Met. Methodios implicity criticizes Met. Jonah’s rebuke of EP primacy claim (presumably)

It’s hard to know for sure because it’s an oblique reference, but a betting man might wager that Met. Methodios’ criticism that other “Orthodox presences…do anything but foster love and cooperation in this land” referred to Met. Jonah’s rebuke of the address given by the emissary of the Ecumenical Patriarch several weeks ago.

Speaking at Holy Cross Seminary Met. Methodios said that, “One must always watch one’s tongue and be careful of what he says…because of the internet, television, cameras, those comments are sent around the world and do a great deal of harm.” These words, it seems, could just as easily be applied to the emissary.


  1. Hi Fr. Hans, hope you are doing well.

    I think that Met. Methodios was indeed refering to Met. Jonah’s speech, and I think rightfully so. In addition to peing peppered with innacurate facts, it also attibutes motivations to many of us whihc are alos innacurate.

    I hope these kinds of comments by Met. Jonah are just the result of immaturity, his own admitted lack of understanding the make up of Othodoxy in the US and confusion at being caught up in the whirlwind that led him to his cueernt position.

    If this is not the case and he really believes some of the extreme comments he made, then I believe he will do the cause of unity more harm than good. Simply put (and many others of various jurisdictions have shared this same thought with me as well) if this is Met. Jonah’s recipe for unity, then I will take a pass.

    It is a shame though, because he made some very good points which were lost because of the innacurate statements and arrogant tone.

    Warmest regards and hope to see you again.

    Tom Kanelos

  2. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    I am doing well Tom. Thank you. I welcomed Met. Jonah’s speech for no other reason that it moves us towards clarity. Questions about tone etc. can be settled later. Personally, it did not strike me as arrogant.

    I saw the speech drawing a line where it needs to be drawn. Obviously talk has to take place, but if the talk is going to be constructive, we first have to understand exactly what is meant by “Hellenism” in a historically responsible way. Then we have to determine if the Patriarchal emissary’s statement is indeed historically accurate. To my mind, the claim to jurisdictional authority over all American Orthodox Christians by appealing to the Hellenist legacy, as well as the claim that the office and person of the Ecumenical Patriarch embody that legacy, is not historically tenable.

    It’s a novel claim (see: Nationalism in Greek Orthodoxy to get some historical background) and, if the recent actions of the GOA are any indication, in service to the political interests of the Greek state. I can understand why many American Orthodox object to that. I do too overall, even though I have sympathy with some of those interests (the separation of Cyprus, for example).

    There is such a thing as Hellenistic ideals. Some of them informed the Orthodox faith although they were “baptized,” largely through the work of the Cappadocian Fathers. They informed the founding of America too. In fact, the entire Western world has been shaped by those ideals. Here the Patriarchal emissary is correct.

    The reduction of those ideals to ethnos however, is relatively recent. Assertions of hierarchical authority that are drawn from this elevated notion of ethnos are even newer.

    The trouble is that it is hard to find the Gospel of Christ in this tangle. The text of scripture and Hellenistic categories can’t be separated that easily, nor should they necessarily be (contra some 19th century Protestant theologians). However, when Hellenism is reduced to ethnos, then the Hellenistic character of the Gospel shifts the locus of the Gospel to ethnic personage.

    Hence the implicit claims by the Patriarchal emissary that obeisance to the Ecumenical Throne is tantamount to obedience to the Gospel. Notice how the Gospel — including its imperatives, particularly mission — is conflated into the office and person of the Ecumenical Patriarch in his thinking? He makes no real mention of the Gospel of Christ outright. It is not that he is intentionally hiding the Gospel. Rather, the Gospel is conflated into the prerogatives of the Ecumenical Throne (mediated through a particular definition of “Church”). He really sees this conflation as how the Gospel imperatives are fulfilled.

    Add to this our understanding that the Bishop is indeed the eikon of Christ in the assembly — and here Met. Jonah has got it right: there is no office higher than Bishop — and the tangle gets even tighter. Thus, while the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarch in our Orthodox Church is very real (and worthy of protection), the claim of supremacy based on ethnos — as bearer of the Hellenistic legacy — is not the reason for it.

    Met. Jonah, then, has taken a substantial risk although a necessary one. In drawing a line, he is forcing us to think more clearly about the claims being generated that I think will benefit American Orthodoxy in the long run.

    Good to hear from you Tom. Hope all is well. Kalo Pascha!

  3. Scott Pennington :

    An emissary from the Phanar comes to Holy Cross and gives a speech (which some there walked out on in disgust) stating that all the Orthodox jurisdictions in North America should join the Greek Archdiocese since the EP has the only canonical claim to jurisdiction here (relying on a fanciful interpretation of Canon 28 of the 4th Ecumenical Council). He also challenges the integrity of Met. Phillip based on his writings on said canon, takes comments made by Met. Jonah out of context and even goes so far as to say that Met. Jonah should be grateful that the other hierarchs condescend to remain in communion with his uncanonical entity.

    Then, when Met. Jonah replies by reaffirming the OCA’s and Russia’s position that the OCA is autocephalous and that the Old World patriarchates should not interfere with it, Met. Methodios gives him a lecture on prudent speech.

    It would be hilarious if it weren’t for the fact that Met. Methodios was serious.

  4. Christopher Orr :

    The fact that this hierarch in particular would state that ‘that other “Orthodox presences…do anything but foster love and cooperation in this land” is rich given that he has broken communion in New England with the OCA.

    This was done because:

    “On December 2, 2005, Metropolitan Herman installed one of his Hierarchs as “Bishop of Boston and New England and the Albanian Archdiocese”. This, in spite of the fact that I have been serving this Metropolis since 1984.”

    In essence, communion was broken because the OCA installed a bishop in a city where there was already an Orthodox bishop.

    His Eminence should review the history of his own local church in the New World and his own see.

  5. Metropolitan Methodios shows us that the Phanar and the GOA are on the defensive. It is utterly hilarious to blame Metropolitan Jonah for anything. This whole unfolding of events was caused by the arrogance of the Phanar plain and simple.

    Recent weeks show Americans that the Phanar and the GOA cannot hold themselves together in the spotlight of the public square. The examples of buffoonery are plenty.

    Omogenia before Orthodoxy is coming to an end. Demography is Destiny and Metropolitan Methodios knows this. Instead of working towards cultivating a garden of Orthodox living he chooses to guard the dusty museum that is the Phanar and the GOA. All the Metropolitan has left in Boston is his Hellenic bunker and the “yes” men who surround him.

  6. So what you’re saying is this response of Met. Jonah was just some sort of hierarchical “he started it”? Just one big episcopal “nya nya”?

    I listened to Met. Jonah’s sermon with a good deal of disappointment. I think it is fair to say that while reasonable people can disagree as to the ultimate path to unity, I think we can all agree that some of the inflammatory statements made by Met. Jonah were less than helpful and appear to be sound bytes aimed at pleasing a constituency, which is already anti EP. Grandstanding if you will.

    That aside, lets analyze the following from Met. Jonah’s so called Orthodox Unity speech:

    Met Jonah states:

    “But who are we really? I think part of this comes from a total and complete ignorance and misperception on the part of the holy fathers who are the leaders of the churches in the Old World. They don’t understand that there are Americans who are Orthodox. There are Americans who have been born and bred in this land who have embraced the Orthodox faith. There are Americans who have come over here – fleeing communism, fleeing Islamic domination, fleeing oppression. Who have come to this land to embrace a new life, a life of self-determination as well as a life that is governed by the Orthodox faith. I don’t think they understand that our church here has this rich diversity but we all share a common identity.”

    Then he states further in the speech:

    “Seven months ago I was still an abbot in a monastery in northern California. Just a few months ago I was made Metropolitan and I had no idea, really, what the scope of Orthodoxy is in America. And, now I’m beginning to get an idea. Not only did I find myself the Metropolitan of the OCA, but Locum tenens of the Bulgarian diocese. Well, these are people who have fled oppression just as in so many eastern European countries. It’s the same people who were there under the communists; they just changed their titles.”

    He continues on about what he did not know about Orthodoxy in the US. How can one, with a straight face accuse the Mother Churches of being ignorant of the make up of Orthodoxy in the US while in the same speech, display his own ignorance. Put simply, how does Met Jonah know that the Mother Churches are ignorant of Orthodoxy in America when he is self admittedly ignorant of the same?

    I submit, that based upon the reaction I have heard by clergy and laity of many different jurisdictions and their disappointment at Met Jonah’s comments, that he still does not understand Orthodoxy in America.

    Additionally Met Jonah states:

    “They say our unity in America was a myth at the time of St Tikhon. Well yes, there were a few dozen churches that were not part of it, but what about the 800 that were? What about those 800 churches?”

