessed” to the needs of the Greek nation state in the decades following independence. This movement looked both forward and backward in time:

… the Church, an ecumenical institution par excellence, was proclaimed ‘guardian of the spiritual and national unity.’ Its decreed confluence with the nation was systematically projected far back into the Ottoman past, glossing over the instrumental role of the Church in securing the allegiance of the sultan’s Christian subjects. The compromise between Church and state also enabled the conservative elements to settle old scores with the surviving advocates of Greek Enlightenment and enlist divine authority in combating undesirable Western influences. Henceforth, in public consciousness the centrality of the Orthodox faith to Greek national identity would never be in doubt.

For Orthodox Christians raised in America, this sort of religious nationalism, cloaked in Orthodox vestments, is simply incoherent, incomprehensible. It subverts the Gospel and is no doubt partly responsible for driving away our youth, who see nothing intelligible in it for their own lives. “Hellenism and Orthodoxy” can never take root in American culture and will fail spectacularly. Outside of a Greek cultural context, it comes across as “My Big Fat Greek Church” — an intellectually suspect ethnic sentiment. And all of the racial overtones referenced in it with terms like Omogeneia and genos go beyond incoherence. They smack of a master race mentality, something unworthy of the Church of Christ. (And if, by the way, you’re a member of the Hellenic master race, the highest compliment you can pay someone is that he reminds you of Alexander the Great who was, by the way, Greek and not Macedonian.)

In his letter to delegates at last summer’s Clergy-Laity Congress, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I invoked these same notes of nationalist, racial Hellenism. “You are both the heirs and envoys of the Holy Greek Orthodox Tradition and of a brilliant Civilization thousands of years old, a civilization that is deeply honored throughout the American Continent. [ ... ] This is confirmed by … the progress that you present in every sector that brings honor to you both as the Omogeneia and as the Body of the Church, a cause for which your countrymen rejoice.” Countrymen? We are Americans here.

At the same conference, in his official letter to delegates, the Republic of Cyprus ambassador to the United States, Andreas Kakouris, declared that “during these critical times for sensitive issues for Hellenism, both the clergy of the Greek Orthodox Church and the laity are in the forefront, as spiritual messengers and protectors of the Hellenic identity, respectively, promoting not only religious matters but also our national issues.” In his letter, the president of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, thanked Archbishop Demetrios for “promoting not only religious matters, but also the ideals and values of Hellenism and of our national issues.” The prime minister of Greece, Kostas Karamanlis, wrote that he relished the opportunity to “hail this Other Greece beyond the oceans, this Greece that is working, prospering, growing and keeping alive the Hellenic identity in the United States of America.”

Again at Clergy-Laity, Archbishop Demetrios announced that the GOA was “now … in a position to completely and intensely focus in promoting the Orthodox Faith and in cultivating the universal human values of Hellenism, operative today in all civilized societies and countries.” No, not by a long shot. Americans won’t buy it, and even Greeks are turning away from it.

In a 1983 essay, “The Church: A Time for Transition” (a perpetual state for the Orthodox, it seems), Metropolitan Kallistos Ware described the problem with Greek Orthodox nationalism. “The future vocation of the Greek Church is to be not an ethnic body but a communion of faith and sacraments, a spiritual family to which men and women belong, not because of the accident of birth, but in consequence of personal conversion and self-dedication. Let the motto of the Church in the 1980s be, not Ekklisia kai Ethnos, ‘Church and Nation.’ Still less Ellas Ellinon Christianon, ‘a Greece of Greek Christians,’ but mia zosa kai elefthera Ekklisia, ‘a Church that is alive and free.’”

Alive and free. Imagine that.

Background on the Greek church scandals:

Vatopedi is only the most recent. There was this in 2005:

Greece’s top Orthodox clerics scrambled this week to salvage the church’s credibility as scandal after scandal has emerged with clergymen implicated in drug dealing, antiquities theft, trial rigging and lewd conduct.

On Friday, the Athens bishop was suspended for six months as an investigation proceeded into accusations that he embezzled $2.9 million and tried to rig a court case in which he was fighting for control of a monastery.

The suspension was just one of the latest chapters in a tale of corruption that has scandalized all of Greece, a country where 97 percent of the people belong to the Greek Orthodox Church and the government enforces church law and pays priests’ salaries.

The suspension, of Metropolitan Panteleimon of the Attica region, which includes Athens, was announced live on television, a day after church leaders appealed to the faithful to report improprieties and help root out corruption and strengthen the institution. The punishment was the harshest ordered against a high church official in two decades.

On Thursday, the Holy Synod of church leaders gave another bishop a week to answer allegations made by his predecessor that he was arrested last year during a drug bust in a “bar of ill-repute” in central Greece.

And this:

Greeks have watched dumbfounded as allegations of their priesthood’s dissolute lifestyle have unfolded on their television screens.

Snatched tape-recordings, aired nightly, have revealed rampant homosexuality among senior clerics who, unlike ordinary priests, are under oaths of chastity.

The alleged debauchery has not been limited to monastic cells. Last week, claims emerged that Metropolitan Theoklitos of Thessaly, a leading churchman, had been arrested on suspicion of drug dealing in a police raid on a notorious nightclub in Athens.

The priest was reportedly rounded up with Seraphim Koulousousas, the archbishop’s former private secretary, also implicated in another “unholy affair” involving gay sex with a bishop.

[ ... ]

Under public pressure from a media determined to expose the shenanigans, the church is investigating four more clerics, including a 91-year-old metropolitan bishop who was captured on camera cavorting in the nude with a young woman. The picture was splashed across the front page of the mass-selling Avriani.

And this:

Once in Cyprus, a whispering campaign against Athanassios came to a head when he accused a subordinate of fathering two children in violation of his strict vows of celibacy. The subordinate, reportedly encouraged by the Paphos bishop, responded by openly accusing his superior of being gay.

The Church has questioned the allegations. But overcoming initial reluctance, notably from the archbishop, Athanassios now has to testify to a board of inquiry into accusations that he has had homosexual affairs with at least two men.

