Holy Cross Faculty Weighs in on ‘Distinctive Prerogatives’ of Ecumenical Patriarch

The Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass., released a “Faculty Statement on the Ecumenical Patriarchate” on April 30 and posted it on the school’s Web site on May 8. HT: Andrew. Text follows:

The Leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Significance of Canon 28 of Chalcedon

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is the preeminent Church in the communion of the fourteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches. Reflecting the witness of St. Andrew, the First Called Apostle, the enduring mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is to proclaim the salutary Gospel of Jesus Christ in accordance with the Apostolic and Orthodox Faith.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate has a particular responsibility to strengthen the unity of the Orthodox Churches and to coordinate their common witness. At the same time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has a specific responsibility to care for the faithful in lands beyond the borders of the other Autocephalous Churches. This is a ministry of service to the entire Church which the Ecumenical Patriarchate undertakes in accordance with the canons and often under difficult circumstances.

The Faculty of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology profoundly regrets that statements recently have been made which misinterpret the canonical prerogatives and distort historical facts related to the distinctive ministry of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Indeed, some injudicious remarks have insulted the person of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and have attempted to diminish the significance of his ministry.

These statements, made by bishops, priests and laity, have been widely distributed. Regretfully, they have done little to advance the cause of Orthodox unity and the witness of the Church today. Indeed, some observations have misrepresented the traditional basis of Orthodox ecclesiology. They contradict the admonition of St. Paul that “all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).

Principles of Ecclesiastical Organization

The Church, chiefly through the Ecumenical Councils, has established significant principles of ecclesiastical organization. These principles are expressed in the canons of the Councils and in subsequent historical practices which have been sanctioned by the Church. These principles support the proclamation of the Gospel and strengthen the good order of the Church.

The Ecumenical Patriarch has been accorded specific prerogatives of witness and service from the time of the fourth century. This was a period when the Church was able explicitly to provide for canonical structures following the period of great persecution of the first three centuries. These prerogatives form the basis for his ministry to the entire Orthodox Church. These prerogatives distinguish the responsibilities of the Ecumenical Patriarch from other bishops of the Orthodox Church. They clearly grant to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople a primacy among the bishops of the Church. This primacy of service brings with it significant authority and responsibilities.

A number of recent commentators have challenged the leadership and responsibilities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. They have misinterpreted canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon (451), and related canons and practices. In order to appreciate properly the significance of canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon, it must be interpreted in the light of other canons and practices of the Church at that time. It is far from being irrelevant as some may claim.

The Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople (381) in canon 3 acknowledged that the bishop of Constantinople enjoys “prerogatives of honor (presveia times).” While recognizing that the bishop of New Rome (Constantinople) ranked after the bishop of Old Rome, a parallel between the primatial positions of the two bishops was affirmed.

At the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon, the privileges of the bishop of Constantinople received further elaboration especially in canons 9 and 17. These canons stated that disputes in local churches could be appealed to Constantinople. Canon 28 of Chalcedon continued to draw a parallel between Old Rome and New Rome and reaffirmed the decision of 381. Canon 28 of the Council stated that the bishop of Constantinople had “equal prerogatives” (isa presveia) to those of Old Rome. Over two hundred years later, the distinctive position of Constantinople was also reaffirmed in canon 36 of the Penthekti (Quinsext) Council (in Trullo) in 692.

Furthermore, canon 28 of Chalcedon explicitly granted to the bishop of Constantinople the pastoral care for those territories beyond the geographical boundaries of the other Local (autocephalous) Churches. At the time of the fifth century, these regions commonly were referred to as ‘barbarian nations’ because they were outside the Byzantine commonwealth. (St. Paul in Romans 1: 14 also had used the term ‘barbarians’ to refer to those beyond the old Roman Empire.) Canon 28 of Chalcedon appears to clarify the reference in canon 2 of the Council of Constantinople which says that churches in the “barbarian nations” should be governed “according to the tradition established by the fathers.”

This interpretation of canon 28 is supported by the fact that the geographical boundaries of the Local Churches are set. Their bishops are not permitted to minister beyond these limits. The Council of Constantinople in canon 2 clearly states: “Bishops should not invade churches beyond their boundaries for the purpose of governing them…” This principle is also reflected in canons 6 and 7 of the Council of Nicaea (325) and in the Apostolic Canons 14 and 34, also dating from the fourth century.

The Church invested only the bishop of Constantinople with the responsibility to organize ecclesial life in the places not under the care of other Local (autocephalous) Churches. This is reflected, for example, in the missions to the Goths and Scythians in the fifth century. The pastoral and missionary activities inaugurated by St. John Chrysostom while Patriarch of Constantinople are especially instructive in this regard. One must also take note of the missionary activity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Central and Eastern Europe from the ninth under Patriarch Photios and later on through the sixteenth centuries. In these cases, the Ecumenical Patriarchate acted to spread the Gospel in territories beyond the boundaries of other Local Churches. [1]

The Ecumenical Patriarchate granted autocephalous status to the Church of Russia in 1589, confirmed in the Golden Seal Certificate in 1591, which was reaffirmed by a synod in Constantinople in 1593 when patriarchal status was granted. In these Tomes, the territorial jurisdiction of the Church of Russia was clearly defined. This practice was followed in the Tome of Autocephaly for all subsequent Autocephalous Churches which were granted their status by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and confirmed by the assent of the other Autocephalous Churches.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has recently said:

The Orthodox Church is an orderly community of autocephalous or autonomous Churches, while she is fully aware of herself as the authentic continuation of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. She fulfills her spiritual mission through the convocation of local or major Synods, as the canonical tradition has established it, in order to safeguard and affirm the communion of the local churches with each other and with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the First Throne in the Orthodox Church, has been granted by decisions of Ecumenical Councils (canon 3 of the II Ecumenical Council; canons 9, 17 and 28 of the IV Ecumenical Council; canon 36 of the Quinsext Ecumenical Council) and by the centuries-long ecclesial praxis, the exceptional responsibility and obligatory mission to care for the protection of the faith as it has been handed down to us and of the canonical order (taxis). And so it has served with the proper prudence and for seventeen centuries that obligation to the local Orthodox churches, always within the framework of the canonical tradition and always through the utilization of the Synodal system… [2]

History bears this out. It is attested to by innumerable examples of initiative undertaken by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to exercise leadership for those Local Churches prevented by unusual circumstances from doing so. In this capacity, the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected patriarchs for other Sees when asked, acted as arbitrator in disputes, deposed controversial patriarchs and metropolitans outside its territory, and served on many occasions up to the present as mediator in resolving issues of Pan-Orthodox concern.