    To what 800 Churches is he referring? If we are to have a discussion of the issue and not just an effort to fire back at some perceived insult then we must at least be honest with ourselves. The OCA website states in its “History Of Orthodox Christians in North America 1794-1994, Chapter 2, Immigration and conversion”

    “By 1917 the Orthodox mission in North America would include more than 350 parishes and chapels…” It also states further down that there was a “…rapid proliferation of independent Greek parishes (more than 140 were established between 1906-1916 alone and to a lesser extent those “independent” Romanian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian parishes which imitated them)…”.

    Whether right or wrong, clearly there was not a unified Church in North America. One which, was somehow destroyed by the establishment of the GOA (which was in 1922 not 1924 as Met. Jonah states). One can argue that perhaps there should have been, but one cannot accurately say that unity existed. Met. Jonah is completely ignoring the fact that there was a disorganized and anomalous situation within Orthodoxy in the US from the very beginning of the immigration period.

    Met Jonah further states:

    “I don’t think the holy fathers in the Phanar understand that we are a Church, albeit with separate administrations, but that has a common value of determining our own destiny. A church that is dedicated to the conciliar process, which does not ignore the voice of the laity, which does not ignore the voice of the priests, a church that, is united in its common commitment. Because we are Orthodox not simply by birth, we are Orthodox not simply by our ethnic heritage. We are Orthodox because we have chosen to be Orthodox. We are Orthodox because we have committed our entire life to Jesus Christ and the Gospel. And, it is that commitment to Jesus Christ and the Gospel and our commitment to bring our brothers and sisters in our land to that same commitment of Jesus Christ and the Gospel, not to some kind of alien ideology, not to some nationalist or imperialist ideology from some forgotten empire, not the imposition of foreign customs and the submission to foreign despots”

    Does Met Jonah think that the faithful in other parts of the world (i.e. the so called traditional Orthodox lands) do not also choose to be Orthodox and to commit their lives to Jesus Christ and the gospel? And if they are Orthodox as some accident of birth, than are not all those born into Orthodox families in the US guilty of the same circumstance? I find this arrogant and offensive. Does met Jonah believe that those of us who envision a unity based upon organization under the Omophorion of the EP to be guilty of being committed not to Christ but to “some nationalist or imperialist ideology from some forgotten empire…”?

    Is Met Jonah unaware of the input of the lay people in the GOA? The parish councils, the metropolitan and archdiocesan councils, the parish, metropolis and archdiocesan Clergy and laity assemblies? The charter and regulations spelling out the duties and responsibilities for each? Just because the laity does not vote in episcopal elections (which, I might point out in the OCA do not always lead to the hierarch selected by the laity being the one finally elected by the hierarchs), does Met Jonah think we do not have a voice in the governance of our parishes and our archdiocese?

    Again Met Jonah says:

    “But, you have to give us the freedom to take care of our own Church in our own country, in our own culture, and not to be controlled by people who have never heard a word of English much less allow a word of English to be spoken in the liturgy. We can’t allow our Church to be controlled with people who have no appreciation of our culture and have to bow to the Turkish Islamic authorities”

    Has Met Jonah been to a parish in the GOA? Does he honestly believe this or is it more jingoism aimed at scoring sound bite points?

    Would it not be better if Met. Jonah said “We appreciate the precious jewel you have given us. We thank God that you stood firm and sacrificed and suffered persecution and hardship to protect the precious Faith handed to you so that it could be given to others and that others from traditions which grew out of the Holy Church can return to Her.” We will work hard to live up to the standards which you have set and we will work together to find a way to normalize the situation in our country.”

    But that is not said, instead he accuses the Mother Churches (and lets be honest that he is speaking of the EP in particular) of wanting to subjugate and control us all the while bowing to Turkish, Islamic authorities. Instead he tells the Mother Churches to leave us alone. How arrogant and immature.

    There is so much more and perhaps I will go into it further in another post. This speech is just so wrong on so many levels that it would take volumes to address it all. Clearly it was a knee jerk reaction to the speech given by Fr. Elpidophoros (and I have been told as much by clergy “in the know”). Perhaps it is just lack of maturity or just plain lack of knowledge on the part of Met Jonah. But clearly, it is not a recipe for a successful attempt at unity no matter how many former GOA members may try to spin it.

    We must start by being honest in our discussion. Clearly, the truth was a major victim in Met. Jonah’s sermon. Hopefully things will get better with time because there were indeed many good points in the sermon once one weeds through the distortion and spin.

    I agree with you Fr. Hans, that the speech lends clarity to the situation. For me it clarifies that Met. Jonah is not the bright star some of us thought he might be. It seems clear that his motives are quite political and aimed at self preservation. With the Moscow/ROCOR rapproachment, the OCA is in a difficult situation. Met. Philip has clearly shown his stripes as the saying goes. He is certainly more concerned with control and his standing in Antioch than the proper order in his archdiocese.

    Therefore, the one remaining jurisdiction large enough, organized enough (isn’t that comical in its own way) and with logical claim to be the conduit for unity is the GOA which is, of course, a part of the EP. So we see why the attack mode from the OCA. It is very sad, because in reality, we all do need one another, and we would all gain from cooperation not insult. I am told that Met. Jonah has made comments such as these long before he became Metropolitan.

    I have seen much huffing and puffing about what Fr. Elpidophoros said, and a good dealing of misinterpretaion or implying motives that are not neccessarily accurate, but the reality is that he was right on target with regard to much of what he said. As far as whether it was disresepctful or rude, well comparing what he said to comments by Met. Jonah and comments in the past by Met. Philip, there is no comparison.

    I guess I just don’t see the claim of supremacy based upon ethnos. Look at the Ukrainians and the Carpatho Russians which are both under the EP. Ask them if they have suffered any forced Hellenization whether the ethnos type or other.

    I believe we need to be unified in the US, but I fail to see how this type of speech helps to further that cause.

    To all those who display such blatant animosity and disgust towards the GOA, starting with Met. Jonah, lose the chip on your shoulders and lets find a way to work towards realistic unity that respects the different cultural and lingusitic diversity in Orthodoxy but strengthens the bonds which unite us. Saying that (as met. Jonah did in essence) and then expressing such arrogant and disdainful comments towards the first see of Orthodoxy may fire up some, but it angers a whole lot more.

  7. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    A lot to answer here Tom but until I can devote a little more time:

    Put simply, how does Met Jonah know that the Mother Churches are ignorant of Orthodoxy in America when he is self admittedly ignorant of the same?

    The emissary’s speech.

  8. George Michalopulos :


    Metropolitan Jonah’s remarks were clear and truthful. However, I will concede that the truth can sometimes hurt. If it does, it is still not anything less than the truth.

    The museum of Byzantium that the Phanar is the custodian of
    is at this point perilously close to ceding the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. That is why it has been dying a slow death since the unfortunate pastorate of Meletius IV of sorrowful memory.

    In truth, all nationalism that are conflated onto the Gospel are imperilled.

    In going over +Jonah’s remarks, I’ve tried hard to find something incorrect or arrogant. I have found some things that were harsh but not any less truthful. Impolitic? Perhaps, but so were the great Fathers of the Church –Athanasius, Chrysostom, Maximus, etc.

    Ultimately, which you rather have, a bishop in the mould of Basil the Great who stood up to the Emperor Valens or an ethnocentrist custodian of a dead legacy?

    Fr Hans is right: the clever conflation of “Helladism” in place of “Hellenism” only places us further from the truth. And as precious as the Hellensim of the Cappadocians has been to Christianity, it was not its font and origin: that was on a hill outside of Jerusalem when the Son of God died for ALL men and ALL nations, not just Byzantium and its relics.

  9. George,
    Sadly, If you cannot see the innacuracies in Met. Jonah’s words and the arrogance in them, then perhaps we will not be able to find any common ground. It is unfortunate, as we need to find common ground in order to move forward in the US. I have clearly pointed out the innacuracies in Met. Jonah’s speech. We cannot move forward towards unity when we cannot even see incorrect statements/assumptions when they are in front of us.

    Oh well, at least we are unified in the Body and Blood. With the philosophies I see out there, I am not optimistic about unity in my lifetime (I am 45).

    The hierarchs and it seems the faithful as well let their own predjudices and agenda prevent us from knowing one another. It allows us to make snap judgements without knowing the facts. I had hoped that our hierarchs would at least have the wisdom to not speak in ignorance, perhaps as he matures in his office Met. Jonah will gain wisdom.

    Wishing you a blessed Holy week and Pascha.

  10. Fr, Hans,

    I guess I just don’t see what you do in Fr. Elpidophoros comments. Looking forward to your response as time permits.

    Warmest Regards,
    Tom K

  11. George Michalopulos :


    you raise some very good points but because of my own time constraints, I cannot answer them as much as I’d like at present. However a couple of things pop out in my mind:

    1) you state that +Jonah somehow disparaged the Orthodox in the old world, that they somehow don’t “choose” to live Orthodox lives? I’m sorry, +Jonah’s speech was about America, not how much we better we are than in the “traditional Orthodox lands.” Straw man. The point was about how many in the Old World disdain us, not how we disdain them.