And, one more:

Four years after his appointment to the most sensitive Christian office in the Middle East, the Greek cleric is embroiled in a shady land-dealing scandal that threatens to devastate the local church and poison its relations with the wider Palestinian population.

This week, visiting the Holy Sepulchre in preparation for Easter, Patriarch Irineos felt he needed an Israeli police escort. There are calls for his dismissal.

Comments

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    Andrew says:

    John,

    This entry is extremely well done. You are to be commended for bringing together all this important information for readers to access.

    Current events show the vision of the human person put forth in the “Omogenia before Orthodoxy” mentality has to come to end. It is a false humanism that should be confined to the ash heap of history.

    The inability of 79th Street to read the signs of the times or generate any type of response also shows how deep these issues run and how ineffective America’s Greek Orthodox leaders are. The Church is being attacked and nobody blinks an eye. Instead we see acts of buffoonery and political idol worship repeated over and over. Neville Chamberlain is the new model of Greek Orthodox leadership in America.

    The moral imperative of American Orthodoxy has never been greater than it is today.

    On another note Thanks to AOI for being the face of the new Orthodox media in America. The value and leadership of this blog and website is confirmed once again in such a great entry.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    What is shown here is the futility of linking the Church and the way we live to anything other that the Gospel. Only in the Gospel and the person of Jesus Christ do we have hope.

    It is tempting to think, Protestant style, that the Gospel and the person of Jesus Christ are somehow separate from the Church. However, that is not the case. They are not to be found ‘elsewhere’ but only in the sacramental reality of the Church.

    The way of the Cross, the grave, the tomb have to come before we can enter into the Resurrection.

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    John Couretas says:

    Andrew: One of the handicaps we Orthodox have in the social sphere is that we lack the institutional depth (schools, universities, think tanks) that our Catholic and Protestant friends have been building in America for … forever. The Orthodox have for too long been scattered to the winds. We operate as Lone Rangers in the War of Ideas. So how do we marshal our forces to explore, develop, debate the big questions that confront us? AOI was envisioned as a place to bring some of the best current thinking together, forcefully, and share it. We’ve planted a seed here and, if the level of discussion on this blog is any indication, we’re on the right track. As for Orthodoxy’s future in America — expressed in a true American idiom — I am an incorrigible optimist.

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    John Couretas says:

    Update: Paschal greetings to the worldwide Greek lobby. The Greek Foreign Ministry must be under the impression that we are celebrating Great and Holy Hellenism this week. I wonder how my Eritrean, Serbian, Romanian, Syrian, Russian and convert Orthodox friends would take to that.

    Kassimis is the man “responsible for Greeks abroad” at the Greek Foreign Ministry. His job is necessary because those of us who claim Greek descent, but who live outside the borders of Greece, are yet too immature to take responsibility for our own lives. That’s true even though we may be “compatriots.” Emphasis here is mine.

    Easter message by Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis
    Athens, 14.04.2009

    Fellow compatriots,

    On these Holy Days of the great celebration of Easter our thoughts go to all of you, the Greek men and women abroad.

    The Holy Easter is an integral and fundamental element of our national identity. These are the days of the great feast of Hellenism and Orthodoxy and the Greeks worldwide celebrate the triumph of truth and life and the resurgence of hope. The promising and timeless message of the resurrection of Christ fills us with strength for our collective and personal struggles to effectively face the major challenges of our time.

    On the days of the Holy Week let’s contemplate that only united we can overcome the difficulties and obstacles in order to meet our common goals. Resting on the universal values and ideals of Hellenism and Orthodoxy we, the National Center and Omogenia, can move ahead together and fulfill our common vision for stronger World Hellenism.

    With these thoughts I would to all the Greeks abroad Happy Easter, health and happiness.

    Theodoros P. Kassimis

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    Andrew says:

    No mention of Jesus Christ or the Resurrection by Mr. Kassimis but I guess as far as Hellenism and Orthodoxy go the Resurrection is a odd little footnote.

    I am disappointed that Mr. Kassimis did not offer a homage to Obamakis the Great and Bidenopoulos. If you are going to go Omogenia (or I believe the word in German is Herrenvolk) you might as well go all out.

    Meanwhile in the real world far away from 79th street fantasy land Somali Pirates have seized Greek Ships and neutered the Greek Army all the while domestic terrorists are waging a war against the Orthodox Church in Greece.

    “Hellenism and Orthodoxy” gets you neither true Hellenism nor authentic Orthodoxy. Hellenism and Orthodoxy gets you cultural mediocrity, appeasement and a Church robbed of the truth of the Resurrection.

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    Andrew says:

    Correction The statement did mention the Risen Christ. I apologize for ignoring that part of the letter.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Well, so much for my embargo on commenting on nonsense during Holy Week.

    Andrew, John, this is beyond satire. It is indeed, pathetic. I don’t know if you saw Hillary’s talk w/ the Greek govt or heard what President Hussein the Munificent told Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul, but boy or boy were our leaders carrying major water for the Muslims (when the American “president” wasn’t bowing before a Muslim potentate). Boy, did the Muzzies luck out on the electoral draw!

    I wonder how the Acorns of St Andrew and their acolytes on 79th Ave are taking all this wonderful news. It was bad enough they backed this crew in November, but we got nothing for all of Arb. Demetrius’ sycophancy back on Greek “Independence” Day.

    Yup, Hellenism = Christianity. That worked out so well, didn’t it?

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    Chrys says:

    As I read this, I am reminded that “in the beginning, God created man in his own image” . . . and man returned the complement. What John describes is yet another riff on original sin: if you can’t be God, you can just re-make Him in your image. Yet every time we try to use the name of Christ to serve our own ends, we delude ourselves, slander His Name and heap judgment on our own heads.

    The kingdom of God demands our whole heart, soul, mind and spirit. While we may love our countries and our cultures, our families and our own lives, all these must be laid at the foot of the cross. As important as these may be, they will pass away. Hellenism already has, for the most part. To paraphrase St. Gregory of Nyssa, if there is anything true or good in Hellenism, it belongs to the Church, because Truth is always one. The rest should be left behind.