Especially important for the well-being of world Orthodoxy in recent times was the role of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in convening a series of Pan-Orthodox Conferences in 1961, 1963, 1964, and 1968 to address immediate issues requiring a Pan-Orthodox consensus, and to make preparations for the convocation of a Great and Holy Council. These Conferences marked the beginning of a new period of conciliarity among the Orthodox Churches. The Ecumenical Patriarchate acted with wisdom and love to draw the Churches out of their isolation so that they might address critical issues together.

Numerous consultations have taken place since then to examine the ten themes which were proposed by the Churches in 1976 for study in anticipation of the convening of a Great and Holy Council. Among these themes was the topic of the Diaspora.

When this conciliar process began in 1961, all the Autocephalous Churches recognized that it was the prerogative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to lead this effort for the good of the entire Church. For over forty years, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has wisely led this conciliar process with the concurrence of the other Autocephalous Churches.

In conjunction with this conciliar process, the distinctive initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch, with the collaboration of other Autocephalous Churches, have led to significant events in the life of the Orthodox Church. Among these are: the re-establishment of the Church of Albania (1992); the arbitration of disputed patriarchal elections in the Churches of Bulgaria (1998) and Jerusalem (2005); and the establishment of an orderly succession of the Archbishop of Cyprus (2006). In all of these cases the leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was of singular importance. It was a leadership fully recognized by all the Autocephalous Churches.

Far from acting in an arbitrary manner, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew personally has profoundly contributed to the life of the Orthodox Church through his persistent efforts to deepen the sense of conciliarity and common witness among the Autocephalous Churches. In addition to the above developments, he has visited all the Autocephalous Churches and cultivated a personal relationship with their leaders. Most importantly, he has convened and presided at the historic Synaxis of Orthodox Primates in 1992, 1995, 2000, and 2008.

The wise words of Metropolitan Maximos of Sardis should be recalled:

The Patriarch of Constantinople rejects any plenitudo potestatis ecclesiae and holds his supreme ecclesiastical power not as episcopus ecclesiae universalis, but as Ecumenical Patriarch, the senior and most important bishop in the East. He does not wield unrestricted administrative power. He is not an infallible judge of matters of faith. Always the presupposition of his power is that in using it he will hold to two principles: conciliarity and collegiality in the responsibilities of the Church and non-intervention in the internal affairs of the other churches… [3]

With these observations in mind, the following must be noted with regard to the distinctive primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Firstly, all the Autocephalous Churches recognize the Ecumenical Patriarch as the ‘first bishop’ of the Church. He has specific responsibilities for coordinating a common witness among the Autocephalous Churches. As such, the Ecumenical Patriarch exercises this ministry first of all in relationship with the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Patriarch is the president of this Synod. He does not act over or above the other bishops. According to the Orthodox perspective, primacy involves conciliarity. He always acts together with the other bishops of the Patriarchal Synod. Likewise, in his relationship with other Orthodox, the Ecumenical Patriarch is honored as the protos, the first bishop of the Church. This position gives to the Ecumenical Patriarch the special responsibility for identifying issues requiring the attention of the entire Church and for convening appropriate meetings to address these issues. When the Orthodox meet in a Synaxis, the Ecumenical Patriarch is the presiding bishop of the meeting.

As Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has said, the Ecumenical Patriarchate constitutes par excellence the center of all the local Orthodox churches. It heads these not by administering them, but by virtue of the primacy of its ministry of Pan-Orthodox unity and the coordination of the activities of all of Orthodoxy.” [4]

The Development of the Orthodox Church in the United States

At the most recent Synaxis in Constantinople in October 2008, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew proposed to the other Primates that renewed attention be given to the so-called Diaspora. A part of the process leading to the Great and Holy Council, representatives of the Autocephalous Churches had examined the topic of the Diaspora in 1990 and 1993, and made significant recommendations. As one of his proposals, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew called upon the Churches to “activate the 1993 agreement of the Inter-Orthodox Consultation of the Holy and Great Council in order to resolve the pending matter of the Orthodox Diaspora.” [5] This was a clear indication that the Ecumenical Patriarchate refused to accept indefinitely the present canonical irregularities in places such as the United States.

Moreover, the Primates in their Statement affirmed the proposal of Patriarch Bartholomew that meetings be held in the year 2009 to resume discussions on this critical issue. They affirmed their “desire for the swift healing of every canonical anomaly that has arisen from historical circumstances and pastoral requirements, such as in the so-called Orthodox Diaspora, with a view to overcoming every possible influence that is foreign to Orthodox ecclesiology. In this respect we welcome the proposal by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to convene Pan- Orthodox Consultations within the coming year 2009 on this subject, as well as for the continuation of preparations for the Holy and Great Council. In accordance with the standing order and practice of the Pan-Orthodox Consultations in Rhodes, it will invite all Autocephalous Churches.” [6]

Under the leadership of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Primates indicated that the status quo in the so-called Diaspora was not acceptable.

The development of the Orthodox Church in the United States is very complex. The early growth of the Orthodox Church in this country has resulted from immigration, missionary activity, and the return of Eastern Catholics to Orthodoxy. In more recent decades especially, the Church also has received many persons who have found in Orthodoxy the fullness of the historic Apostolic Faith. Truly, the Orthodox Church in this country has become a salutary witness to Our Lord and His Gospel. Through its teachings, ecumenical dialogues and philanthropic activities, the Orthodox Church has contributed to the process of reconciliation and healing in our society.

