Chambesy statement posted on the GOARCH website

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has just posted the official English version of the Chambesy statement, the decision to form conciliar committees in the churches of the diaspora (.pdf file).


  1. If SCOBA cannot follow its own constitution and have a rotating presidency what makes you think these episcopal conferences will not become a circus and a waste of money?

  2. George Michalopulos :

    Andrew: nothing at all. “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain, those who build.” To this I would add this proviso: unless there is genuine repentance among our bishops, then this episcopal assembly will likewise be a waste of time and energy. I hope I’m wrong, but the fact that the GOA came right out of the traces with this, leads me to think that we’re talking about gamesmanship here, nothing more.

  3. George Michalopulos :

    Andrew, upon further reflection, I think I missed the boat on this one. The problem with the GOA posting this statement as quickly as they did leads me to think that this may be the only arrow in their quiver at this point. It may be enough to cow some of the other ethnic jurisdictions (and at this point, let us be honest and call the AOCANA an ethnic jurisdiction) but it’s not going to impress the honest inquirer.

    Evangelism and accepting America on its own terms are what is going to win this country over for Orthodoxy, not issuing legal statements about jurisdictions. Certainly not screaming at each other about the proper pronunciation of baklava/baklawa or whether modern Macedonians can really trace their ancestry back to ancient Greece. Etc.

    I still have this sinking feeling that an episcopal assembly will not take place in America for these reasons:

    1. the GOA bishops would be overwhelmed in numbers

    2. there are no enforcement mechanisms and way too many escape hatches, hence it’s not a real synod and most important:

    3. none of the Old World patriarchates are going to let go of their American ATMs. Not as long as America remains the superpower (probably another 50 years).

    So in other words, when the rubber hits the road and –best case scenario–the erstwhile American episcopal assembly sometime in the future demands real administrative unity and autocephaly, enough of the Old World game-players will come up with excuses saying why “the Americans aren’t mature enough yet, yada, yada, yada.”

    Can I imagine a different scenario? yes, that’the Holy Spirit illumines the bishops at the upcoming Great Council and they realize the error of their ways and recognize the American Orthodox Churches autocephaly and demand that all canonical bishops join in that country’s holy synod. But so far, nothing has led me to believe that the Phanar wants anything approaching something like that.

  4. George,

    I think the episcopal conference will take place but it will be a total “late night” infomercial for Phanariot control and the superiority of the omogenia. I would not be surprised if when the EP is here for his environmental activist tour that there is some last minute shenanigans regarding this confernce.

    My bet is that the GOA is gonna pump some serious money and assign some sinecure staff to this project to make pretend they are in charge of America. Outside of their annual trip to the White House for omogenia day, its all they have left really.

    Meanwhile nobody is really going to care except for the highly paid church bureaucrats who need such events to affirm their own self-importance.

    In the meantime, American Orthodoxy is alive and well.

  5. George Michalopulos :

    Andrew, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Actually, that’s not completely true. SCOBA has the chance to redeem itself and any future episcopal council right now. If you go to, you can read a statement by an attorney who attended Palm Desert Storm. He gives a very chilling account of how the AOCANA is liable for a certain felonious bishop. What’s worse, is that SCOBA itself might be liable since they have “stringent” policies in place regarding sexual “crimes.”

    Towit: “The Church will not turn her back on these former clerics, if they repent of their destructive behavior and receive forgivness, even though they can no longer serve as clergy or in other positions of authority.” This are SCOBA’s words, not the attorny’s.

    Anyway, I realize that this hierarch is not a “former cleric,” but we’re talking about the spirit of the law being violated. What’s my point? If SCOBA has black-and-white verbiage regarding crucial issues such as this one, then the issue regarding this bishop is cut-and-dried. It’s simply beyond discretion and economia. But, nothing’s being done, and I seriously doubt anything will be done. Therefore, your point regarding the impotence of SCOBA stands. Hence, any hopes for an episcopal assembly with even more escape hatches diminishes as well.

  6. Dean Calvert :

    I just had a chance to read thru this.