    2) I don’t want to come off sarcastic, but your next point about the “input of the laypeople, the parish councils,” etc. The diocesan councils, clergy-laity, etc., are you kidding me? Were the people consulted when +Iakovos was kicked out? Were the people consulted when the new charters were put in place? Were the people consulted when the bishops were elevated to metropolitan rank? What dream world have you been living in? I was a delegate at two C-L Congresses (1998 & 2002) and I experienced the fiasco that is the GOAA first-hand. The idea that the people have any “input” is laughable on its face.

    3) I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, +Kyrill of Moscow has mandated that “Jonah, Metropolitan of All-America and Canada” is to be commemorated during the Great Procession in all of the Russian patriarchal parishes in the US.

    4) Fr Lambriniades’ comments regarding the parlous state of spirituality in America are well-taken. However, as I stated in my response to him, the most worldly parishes as a rule are found in the GOAA, not the OCA (certainly not ROCOR).

    5) True, the Slavic eparchies of the EP in the US have not been forced to undergo “hellenization” as you state. So what’s the logical outcome? That the EP won’t force Hellenization on the different ethnicities here? OK. So what will a “united” American church look like? An archdiocese for the Greeks, one for the Serbs, one for the Arabs, one for the Ukrainians? That’s what we got now.

    6) +Jonah’s speech was certainly a watershed. Many I’m sure of your acquaintance were disturbed with it. I can assure you sir, that many, many, MANY more were ecstatic.

    Finally, rather than make any points of my own at present, I have a question for you: I am genuinely, sincerely interested in your opinion as to what a united American church will look like. Please leave aside personalities and tell me what you think this would be achieved. One more caveat: I mean an independent church, one in which there is no ethnic oneupsmanship.

  12. George Michalopulos :


    forgive me for any words that may have come off as harsh.

    As for the “inaccuracies” in +Jonah’s speech, the only that leaps to mind is his assertion of “800 parishes.” I’ll grant you that, but there were several hundred proto-OCA parishes in the US. That is a fact. To erect a counter- argument based on one misstatement (which is of degree, and not kind)is not a good idea.

    Another misstatement is that the GOA was “founded in 1922, not 1924.” OK. He was speaking extemporaneously. We all make those kinds of mistakes. What is not a mistake is that Meletius created it extracanonically and AFTER the creation of the Russian presence here (by about 130 years).

    Let us be careful about the origins of the GOAA, Metaxakis had been removed as Archbishop of Athens. To this day, I can find no council with which he worked with. (I may be wrong on this point, if anybody knows, let me know.) In addition, he was a Freemason. I could go on and undoubtedly will.

    An American Orthodox Church exists. That is not arguable. At the end of the day, I want to work with you and people like you in a spirit of love and friendship so that we can effect unity. We will all have to repent and embrace as brothers and give up something if we truly love Christ and want to do His work.

  13. Dean Calvert :

    This metropolitan is the Orthodox version of Joe Biden….he just never stops giving us new material.

    “We should be careful about what we write and what we say”…

    Let’s see, the last time I heard from Met. Methodios, he was banning the concelebration with OCA priests not too long ago (see letter below). I guess his conservatism in public pronouncements is a recent conversion. Before that (in 1994 he was an admirer of Met. Philip and Ligonier, before he decided this was part of the barbarian dioceses (see letter below). I guess he voted “for it” before he voted “against it.”

    It’s encouraging to see that Met. Methodios has not given up his quest for the Archbishop’s omorphorion.

    Kyrie Eleison,



    To the Rev. Clergy serving in the Metropolis of Boston

    Reverend brothers,

    This past week, panegyric homilies were delivered during
    services celebrating the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Much was heard about how much
    Orthodoxy had to offer America “if only it were united administratively.”
    Unjustly, as you know, it is the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the
    Ecumenical Patriarchate that are saddled with the blame why Orthodoxy is not
    “administratively united”. This totally unfounded accusation is made by
    those who blatantly disregard Orthodox ecclesiology and Canon Law by
    installing Bishops in cities where there is already a governing canonical

    On December 2, 2005, Metropolitan Herman installed one of his
    Hierarchs as “Bishop of Boston and New England and the Albanian
    Archdiocese”. This, in spite of the fact that I have been serving this
    Metropolis since 1984. The Bible reads, “You shall know them by their
    fruits” (Matthew 7; 16). To put it as mildly as possible, you cannot
    pontificate about the need for “administrative unity” in America, and at the
    same time trample upon the very basic tenets of Orthodox ecclesiology and
    Canon Law which unequivocally state that there can only be one canonical
    governing Bishop.

    During the last meeting of all Orthodox Hierarchs held in
    Chicago, I voiced my objections directly to Metropolitan Herman and asked
    Archbishop Demetrios, chairman of SCOBA, to intercede, hoping that the
    uncanonical decision would be reversed. It has not.

    While it pains me greatly, I cannot continue accepting this
    uncanonical state of affairs which is an affront not only to my person, but
    to the Archdiocese and by extension the Ecumenical Patriarchate. I
    therefore direct all clergy serving in the Metropolis of Boston to refrain
    from co-celebrating with any priests belonging to the OCA until further

    Sincerely hoping that this matter is quickly resolved, I remain,

    With Episcopal love,

    M E T H O D I O S
    Metropolitan of Boston

    “…and tell our faithful what we have discovered on this mountain during the past few days.”

    Metropolitan Philip

    An Eyewitness to Orthodox History

    By Bishop Methodios of Boston

    (as originally published in The Hellenic Chronicle, 12-15-94)

    I pen these thoughts on the airline flight returning to Boston from the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA, where I attended the first assembly of Orthodox hierarchs from throughout North America (click on the link below to view the video A NEW ERA BEGINS).

    It was the very first time that I visited the Antiochian Village. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip and the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese are to be congratulated for offering to Orthodoxy this magnificent complex, which includes a state of the art conference center, comfortable hotel-style guest rooms, a beautiful chapel and museum, as well as a camp facility which is home to hundreds of youngsters during the summer months. The hospitality extended to the hierarchs was most gracious. The entire staff of the Antiochian Village provided their services in a most professional manner.

    My trip to the Antiochian Village afforded me the opportunity to meet for the first time Orthodox hierarchs form other jurisdictions whom I have not previously met. We prayed together, shared fellowship with one another and studied together the state of Orthodoxy in North America. Every hierarch called to mind and reflected with great respect upon their mother churches and ecclesiastical superiors. Together we prayed for our venerable Patriarchs and Primates and discussed with much concern the problems our mother churches face with courage and conviction. Each of us reflected how blessed we are to have such men of faith leading their churches at such critical times.

    Each of us also thanked God for the spiritual children entrusted to our care in America, i.e., our dedicated priests and deacons and the laity that faithfully live their Orthodox faith, providing sterling missionary witness of the “one holy catholic and apostolic church” in cities and towns throughout the United States and Canada. These Orthodox Christians are not “Diaspora” Christians seeking to return “home”, but men and women born here who have raised families in lands that thirst for Orthodox witness and presence.

    We began our Episcopal Conference on the Feast of Saint Andrew, the first called Disciple of Christ who was the first “missionary” of the Truth of the Gospel, who first shared his great discovery that he had found “the Messiah” with his brother, Peter and then throughout the world – Cyprus, Greece and in Constantinople, where he established the Church which today continues to be blessed by a Patriarch imbued by his exemplary visionary faith.

    We Orthodox in the Americas, whether we are of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Alexandria, Antioch, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Russia or under the spiritual jurisdiction of primates of autocephalous churches, have a sacred responsibility to emulate the example of Saint Andrew. He was the Protokletos, first to be called to discipleship. We too are called to discipleship, to an American missionary effort to share our faith, our discovery of the “Messiah” in the land where we live, with our brethren who live in our midst, who seek to drink from a modern day Jacob’s well the refreshing drink of Orthodox Theological Truth.

    During our three-day conference, we had the opportunity to hear well prepared presentations and agreed upon two thought provoking statements, one on Mission and Evangelism, and the other on the Church in North America, both of which should be carefully studied by all Orthodox Christians.

    The Statement on Mission and Evangelism stresses the need for us as Orthodox to re-evangelize our own communities with the truth of Orthodoxy. This is very important if we are to be effective missionaries of the Faith. It is sad to admit that many of our priests are anything but “Orthodox” in their polity. We all agreed that we need to combine our missionary programs to avoid duplication of effort and train tommorow’s priests and laity in the vital importance of mission.

    The Statement on the Church in North America should also be studied by all clergy and laity with prayerful reflections. Orthodoxy has matured and come of age. The hierarchs gathered in Ligonier seek from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other heads of Orthodoxy their guidance and blessing to continue the process of working effectively towards administrative unity of Orthodoxy in the United States and Canada, which has already begun by the International Orthodoxy Preparatory Commissions on the Diaspora. Our venerable Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the ranking Church in the Orthodox world, has a critically important guiding role to play in the life of the Church.