At the same time, it must be recognized that the proper development of the Church in this country has not always followed the principles of ecclesiastical organization reflected in the canons of the Councils which have already been mentioned. The presence of multiple jurisdictions from various Autocephalous Churches in the same territory and the presence of multiple bishops in the same territory are clearly contrary to the canonical tradition. The good order of the Church has been shaken by acts which have gone contrary to ecclesiological principles and historical praxis. [7]

Among these acts was the grant of ‘Autocephaly’ to the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church (the Metropolia) by the Church of Russia in 1970, thereby renaming this jurisdiction the “Orthodox Church in America.” This action had no canonical basis. From that time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the majority of other Autocephalous Churches have refused to recognize the “autocephalous” status of this jurisdiction. As a result, this jurisdiction has not been accorded a place in global Pan-Orthodox discussions in accordance with the agreement of the Autocephalous Churches.

Yet, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has exercised restraint and has not broken communion with this jurisdiction. Indeed, in the 1990s the Ecumenical Patriarchate frequently received representatives of this jurisdiction to discuss its irregular status. While recognizing the historical road of this jurisdiction, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has affirmed that the canonical irregularities have not been resolved.

Under the leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a truly Pan-Orthodox solution must be found for the entire Church in the United States. Recent Ecumenical Patriarchs and their representatives have consistently reiterated this fact. During his pastoral visit to Washington in 1990, Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios said:

It is truly a scandal for the unity of the Church to maintain more than one bishop in any given city; it clearly contravenes the sacred canons and Orthodox ecclesiology. It is a scandal that is exacerbated whenever phyletistic motives play a part, a practice soundly condemned by the Orthodox Church in the last century. The Ecumenical Patriarchate, as a supra-national Church serving the unity of the Church, is not indifferent to the condition that has evolved, and will exert every effort in cooperation with the other Holy Orthodox Churches, and in accordance with canonical order, to resolve this thorny problem.[8]

In order to address the difficult situation in America, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has consistently supported efforts aimed at increasing cooperation among the jurisdictions and at establishing proper order in accordance with the canons. Archbishop Athenagoras proposed a Conference of Orthodox Bishops in 1936. This proposal was the basis for the “Federation” which came into existence in 1943. Archbishop Michael convened a gathering of Orthodox bishops in 1952 with the intention of having regular meetings. Archbishop Iakovos led the establishment of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops (SCOBA) in 1960. Since that time, the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has served as the chairman of SCOBA in accordance with the agreements affirmed in the Pan-Orthodox Conferences.

Moreover, it was under the leadership of the Exarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople that meetings of all Orthodox bishops were convened in this country. Archbishop Iakovos presided at the meeting in 1994. Archbishop Demetrios presided at meetings in 2001 and 2006.

Members of the Holy Cross Faculty have been actively involved in a number of initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate aimed at addressing the canonical irregularities of church life in America. The Faculty of Holy Cross was invited in 1977 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to submit a vision of unity for the Orthodox Church in the United States. The draft of this vision constituted one approach to the models of unity under study. [9] Faculty members have been invited to participate in meetings related to the preparation for the Great and Holy Council. The present Dean of Holy Cross was involved in meetings of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission convened by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Switzerland in 1990 and 1993 as well as a related meeting in 1995.


We believe that the Ecumenical Patriarchate possesses distinctive prerogatives to serve the unity and witness of the entire Orthodox Church in accordance with the canons and the praxis of the Church. Since the fourth century, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has acted in accordance with the canons to maintain and strengthen the “unity of spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3) among the Autocephalous Churches.

Directly related to our situation in the United States is the interpretation of canon 28 of Chalcedon and related canons. Although it deals with a specific situation of its time, canon 28 nevertheless safeguards principles which constitute the basis of permanent aspects of our canonical tradition. Other canons do the same. One might consider, for example, canon 6 of Nicaea or canon 3 of Constantinople or canon 39 of the Penthekti (Quinsext) Council (in Trullo), among others. In the first instance, an established order of church government is confirmed; in the second, an adjustment of church order is made to accommodate a special need. In both instances, principles are provided which reveal the manner in which the Church expresses herself in different situations. So it is with canon 28 of Chalcedon. It confirms what in practice was already in progress at that time – a primacy of honor among equals for the bishop of Constantinople, expressed in a way which reflected this reality.

While not diminishing the significance of canon 28 and related canons, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has wisely recognized the distinctive and complex features of Orthodoxy in the United States especially. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has recommended that a truly Pan-Orthodox solution must be found. It has advocated this perspective in recent Pan-Orthodox discussions. In light of canonical tradition and ecclesial praxis, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is alone in the position to guide the Autocephalous Churches toward a proper resolution for the Church in the United States.

We rejoice that much is made of Orthodox unity and the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in achieving it. This is good and hopeful, in view of the fact that it keeps alive and at the forefront of our concerns the quest for this noble goal. At the same time, however, it raises, once more, the issue about the way in which this unity should be achieved. At the center of this discussion is our Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the understanding of its role in initiating the process of the goal towards unity.

We look to the venerable Ecumenical Patriarchate to continue to lead the Autocephalous Churches in addressing the difficult challenge of the Orthodox Diaspora, especially here in the United States. The recommendations of the Inter-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar Consultations in Chambésy in 1990 and 1993, as well as the meeting there in 1995, provide significant proposals for addressing the irregularities of Church structures in the United States.

We endorse the proposal of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to activate the 1993 agreement which proposed the establishment of an Episcopal Assembly in given areas. We look forward to meetings scheduled to take place this year to continue to examine the topic of the so-called Diaspora.

We appeal to all, both clergy and laity, to pray for the unity of the Church and to commit ourselves to words and deeds of healing and reconciliation so that our good and loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will be honored and glorified.

[1] See, Lewis J. Patsavos, Primacy and Conciliarity: Studies in the Primacy of the See of Constantinople and the Synodical Structure of the Orthodox Church, Brookline, 1995.

[2] Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, “Address to the Ukrainian Nation,” July 26, 2008.

