Patriarch Kirill welcomes Metropolitan Jonah in Moscow

Official statement from the Moscow Patriarchate (HT: Byzantine, TX, and Rocor United):

On the 26th of April 2009, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America served liturgy with Patriarch Kirill at Christ the Savior Cathedral. The Patriarch then addressed Metropolitan Jonah with the following words:

Your Eminence Jonah, Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of all America and Canada, beloved in Christ brother and co-celebrant! Wise bishops and priests! Dear brothers and sisters!

Metropolitan Jonah (left) and Patriarch Kirill in Moscow

Metropolitan Jonah (left) and Patriarch Kirill in Moscow

Christ is Risen!

It brings me great joy to greet the delegation of the Orthodox Church in America headed by His Eminence Vladyka Jonah during these bright Paschal days. In your first official visit as a newly-chosen primate, which you are making to the Moscow Patriarchate, you have emphasized the special interrelation of American Orthodoxy with its Mother Church. This relation, filled with a spirit of love and unity, truly can be characterized by the words of the apostle, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5). Today we have sealed our unity with communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, and every one of us, in answer to the touch of Grace of the risen Lord, can, together with Thomas, from all his heart exclaim, “My Lord and my God! (John 20:28).

It is remarkable that our present co-serving took place under the roof of this great church of Christ the Savior, whose history has something in common with the Gospel motifs, that is, the earthly life and resurrection of the Lord. This church consecutively went through periods of glory, abuse, complete destruction, and, finally, restoration in even more beauty that it had before. Deeply revered saints of our Church carried out their service here: St. Tikhon, Patriarch of all Russia, and Priest-martyr Alexander Khotovitsky, former dean of this cathedral. They both worked a good deal in spreading the Orthodoxy faith on the North-American continent. Today their efforts are being worthily continued by you, your Eminence, and your co-laborers. Having all the rights of an autocephelous Church, the Orthodox Church in America successfully witnesses to Orthodoxy in the New World. Through the efforts of you, Your Eminence, more and more attention is being given to the missionary service of the Church. But otherwise it cannot be as from the very beginning your Church was missionary, which was headed by the great preacher of the Word of God, St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia.

Your Eminence! I heartily wish you and your delegation a pleasant and beneficial time in the confines of the Russian Orthodox Church. I rejoice in the ability to interact with you and your delegation and to talk about the fate of American Orthodoxy, the state of affairs in Ecumenical [world-wide] Orthodoxy, and our mutual relations. May these days in Russia be for you full of good impressions and inexhaustible Paschal joy. I want to assure you that you are among brothers and friends.

Christ is Risen!
+Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia


  1. Did anyone else find it strange that Pat. Kyrill repeatedly referred to Met. Jonah as “your eminence” as opposed to “your beatitude” (which is how the OCA refers to Met. Jonah)?

    Anyone know the Russian translation?

  2. George Michalopulos :


    I’m looking into the translation. What was significant was everything else, that is viewing the American Orthodox Church as being an equal sister church to the Russian Orthodox Church. Plus the “concelebration,” the sitting on equal thrones, etc. These are honors that are accorded only to primates of autocephalous churches.

  3. Patriarch Kirill: “I heartily wish you and your delegation a pleasant and beneficial time in the confines of the Russian Orthodox Church.”

    It’s nice that the Patriarch lets Metropolitan Jonah act like an equal within the safe confines of the Russian Orthodox Church. Why doesn’t Patriarch Kirill give Metropolitan Jonah the same “equal” treatment outside of the confines of the Russian Orthodox Church, in places like, for instance, the United States?

  4. BTW, Mr. Couretas, you need to change the headline of this blog entry which reads: Metropolitan Kirill welcomes Metropolitan Jonah in Moscow.”

    You can’t make them equals by demoting the Patriarch!

  5. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, “confines”? This is rather being cute by half. Are you suggesting the +Kirill is imprisoning +Jonah within the Kremlin? As for misnaming +Kirill as “metropolitan,” I’m sure that’s an oversight on John’s part. As far as whether they’re “equal,” well we can examine the text again. It seems that as far as the Patriarch is concerned, Jonah heads a church which has ‘…all the rights of an autocephalous church.”