    Throughout history, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has always exercised a primatial role amongst the other Orthodox churches. It is, therefore, ecclesiologically her right to exercise leadership in guiding and inspiring the Orthodox churches in North America to future administrative unity. We anxiously await the directives of our beloved Patriarchate, so that we may progress in canonical order to the administrative unity we all seek.

  14. George Michalopulos :


    Let him become archbishop. Of what? A rump archdiocese? I’m sure that “1.5 million Orthodox in America” will gladly follow him as well.

  15. Dean,


    The comparison of Metropolitan Methodios to Joe Biden is spot on! I would like to add that the Metropolitan is also like John Kerry…. He was for American Orthodoxy before he was against it. How do you say “Flip Flop” in Greek?

    The real insult is his use of the words “other presences”. He cannot even use the word Churches. American Orthodox Christians are the equivalent of sects like Mormons to the Metropolitan. This tells you how deep the omogenia before Orthodoxy mentality runs.

    However, you are right Dean, Archbishop Demetrios grows older and Methodios again is in campaign mode for the office on 79th street. This is life in the GOA Potemkin Village.

  16. George Michalopulos :

    Andrew, “flip-flop” in Greek is “flippy-floppy.” It comes from a lack of integrity, which is necessary to maintain a Potemkin village. “Beware the double-minded man, he is unstable in all his ways.”

  17. Scott Pennington :

    There are a couple of things that disturb me about all this:

    1) The fact that the EP and, I assume, a number of Greek hierarchs, are taking a postion which appears to be both at the same time indefensible and divisive.

    2) The fact that there are those who somehow see the OCA’s position as precarious vis a vis Moscow.

    There is a potential here for much mischief borne from miscalculation. I would hate to see the EP actually try to force his interpretation of Canon 28 on the rest of Orthodoxy. Given his temperament and the temperament of Met. Methodios, can we rule out the possibility that they would resort to breaking communion?

  18. To George Michalopoulos, if I may,

    1. Met Jonah stated the following:

    “I don’t think the holy fathers in the Phanar understand that we are a Church, albeit with separate administrations, but that has a common value of determining our own destiny. A church that is dedicated to the conciliar process, which does not ignore the voice of the laity, which does not ignore the voice of the priests, a church that, is united in its common commitment. Because we are Orthodox not simply by birth, we are Orthodox not simply by our ethnic heritage. We are Orthodox because we have chosen to be Orthodox. We are Orthodox because we have committed our entire life to Jesus Christ and the Gospel. And, it is that commitment to Jesus Christ and the Gospel and our commitment to bring our brothers and sisters in our land to that same commitment of Jesus Christ and the Gospel, not to some kind of alien ideology, not to some nationalist or imperialist ideology from some forgotten empire, not the imposition of foreign customs and the submission to foreign despots”

    When one makes a comment like this, one CLEARLY implies that those who belong to an “Old World Patriarchate” and those who CHOOSE to be under and ”Old World Patriarchate” are somehow committed to an “…alien ideology…” or “…imperialist ideology from some forgotten empire…”. As an individual who loves Christ and His Church and cherishes the tradition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and sees the EP as certainly no obstacle to living and spreading the Orthodox Faith, how am I supposed to interpret Met. Jonah’s comments? Just the way I did.

    2. I have been to every CL congress since 1988 in Boston. I disagree with your assessment profoundly. Also, I disagree with the myth that Abp Iakovos was kicked out. He told me personally that he did submit his resignation on his own, without request. He stated it to the entire Archdiocesan Council. He did say that he reconsidered and requested that he be allowed to withdraw his resignation, but his request was denied.

    I have sat on my parish council for 14 years, the Metropolis of Chicago council for 20 years and the Archdiocese council for 12 out of the past 16 years. There has been virtually no change in the input of the laity. The above mentioned councils function EXACTLY as they did before. The Charter fiasco and the hoopla made about that was a lot of nothing. More time was spent going back and forth on that Charter between NY and the Phanar and time spent at 2 CL congresses than on anything else. The essence of the charter was very little changed and the input of the laity is very little changed as well. As far as the conversion of the diocese to metropolises, this was an ecclesiastical matter and up to the Synod. It makes very little practical difference and if you read the piece by Met. Jonah entitled “The Conciliar Structures of the Orthodox Church in America. A Time of Crisis and Opportunity: Part II you will see that this is exactly the kind of decentralization he calls for. The world I live in is the one of reality. None of this has any impact on my spiritual growth, that of my family or our parish or our willingness to grow Orthodoxy in the US. The obstacles to that are all on this side of the Atlantic in our own parishes, metropolises and archdioceses.

    3. That’s well and good. But who else is commemorated? Why should Moscow have any parishes on a territory that it claims belongs to another “autocephalous” Church? Where is Met. Jonah’s anger at Moscow? Where is the anger at Moscow not telling ROCOR to place itself under the existing autocephalous Church? I can understand that before the fall of communism most Patriarchal parishes were largely KGB outposts, but why do they still exist and where is the rancor leveled at them? No where, because the problem that Met Jonah has with the EP is not that it is foreign, but that it is Greek. He knows that he had better not turn his anger towards the Moscow Patriarchate because of the Russian nature of the OCA.

    4. As for number four. I can tell you that there are spiritual shortcomings in all parishes AND at all Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches. Certainly in the GOA.

    5. That is exactly what a unified Church will look like, at least for the first 50 years or so. And although it is not a perfect solution, we must realize that people live their faith in the context of their cultural identity. That does not mean that the cultural identity is more important to them, just that their small “t” traditions have a flavor based upon their cultural background. Lets be honest, the OCA is without a doubt a (largely) English speaking Russian Orthodox Church. Not that She does not welcome others, but the flavor is decidedly Russian. This will change as time goes on and each generation passes, at that time we will see what a real American Orthodoxy looks like. My guess, and my desire is that it will look a little like all the traditional lands combined along with traditions from the non-traditional lands. Just like America. Gyros, kibbeh, kebabs, pizza, corned beef and hot dogs!

    6. I have not yet spoken to one who is ecstatic, though I am sure they exist. Many clergy I know (including my parish priest who is VERY oriented towards Orthodox Unity) were very disturbed by this and thought that it was a very immature and arrogant. I would add to that it seems (for the reasons I mentioned in #3 above) quite hypocritical as well.

    Though I may have answered your final question in #3 allow me to expound a little more. I know this will not be popular, but I envision this. A unified Orthodoxy, under the Omophorion of the EP with diocese that have varying cultural flavors. I would like to see the EP open a center in Washington DC and spend a good deal of his time here (one cannot help but look at Washington as the 4th Rome). I think that English should be the dominant language, though not required to be exclusive. I would like to see 80/20 or 70/30 in favor of English. As time passes we will see that the parishes no longer have such homogenous make ups and as “Ethnic” hierarchs, as they repose, will eventually be replaced by ones who have come up in the new system. We cannot force some artificial and premature “American” cultural expression of Orthodoxy. There really is no “American” culture. American culture is an acceptance of bits and pieces of the cultures brought here over the centuries from the first “indigenous” peoples to the most recent immigrants. That is what makes us such a Great Nation. Even the notion of Liberty and Democracy and Freedom is not what defines us (though we are quite good at it) and if you don’t believe me try to tell a Greek in Greece what he can or cannot do!

    I am a third generation American. Though my ancestral blood is Greek, I am as all-American as they come. I don’t speak Greek well. I don’t cling to some nationalist or imperialist ideology from some forgotten empire. I want what is best for the Church and my children and their children. I honestly, in my heart do not believe what Met. Jonah said or did was a good thing. I am truly offended by it and feel that it will do more to harm the cause than to promote it.

    People can take it or leave it. They can believe me or not and I really do not care, but I have to say what I think is right, even if it goes against all the excitement in circles like this. Just like I have to point out the errors of the GOA in the appropriate time and place.

    So that’s what I think. Perhaps my mind is a little weakened by lack of protein. Maybe a nice piece of fish will help tomorrow along with some beets and skordalia! In any case, I wish you and yours a blessed Holy Week and Joyous Pascha. I don’t get offended easily, and nothing you said offended me.

    PS. Don’t get me started about Meletios Metaxakis!!!!! I might never stop. Quite a piece of work he was! Aaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  19. Dean Calvert :


    “There is a potential here for much mischief borne from miscalculation. I would hate to see the EP actually try to force his interpretation of Canon 28 on the rest of Orthodoxy. Given his temperament and the temperament of Met. Methodios, can we rule out the possibility that they would resort to breaking communion?”

    Given what I had posted above (Met. Methodios’ refusal to concelebrate with OCA priest) I would say the answer to your question is an unequivocal “DA”.

    To be honest, I think we in America had better get used to the idea that our “independence” and unity may come, just as most other autocephalies occurred…after a protracted period of being called schismatics and heretics by the Old Country. Even the Church of Greece was labelled as schismatics following their declaration of independence.