[3] Metropolitan Maximos of Sardis, The Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Orthodox Church, Thessaloniki, 1976, p. 236. This outstanding study documents the historic role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate especially in relationship with the other Autocephalous Churches.

[4] Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Encountering the Mystery, New York, 2008, p. xl.

[5] Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, “Address at the Synaxis of the Heads of Orthodox Churches,” Constantinople, October 10, 2008.

[6] “Message of the Primates of the Orthodox Church,” Constantinople, October 12, 2008.

[7] See, Thomas FitzGerald, The Orthodox Church, Westport, 1995, pp. 101-115.

[8] “Remarks of Patriarch Dimitrios,” The Orthodox Church 26:9/10 (1990), p. 9.

[9] See Lewis Patsavos, “The Harmonization of Canonical Order,” in Journal of Modern Hellenism, 19-20, 2001-02, pp. 211-28.


  1. George Michalopulos :

    what was left out of this was the fact that the primacy of honor given to the pope was statutory (i.e. by canon), not theological. Peter after all founded the churches in Antioch and Corinth as well is Rome.

  2. As someone with NO qualifications to address this topic in any depth, this struck me as a much more well-reasoned and respectful statement. I was heartened by what seems to me to be a proper focus on the mission and witness of the Church. I particularly appreciated that it discusses the EP’s recognition of, past efforts and current intent to help resolve the canonical anomalies that afflict the Church in the US. The pivotal issue of canon 28 is addressed in a more helpful manner, but not in the detail needed to answer the criticisms posed elsewhere. (But then, perhaps a statement is not the proper place to do so.) George, if you are inclined to address this statement further (beyond the above comment), I will look forward to your critique.
    Reading this, however, has confirmed my sense that this issue is pretty well beyond my ken and reinforced my need to focus on fostering the healing of the Church through the transformation of my own life.

  3. What I gain from the whole mess is that the only thing anyone agrees on is that things aren’t good the way they are and need to be fixed. Not that we should try anything that might actually fix it, like get the bishops together to talk it out. Instead, the grand high muckety-mucks just sit around making speeches and issuing statements, while we laymen are left in the lurch.

    Lord have mercy.

  4. George Michalopulos :

    Chrys, you are right, this statement from HC if FAR more reasoned than the diatribe that was delivered there 2 months ago. I’m going to reread this latest message more carefully, but if you would be so kind as to flatter me by reading my own posting on canon 28 (just published on AOI) and tell me what you think, I’d much appreciate it.

    I applaud HC for putting this out and for trying to come up with a conciliatory statement, one which does take into account the legitimacy of the Russian Mission and its heroic efforts on this continent since 1794. Although I accept any such efforts as good-faith, I still maintain that this is all happening because of +Jonah’s election and his wonderful evangelistic hyperactivity.

    Politically, it appears that the Phanar/GOA axis is starting to feel the heat. There may be some cooler heads over there who realize that Orthodoxy is more than Byzantine nostalgia and that we are no longer a diaspora. I’ve said it at least a dozen times, the native peoples of North America are not going to take seriously the claims of any church which does not evangelize, evangelize in the vernacular, makes sure its bishops are beholden to one ethnic group and/or made up of this same ethnic group, and functions with no transparency. I.e. just a good ole’ boys club who’s real leader is a foreign national. Plus one who’s rules and regs are subject to the whims of a foreign and hostile govt.

  5. Fr Gregory Jensen :

    While I appreciate the more restrained tone of the HC/HC faculty response, I would still reject their assertion that the autocephaly of the OCA is non-canonical. If I recall the history of the events that lead to the creation of the OCA, the old Metropolia approached the EP ASKING for assistance only to be told that it had to address its concerns to Moscow. It did and the result was the creation of the OCA. Far from being a rejection of the EP then, the OCA was the fruit of the EP”s unwillingness to be involved in the life of the Church in America.

    So too, I would add, the creation of the Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission. As with the Metropolia, the EP WAS approached by Peter Gilguist et. al., only to be rebuffed.

    As for the 1994 meeting that the letter refers to, it is worth noting that the move towards a united Orthodox Church (most likely under the presidency of Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory) was derailed by the EP.

    History to one side, I would take exception to the faculty’s seeming condescending tone toward the OCA when they say that the EP has “exercised restraint and has not broken communion with this jurisdiction,” that is with the OCA. Taking together with the use of scare quotes when referring to the OCA and its autocephaly does not suggest, to me at least, restraint but provocation.

    Whether a majority of the autocephalous Church do or do not accept the autocephaly of the OCA seems rather beside the point. Since when is the Truth subject to a majority vote? It isn’t. Further, and at the risk of generating more heat then light, it seems that the Churches that do not accept the autocephaly of the OCA have a vested interest in not doing so. If the OCA’s status is accepted, then the EP et. al., are on the canonical territory of another Church. Put another way, if the OCA is canonical, then by their presence here EP et. al. are themselves uncanonical and it is the OCA that has “exercised restraint” by not breaking communion with these other jurisdictions.

    It seems to me, as George Michalopulos suggests (#3), at least part of what has motivated the Phanar & the GOA is the election of Metropolitan JONAH and his unwillingness to take a backseat to the Phanar and the GOA.

    Finally, yes, the GOA has taken some leadership in America and we should thank them for this. But at the end of the day the GOA is concerned with ministering to the Greek community–that’s fine and God bless them for it. But after 12 years as a priest in the GOA, I concluded that as long as caring for the Greek community remains the primary mission of the GOA, then non-Greeks and our needs will remain secondary. Put another way, if caring for the Greek community is primary, outreach, evangelism and missions will always come second–but having been a missionary I got to tell you, you can be effective in bring people to Christ and His Church under these circumstances.

  6. I have to side with Fr. Jensen. The hubris and omogenia before Orthodoxy mentality is still there. What is also interesting is that the signatories of the document are not made known. Who signed the statement? Who did not sign? Was anyone forced or coerced to sign? Was this document published under a majority vote? I would be curious to know if there was any discussion on this matter among the faculty.

    Is there room at HCHC for disagreement on this subject?
    Can you support American Orthodoxy at HCHC?