    More to the point: there can not be two masters. The terribly sad catalogue of sins described in John’s post is, at best, evidence of double-mindedness. (At worst, it is something far, far worse.) The same confusion of Christ and culture is evident in the tragedy that has occurred once too often: monks from differing Orthodox jurisdictions coming to blows over issues of access to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. (“And they’ll know we are Christians by our love . . . er . . . left hook.”) Using the mantle of God to push our agendas is – to me – the real meaning of the commandment that we are not to take His Name in vain.

    The only point of correction I would offer is to one item in John’s list: the Cypriot Bishop +Athanassios was exonerated. The accusations appear to be indicative of the kind of shameful machinations that characterize Church politics there and which are inexorably destroying the standing won for it by the blood of martyrs and saints. +Athanassios, a disciple of elder Paisios on Mt. Athos, appears to have had the misfortune of being thrown into that hornet’s nest and subsequently been subject to endless ploys that would cause Machiavelli to blush. If one is looking for compelling evidence that the Church should eschew political power of any kind, this would be it. Those who would lead the Body of Christ must not grasp after power and privileges and simultaneously claim to serve the One Who, though existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped. Whenever we lay down our cross (generally to pick up something else that serves us), at that very moment we cease to be Christian; at that moment we once again seek to usurp the Throne. Grabbing hold of Hellenism – or any other -ism – is but one of the many ways we seek to avoid the cross. If we would follow Him, then we, too, must empty ourselves, counting everything loss and pursue with undivided hearts the calling of God in Christ.

    Kallo Pascha.

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    John Couretas says:

    Chrys — Thanks for the correction and background. These guys fight dirty don’t they? As to the monks fighting each other at the Holy Sepulcher, I can’t imagine a more disgusting or impious spectacle. I’m sure atheists and haters of the faith rejoice every time they see us brawling like that.

    George — Yes I did follow the Turkey visit, which did not exactly follow the game plan set out for our President on inauguration day by the Committee for Eternal Homogeneity.
    Greek Foreign Minister Bakoyannis jetted into Istanbul to brief the Patriarch on the Obama-Karamanlis cup of coffee following the NATO meeting in Strasbourg. But by the time, Obama got to Istanbul, he seems to have forgotten everything we coached him on at the March 25 photo op and elsewhere. If you look at the picture here, you see a look of real consternation on the Patriarch’s face. Perhaps there was some truth to this news report:

    According to information from the Greek media, the American President told Vartolomei that just the way that the Theological school in Halki teaches orthodox priests in a Muslim country, Greece needs to have schools, which will teach Muslims and other religions. Barack Obama also supported the Muslim appeal from North Greece to choose their own Mufti and not for it to be given to them by the government.

    It is interesting to note that the Muslim rights in Northern Greece were brought up by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her meeting with the Archbishop of America Dimitrios. Dimitrios insisted for the Theological school opening and Clinton answered that this will happen only if Athens takes some measures regarding the Muslims in Northern Greece. Back then, the US ambassador in Athens Daniel Speckhard tried to belittle Clinton’s words by saying that she was just repeating the Turkish need.

    Greek newspapers remind that the Muslim rights in Greece were mentioned as a condition for the opening of the Theological school also by the Turkish Foreign Minister Alli Babadjan during his meeting with Dora Bakoyanni last week in Istanbul.

    And this:

    Newspaper “Vradini” comments that prior to meeting with Karamanlis, US President Obama poured “cold water” on Greek side categorically informing that US policy towards Macedonia will not be changed.

    Ouch.

    Enough nonsense for now. Kalo Pascha to all!

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Note 4. Just read the statement from the Greek Foreign Minister. This falls into the “You can’t make this stuff up!” box.

    You don’t even need to analyze the whole project very much. Just quote their spokesmen and you pretty much have it.

    This is what Archimandrite Elpidophoros wants the American Orthodox to sign up for. Thanks, but no thanks.

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Well George, (relating to item 7), this “Acorn of St. Andrew” did not support the “Freak show from Chicago” (to quote syndicated columnist John Kassrefering to the current admioistration) taking up its residency in Washington. Nor did any of the members of the Order that I know. I would like you to supply any information you have showing that the Order of St. Andrew supported the candidacy of Obama. If you cannot, then perhaps you should refrain from making such baseless comments.

    Furthermore, this “acorn” espressed to GOA (as did others) that they had hoped that the Abp would have addressed issues relating to life (abortion, capital punishment and stem cell research) with the president in addition to important issues of human rights and religious freedom such as the situation of the EP and the continued division of Cyprus.

    It is about time that people realise that not everyone who supports the EP and its role in world Orthodoxy marches in lockstep and that supporting the EP or human rights issues relating to ancestral homelands is not tantamount to putting Hellenism over Orthodoxy.

    It is the kind of assumptive attitude seen on this site (regarding this general topic) and in Met. Jonah’s speech that will hinder the cause for unity that we all desire. Why would I want to surround myself with people who have speak with such bitterness and disdain towards the EP yet profess to respect and want to help it. It is not very convincing. I see a lot of talk about being Christ centered and that the GOA and the EP are not, but very little in the way of Christ like talk. There is so much anger that it realy saddens me. With these attitudes, (coupled with a lot of talk about unity by the OCA and AOCA and yet no action other than to blame the EP and the GOA) I don’t see unity coming for a very long time. Very sad.

    As we listen to the twelve passion gospels tonight and try to really feel the suffering Christ endured for us, lets also try to remember the suffering that untold millions of faithfull hierarchs, clergy and laypersons suffered over the centuries in the “old world patriarchates”. Perhapsthen we can remember that in our relatively young experiment in Orhodoxy in the US (and all the new world), we may not know everything.

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    Fr Hans, Note 10

    “This is what Archimandrite Elpidophoros wants the American Orthodox to sign up for. Thanks, but no thanks.”

    Don’t you think that is a bit of a stretch? The deputy foreign minister resposible for Greeks Abroad sent a paschal greeting. What is the big deal? I think this is really getting silly.