    Despite His having now given us enlightened leadership, perhaps God is not done “testing us” yet – perhaps the ability to say “nyet” to the respective Old Countries is just one of those rituals of passage from being a “daughter church” to being a fully independent national church.

    Just a thought…Let’s just hope it’s not for 140 years like the Russian church!

    Best Regards,

  20. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Note 6. Tom, I read through your post but I am not really sure how to respond to it except to say that strong feelings are provoked all around on these issues. On many things reasonable people can reasonably disagree — including Church affairs. But as I mentioned earlier, I don’t read Met. Jonah’s speech as arrogant, any more than I do Bp. Hilarion’s recent statement from Russia that spells out essentially the same position.

    Regarding statements about the “Old Country,” my read is that refers to ideas about Hellenic supremacy, at least in terms of the rationale by Constantinople for jurisdictional authority over Orthodoxy in America (the “diaspora”). This I explained above and like Met. Jonah, I too think that Constantinople doesn’t really understand America or Americans.

    Could Met. Jonah have been a bit more politic in the way he framed his comments? Maybe. But I think what we might be seeing is the emergence of a leader, and most leaders step on a toes on occasion. Remember Apb. Iakovos? No one ever accused him or reticence either.

    I don’t know what else to offer. I’m used to the language of conflict and tend not to take offense at how things are said if substantial ideas are at play — as is the case with both Met. Jonah and the EP. I’d rather look at the ideas and analyze them on that level.

  21. Good Morning Fr. Hans,

    Just a quick note before I am off to Church.

    You are correct in that reasonable people may disagree on this and other issues. However, I want to kane it clear that my concern is not only with the way he said things but also with much of the content. I guess one mans visionary is another mans demagogue. Time will tell which of us is correct.

    In any case, you make a good point by saying lets look at the ideas and analyze them on that level.

    I would be curious to know what makes you (or anyone else on this site) feel that Met. Jonah and the OCA is more qualified to unify or lead Orthodoxy in the US? Or even what makes you believe that they have a greater claim than the EP?

    Warmest Regars,Tom K

  22. BTW, you mentioned Abp. Iakovos, I do not believe for one second that he ever did or ever would have made the kinds of comments we read in Met. Jonahs speech.

    How would it have been for Abp. Iakovos, in the day, to speaak about the then Metropolia being tied to the Moscow patriarchate and that the MP had to bow to the soviet overlords? I don’t think that would have been received very well by some of the same people who now see no problem with Mt. Jonah’s comments.

    Just a thought.

  23. I would be curious to know what makes you (or anyone else on this site) feel that Met. Jonah and the OCA is more qualified to unify or lead Orthodoxy in the US?

    A lot of people that have read Met. Jonah’s sermonette assume that when he said “There is an American church. Back off!” that he was referring to the OCA. In fact, what was so groundbreaking ecclesiologically is that he did not suggest this. He suggested that the various parts of the “American Church” – the Greeks, Russians, Romanians, Serbs, etc. and the OCA – all sit together on one ruling Synod of Orthodox Christians. Essentially, SCOBA with teeth, SCOBA with authority.

    The American Church that Met. Jonah is talking about are all of the Orthodox parishes, monasteries, seminaries, etc. that are already here under all the various jurisdictions with its various traditions.

    He made a brief, informal case for unity in a way other than obedience to a single hierarch with a unique and ‘new’ interpretation of a canon for his own church’s self-interest. Met. Jonah made a case for true conciliarity, where all the Orthodox bishops in America begin ruling as a Synod of Orthodox bishops in America in evangelizing all of America – rather than each reporting back to the old country on how they are serving only their sliver of emigres in America from Orthodox countries.

  24. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Note 21.

    I would be curious to know what makes you (or anyone else on this site) feel that Met. Jonah and the OCA is more qualified to unify or lead Orthodoxy in the US? Or even what makes you believe that they have a greater claim than the EP?

    Tom, I haven’t made an argument that Met. Jonah should lead an American Church. My argument is that the rationale that Constantinople offers for universal jurisdiction (different than primacy) is not historically tenable thus rendering its claim to jurisdiction over an American Orthodox Church (as “diaspora”) without foundation.

  25. George Michalopulos :


    I’m taking back my embargo on commentary just to answer this one question by you: How would I have felt if Arb +Iakovos had said something about the Metropolia’s subservience to Moscow? I would have welcomed it! In retrospect, he should have because +Iakovos for all his faults, loved this country and its people. (Can you imagine any of the current crop of GOAA bishops taking to the streets to protest injustice? Oh wait, they can, every January during the March for Life. But that’s too onerous, much better to be dine like a courtier at the White House or attending the “Leader of the Free World” at his hotel room.)

    I am an American and ANY American Orthodox Church subservient to a foreign presence is anathema. (That’s Orthodox bTW, not American rebelliousness or my innate Southern cussedness speaking.) The fact that it was a Soviet overlord is neither here nor there (although the Soviet regime was intolerable). What was at issue w/ the Metropolia chafing under foreign domination. The GOAA ought to try it some time, it’s very liberating to be a church rather than an eparchy/cash-cow.

    You know, for all the vicissitudes that the Metropolia had to put up with here in America and from abroad, they were able to break free from Soviet control almost from the get-go. Our Tomos of Autocephaly in 1970 only made official what was already the reality, de jure instead of simply de facto. And you know what? Nobody ever looked back, not even when things were south w/ +Theodosius and +Herman at the helm.

  26. Michael Bauman :

    Tom, I don’t know who should be the leader of an American Orthodox Church. I just know that we should have one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church here, not what amounts to a contentious group of national sects.

    The only other thing clear to me is that some sort of imposed homegenity is worse than what we have now.

    We should form our expression of the Church together. If we get the support and guidance of the various mother Churches, that would be wonderful and greatly preferred. However, if we do not, then we still need to go ahead.

    Such a movement is much more likely to come from and be sustained initially in the heart of the country rather than from either coast (between the Allegehnies and the Rockies}. Although we have much to learn from Alaska as the real heart of indigenous Orthodoxy.

  27. WOW! This is certainly becoming an interesting discussion.


    It seemed very clear to me that the American Church to which Met. Jonah referred was not the OCA. I understand that completely and applaud that comment. I agree with much of what you post until you make the assumption in your last line about bishops reporting directly back to Old World PAtriarchates on how they are serving only their own sliver of emigres in America from Orthodox countries. I am not an emigre in America from an Orthodox country. Neither are a large portion of my parish and the parishes around me. Neithere are the non-Greek spouses who have converted and the individuals who have converted on their own. Could we all be doing more? Yes. Is the EP or any other old world patriarchate preventing us from doing so? NO. The fault lies here on this side of the Atlantic.

    Fr. Hans:

    I know you did not make that comment. I apologize , that is not what I intended. I guess i was trying to shif the discussion away from the speech and more toward the topic of how we move forward. Additionally, I would like to understand what you mean my the EP’s claim to “universal jurisdiction” which, frankly, I have not heard from the EP or any other reasonable individual. Perhaps a claim of universal jurisdiction in the diaspora has been made or claimed, but that is different than universal jurisdiction in general.


    Lets not make a judgement based upon one issue. Do I think the more GOA bishops should be present at the March for life? Of course. Do I think that Abp. Iakovos was brave for marching at Selma. Of course. But in the Chicago Metropolis, our metropolitan has taken a stand on many social issues includingissues relating to Sanctity of Life (abortion and capital punishment) and taken a strong stand against an Illinois House Bill that would force abortion counseling at every hospital and take away the rights of health care workers to object to offering and cousneling such procedures bsed upon religious or ethical beliefs.

    We must be careful not to make judgements when we do not know all the facts. I think that is my biggest gripe with Met. Jonahs comments. He spoke in ignorance and made broad sweeping statements which were not all accurate.

    I would like to hear a reason that being under the omophorion of a old world patriarchate is so anathema (please not the “because we are American” one, as that is not a reason). As far as it being not Orthodox, hogwash! There is nothing in the situation of the New World that fits in to any simple box of what is Orthodox. We are treading new ground here and working it out will be painful. All over the world and all through history, autocephalous churches have crossed national boundaries. All of the ancient patriarchates were and are multi national. Moscow is as well (just ask the Ukrainians). Even the OCa is multi national.

    I think that deep down, you want to have an autocephalous American church exactly because of rebelliousness and the fiercly independant nature we have as Americans. I understand that and a littl part of me feels the same way, but when I think about it with my reason and try to understand what the ramifications are for our salvation, I must honestly say that it does not matter.


    I agree we need to be unified and believe that it will come in time. I agree also that a forced homogeneity would be bad. Who is promoting a forced homogeneity? Certainly not the EP. Perhaps those who are calling for an “American expression” of Orthodoxy are the ones. I still contend that there is no American expression yet. It is still evolving and will continue to do so with each passing generation. One day it will be here and it will probably be a little bit of everything.