    One thing we can all agree on however is the Fr. Lambridadis should keep to himself and stay far away from America.

  7. It is heartening to see movement to address some problems, though I wonder if the proposed solutions will be worse than the current mess.

    The practical arguments for an Ecumenical Patriarchate active beyond its own sphere are good ones. They are the same arguments for papal primacy, and it is easy to see how administratively such a system makes sense. Of course, we must ensure that enhanced administrative power does not mutate into the sacrilege in the Vatican. Just as importantly, though, we should recognize that only a healthy, steadfast Church can be trusted with such powers and responsibilities. Indeed, the ancient Roman Church earned that trust. Does Constantinople of today look like it merits the same faith?

    For me, the elephantine issue is the sorry state of the Ecumenical Patriarchate itself, robbed of its local population and in captivity to secular Turks. On another post, one of you mentioned Patriarch Meletios Metaksakes “of sorrowful memory” (which is, by the way, very funny). From him until today, it seems as though the Ecumenical Patriarchate has been filled by modernists more concerned with secular matters than with safeguarding the Church and proclaiming the faith. For instance, the calendar issue created disorder, schism, and a host of ills in the Churches, thanks to the short-sighted actions of the E.P. It still has not been resolved. I do not wish to argue about the calendar, but it is clear that such a change should have involved the whole Church in consensus. Greek Christian life still has not recovered from it. You might expect the global leader of the Orthodox to handle this particular anomaly in our liturgical and communal life, especially since said leader caused it. But no . . . Global warming, prying open a back door to Italy for the Turks, and sending warm fuzzies to the W.C.C. are the Ecumenical Patriarch’s priorities. These are not fitting for a successor to John Chrysostom. Furthermore, with the political situation and the circumstances of the Christian flock in Turkey as they are now, what hope can we have in the future for sober leadership in the exercise of the “distinctive ministry of the Ecumenical Patriarchate”?

    I am rather ignorant about all the political obstacles, but it would be great to see the Athonites elect the patriarch’s successor in addition to the synod. They should just ignore Turkey’s desires. If the Kemalist state refuses to allow the new patriarch to enter Turkey to ascend the throne in the Phanar, then Turkey will have quite a P.R. nightmare on its hands. I am not one that says that the Ecumenical Patriarchate should be moved. Yet, we should be willing to play diplomatic hardball with the secularists and infidels . . . they should elect a successor who may have to govern from the Turkish border. How long would any government be able to tolerate such an embarrassment? I say that we stop whining about Halki and force the Turks to make the uncomfortable decisions.

    Until then — until Constantinople is a functioning Church again instead of a bureaucracy in a military compound — then it cannot be trusted to wield the sort of administrative authority that it may have had in the days of the empire. Whether this occurs because we drive the Mohammedans back across Anatolia (personal fantasy), the E.P. reabsorbs the Church of Greece (much easier to do), or the monks of Athos provide the candidates and the electors for the patriarchal throne (easiest solution) doesn’t matter for the topic under consideration.


  8. George Michalopulos :

    Fr Gregory, you are correct. Though more restrained, they still trotted out the party line which is –let me say it–BS. If they do not believe that the OCA is “canonical” then they should have the courage of their convictions and kick us out of SCOBA, which is a standing conference of CANONICAL Orthodoxy bishops in America. It’s like being “a little bit pregnant.”

    As to canon 28, relying on that is a thin gruel indeed.

  9. George Michalopulos :

    Joseph, I like what you’re saying. Esp. regarding the aura of the pope, that he “earned” his prestige. That is absolutely correct: in the first nine centuries, it was the pope who pretty much on his safeguarded Orthodoxy. I’m thinking of men such as Leo I, Pelagius II, Gregory I and the ones who fought iconoclasm. I especially like your idea about having the Athonites elect the next EP from among their number, not these metropolitans without portfolios or dioceses.

  10. George Michalopulos :

    Although I applaud the reasoned tone of this response, there are two glaring errors, I will deal with canon 28 at this point: The paragraph beginning “Furthermore, canon 28 of Chalecedon granted to the bishop of Constantinople the pastoral care for those territories beyond the geographical bouindatries of the other Local (autocephalous) Churches…”

    This is incorrect. As I’ve dealt with this in my own essay, only those “barbarians” living within Pontus, Asia, and Thrace were subject to Constantinople. Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that this canon abrogates canons 2, 8, Apostolic canon 34, etc. Canon 28 in its own context carefully delineates C’pole’s borders.

    As for the missions to the Goths and Scythians in the fifth century, that is neither here nor there as there were no other churches north of Constantinople who could carry this mission. What about in the eighth century, when both Rome and C’pole were evangelizing Bulgaria? Why didn’t C’pole pull rank on Rome? Wbat about the German priests who were missionizing Bulgaria and Moravia? Why didn’t C’pole evangelize Nubia which was south of Alexandria and outside it’s patriarchate? Or Mesopotamia which was outside of the see of Antioch?

    This saddens me because the theologians at HC should know better. They are playing the same bait and switch tactics regarding canon 28 (its validity as well as its context) and assuming that which is not in evidence, that is that “only the bishop of Constantinople has the responsibility to organize ecclesial life [outside] of established churches.”

    Let it be said at this point that I would have no problem with such a scenario if it were canonically valid. It is not for two reasons: 1) no church is granted this right in the actual canons (even canon 28 doesn’t) and 2) it is theological problematical. Churches are encouraged to missionize new territory. It happened all the time. If there was a modus operandi in Orthodoxy, it was this: that the local church which evangelized had the prerogatives.

    It appears that having failed to dismiss the claims of the Russian Mission, an invalid trump card is now being played. I imagine that unless there is some collusion with other old world churches, this too shall fail.

  11. Michael Bauman :

    Deafening in its absence is any mention of the EP’s torpedoing our recent indiginous move to unity–the Ligonier meeting and proclamtions in 1994. The list of bishops who signed the statement then is quite impressive. The EP had a golden opportunity to help shape and direct real unity at that time but did just the opposite, probably with support of his brother Patriarchs.