    NOONE is asking us to “sign up” for this. If one is not a “Greek Abroad” or (like me) dosen’t consider ones self a “Greek Abroad” then it dosen’t refer to us. Big deal!

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    The “big deal” is this: The concepts (and much of the language) used by the Greek Foreign Minister are identical to the ones proposed by Archmandrite Elpidophors (and increasingly the GOA).

    What are they? In a nutshell, the equating of Orthodoxy and Hellenism with both subsumed under ethnic identity in service to the Greek state.

    It doesn’t apply to you? Of course it does. As “Hellenism and Orthodoxy” becomes the official policy of the GOA, the purpose, and perhaps even the nature of the Church must change in order to accommodate it.

    See here how dominant the idea has become.

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    Chrys says:

    Tom – re Note 11:

    As one of those who has written about the need to be Christ-centered (to which you may or may not be referring), I do not see the disdain for the EP in the comments noted above or on other posts on this site. In fact, I believe – and expect – that everyone who has posted would honor the EP (at least for the office, but I think also the man) and indeed support him all the more for the suffering and persecution that Constantinople endures. I would also believe that all of us hold Mount Athos in the very highest regard – so it’s not an antagonism to things greek. In fact, as a longtime member of the GOA, I have been extremely grateful to know many genuinely saintly priests and bishops – some quite well. I can’t imagine where I would be without them. My debt to them is immeasurable.
    As such, I don’t think there is any hostility (intended or otherwise) meant for the GOA per se. What I DO see in the various comments are concerns about focus and behavior. In my case, my concern is that true leaders are those who lead by serving their people, true shepherds are those who give their lives for their sheep – much like the men I just mentioned. This, however, does not seem nearly so evident in some of things we have seen coming out of higher leadership. Unfortunately, many recent events (all documented well elsewhere on this blog) seem to arouse concern. That is what I think you are seeing here.

    One of my concerns is the apparent misuse of the Church for political purposes. Now, I have no problem with our leaders addressing political issues. In fact, I expect them to address such issues when the dictates of faith or the concerns of the faithful warrant it. However, when political posturing is offered to serve what appears to be the interests of overseas agendas or the power and privileges of particular groups, then I get a little concerned. Then I question their priorities and their focus. My key concern in this case is that the Church – both here and over there (wherever “there” may be) will suffer great loss when it is willing to swap its treasure for a mess of pottage, when it chooses to serve some purpose other than the Kingdom of God and the building up of the Body of Christ.

    I am not insisting on some kind of pietism here. I expect the faith to “baptize” and hopefully “transfigure” a culture – indeed, I hope to see that happen here in American. (Our forefathers have given us a wonderful start.) At the same time, I must resolutely resist anyone who insisted on promoting that culture as if it were on a par with the Gospel (which certainly seems to be implied in the message of the Deputy Foreign Minister) or as if it were part of the divine mandate. This does not make me hostile to Hellenism by any means. I deeply appreciate the many gifts that Hellenism has to offer as I would any of the many rich cultures who also have much to offer. But I can not accept its elevation in importance to something nearly equal to the Gospel. That, to me, borders on idolatry. Unfortunately, history is replete with efforts to meld the faith with other agendas. Inevitably it leads to corruption (double-heartedness always does) – as John has detailed above. This in turn slanders God and undermines the mission of the Church. If this seems harsh, I believe that Christ was a little more pointed when He warned that it would be better for those who caused such a downfall to have a millstone hung around their necks and thrown into the sea.

    Please do not think that I am assuming that the Minister’s comments express the EP’s position. Moreover, I see no reason why we can not honor the EP (which is his due) and stand in solidarity with him and all those who suffer for the faith while at the same time hoping to see the American Church united in obedience to Christ (as it must be) under a pastor whose first concern is serving Christ in America (as it should be).

    I hope I have expressed these concerns without any trace of the acrimony or un-Christ-like talk that have offended you. I believe that we can and must honor and support our elders overseas while we also establish the appropriate and needed form of leadership here. Indeed, if we are as young and immature as some claim – and we may well be – then we can not afford ” part-time parents,” as it were. Despite the common current practice, children do not raise themselves well. In that sense, I would hope to have the paternal support of as many Patriarchs as possible. But this will prove difficult IF any are ultimately more concerned about their claims or prerogatives than about the mission of Christ. (Again, I do NOT suppose this to be the case. Even in the face of appearances to the contrary, love – and decency – require that we assume good faith and honorable intent until proven otherwise.) This process may entail difficult choices which will unavoidably offend some and irritate others – it must be done with as much love and honesty as we are capable of in Christ. Many egos will be crucified in the process. Hopefully all of them.
    Kalo Pascha.

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    Dean Calvert says:

    With all this talk about Hellenism, has anyone ever read the Synodikon of Orthodoxy?

    It says this…in the anathemas sections:

    To them who attempt by whatever means to introduce a new controversy or teaching into the ineffable Oeconomy of our Incarnate Saviour and God,and who seek to penetrate the way wherein God the Word was united to the human substance and for what reason He deified the flesh He assumed, and who, by using dialectical terminology of nature and adoption, try to dispute about the transcendent innovation of His divine and human natures, Anathema (3).

    To them who profess piety yet shamelessly, or rather impiously, introduce into the Orthodox and Catholic Church the ungodly doctrines of the Greeks concerning the souls of men, heaven and earth, and the rest of creation, Anathema (3).

    To them who prefer the foolish so-called wisdom of the secular philosophers and follow its proponents, and who accept the metempsychosis of human souls or that, like the brute animals, the soul is utterly destroyed and departs into nothingness, and who thus deny the resurrection, judgment, and the final recompense for the deeds committed during life, Anathema (3).

    To them who dogmatize that matter and the Ideas are without beginning or are co-eternal with God, the Creator of all, and that heaven and earth and the other created things are everlasting, unoriginate and immutable, thus legislating contrary to Him Who said: ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words will not pass away’; to them who thus speak vain and earthly things drawing down the Divine curse upon their own heads, Anathema (3).

