Fr. Jensen: Where is the leadership?

On his blog Koinonia, Fr. Gregory Jensen responds to the Holy Cross faculty letter which, he says, “reflects no serious criticism of the failures of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to provide effective leadership either in the United States much less world wide.” Excerpt:

In my view, I think that the leadership of the Ecumenical Throne and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has been mixed at best. The events leading up to the autocephaly of the OCA are illustrative of this.

When the old Metropolia approached the Ecumenical Patriarchate ASKING for assistance in regularizing its relationship with the rest of the Orthodox Church, it was told that it had to address its concerns to the Moscow Patriarchate. It did and the result was the creation in 1970 of the OCA. Far from being a rejection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate the OCA was the fruit of the Ecumenical Throne’s unwillingness to involve herself in the life of the Church in America.

Another failure to take a leadership role in America is how the Ecumenical Throne responded to the group of Protestant Evangelical Christians who would go on to join the Church as the Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission. As with the Metropolia, the Ecumenical Patriarchate WAS approached by Peter Gillquist et. al., only to be rebuffed. Is it any wonder then that not simply Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of American, but many Orthodox Christians in America are skeptical about the ability of Ecumenical Patriarchate to lead the whole Church and especially the Church here in the States?

In both cases I must ask where was the leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarchate when leadership was needed?

The letter also references the 1994 meeting of Orthodox bishops in America—Greek, OCA, Antiochian, Ukrainian, Carpatho-Russian, and Serbian—in Ligonier PA. That meeting represented a concrete move toward a united Orthodox Church most likely under the presidency of then Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America, Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory. These plans were derailed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

History to one side, I would take exception to what seems to me to be the faculty’s condescending tone toward the OCA. This tone is much in evidence when they say that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has “exercised restraint and has not broken communion with this jurisdiction” (i.e., the OCA). These words and the use of scare quotes when referring to the OCA and its autocephaly does not suggest, to me at least, restraint but provocative spirit.

In the first place, whether a majority of the autocephalous Church do or do not accept the autocephaly of the OCA is not the point. Truth is not subject to a majority vote!

Read “Some Go Postal, I’m Going Editorial” on Koinonia.


  1. Christ is Risen!

    Thank you for the cross post.


  2. George Michalopulos :

    Fr Greg,

    superb! The sign of any church’s claim of leadership is its fidelity to the Gospel. No relics, no saints, no canons, can make up a dearth of evangelism. We must never be like that Church in the Book of Revelation which “lost its first love.”

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