    Frankly, until that is publically and specifically addressed, the rest of the EP’s words are not really worth much consideration.

  12. To Joseph,

    I too would like to see the Monks of Mount Athos influence the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Mount Athos has been able to unite Orthodoxy in a very unique way. The Holy Mountain has been able to maintain its moral and theological authority from all parts of the Orthodox world, including those Churches which have severed communion from the rest such as the Old Calendarists.

    Unfortunately, it is unlikely the Monks of Athos will be able to exert any influence on the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Turkish government is beyond embaressmant or shame. They are fully aware that violent incidents directed against the Patriarchate hurt their image, but they simply do not care. They want the Patriarchate out of Turkey.

    To be sure, most Turks are very nice and friendly people. Their leaders on the other hand are racists to the core. They are waiting for the Patriarch and his Bishops to eventually pass on from old age and natural causes.

    Two years ago, a group of Turkish Kemalist military officers were arrested for plotting the assasinations of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Armenian Patriarch. Turkish nationalists believe the Phanar is plotting to revive the Byzantine Empire. These are not rational people, and Turkey’s military leaders, along with the Islamists have shown no inclination they understand or care about the history of position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate among Orthodox Churches.

    They believe the Patriach is the local Bishop of Istanbul. In this, they recently gained the support of President Barack Obama who gave the Patriarch a diplomatic slap in the face. The Obama administration has now linked the Phanar with the Greek Muslim community in Western Thrace. This badly diminishes the “Ecumenical” status of the Phanar.

    I have always believed the Ecumenical Patriarchate should stay in the holy ground of Constantinople, but now I am inclined to entertain the opposing view. Considering the extent to which this Church is horribly mistreated, the Turks in my view are unworthy of having the Patriarchate on their soil.

    When all is said and done, the Patriarchate’s fate was sealed following the Turkish victories of 1922. The Patriarchate has been mistreated not only by the Turks, but by the Great Powers who continue to use it for their own political purposes such as dividing the Orthodox world by playing off Greeks against the Russians etc.

    The Turks would not have been able to succeed in their war against the Orthodox Christians in Turkey were it not for the active tolerance of the western governments. The will never existed to protect the Patriarchate’s flock, and the will does not exist now to protect the Patriarchate itself.

    It is ironic also that the same voices that criticzed Metropolitan Jonah for his valid views regarding Orthodox unity in America have been silent regarding President Obama’s slap at the Patriarchate.

    Back in 1204 when Constantinople was conquered by the Latin Crusaders, the Patriach followed the Emperor into exile in the free territory of Nicea. The Ecumenical Patriarchate should consider following the example of his predecessor and moving at least on a temporary basis to the free territory in Greece.

    At a very minimum, there should be a discusion among Orthodox theologians, Canonists, Byzantine historians, and international lawyers about what to do with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Following the present course will inevitably lead to the Patriarchate’s extinction.

    Last year, the Patriarch reportedly asked the Greek government for permission to open a theological seminary in Greece on the site of one that the Church of Greece no longer uses. Some have interpreted this to mean that the Patriarch himself recognizes the reality that Halki may never reopen.


  13. Theodoros,

    The Kemalists are fiends. The sad situation may get worse before it gets better.

    Thanks for your response,

  14. The responses I have read here have been, I think, pretty compelling. Yet the more I look at the simple pragmatics of the situation, the more I wonder if this isn’t an (very) unfortunate tempest in a teapot. In the end, unless the EP wishes to change the notion of primacy to effectively mean supremacy (a distinction made clear by George’s article), I am not sure how much real leverage he has to promote the kinds of change he appears to want. Of course, given my ignorance, I could be wrong. Then again, all the political pressure in the world couldn’t stop 12 transfigured men. (In that regard, however, I would argue that it was not just their dedication, but the Spirit that transformed them that ultimately won over continents.)

    This is not offered as an argument for or against that agenda; it is just a look at the mechanics of it. (Please forgive this somewhat crass departure from the far more important theological issues at hand. As I noted before, I am not qualified to address them in any meaningful way.)
    Thus, even on a purely functional level, Fr. Gregory and George are quite correct in noting the importance of evangelization and mission. To use an old political saw: the folks will follow the ones that brought them to the dance. In purely pragmatic terms, if mission, evangelism and spiritual formation are not primary, then there will not be a sufficient “base” (that is to say, there will not be enough of the moral authority needed) to make anything meaningful or lasting happen. This may account for what increasingly appears to be an urgent effort to leverage canon 28 for all it’s worth.

    For the same reasons, as Michael and George have pointed out repeatedly elsewhere, focusing primarily on serving an ethnically-defined social group ultimately becomes self-extinquishing. However valid it may be, it can not alter the course of demographics: the older generation that cared about maintaining the distinguishing identity will gradually die out. Because we do not fight the last generation’s war, the younger generation may find that it needs something else, something more. Thus, IF the focus really is on serving the needs of a particular social group, it will eventually collapse from failing to focus on the deeper yearnings of the heart. If, however, one DOES focus on those concerns, it will bring in a lot of people who fall outside of – and begin to displace – the initial demographic. From the perspective of the initial demographic, the result is the same either way.
    In the end, even on a purely practical level, the wisdom of God is evident: you can not serve two masters – and the one, like all things of the flesh, is destined to pass away. In the end, only the kingdom of God remains and only the kingdom of God matters.

  15. Dean Calvert :

    For anyone believing the dribble coming out of Holy Cross…I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.

    They forgot to mention that Abp Iakovos of blessed memory, was fired for having participated in the Ligonier Conference, or that the EP has been the principal obstacle to Orthodox Unity on this continent ever since that time…fearing the loss of it’s parochial prerequisites.

    As far as the claims of canon 28, I tend to agree with the words of the Moscow patriarchate which called the claims “quite far-fetched and devoid of any canonical substantiation.” (see Sept 18, 2002 letter from Moscow to Constantinople).

    Nevertheless, when the ecumenical patriarchate begins to act in accordance with those fine words, it will find a willing audience and support on this continent.