    To them who maintain that although the wise men of the Greeks and the foremost of the heresiarchs were put under anathema by the Seven Holy and Catholic Councils and by all the fathers that shone forth in Orthodoxy as ones alien to the Catholic Church because of the adulterations and loathsome superabundance of error in their teachings, yet they are exceedingly more excellent,both here and in the future judgment, than those pious and orthodox men who, by human passion or by ignorance, have committed some offense, Anathema (3).

    To them who do not accept with a pure and simple faith and with all their soul and heart the extraordinary miracles of our Saviour and God and of the holy Theotokos who without stain gave birth to Him, and of the other saints,but who attempt by sophistic demonstration and words to traduce them as being impossible, or to misinterpret. them according to their own way of thinking, and to present them according to their own opinion, Anathema (3).

    To them who undertake Greek studies not only for purposes of education but also follow after their vain opinions, and are so thoroughly convinced of their truth and validity that they shamelessly introduce them and teach them to others, sometimes secretly and sometimes openly, Anathema (3).

    To them who of themselves refashion creation by means of mythical fabrications and accept the Platonic ideas as veritable, saying that matter, being self-subsistent, is given form by these ideas, and who thereby clearly calumniate the free will of the Creator Who brought all things into being out of non-being and Who, as Maker, established the beginning and end of all things by His authority and sovereignty, Anathema (3).

    To them who say that in the last and general resurrection men will be raised up and judged in other bodies and not in those wherewith they passed this present life, inasmuch as these were corrupted and destroyed, and who babble empty and vain things against Christ our God Himself, and His disciples, our teachers, who taught that in the very same body in which men lived, in the same shall they also be judged; furthermore the great Apostle Paul in his discourse concerning the resurrection distinctly and with examples restates the same truth more extensively and refutes as mindless those who think differently; therefore,to them who contravene such dogmas and doctrines, Anathema (3).

    To them who accept and transmit the vain Greek teachings that there is apre-existence of souls and teach that all things were not produced and did.not come into existence out of non-being, that there is an end to the torment or a restoration again of creation and of human affairs, meaning by such teachings that the Kingdom of the Heavens is entirely perishable and fleeting, whereas the Kingdom is eternal and indissoluble as Christ our God Himself taught and delivered to us, and as we have ascertained from the entire Old and New Scripture,that the torment is unending and the Kingdom everlasting to them who by such teachings both destroy themselves and. become agents of eternal condemnation to others, Anathema (3).

    To those pagan and heterodox doctrines and teachings introduced in contempt of the Christian and Orthodox faith or in opposition to the Catholic and blameless faith of the Orthodox, by John Italus and by his disciples who shared in his ruin, Anathema (1).

    Sounds like the Church Fathers were not fans of Hellenism to me.

    Kali Anastasi,
    Dean

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Dean, lots of interesting stuff here, i.e., the preexistence of souls, Platonism, the denial of the divinity of Christ (Arianism), etc. — all vestiges of classical (pagan) Hellenism that obviously threatened the correct understanding of Orthodox doctrine.

    It makes evident too, the intellectual poverty of the “Orthodoxy and Hellenism” construct. One has to ask, which Hellenism? The Hellenism anathematized by the Fathers? The Hellenism applied to race? The Hellenism of the Cappadocians? — in which case the construct is not even logical.

    The more one looks into this, the more one realizes the entire construct is untenable.

  17. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Theodoros says:

    The article that was posted about the Church of Greece is profoundly biased, both against the Church and the Greek-Hellenic nation.

    As a supporter of “Symphonia” the concept that defined Church-State relations in Byzantium, the Church of Greece has been unjustifiably criticized, as was the person of the late pious Archbishop Christodoulos.

    The terror attacks on the Churches in Greece is carried out by criminal anarchists who are the products of globalization and the atheistic policies of the European Union.

    There is something to be said for Church-State relations in Greece.

    1) The Church helped preserve the Greek language and identity during Ottoman times. Steven Runciman wrote in “The Great Church in Captivity” that Orthodoxy preserved Hellenism and Hellenism preserved Orthodoxy. The identification with national identity and the Church is not Unique to the Greeks. Serbia, Russia, Rumania, the Arab Orthodox likewise intertwine national identity with the Church.

    2)As to the accusation in the article that the Church has adopted a defense of “racial” identity. This is absurd. The late Archbishop Damaskinos along with other clerics such as Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Zakynthos and Metropolitan Joachim of Volos have been honored and revered as righteous among the Nations by the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem for their humanitarian efforts to protect Greek Jews from the Nazis during the Second World War.

    Racism and racial ideas are foreign to the whole of the Orthodox Church, and the Church of Greece in particular abhors racism and prejudice. The late Archbishop Christodoulos who was reviled by left wing Greeks and secularists, as well as by the foreign media always condemned with out hesitation displays of racism and anti-semitism, and called on the Greek people to accept and embrace immigrants that arrive in Greece.

    The article posted here is severely misleading. With regard to the Church scandals that overtook the Church of Greece. Those Bishops implicated in the scandals were investigated and removed from their positions when the scandals emerged in 2005.

    As to the notion that the Church is losing the respect of Greeks, this is false. Churches in Greece on Sundays and holy days are usually full. This has been my experience every year when I visit Greece.

    The defense of the Nation and its history should not mislead anyone. The Church of Greece is devoted to the Gospel above all else, but is also patriotic as the Orthodox Churches in America are to the United States.

    The Church in the Byzantine Empire blessed the Emperor and the institutions of State. The same with the Russian Church under the Tsars (and during the Second World War, when the Church despite the Stalinist horrors urged the persecuted faithful to fight for the Russian motherland against the Nazi invaders).

    Greece is not yet the secular mess that most European societies are, and the Church is ensuring that things stay that way. In any case, this is a profoundly anti-Greek article that I found most offensive.

    I am a Greek American born and raised in the United States, and I fully identify with Hellenic Orthodoxy while simultaneously sympathizing with the establishment of an autocephalous Church in America for all Orthodox Christians.