  28. Michael Bauman :


    “when I think about it with my reason and try to understand what the ramifications are for our salvation, I must honestly say that it does not matter.”

    Part of becoming Orthodox for me has been the realization that my salvation is not an individual thing and it fact not even all that important in a sense. So I have to ask, what about all of the others out there who simply won’t approach the Orthodox Church because of our disorder? What about our inability to speak more forcefully on the political, cultural and moral disintegration in our country? My salvation is intertwined with all of that.

    When I hear so many express opinions that the bishops are irrelevant, I worry because like it or not, the Church is formed around the bishops. No bishops, no sacraments; no sacraments, no Church; no Church, no salvation.

    The bishops are irrelevant to so many because we never see them or when we do it is typically in a ‘look but do not touch’ environment (sermons and banquets). I know for a fact that my life in the Church would be much poorer were it not for the sustained personal contact I’ve had with my bishop, +Basil and the opportunity to interact with my brother’s bishop, Met. Joseph. Both are pastoral in the care for their flocks.

    With the current dispute in the Antiochian Archdiocese I am also forced to revisit all of my own assumptions of what life in the Church should be. The intimate care of the bishop for his flock is crucial to a dynamic Church full of the Holy Spirit. While this is possible from a far, with the addition of significant cultural barriers, it is a task that few seem up to.

    What I am most struck with is that it seems so few, even of the American bishops, have a heart for this country. Without that the Church will not grow and we will all suffer.

    Around the icon of the Panocrator in the dome of my parish, the Jesus Prayer is written in Greek, Arabic and English. As I say when I am giving tours, it is written in Greek because that is the language of the New Testament, in English because that is the language of this country and Arabic becuase it is the native langugage of the founders of this holy temple. We must never loose that understanding and continuity as it is uniquely Orthodox; part of the redemption to which the Church is called. We have the opportunity in America to realize that calling in a manner that has never been possible before. Without genuine unity, we won’t realize it.

  29. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Note 27.

    Perhaps a claim of universal jurisdiction in the diaspora has been made or claimed, but that is different than universal jurisdiction in general.

    Yes, and a universal jurisdiction among the “diaspora” is what I meant to say. Sorry for not being more clear.

  30. Tom,

    With respect it seems the reasonable conversation ends when you respond as you did to George. To assert to know ones motives, especially after they have honestly claimed motives to the contrary, ends reasonable discourse. To take a known subject matter expert and author and disagree is reasonable to some degree, but to dismiss his works because of motives you assert would seem that you assume that everyone who holds to the same idea as George, not owning the same credentials, to be guided by the same motives. Thus you dismiss all of us as being driven by our hearts and minds as we believe them but rather you assert we are guided, “deep down” and unawares by rebellion.

    I own my sinfulness and Lent has been a good mirror for me. I have an inner rebellion, not because I am American but because I was born of Adam. Sadly I share this nature with all Orthodox Christians Greek, Serb, Arab, etc. I inherited my rebellious nature through my ancestors,those who fought in the Revolutionary War,the Irish immigrants of 4 generations back, and those registered with the Western Cherokee Nation.

    Although I would recommend we always view these issues of the Church being wary of our fallen, rebellious, selfish sinful natures, I’m not sure it’s fruitful to attribute it selectively to those based on the geographic origin of their birth.

    Just my thoughts.

  31. George Michalopulos :


    I have no essential beef with your assessment of the various old world patriarchates. I wouldn’t say however that they were “multinationsl” but “multicultural.” Russia is a nation which comprises many ethnicities within its Church, as does Greece. As does the OCA. This does not mitigate against an American patriarchate however. In fact, quite the opposite.

    As to my “rebelliousness,” Demetrius is right. We ALL inherited that from Adam. However I would like to point out that my ancestors and yours were equally rebellious: they rebelled against their God-given sovereign, the Sultan of Turkey. I’m rather glad that they did rebel, aren’t you?

    Please be careful ascribing “rebellious” motives to those of us in the US who want to see an administrativelly united church. We don’t do this because we disdain our immigrant roots. The canons and fidelity to the Gospel mandates it, pure and simple. Our Byzantine ancestors were equally concerned with taksis(order) in the Church, St Paul himself demanded it. I think if we were honest with ourselves, we would admit that there is absolutely no taksis whatsoever at present in the US.

    I for one do not think that an American Orthodox patriarchate would be the be-all and end-all of our problems. As long as horrible sinners like me exist within the Church, there will be no end of problems. “Ho Theos einai megalos” (God is great/merciful) as my beloved mother used to say.

    Kali Anastasi.

  32. George Michalopulos :

    p.s. Tom, you say that the EP is not ordering a “forced homogeneity.” OK, I can buy that. But neither is +Jonah. As I wrote in my “Response” to the Rev Hope-bearer, the OCA is far more multicultural and its episcopate reflects this reality.

    What is at stake is not the loss of our cultural mosaic, but our ethnos which is American (look at your passport). Instead of forced homogeneity, the Phanar is offering something far worse –“submission.” And what is submission? (The Arabs have a word it, it’s called “Islam.”) We are free men, not because we are Americans but because the Triune God made us free. He does not force His love on anybody.

  33. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    A couple of years ago, a friend of mine, a priest-monk, came to see me. He was being psychologically abused by his abbott. The abbott should not have been an abbott, but there he was. My friend was torn between his vow of obedience and the abuse he was experiencing. He was suffering over it.

    We talked, I told him I would pray, and I did. Here is what came out of it: Even monastic obedience requires freedom. Freedom is what what gave my friend’s obedience its meaning and value. Take away the freedom, and you end up with coercion.

    In other words, in demanding obedience, the abbott ceased being a spiritual father and became instead an oppressor, even a tyrant (not too strong a word in this case). His abuse, more specifically his calls for obedience by which he justified his coercion, did not supersede my friend’s freedom in Christ. I saw that my friend could break his vow without incurring the disfavor of Christ.

    He did just that, although not by simply walking away from the monastery (which too may have been blessed, albeit more difficult). Rather, his declaration of freedom took place in his heart. Once he recovered his freedom, he found a way out of the monastery and is now serving in a monastery on Mt. Athos (which fulfills a deeper purpose for his life).

    George’s point above reminded me of the story. Yes, not even God compels us to believe, let alone obey. Even He respects our freedom. Of course, freedom is in service to a higher law, namely, love of God and neighbor. On the other hand, the defense of freedom, in this case the freedom of my friend, was entirely appropriate despite the charges of rebellion it would have incurred had it been known at the time.

  34. George (31)

    Respectfully, I didn’t say that you wanted a administratively united Church because of rebbeliousness, I said I thoudht you wanted an autocephalous Church because of our rebellious and independant nature. The two are very different. I too wish to see an administratively united Church. But I don’t believe that this presuposes autocephally, at least not right away.

    Additionally, in my post I stated “multinational” becuase they are in fact multi national. Moscow has Ukraine and Byelorus and I believe some other nations within her jurisdiction. Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria all have multiple nations (separate political and geographic entities) within their jurisdiction. As does the OCA. So in this case, although one can say that they are also multi-cultural, they are also multi national.

    I would think that the OCA is certainly more multi cultural than the GOA, this is true. But I would argue that the OCa is no more multi cultural than the EP. There really is no question about that what with Greeks, Carpatho Russians, Ukrainians and even Fins and Estonians as well as Indians, Thai, Vietnamese, Korea etc all having ties to the EP.

    So let me be clear, administrative unity is something towards which we should all be working and I think that the EP is and should take the lead.

    Demetrius (30)

    Respectfully, that is exactly my point, we should not attribute motives to others when we are not sure of them. I try, though perhaps I am not always successful, to state that it was my belief that George wanted autocephally for the reason I stated. I did not state it as though it were fact. This is why Met. Jonah is so wrong in what he wrote as are all of the people on this site who attribute motives to the EP (and those who agree with the EP) that are not neccessarily correct. When we are speaking of things which are essentially opinions of philosophies, what makes ona an expert? Everyone is an expert and no one is an expert. I am not sure what works you are speaking of when you refer to Georeg (I assume) as a “…known subject matter expert.” am I missing something? It would not be the first time.

    Everyone is getting all bent about the word “submission” but is it not an accurate word? The those in the OCA have you not submitted to be under the Omphorion of Met. Jonah? Have the Antiochians not submitted to Antioch? The Russian Patriarchal parishes, are they not in submission to Moscow? Submission to a primal see is not giving up freedom. Lets not get all outraged when the EP uses the word submission when we all know as Orthodox Christians we have all submitted to one primal see or another already.

    George (32)

    I don’t recall stating that Met. Jonah was requiring forced homogeneity. Again, submission does not mean we have no freedom. Submission is a voluntary act by which one places himself under the authority of another. As stated above, we have all already submitted ourselves to one jurisdiction or another. This fear over the word submission is a red herring.