  6. John Couretas :

    #4 Joe: Correction made. No demotion intended! Thank you.

  7. Christ is Risen!

    George, lets look a little further into what Joe is saying.

    True, they did “concelebrate” and according tio your understanding that means Pat. Kyrill considers Met. Jonah and equal. I am not sure of your assesment of the significance of “concelebration”, but for the sake of argument, lets say you are correct.

    So the outward appearances of equality seem to be there. Why then are there still Patriarchal Parishes in the canonical jurisdiction of another “autocephalous” Church? I understand theye were there originally as KGB outposts, but why do they persist? Why are they not instructed to go under the omophorion of the local “autocephalous” Church?

    Furthermore, i will repeat the much asked question, why isn’t ROCOR (now that they are abck in communion with Moscow) also instructed to be under the omophorion of the local “autocephalous” Church?

    I would assume these are the things to which Joe refers. Does anyone have a substantive answer for these questions?

  8. George, it sees that for once we agree!

    You said, “It seems that as far as the Patriarch is concerned, Jonah heads a church which has ‘…all the rights of an autocephalous church.’”

    Yes, it is seemingly so, particularly if the only snapshot that one has of the relationship between the MP and the OCA is the one posted on this blog of the Patriarch and the Metropolitan standing side by side.

    But other snapshots of the relationship, e.g. the Patriarchal parishes (and at least one monastery) in the U.S., the total freeze-out of the OCA in the MP-ROCOR rapprochement process, the lack of protest on the MP’s part on the exclusion of the OCA from the upcoming Pan-Orthodox council meetings, reveal that the right exercised by the “autocephalous” OCA are just plain ceremonial. The Metropolitan of the OCA gets the ceremonial equal treatment only within the confines of the Russian Orthodox Church…nowhere else.

  9. By the way, does anyone in the OCA (or with insider OCA connections)know what was discussed or if anything was agreed upon during the meeting between the Patriarch and the Metropolitan? Inquiring minds need to know!

  10. Geo Michalopulos :

    The idea of “concelebration” is not mine. I was put in my place (in a way) by a high-up functionary in the OCA who informed me that this was so. The correction was in regard to a statement I made about the late EP Demetrius and Metropolitan Theodosius. I incorrectly stated that they “concelebrated” at St Nicholas Cathedral in DC in 1990. In the past, Mets. Herman and Theodosius when they went to Istanbul, stood in the Altar at the sides and drank from the Chalice but they did not concelebrate. That’s because the identity of the OCA as an autocephalous church as far as the Phanar was concerned, was not a done deal. I was then told that concelebration between two primates takes place only when they view each other and their churches, as equals.

  11. Christ is Risen!

    George, I understand your reasoning, but what about the other things pointed out by myself and Joe which would tend to call into question the MP’s behavior towards the OCA (and whether or not the actions of the MP show that it really thinks of the OCA as autocephalous).

  12. Geo Michalopulos :

    Joe, with all due respect, it seems that certain OCA-critics are grasping at every linguistic straw they can get ahold of to deny the reality of what took place at Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow. “Seemingly,” “confines,” “your Eminence”? Really, let’s get jesuitical here.

    For the record, I checked with a dear friend of mine from Russia. In his previous life, he was an English translator for the Red Army (pre-Gorbachev). He told me first of all, “don’t trust translators!” Second, he said that when translating from one language to another, nuances are lost. (Example, there are four words in Greek for “love.” Which “love” do you mean?) Third, he told me that Russians can be quite humble with their titles at least in comparison to the English equivalents.

    here goes:

    1. ALL patriarchs are “svyateyshiy”/”vashe svyateyshestbo” = “most holy/your holiness.”

    2. Metropolitans of autocephalous churches are “blazhenneyshiy/”vashe Blazhenstvo” = “most blessed/your blessedness.” This would include the Archbishops of Athens and Cyprus (who are the primates of autocephalous churches).