    But if such an endeavor takes on the tone as the above article, I can probably do without. I see serious problems with both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the GOA in terms of their deviating from proper Orthodox Canonical principles, and for offending converts into the Church.

    Just as I believe the Church should advance the Gospel in North America and all must be included, so I also believe that Greeks like myself who are nationalists and who identify with the Greek cause should not be subject to the type of ridicule in the above article either.

    This is an excellent and informed website, but I am profoundly dissapointed by the sarcastic tone of the above article which denigrates the Church of Greece and Greeks in general. Legitimate criticism of the Phanar and GOA is well taken, but this goes beyond that.

    Greece and Cyprus are very devout countries (despite the loud and violent displays by Greek leftists) where the traditional religious segments of society are the quiet majority. There is nothing unhealthy or wrong in the Church supporting a love of the nation and its history.

    The Greek populations of Asia Minor were slaughtered by the Turks out of devotion to their faith and in defense of their holy Churches. Their Bishops such as Chrysostom of Smyrna, a man of tremendous piety was slaughtered for refusing to abandon his flock and in accordance with the Gospel chose to share their fate.

    In September 1955, the Greek population of Constantinople was attacked by a Turkish government instigated pogrom. What has upset most Greeks about the complicity of the western governments in failing to oppose these crimes are the horrific manner in which Greek Orthodox Churches were desecrated during this period of terror.

    With the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the Turks have destroyed over 500 Greek Churches and Monasteries. The Icons, the chalices, etc.. have been desecrated and profaned. Churches are used as stables so Turkish settlers can bring their farm animals to live in them.

    I respectfully object to the mockery of the Church of Greece and to the ridicule of the Hellenic-Orthodox unity. The above examples to the Turkish assaults on Greek Churches in Constantinople and Cyprus is to demonstrate the degree to which Greeks still believe in sacred principles. The violation of Greek Orthodox Churches by the Turks enflames the anger of many Greeks, because in most parts of Europe Churches are now empty, but the Greeks stil adhere to the faith of Christ (as do the other Orthodox Countries).

    The Church of Greece is putting up a fight against European atheism. The European constitution makes no mention of Christianity as if it never existed, and there is now a push by the Europeans to force member countries to legalize same sex marriages, remove Icons and prayer from public schools, etc.. Does anyone think the Church of Greece should accept or endorse this agenda?

    Most unfortunately, the poor and miserable Greeks living in Constantinople have been forgotten and unfortunately confused with the policies of the Ecumenical Patriarch. These people are now very few, most of them having been the victims of an ethnic cleansing campaign or having fled their ancestral lands in a state of terror.

    These are pious people trying to preserve as many Churches as they can as persecution still continues. The Greeks love their Churches that they have lost to the Turks and mourn them.

    I am the first to condemn any attitude within the Orthodox Church that is chauvanistic or racist (particularly by Greeks) but I also believe there should be some respect for the Greeks and for the Greek character of Byzantium.

    The Russian chroncicles mention Prince Vladimir’s delegation that travelled to Constantinople and referred to the Byzantines as Greeks. This does not make the Greeks supremacists but there should be at least some respect.

    Incidentally, the Church-State Union existing in Greece is now being replicated in Russia (which I think is great).

    Happy Easter

    Theodoros

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    Theodoros says:

    A Respectful Plea.

    I would not be writing this were it not for the fact that I consider all Orthodox Christians to be brothers and sisters in the faith united by what really counts — the Gospel, the sacraments, the fathers, the Canons, and holy tradition.

    Having looked at some of the past postings on the site, I am somewhat bothered by what I perceive to be vicious attacks on Greece and Greeks.

    I can understand why many non-Greeks were offended by the speech given by the Archimandrite at Holy Cross.At the same time, many of the attacks on the hierarchy of the GOA for their support on Greek issues seem to be rather vicious, and out of context.

    I do not customarily defend the GOA but speaking for myself I have a love for both America and Greece, as do most Greek Americans. I believe this is the case also with the hierarchy of the GOA.

    There is nothing wrong with the GOA supporing issues that do in fact threaten the Orthodox Church.

    Two autocephalous Orthodox Churches (EP and Cyprus) are directly threatened by the Turkish government which has slaughtered a few million Christians of Greek, Armenian, and Assyrian ancestry over the past century.

    There is a direct religious aspect in the Greek Archdiocese helping to publicize the treatment of ordinary people (Christians at that) who are being severely oppressed in both Turkey and Turkish occupied Cyprus.

    Of course, I am the first to state that such activities should come secondary to the Gospel and to the unity of Orthodoxy in America, but they are still quite important.

    Very recently, I attended a presentation about the Greek Orthodox still living in Constantinople. There was a picture of an old Greek woman living in a house on the island of Halki. The picture of her showed her proudly standing before her collection of Icons in her home. Many of these people are living under terrible conditions and so it is entirely just for the Bishops of America to call on American officials to support religious freedom and human rights in Islamic countries.

    This is also not only a Greek issue. I have a documentary film entitled “Days Made of Fear” about the Serbs of Kosovo, another group of Orthodox Christians completely forgotten by the world living in terrible circumstances today.

    Would anyone criticize the Serbian Church for supporting the rights of Serbian Christians? Or how about the Antiochians supporting Orthodox Arabs in the Holy Land and Lebanon?

    If Orthodox administrative unity in America is going to happen, there has to be mutual respect and inclusiveness for all. I consider myself a Greek, an American, and above all an Orthodox Christian, and believe in implementing the Canons of the Church and Evangelizing North America.

    But I am profoundly turned off as one Greek Orthodox by some of the posts on this site. Some I consider legitimate criticism but others are profoundly hostile and unfriendly.

    A Wonderful Pascha to all

    Theodoros

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Excellent points, Theodoros. The thrust of the argument against the GOA/EP is not that it shouldn’t plead the case of the Greeks of Greece, Cyprus, etc. It should. The major criticism is the perception (more correct than not) that the EP/GOA cares nothing at all about America, its natives peoples, evanglizing them, evangelism itself, etc.