    Until that time, they will continue to be recognized for what they are…a moribund bishopric dying to be heard from.

    Shame on the authors of that article…the depth of the intellectual dishonesty verges on bankrupcty.

    Shaking my head in disbelief.

    Dean Calvert

  16. It is interesting to see terms such as BS used to somehow argue points made in a paper published by probably the most distinguished Orthodox theologians in the United States. I certainly would be curious to see papers published by brethren Orthodox theologians about this topic, but I for one observe the following about the authors of this paper:

    1.) Lay and Clergy faculty who are members of or who chair peer-reviewed journal editorial boards
    2.) Have published critically-reviewed books and papers about our Church and our Faith
    3.) Are internationally recognized and respected by their peers.

    Citations of primary sources and the reasoning presented in this paper make for convincing arguments for this simple lay person (well, minor clergy if you count the fact that I am a tonsured Reader). And what is well implied here is that despite the canonical (dis)order and issues, our Church’s principle of “Ekonomia” helps to bind our Eucharistic unity. Hopefully we all understand this before a faction decides that they do not like the results of the Cyprus Council meetings this fall and further drift away into an Orthodox version of a protestant church.

  17. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Nick, the problem with the statement is that it rehashes the prerogatives that Constantinople claims for itself without any engagement of the credible dissents posted by other Orthodox leaders (Metropolitan Phillip, Patriarch Alexios, to name two). It certainly is more reasonable in tone than Fr. Elpidophoros’ statement, and may well be a response to the outpouring of criticism his talk provoked.

    Further, the fact that the statement was left unsigned is peculiar. Are we to believe that the faculty is unanimous in its opinion on thorny issues like Canon 28 or the shape of Orthodoxy in America, as the unsigned statement implies? I doubt it. I’d rather see healthy debate over these issues — real engagement with the dissenting views that will clarify the historical record (and I would expect as much from an academic faculty) — instead of another declaration that the debate is closed.

    Moreover, the following assertion (already mentioned in Fr. Gregory’s excellent response above — Note #5):  “…the Ecumenical Patriarchate has exercised restraint and has not broken communion with this jurisdiction” (regarding the OCA) is unduly provocative. First of all, why even say it? Second, say Constantinople does indeed break communion with the OCA but Moscow does not. Why cause a division that will only make Constantinople look bad in the end? At best it is sloppy thinking, at worst bullying.

    Either way, assertions like this won’t play well with Americans. We aren’t that impressed with appeals to authority. We respect authority, but we are very uncomfortable with following authority unless we have some sense of where they are going first. Call this a characteristic of American culture, and it is increasingly clear that Constantinople does not understand it. Fr. Elpidophoros certainly didn’t. I have to think though that some faculty at Holy Cross do.

  18. John Couretas :

    Fr. Gregory’s comments [#5] about the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and its primary focus on ministering to the needs of the Greek community, at the expense of the Patriarchate’s own claims to universal status, are true and point to the heart of the matter. Despite the impressive catalog of meetings listed by the faculty here, there is precious little evidence that the Ecumenical Patriarchate or the hierarchy of the GOA have been or are advocates of American unity — except under their own unilateral conditions. The faculty’s delicate touch-and-go on the 1994 Ligonier meeting in the letter here only draws attention to this failure to take positive action or open dialogue on unity.

    I’ve just gone through the Patriarch’s 2008 book “Encountering the Mystery” again to see what he has to say about Orthodox unity in America. He has much to say about interfaith dialogue, the environment, social justice, theology, monasticism and a host of other topics. Nothing, as far as I can tell, about American unity. Not one word (please if I am wrong about this provide a citation). His All Holiness does say that that the Patriarchate “constitutes the par excellence center of all the local Orthodox churches. It heads these not by administering them, but by virtue of the primacy of its ministry of Pan-Orthodox unity and the coordination of the activity of all of Orthodoxy.” Elsewhere in the book, he provides a detailed list — covering two full pages — of the churches, institutions and organizations over which he exercises jurisdiction.

    In his chapter on interfaith relations, the Patriarch reminds us that “dialogue enriches; whoever refuses dialogue remains impoverished. Finally, dialogue seeks persuasion, not coercion. It does not eliminate responsibility as a critical part of response.”

    Here we see the great error of the V. Rev. Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis’ speech at Holy Cross in March. This was not a dialogue. This was a monologue delivered on behalf of the Phanar and the GOA. A monologue that will forever be remembered for its smug arrogance, condescension to sister Orthodox churches, and total obtuseness regarding the experience and reality of American Orthodoxy.

    The faculty letter also conveniently omits any reference to the all-consuming “Hellenism and Orthodoxy” project that has defined the governmental lobbying and fundraising activities of the Archdiocese for many years now. Imagine where we’d all be today if that energy, and all of those millions of dollars, had been applied to an “American Unity” project.

    Again, I don’t recall one word of encouragement at the last Clergy-Laity congress on the subject of American Orthodox unity. If I have missed something, please bring this to my attention. I do remember a lot of speech making from various ambassadors of foreign governments regarding Hellenism and our legendary Greek cultural superiority which has been forever imprinted on the DNA of the Omogeneia. Then there was the bouzouki party, which was fun, but didn’t seem to speak to the future of Orthodoxy in America.

    “The nationalization of Orthodoxy,” writes Vasilios N. Makrides, “is a relatively recent phenomenon, accentuated especially from the nineteenth century until today with the advent of the nation-state, which has had many repercussions for maintaining pan-Orthodox unity. Yet this novel phenomenon is hardly congruent with the Orthodox universalistic tradition of the Byzantine past, when Orthodox Christianity tried to preserve a supra-national character. The changes that have occurred in this domain have, however, altered so deeply Orthodox consciousness that the various national Orthodox Churches worldwide are hailed today as protectors of the respective national identities and collaborate closely with the respective nation-states! Here we can clearly observe how Orthodox Christianity has acquired a characteristic that is certainly at odds with its own historical heritage.” [in the essay “Orthodox Christianity, Rationalization, Modernization: A Reassessment”; published in “Eastern Orthodoxy in a Global Age,” Rowman & Littlefield, 2005]

  19. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Here is another quote from Runciman that confirms the observations above (note #18):

    This attempt to turn the Orthodox Church into an excursively Greek Church was one of the outcomes of Phanariot policy. It lead also to a decline in spiritual values, by stressing Greek culture as against Orthodox traditions and seeking to turn the Church into a vehicle of nationalist feeling, genuine and democratic up to a point, but little concerned with the spiritual life. At the same time it place the Patriarchate on the horns of a moral dilemma. It involved the Church in politics… From: Nationalism in Greek Orthodoxy.