    3. Metropolitans, Archbishops & bishops (diocesan ordinaries as well as auxiliaries) are “preosvyashchenniy” = “most sanctified.”

    A further caveat: he told me that Russians can be very informal with these titles as they really believe that all bishops are equal (unlike Fr Hope-bearer who compares the EP to God the Father in his unfortunate analogy). As such, they only get persnickitty regarding honorifics when talking about/to patriarchs. Notice as well that even the EP is merely called “holiness” just like the patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria, Bulgaria, etc. (And just like I remember it in the old days when I’d read about Athenagoras and Bartholemew in The Orthodox Observer, i.e. “His Holiness/Your Holiness.”)

    Another caveat, based on my own limited knowledge of languages (Greek, a little Russian, Latin, less Hebrew), I can honestly say that when you read words like “confines” in a translation, that you can bet your bottom dollar that the translator may be profficient, but he has little idiomatic understanding of English. “Confines” in modern English has a negative connotation. This was obviously lost on the translator who otherwise wrote a skilled, factual translation.

  13. Geo Michalopulos :

    Tom, what “behaviors” are you talking about? Did you not read what the MP said about +Jonah on the Feast of the Holy Cross? (And the terrible things he said about Lambrianides in that same message?) Or that the patriarchal churches are to commemorate +Jonah as “Metropolitan of all-America and Canada”? As for ROCOR, I cannot say, however I did go to their website and saw several photos of +Jonah meeting with +Hilarion. Curiosly, +Jonah was called “The Metropolitan of all-America and Canada” as well. Hey, I’d take this kind of “behavior” any day of the week. So would’ve +Herman and his predecessor. One thing about the Russians, they recognize a joke when they see one, and to them, +Jonah appears to be anything but a joke.

  14. C’mon George, we all know that the OCA is a convenient sharp stick (or twig) that is currently being brandished near the eye of the Ecumenical Patriarch before the upcoming Pan-Orthodox meetings this year, i.e., “You wanna play autocephaly in the Ukraine, we can play autocephaly in the U.S.” Hopefully, both theshenanigans and posturings will cease and conflicts will be resolved between the two Patriarchates by the end of this year and the OCA will be happy with whatever lot that it is given.

  15. Joe, If only your last statement wasn’t a bluff and we could see. although canonically incorrect, His All-Holiness Bartholomew be willing to grant autocephaly to anybody.

  16. Dean Calvert :

    Demetrius and Joe,

    Re:Hopefully, both theshenanigans and posturings will cease and conflicts will be resolved between the two Patriarchates by the end of this year and the OCA will be happy with whatever lot that it is given.

    I guess I see it differently. My hope is that Met. Jonah will tell both Old World patriarchs to (respectfully) go pound sand…the OCA is here to stay, and we really don’t need their approval/acquiescence etc etc.

    There’s a long history of daughter churches telling the Mother Churches, “We are on our own now”. Metropolitan Philip, despite his recent escapades, has had it right – “independence and unity is not ‘granted’ – it must be TAKEN!”

    I’ve suggested that Metropolitan Jonah send the following letter to both the Patriarch of Moscow, the EP and any other Old World patriarchs…it’s the same letter the Russians sent to the EP in 1452. How ironic that it even contains his (Metropolitan Jonah’s) name – tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor!:

    “We beseech your Sacred Majesty not to think that what we have done we did out of arrogance, nor to blame us for not writing to our Sovereignty beforehand; we did this from dire necessity, not from pride or arrogance. In all things we hold to the ancient Orthodox faith transmitted to us, and so we shall continue to do until the end of time. And our Russian Church, the holy metropolitanate of Russia, requests and seeks the blessing of the holy, oecumenical, catholic, and apostolic church of St. Sophia, the Wisdom of God, and is obedient to her in all things according to the ancient faith; and our father, the Lord Iona, metropolitan of Kiev and all Russia, likewise requests from her all manner of blessing and union, except for the present recently appeared disagreements.”