    Fr. Hans (33)

    That is a very good story with a great message. I don’t disagree with it at all. I would submit though that the real problem was not the obedience, but the abuse by the abbot. Surely, the monk did the right thing.

  35. Scott Pennington :

    It seems to me that the way toward unity, if it is to come, is not for all the foreign led jurisdictions and the indigenous led jurisdiction to unite under another foreign patriarchate (Constantinople), especially when that patriarchate’s claims to exclusive jurisdiction here in the US (and in other parts of the world) are based on some contrived, irrational theory regarding Canon 28 of the 4th EC which was invented by a rascal of an EP, Patriarch Meletios (1922-1924) who was run out of his patriarchate.

    Makes much more sense to unite all the jurisdictions here into one American Orthodox Church. The obstacles to this are 1) the lust for power, 2) ethnocentricity and 3)xenophobia. While I don’t think that jurisdictional unity is as important as some here do, it strikes me as a step backward to unite under the EP (especially in light of his false claims, which should be denied vigorously).

    Isn’t this whole dispute absurd? I have to disagree with those here who don’t think it is appropriate to question motives. I’ve never heard anything resembling a plausible case for the EP’s claims and to me they do not pass the laugh test. I just can’t believe that the Phanar itself seriously believes in such a far fetched theory. They seem to have carried this idea forward for motives of power and money.

    If anyone here can show that the EP’s claims regarding its perogatives under Canon 28 have any solid pedigree at all prior to the 1920’s, please volunteer that information or a link to it. Otherwise, the EP’s recent assertions should be seen as nothing other than a cynical, fundamentally dishonest and dishonorable power grab.

    Mission churches move toward autonomy and then autocephaly. That is the natural order of things in the OC. Met. Jonah may have been a bit abrupt in his tone; however, given the claims he was facing, perhaps abruptness was called for.

  36. Christopher Orr :

    To me, there are two issues that are being conflated. There is a difference between the validity of Constantinople’s claims to jurisdiction based on Canon 28 of Chalcedon and to the question of whether some or all Orthodox Christians in areas other than the traditional ‘territory’ of another local Church should be under the omophorion of Constantinople.

    Other thoughts:

    I don’t like being referred to as a barbarian, which is what appeal to Canon 28 does.

    This kind of language magnifies the feeling among the Orthodox xenoi that Greeks and the Phanar think they are almost inherently better, more mature, more Christian and Orthodox than all other Orthodox Christian and local, autocephalous Orthodox churches.

    Appeals to ‘obedience’ based on this didn’t work with any of the other local churches that took their autocephaly for themselves only to receive Constantinople’s recognition later (Russia, Greece, etc.). This kind of obedience is different than the regular sort of blessed obedience we are called on to offer our holy father the bishop. These are being conflated.

    I don’t like the fact that everyone keeps arguing for ‘ethnic dioceses’ and ‘administrative unity’.

    Administrative unity is not the issue. The canons of the Church are the issue, which require one bishop for one city (or diocese). This is simply the ecclesiology inherent in the Apostle Paul: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) We are to gather together as one people of God, one Church, around our one bishop in the place of Christ. We are not to wall ourselves off into ethnic enclaves living side by side with each other in the same city with different bishops. The creation of ethnic dioceses (as in the OCA) or jurisdictional eparchies (as under the EP) fly in the face of the canons by creating geographical dioceses where various parishes and individuals report into a

    (When ethnic eparchies are then structured under the ethnic Greek eparchy – as with the Jerusalem churches in the US, for instance [not sure about the Ukrainians and Carpatho-Rusyns] – this magnifies further the ‘feeling’ that the EP sees Greeks as being ‘more Orthodox’ than all other Orthodox. This was the error of the Phanariotes in the Ottoman Empire that engendered such ill will between Greek and non-Greek Orthodox Christians.)

    I don’t think ‘immature’ is a good way to label American Orthodox that do not agree with Constantinople, IF unity, brotherhood, etc. is the end goal. This is not an appealing argument.

    I wish Constantinople and her supporters would temper using the EP as the touchstone of Orthodoxy. There are innumerable examples of Orthodox Christians and local churches disagreeing strenuously to many of the actions and positions of the EP over the course of the 20th century. Mount Athos is a prime example on the EP’s own territory.

    I also wish that there were greater acknowledgment of the fact that the EP of today is in a far different position than it was prior to WWI. In some ways better, in many ways worse. The prime difference being the loss of all but a remnant of his flock in the traditional jurisdiction of the EP due especially to the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey, but also to the 1955 pogrom against the Greeks in Istanbul. This has clearly affected Constantinople’s view of Canon 28 and its continuation as not only a Patriarchate but as a local church at all – unless believers and jurisdiction elsewhere were granted to it.

    I’m not sure why the EP can’t simply come out and say, ‘Help us. Help the Church of the Queen of Cities. We may not survive without you.’ This is a call that most American Orthodox would respond to, especially if the canonical bluff and bluster regarding Canon 28 were put aside. For some, autonomy or autocephaly are the only possible choices; for many – including myself – this is not the case. I am perfectly fine being ‘under’ any local church. Heck, I’m already ‘under’ my local bishop and the Synod of my jurisdiction. I just want to be under a Synod that cares as much about Orthodoxy, about the non-Orthodox, about all ethnicities of Orthodox Christians, about converts and cradle, as about the historic nature and prerogatives of a single local Church that is practically co-equal (it seems) with a specific ethnicity.

    I wish the Ecumenical Patriarch acted more ecumenically within Orthodoxy. I wish I saw in the GOA and his eparchies abroad a vigorous concern for more than the ethnic groups, their culture and languages, those eparchies were created to serve. I want a Patriarch that understands that all of us in a given city, region, country have to be Orthodox together rather than ‘separate, but equal’ in obedience to the Ecumenical Throne (or any other).

  37. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Note 34.

    I would submit though that the real problem was not the obedience, but the abuse by the abbot. Surely, the monk did the right thing.

    Yes, the abuse by the abbott was the problem, but only partially for my friend. His dilemma was how to reconcile his vow of obedience to the abuse he suffered. It was resolved when he realized that freedom precedes obedience. He saw the demand for obedience as the coercion that is was, and the abbott’s grip was broken. My friend was free to move forward with his life in Christ, which he proceeded to do.

  38. Scott Pennington :

    “There is a difference between the validity of Constantinople’s claims to jurisdiction based on Canon 28 of Chalcedon and to the question of whether some or all Orthodox Christians in areas other than the traditional ‘territory’ of another local Church should be under the omophorion of Constantinople.”

    Chris, out of curiosity, what is the difference you have in mind? It seems to me that the EP’s claim to the jurisdiction over all the areas not given to other Churches is based on Canon 28. To me, that’s the crux of the issue.

    Why would Fr. Elpidophoros assert that the only canonical authority here in America is the EP? Why would he claim that the OCA is not autocephalous even though their Mother Church has granted them this status? Why would the EP interfere in the territories of other Patriarchates?

    I don’t see this as a small issue. It has the potential to become as big as the differences with Rome at the end of the first millenium.

  39. Christopher Orr :


    I didn’t say they were small things, just different things.

    When folks at the EP hear of people wanting an autocephalous or autonomous church, or that refuse to even consider being under the omophorion of the EP they are hurt by what they feel as derision of this venerable Church. ‘Why do you want to break from us? Why don’t you want to help us?’ is what is often heard.

    Orthodox in America need to remember that we are all under a bishop and Synod, and that for much of Orthodox history the various Patriarchates were multicultural and transnational. It is only recently that monocultural local churches have become more standard. There is no canonical guarantee that each people or nation have their own local church. I fear that is something born of both the break-up of the Ottoman Empire and a Wilsonian political view of the self-determination of peoples. That is, it is not a purely Orthodox position.

    At the same time, the EP needs to understand that its modern understanding of Canon 28 has engendered and is engendering a great deal of ill will and animosity against it. It is also undermining its credibility as a reliable touchstone of unbiased, objective Orthodoxy. It comes off as trading on its past glories and unquestioned Orthodoxy for the sake of its own private concerns. It makes Orthodox around the world not want to help if all they are doing is propping up a would-be tyrant who will – as an institution, not a person – do anything to survive. Such has been question in the minds of Slavs since the Council of Florence; the Ottoman years did nothing to allay that suspicion given the corruption that went on between the various Phanariote parties as they jockeyed to get their candidates named Patriarch (at great expense).

    The Slavs fared little better than the Phanariotes under the Ottomans in the ‘purity’ of their hierarchs actions under the Soviet Union and its puppet states. That being true, it isn’t right and neither side should claim innocence.

    Also, the EP does need our help. We should be willing to help. We should not be afraid of becoming part of its territory, especially if that would help in its bid for survival. We should also be giving to it and other local churches in the same way the Apostle Paul gathered alms from his converts to bring back to Jerusalem.