    The way I read it, the Old World thinks SCOBA has been such a phenomenal success that they are expanding the idea.

    Aside from the pomposity of the whole idea (that the Old World is going to impose this kind of structure on the Orthodox Oecumene), and the fact that the OCA would appear to be an anomaly in their plan…it also seems to me to be impractical.

    Let’s see…once a year the entire assembly will meet. At those meetings, the rep of the EP will preside – in America presumably Abp Demetrios. It is an honorary position, presumably.

    However, for the rest of the year, the Executive Committee of the Assembly will meet as needed. The E.C. being the primates of the various jurisdictions.

    So…SCOBA has been such a tremendous success, we are duplicating the idea worldwide.

    Good luck with that.

    I think the message needs to go back to the Old World loud and clear: The age of despotism is over. Perhaps you’d prefer to go back to the Dark Ages, but it’s not gonna happen.

    I’m also beginning wondering if we should replace the double headed eagle with the “Don’t Tread on Me!” insignia?

    Best Regards,
    R U Kidding me

    PS I continue to believe the saddest commentary on SCOBA is that it was not present at those Chambesy meetings. Think about that one…the prototype of the new system is so bankrupt that it didn’t present any ideas.

    This is like going to Cuba for health care ideas!!!

  7. George Michalopulos :


    excellent analogies. I think SCOBA was OK when it started in the 60s as at least a starting point. It might have really taken off had they stuck to their original schedule of rotating chairman. This would have shown good faith. But under Spyridon and now Demetrius, it has become a Constantinopolitan dog-and-pony show highlighting the natural Byzantine supremacy which everybody likes and needs.

    You’re right: it was a damn shame that somebody from SCOBA didn’t show up at Chambesy.

    Therefore, I still stand by my earlier prediction: that such an episcopal conference in North America is probably a non-starter. If it meets at all, it’ll probably become obvious after the first year that it’s just a super-SCOBA with certain topics off-the-table. Hence, it’ll probably just die on the vine.

    On another note, I keep hearing how the GOA is the major financial contributor to the various SCOBA ministries. If true, then I’d like to propose a more equitable system that puts ALL of the jurisdictions equally on the hoof: Let’s consolidate all dioceses in North America into one admninistratively united, autocephalous church, with non-overlapping territorial dioceses, and assess EVERY parish a percentage of their budget to go straight for all SCOBA ministries. (Missions would be exempt from this scheme.)

    Let’s continue this thought experiment: how about 1% of a parish’s monthly budget going to the SCOBA ministries? 10% of the parish’s budget would go to the diocese. The diocese would remit to the patriarchate in Washington perhaps 5% of its total budget and keep 5% for its own functioning. Each diocese would come up with its own allocation for mission stations, missions and lending to parishes for building projects. A wealthy diocese could set up its own seminary.

    As for SCOBA, it could decentralize its national ministries (i.e. not the IOCC and OCMC) and work hand-in-glove with the dioceses rather than out of a central office. How else are you going to do OCF, or prison ministries, etc?

    Anyway, what do y’all think?

  8. Dean,

    Don’t encourage people. The EP is a big fan of the Cuban way of doing things. Lets not make things worse.

  9. Andrew,

    Sorry…I forgot!!!

    Too funny.

    Best Regards,

  10. A question for George Michalopulos about post # 3 (August 04, 2009, 11:05 pm)


    RE Can I imagine a different scenario? yes, that the Holy Spirit illumines the bishops at the upcoming Great Council and they realize the error of their ways

    I hope I can ask some questions without sounding smart-alecky: On what basis do you think that the Patriarch’s were not guided by the Holy Spirit when they produced this Chambesy statement on the diaspora?

    After all, we are not talking about a few priests getting together on-the-fly and publishing something. We are talking about “Patriarch Bartholomew, with the consensus of Their Beatitudes the Primates of the Most Holy Orthodox Churches” and the documents they discussed have been around since 1990 and 1993. It certainly seems, at least to an outsider, that this decision was arrived at by the highest level of the Orthodox Church and with a significant amount of time to ponder the answer.