    This characterization becomes harder to dislodge when the Greek foreign ministry, SAE, etc. puts out paschal messages describing the Resurrection in purely ethnic tones.

    Along this point, consider what Arb Demetrius of the GOA did when he went to the White House or what the EP did when he went to Obama’s hotel room: there was no mention of the Gospel, moral rectitude, the culture of death which is destroying Western civilization, the egregious sin of the great debt that is being foisted upon future generations, thereby enslaving them in lives of perpetual poverty, etc.

    Instead, these bishops talked about the name of a sovereign nation which they don’t like (neither do I for that matter) and a long-closed theological school. On the first issue, we Greeks lost decisevely. so overwhelmingly in fact that we can never bring it up again as doing so would risk losing what little political capital we have left. As for the second issue, not only did we ensure that it would never be opened again, but doing so could only come at the cost of the further Islamification of Greece.

    This is the equivalent of a three-point whoosh shot for the Turks on this (Halki) issue alone. Here they are: 1) they have managed to divide the EP from the Greek government forever as the Greeks don’t want to give up their prerogatives over their Muslim minority, 2) we wasted precious capital on a snipe-hunt (it’s not like we don’t have ANY theological schools in the rest of the world), and 3) the Obama Administration and its Sec of State (Hillary) have shown themselves to be completely apathetic about Greece’s, the Greek-Americans’, and the EP’s interests. And decisively so. (You can almost see them rolling their eyes or looking at their watches whenever someone tries to press EP/Greek interests. We look foolish and –worse–get nothing for it.)

    Obama views himself as a secular, cultural transnationalist at best (and a Muslim sympathizer)so he could care less about Orthodoxy. Don’t believe me? He’s becoming more and more open about his “indifference” to Christianity. Did you see where he made Georgetown cover their crosses and take down pictures of Jesus? Even the Turks allowed icons to be shown at Halki when it was open for God’s sake! The State Dept views the EP as a irritant and the Greek lobby as a wasting asset.

    Yeah, I’d like for Halki to be opened on principle but the EP would be doing itself a favor if it took evangelism much more seriously than it does. It needs to get off the “Green agenda” which is warmed-over Gaia worship anyway and preach the Gospel. Sit down for this one: it should preach the Gospel to the Turks, after all, Canon 28 gave it authority over three provinces, two of which are now Islamic: Thrace and Asia (i.e. Turkey). The fact that evangelism never crosses its mind is not lost of the vast majority of Americans and increasing on Orthodox Americans. No one’s going to sign up for Fr Hope-bearer’s vision of “submission.”

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    George, did you not read Theodoros comments? While you start with the phrase “excellent Points” you go right into the kinds of assumptions which 1) have no basis in fact and 2) are exactly the things about which he was making his point. You profess to know the motives and the hearts and minds of those in the GOA and the EP.

    So as long as we are making assupmtions aboout motives, it seems to me that you must be a fomer member of the GOA who is or was hurt or angered by some action withinn the GOA or the EP. Now, because of that history, you cannot help but critisize and assign the most sinister of motives to any actions of the GOA or EP.

    Nobody hates smoking like an ex-smoker.

    Theodoros is right on target and said it far better than I ever could. Faith comes first over everything else! Everything else! But that does not mean that there is no room left in me (or others) for issues relating to MY motherland (the US) or the motherland of my ancestors (Greece). Or human rights issues regarding the EP, Cyprus, Kosovo, Palestine, Darfur, China, North Korea etc. To parpahprase the Gospel from Mopnday’s bridegroom service, we must do the one with out leaving the others undone.

    Wishing you nothing but Blessings and a Good Resurrection!

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Tom,

    my assessments were about the Obama’s administrations motives, not Theorodore’s. They may be flawed but that’s the only conclusion I can draw from the Greek press’s accounts of the entire trip to Turkey (to say nothing of Bartholomew’s visage in the one lone photograph; it was grim to say the least).

    But I see that you agree w/ me: “Faith comes first over everything else!” Faith. That doesn’t mean worrying about the names of countries or closed-down seminaries, that means baptizing new countries and opening up new seminaries. Dioceses unfortunately close up shop some times (Hippo, Carthage, Laodicea, Ephesus, etc.) Should we not open up new dioceses?

    As for my former membership in the GOA, nothing untoward happened. I still help out at the local Greek festival, I even helped my dad prepare for the annual Agape Vespers picnic yesterday (which was my day off). I still get along w/ the priest of my former parish. (I just got back from a pilgrimage at one of the “Athonite” monasteries that so scares the EP with four other parishioners at my OCA parish. BTW, they like Jonah and have excellent relations with the OCA.) It’s just that I saw which way the wind was blowing evangelistically, traditionally, pietistically, etc. (Last nite, our youth group maintained an all-night vigil over the funeral bier of our Lord. They went through the entire Psalter three times and even chanted the Lamentations.)

    Why OCA? Me and a few other founders did the necessary legwork to try and find the most evangelistic, indigenous jurisdiction in the US. Antioch was a close second, the only drawback was that it wasn’t indigenous. Ergo, OCA.

    Did we find out about the shenanigans in Syosset? Not at first. But you know what? Because the OCA is autocephalous, all of its bishops are autonomous. That means we were protected from the criminality of the two previous metropolitans. In fact, the autonomy of the diocesan bishops helped precipitate the fall of Herman. In our diocese, the dreaded “head tax” was quietly phased out and the Diocese made up the difference. This meant that Syosset’s take was in the hands of the Diocese and when they threatened to withhold it, voila! Exeunt Herman, stage left.

    But I digress. Once you start pushing 50, or you’ve been in the private sector and thus have to actually be productive and accountable, you learn to cut through the BS and get to the heart of the matter. My points regarding the lack of evangelistic effort on behalf of the EP/GOA stand. Just look at the grief Demetrius got from the East Coast secular Greek press when he talked about evangelizing America. You’d have thought he did something criminal.

    Anyway, I know because you’re on this website you love the Faith (forgive me for imparting motives here but there it is). May you have a blessed Pascha!