    It is becoming increasingly clear that the missteps at the White House several months ago, or the misreading of protocol (and subsequent diminishing of Patriarchal honor) displayed at the hotel visit between His All Holiness and Pres. Obama in Istanbul last month, were caused by the imbalance in perception that results from the elevation of ethnic identity as a universal value.

    Take the White House visit for example. In the ethnic narrative, Alexander the Great functions as a kind of superhero — a figure of myth and mystery — rather than historical personage. Comparing Pres. Obama to Alexander is meant as a compliment. In the wider world of course the comparison is at best incomprehensible, and at worst comes across as servile flattery. Yet the entire entourage failed to grasp this, hence the embarrassment.

    It also explains why the feting of Greek politicos like Sens. Sarbannes and Snowe continue despite their aggressive stand against the Orthodox moral tradition in their public lives.

  20. Scott Pennington :

    “Furthermore, canon 28 of Chalcedon explicitly granted to the bishop of Constantinople the pastoral care for those territories beyond the geographical boundaries of the other Local (autocephalous) Churches.”


    “Canon 28 of Chalcedon appears to clarify the reference in canon 2 of the Council of Constantinople which says that churches in the “barbarian nations” should be governed ‘according to the tradition established by the fathers.'”

    True, but does not prove the point. The argument is about what the Fathers established, if anything.

    “This interpretation of canon 28 is supported by the fact that the geographical boundaries of the Local Churches are set. Their bishops are not permitted to minister beyond these limits. The Council of Constantinople in canon 2 clearly states: ‘Bishops should not invade churches beyond their boundaries for the purpose of governing them…'”

    This is a non-sequitur as well as being absurd. Yes, it is true that bishops should not invade churches beyond their boundaries. This presumes that there is a church established. The first two sentences are irrational. Why would the Fathers prevent any church from establishing missions in territory not granted to another bishop or church? Does this not contradict the Great Commission. It would be nice, however, if the EP would honor the canons and get out of the Ukraine.

    “One must also take note of the missionary activity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Central and Eastern Europe from the ninth under Patriarch Photios and later on through the sixteenth centuries. In these cases, the Ecumenical Patriarchate acted to spread the Gospel in territories beyond the boundaries of other Local Churches. [1] ”

    Good, he did his duty. That does not prove, however, that other Churches are prevented from doing likewise.

    “The Ecumenical Patriarchate granted autocephalous status to the Church of Russia in 1589, confirmed in the Golden Seal Certificate in 1591, which was reaffirmed by a synod in Constantinople in 1593 when patriarchal status was granted. In these Tomes, the territorial jurisdiction of the Church of Russia was clearly defined.”

    Funny, I thought they attained it de facto when, because it had become Uniate, Constantinople couldn’t appoint a replacement to lead the Church of Russia.

    “Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has recently said:”

    And this proves what? He’s not a Pope.

    “It is attested to by innumerable examples of initiative undertaken by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to exercise leadership for those Local Churches prevented by unusual circumstances from doing so.”

    Just because the EP says something or undertakes to do A, B or C, does not mean that he has the exclusive right to do so or the perogative to do so. Doesn’t the word “logic” come from the Greek?

    “Yet, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has exercised restraint and has not broken communion with this jurisdiction.”

    How generous!

    I notice that there was no mention of any canonical basis whatsoever for the EP’s assumed perogative to be the sole bestower of autocephaly.

    I am surprised by this. I thought the faculty of Holy Cross were more thoughtful and reasonable than this seems to indicate.

    There was once a bishop, first among equals, who began arrogating power to himself not granted by the canons or the consensus of the Church. In the end, his church lapsed into heresy. It appears that the Church of Constantinople has an attitude similar to that of Rome in the 9th and 10th centuries.

    Oh well. What can you do?

  21. Dean Calvert :

    Dear Fr. Hans,

    Just read the excerpt from Runciman cited above.

    Someone did a VERY nice job with that..bravo.

    It’s always been one of my favorite books.

    You’ll laugh – a few years ago, some OCL officers and I met with Fr. Alex Karloutsos at GOARCH in NYC.

    Toward the end of the meeting, he pulled a copy of this book from his shelf, slid it across the table to me and told me that I should read about the ecumenical patriarchate.

    My eyes lit up, having read that book about four times (I really think it’s Runciman’s best, if most overlooked, work).

    “Yes Father, and what was the conclusion that Sir Steven came to in that book?” I asked.

    Silence..followed by stuttering.

    “That perhaps now that there are no more Greeks in Constantinople…maybe the patriarchate can revert to being an ECUMENICAL patriarchate, rather than a patriarch of the Greeks,” I continued.

    Runciman had it EXACTLY right…

    Too bad no one is listening.

    Best Regards,

  22. George Michalopulos :

    Nick G: The statement from HC asserts prerogatives which are not in evidence. At best, it’s circular reasoning: “We’re #1 because we’re #1.” Please read my own analysis of canon 28 (Canon 28 and Eastern Papalism: Cause or Effect?). Not only was it excised from the acts of the council for at least 300 years, it’s ipsimma verbi describe the suzerainty of C’pole ONLY over the three provinces mentioned.

  23. George Michalopulos :

    One of the things that bothered me about this response was the fact that it wasn’t signed. This tells me a lot. If a yokel like me can sign his name to what he writes, then it stands to reason that highly-educated professors at a school of theology should do the same. Otherwise the entire text is mere propaganda, and one with very little conviction.

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