    What needs to be gotten past is the idea that the Church is primarily concerned with only certain peoples and cultures, and that liturgical immersion in another language can somehow teach a language (not) or preserve a culture in a secular, multicultural Western world. (The situation under the Ottomans was different in that the Turks invaded and took over formerly Greek territory; they were preserving their indigenous culture. That is not the situation in the West where they are minority immigrants that are not segregated into special quarters.)

    What needs to be realized by the hierarchs and clergy is that each and every parish needs to be focused on meeting the needs of each and every Orthodox Christian in the region (regardless of culture or language; English will come to dominate because it will be the one common language shared by all the Orthodox here – French in Quebec, perhaps, Spanish in Mexico). Each and every parish also needs to focus as much on the Orthodox and non-Orthodox that do not attend, do not vote, do not give as they do on the favorites, the rich and the voting. Right now each parish and jurisdiction tends to focus on who it thinks is ‘their people’ – Greek, Russian, American, Evangelical, Catholic, Byzatine Catholic, counter-culture, Arab, educated, etc. The Church has to be for all people first, and then only pastorally to the specific needs of particular constituencies.

    Because Americans – of whatever ethnic background, convert and cradle – do not see this being done in the GOA, they have little trust that the EP and his Metropolitans here will do this in the future. Once the GOA starts acting like the Orthodox Church, first, and not the Orthodox Church for Greeks and Greek-Americans in preservation of Greek culture then the EP will see a lot of the angst surrounding him evaporate. (And, after he stops the shenanigans regarding Canon 28 which just makes him look dishonest and legalistically untrustworthy).

  40. Christopher Orr :

    Why would he claim that the OCA is not autocephalous even though their Mother Church has granted them this status? Why would the EP interfere in the territories of other Patriarchates?

    Here is another difference of understanding.

    The EP has historically understood itself as the arbiter of autocephaly. Rightly or wrongly, this is a time honored tradition going back to the days when it saw itself as the touchstone of Orthodoxy in all the East. One of the ECs gave it a role like that – over the other Patriarchates, too – in the East. Under the Ottomans this expanded from being a ‘court of last appeal’ in the East due to the EP being also the political leader of all Orthodox in the Empire. So, there have been a few centuries where the EP really called all the shots. Autocephaly was as much political rebellion as anything else. Conciliarity demands that the Orthodox seek consensus, but most times autocephaly was simple proclaimed and then recognition of such was sought (long) after the fact. They still see it as their prerogative to recognize it or not, though.

    Most local churches do not agree with this understanding.

    The EP does not view North America as solely the “territory” of another Patriarchate. because they had Greeks here before the Russia had Russians, and because they had the first parish in New Orleans before Alaska or California were part of the US, they see all of North America as ‘theirs’. The fact that the Russians quickly spread across the US, had a ton of parishes and had bishops assigned here and serving multiethnic communities does not undermine their opinion.

    North America is a big place. Planting a flag in one corner doesn’t give any church ‘dibbs’ on the whole continent. That’s as true of Russians along the coast of Alaska as it is for Greeks in New Orleans.

    Personally, I think numbers of parishes and bishops asigned in the US should determine things. For instance, there was a ‘Russian’ bishop in Boston before the Greeks set up a bishop there; the exact reverse of what Met. Methodios of Boston broke communion with the OCA over in 2005. Figure out the map of who got there first and stayed put (e.g., the Russians opened then closed a parish in NYC and the Greeks opened Holy Trinity after that and have been there ever since – they get NYC) and give that territory to that local church. We can do horse trading along the edges to make things a little contiguous. There’s no reason why the whole continent has to go to one local church or to an autonomous or autocephalous church; split it up state by staet, county by county, region by region – split it down the middle or from left to right, along the Sierras and the Appalachian Mountains. All the canons require is ‘one city, one bishop’ and nothing more, really.

  41. George Michalopulos :


    quick question, who blessed the Greek Orthodox church in New Orleans? I’ve been trying to find out, a friend actually called, but nobody at that church knew.

    I’m Greek, proud of it, but the Greeks weren’t here first in the United States. Plus, New Orleans was in LA, part of the Confederacy.

  42. Christopher Orr :

    That is a very good question. The parish I go to was (supposedly; I have been told) started without the OK from the bishop. They just got a priest to agree to serve and then got the OK from the bishop after it was a fait accompli. Whether that parish was under someone’s omophorion is not an irrelevant question – as is whether that bishop was aware the Russians already had bishops and/or parishes in the area, country, etc.

    Of course, none of it matters to the EP if they stick to their interpretation of Canon 28.

    Personally, I don’t think it matters who was here first as much as who actually did the work of the Church here successfully, who established the most parishes, who sent priests and bishops, who started a monastery, who translated texts, and who served more than their own immigrant group (they that evangelize are Church).

    It would be interesting to know what the reaction in Serbia was to the Serbs in the US seeking to leave the Russians and start their own diocese.

    Of course, at the end of the day I think all these questions are moot re Moscow. They essentially abandoned the Metropolia, and the Metropolia fell back on serving their own people (Russians, Carpatho-Rusyns) leaving the other ethnicities to fend for themselves. Everyone has a seat at the table now meaning we simply have to choose what is best for the Mission of the Church in North America. Personally, I vote for Jerusalem or Sinai – they need our help as much or more than does Constantinople and they are more ‘neutral’ territory ethnically, more ‘universal’.

  43. George Michalopulos :


    I must take issue with your assessment that the “Russians abandoned the Metropolia.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Admittedly, the murderous, atheist Bolsheviks did everything they could to destroy the Church in Russia, so under these horrible conditions, you could say that America was “abandoned” but that’s like saying a man who was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery abandoned his family.

    Luckily, the Metropolia survived (if by the skin of its teeth). Even in the place of extreme hardship, it maintained its evangelistic mission.

    As for who served the most immigrant groups, again, the hands-down winner is the Metropolia. They set up an Arab diocese and were going to set up a Serbian one as well, but WWI took over. There was talk about setting up a Greek one as well. Sure, the Serbs left but they came back when their demands were met. I was surprised how from the mid-1800s English was served, converts were brought in and ethnic priests were made vicars. (A Greek priest was in the Metropolia as a vicar in the late nineteenth century.)

    Did the Metropolia retrench after WWI and start serving primarily the Russians and Carpatho-Russians? Yeah, but get this: they also translated the liturgies into English, acknowledged the Western Rite Liturgy (the “Liturgy of St Tikhon”), started recognizing Western saints, and so on. All in the 1920s! This was evangelism pure and simple.
    30 years before Metropolitan Antony Bashir of the Lebanese started evangelizing and 60 years before the Greek-Americans heard a liturgy in English.

  44. Scott Pennington :


    There seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around out there so maybe there are some people who do not see this issue so clearly.

    The Greeks were not in North America first, the Russians were. Moreover, they came here to evangelize and did so. On top of that the jurisdiction of the ROC was widely recognized here before the Revolution by the other ethnic presences including many of the Greeks. So really, there is no serious case to be made that the Greeks had the EP’s present understanding of Constantinople’s perogatives.

    But the question of Russian preeminence here is actually beside the point. The Russians don’t make jurisdictional claims here because they granted autocephaly to the OCA (not abandoning it as you assert, again, more faulty information).

    I would be very interested to see which canon you’re asserting gives Constantinople the exclusive right to recognize autocephaly. I don’t have my own copy of the Rudder so perhaps I missed that one.

    Really, the whole matter is silly. Constantinople has no power to coerce the other jurisdictions to unite under it. It has no right to do so based on Canon 28. It’s just whistling Dixie – – impotently.

    Those in the Phanar can posture and make claims that do violence to the text of the canon and are absurd historically. It just makes them look small and immature.

    There are two serious possibilities: 1) we continue as we are now 2) some or all of the jurisdictions unite into an autocephalous American Orthodox Church.

    Enough breath has been wasted on this nonsense.

  45. Hi Chris,

    How did things work out with your Turkish friend?

    Re: Personally, I vote for Jerusalem or Sinai – they need our help as much or more than does Constantinople and they are more ‘neutral’ territory ethnically, more ‘universal’.

    I like your idea. Personally, I’ve always thought we needed to start a brand new jurisdiction, maybe go under the Cypriot or Czech churches – but I really like the idea of Sinai….I’m sure they could use the funds.

    The Greek shipping magnates have been playing this game for years…I’m looking up “flag of convenience” in The Rudder – I’ll report back after Pascha.


    Kali Anastasi,

  46. My Turkish friend was at the Lamentations service this evening and standing firm – with love, in meekness – in the face of continued opposition from her family regarding conversion to Orthodox Christianity. Glory to God!

    Kali Anastasi to you and yours, too.

  47. George Michalopulos :


    there is no canon which grants only the EP to grant autocephaly. Trust me, if there was, they’d be trotting it out ad infinitum (just as they do canon 28). I almost really wish there was, at least then there’d be none of this incessant bickering.

Care to Comment?