    I assume that, as with every Christian gathering I’ve ever been to, the people at the Chambesy conference asked for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Why isn’t it reasonable to assume that the answer arrived at is the answer God wants the Orthodox Church to have?


    (I’m not Orthodox, but I’m interested in the discussion.)

  11. George Michalopulos :

    Greg, excellent question. I can’t presume to know if the Holy Spirit guided this colloquium. I pray that He did.

    However, it should be noted that this latest meeting appears to be a spinning of the wheels. If you go to, you will see that a similar such meeting took place over twenty years ago, and they came to more or less the same conclusions.

    Also, the absence of canonical bishops from the lands in question is VERY problematic.


  12. George,

    You didn’t answer my question.

    Although… maybe you did.

    Thanks for some more to ponder.


  13. George Michalopulos :

    Greg, please forgive me. Are you talking about the lines in bold face? I thought I answered the first. Let me try the second:

    I really can’t answer it except in this way: since the Chambesy counsellors were not representative, and more than a few were titular bishops themselves, then such a scenario raises uncomfortable questions.

    Also, even if the results were correct (and I think they may be), it’s the old “ends justifying the means” argument.

    does that help?


  14. George,

    RE … the Chambesy counsellors were not representative…

    Please clarify.

    Your statement above seems to be at odds with the letter itself which states that the “Conference was convened… with the consensus of Their Beatitudes the Primates of the Most Holy Orthodox Churches.”

    Am I missing something?


  15. George Michalopulos :

    Greg, what I meant by “not representative” was that no bishop from the Western Hemisphere was allowed to attend (as well as a Estonia, Latvia, etc. In other words, the lands of the so-called Diaspora, which is the crux of the supposed problem. Plus, autonomous churches such as Finland, Japan, Poland, etc. weren’t there. That’s all.

  16. George Michalopulos :


    P.S. the use of titular bishops also is problematic. These are bishops without sees, therefore there are no churches or people whom they “preside” over. So the degree of representation continues to abate under such circumstances.

  17. George,

    RE the “Conference was convened… with the consensus of Their Beatitudes the Primates of the Most Holy Orthodox Churches.”

    I thought that this phrase meant that everyone who needed to be there was there. Apparently not.

    Who decides which people need to be at these high level confabs?

    In my reading about Orthodoxy I thought:

    1. That the Primates were the bishops highest up the ladder in their respective Church.
    2. That the Primates represented all the Orthodox people within their respective Churches (Russian, Greek, Antioch, etc.)
    3. That every Orthodox person – whether in the U.S., Finland, Japan, etc. – was represented by a Primate.
    3. That the head of every Autonomous and Autocephalous church was a Primate.

    Apparently it is a little more nuanced than that.


  18. George Michalopulos :

    unforunately, it is. Just speaking about North America, not one American, Canadian, or Mexican bishop, of whatever ethnicity was invited. Even though all non-OCA primates are not heads of autonomous churchs, they should have been had “observer” status in my opinion. The fact that the primate of the OCA wasn’t invited, of course was a major oversight.

    I realize he wasn’t invited because the Estonian primate wasn’t invited. But that’s politics, not conciliarity.

  19. Oh, the fact that the primate of the OCA wasn’t invited wasn’t an oversite.

    As of August 15, 2009, neither had his Beatitude been informed officially of the decisions of Chambesy, nor invited in their implementation.

    Estonia was the poor excuse the EP used to cover its disdain for what the OCA represents: children growing up and leaving the nest. Unfortunately, HB Met. Jonah isn’t a mama’s boy.

    Estonia is indicative of the real debate:that between Constantinople and Moscow. Every pawn has to be seen in this light.

    The EP might come here and find town hall meetings.

  20. George Michalopulos :

    Isa, I love your sense of humor. “Town hall meetings” indeed! Bring ’em on!

    As I’ve said in other venues, it is unfathomable to me how a foreign religious leader can come to another country and claim patronage over its resources. This is niggardly to the extreme.

    I only hope that given the miniscule numbers of Orthodox in America, this entire dog-and-pony show is going to be completely ignored by all media.

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