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    George,

    From post 19

    “The thrust of the argument against the GOA/EP is not that it shouldn’t plead the case of the Greeks of Greece, Cyprus, etc. It should. The major criticism is the perception (more correct than not) that the EP/GOA cares nothing at all about America, its natives peoples, evanglizing them, evangelism itself, etc.”

    That does not seem to me to be questioning the motives of Obama. You outrightly question the motives of the GOA and the EP.

    From Post 21

    “But I digress. Once you start pushing 50, or you’ve been in the private sector and thus have to actually be productive and accountable, you learn to cut through the BS and get to the heart of the matter.”

    I fit into both of these categories (pushing 50 and private sector) and I agree with the assesment that one learns to cut through the BS. That is what i am doing when I make the points I do regarding things posted on this site and other sites and comments made by hierarchs (of many jurisdictions). Perhaps what I view as BS is different from what you believe it to be.

    “My points regarding the lack of evangelistic effort on behalf of the EP/GOA stand. Just look at the grief Demetrius got from the East Coast secular Greek press when he talked about evangelizing America. You’d have thought he did something criminal.”

    And that makes my point as well. The Abp. has spoken often of the need to evangelize and continues to do so. Who cares that some in the Greek papers complain. Certainly it has not stopped the Abp.

    “As for my former membership in the GOA, nothing untoward happened. I still help out at the local Greek festival, I even helped my dad prepare for the annual Agape Vespers picnic yesterday (which was my day off). I still get along w/ the priest of my former parish.”

    Excellent, do you see how wrong one can be when one makes assumptions about the motives of another?

    “It’s just that I saw which way the wind was blowing evangelistically, traditionally, pietistically, etc. (Last nite, our youth group maintained an all-night vigil over the funeral bier of our Lord. They went through the entire Psalter three times and even chanted the Lamentations.)”

    Again, a beautiful thing. Our parish has been doing an all night vigil for many years and numersous other GOA parishes in the Chicago area do the same. Perhaps it is not the entire GOA which lacks in piety, but rather maybe just your former GOA parish.

    “But I see that you agree w/ me: “Faith comes first over everything else!” Faith. That doesn’t mean worrying about the names of countries or closed-down seminaries, that means baptizing new countries and opening up new seminaries. Dioceses unfortunately close up shop some times (Hippo, Carthage, Laodicea, Ephesus, etc.) Should we not open up new dioceses?”

    Faith absolutely means doing BOTH! Evangelism AND defense of religious freedom and human rights.

    In fact, if I don’t do both, I am not being true to Christ. Several years ago, in a presentation of loving your fellow man I heard Fr. Roman Braga state that if we don’t defend our fellow man, we really do not show love for them.

    In any case, The Church will never fail, in spite of us 9clergy and laity alike).

    Wishing you a blessed Pascha,

    Good Resurrection,

    Tom K

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    Theodoros says:

    To George Michalopoulos

    You make great points. I for one thought the 25 March ceremony at the White House was a debacle and the meeting between the Patriarch and Obama for ten minutes at a hotel was a complete farce.

    Even though I respect Archbishop Demetrios as a priest and theologian, I do not think he is an effective Archbishop.

    I am inclined to agree that he should have raised issues such issues as abortion, same sex marriage, euthanasia, and other moral issues that are devastating American society. These are all at the forefront of issues that face the faithful of America and that the Church must confront.

    As for Halki and the Islamicization of Greece, I am coming to the same conclusion. I think the Patriarch got ambushed at that meeting with Barack which the Turks were able to control and influence all the way. The linkage with Thrace is a dangerous link and this suggests that even if Halki were to open, the Patriarchate would be very weak and vulnerable.

    The time may have arrived for the Ecumenical Patriarchate to move to Greece and rehabilitate itself. It would be nice to remain in Constantinople but if worse comes to worse, it moves.

    Theodoros

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    George Michalopulos says:

    I don’t want to be accused of sending other men’s sons to go fight in wars, but as a Christian, I believe that all bishops should remain with their flocks until the Lord’s return. If at all possible, he should be the last to leave. I realize that this is an untenable situation, but I honestly believe that the churches of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem should shake off their dhimmi attitudes and preach the Gospel.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but there’s this Coptic priest named Fr Boutros who preaches on one of the 24/7 all-Arabic language channels. He lovingly takes on the basic Islamic tenets and and actually gets Muslims to convert to Christianity. Sure, he’s got a price on his head and he’s probably not long for this world, but if it comes to that, I’m sure he’s got a martyr’s crown waiting for him.

    We are never going to win the political argument, the demographics in Europe are against us. We can however pray that the Holy Spirit will revive His Church and the evangelistic fervor of the Holy Apostles. Talking about null canons that had to do with dioceses that no longer exist or who’s primatial makes us look like pharisees. The vestments may be fabulous, the churches gleaming, but we’ll still be whited sepulchres.

    May God forgive me, a sinner.

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    Photini Henderson says:

    I’ve lived in a coccoon, and thought the dissonance in the Greek church from third generation Greeks were essentially an anomaly, influenced by some need to fit in to the primary culture and a little embarassment. The only Greeks I knew were all Orthodox Christians. The movie Big Fat Wedding I thought was rude and caricatured, but didn’t know people like that weren’t mostly about church, at least as far as I saw, in perhaps a superficial Sunday only relationship, but thought those were fringe. I read the Times, Observer, and Herald and rely on those as authentic representations. The church experience has its disappointments and horrors, with the scandals, alleged cover ups, and stringent or even toxic atmosphere, but it was never the Greek part of any of it that bothered me, just the bad man part. I would hope there is still some Greek pride, if you will, enough to be ashamed of all the defamation against the church by these scandals and mismanagements, but I expect nothing anymore. Perhaps the dissension among the Greeks about the Greekishness needs to be worked out among Greeks. I hope it can be resolved. The tension makes it difficult to ‘sell’ what we have to anyone looking for a church.

    Here’s another caricature that’s pretty crude. Not sure its deserved, but its certainly a pulse point. He’s got a whole stream of bits on youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_taQ4klZvs

Care to comment?

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