    We are witnessing nothing more than a normal, organic evolution of the Orthodox Oecumene, both in Ukraine (where an independent national church is only a matter of time), in Macedonia (to the chagrin of the Greeks and Serbians), in Estonia AND in the USA.

    Ecclesial borders will follow secular ones…that’s part of the ingenious system of governance bequeathed to us by the Church Fathers.

    Those guys REALLY knew what they were doing.

    Best Regards,

  17. Christ is Risen!

    George, I don’t know how to be more clear. The “behaviors” I am speaking of are the continued presence, indeed the increasing, of the presence of the MP in the territory of another “autocephalous” Church. How do you explain that?

    Why didn’t the MP intstruct the Patraiarchal parishes and ROCOR to place themselves under the omophorion of the local “autocephalous” Church.

    All the courtesies extended on this visit do not explain away the fact that when it comes to US territory, the MP treats the OCA as though it were just another jurisdiction.

    I understand you say that the patriarchal parishes commemorate Met Jonah, but do they also commemorate the MP?

    Do you see why one would find this unusual to say the least.

    Also, on the GOA website there is a picture of Abp. Demetrios and Pat. Alexey II (of blessed memory), fully vested, standing in front of the altar, concelebrating the liturgy.

    Clergy and hierarchy I asked stated that visiting primates are often extended the courtesy of celebrating together with the heads of autocephalous Churches even though they may only be primates of an archdiocese which is not autophalous (i.e. Abp Demetrios and Pat. Alexey II).

    All these things make for an unsual situation (at best).

  18. George Michalopulos :

    You know, this is growing tiresome. Whenever I answer a question or demolish an argument, or pop a balloon, some people take a new tack. Well, I’ll bite…

    Joe, I guess I just have trouble reading the English language. Patriarch Kirill’s enconia to +Jonah and the American Church were very laudatory. (As well they should be: the OCA, despite the best efforts of Methodius & Herman to the contrary, never gave up its sense of devotion to this country.) Like Will Rogers, all I know “is what I read in the papers.” If the papers say that +Kirill is gushing with praise towards +Jonah and the OCA’s heroic efforts over the decades to evangelize, then I guess I’ll just be a good ole boy and take the man at his word (something constititionally impossible for the Byzantine wannabes. After awhile, the taste of shoe leather becomes normal).

    I agree w/ Dean however, if this is all a game (between the MP and EP) then may God be merciful to them. Dean’s right though, we’re here, and we’re (hold your breath: American!) Let the most American church win. Although I must say, the Russians I’ve known, shows them to be straight shooters. Let’s face it: the MP has all the cards. What does the EP have? Even Greece’s interests now are cleaved from his.

    Tom, as far as ROCOR is concerned, all I can say is this: the USSR fell in 1991, therefore the raison d’etre of ROCOR vanished. They didn’t reconcile with the MP ’til May 2007. By my count that’s 16 years. As for the other activities of the MP in Moldova, etc, that’s above my pay grade. Regardless, it has NOTHING to do w/ the OCA. Also, as far as Arb Demetrius’ visit, he did not concelebrate, nor was he placed on the same throne as the patriarch, nor was he greeted as a primate, nor was he congratulated for all his efforts at evangelizing, nor was his jurisdiction likewise lauded for that matter. He was treated nicely, as nicely as Herman/Methodius were when they went to the Phanar in years past. Nothing derogatory, but not anything to write home to Mother about either.

    To all: let’s put our cards on the table. We know that no matter what is worked out between the MP and EP re America and the Ukraine, assuming there is such a back-door deal in the works, I don’t think it’s possible or canonical as the tomos of autocephaly exists no matter how much the OCA-haters don’t like it. Again, what has the MP to gain by “giving” America to the EP? Of the three Ukrainian jurisdictions, the largest belongs to Moscow anyway, the others will wither and die. Same for Estonia.

    Regardless, neither the majority in the OCA nor in the GOA are going to accept the decision. This is partly due to arrogance and hubris and that’s a sad thing. But let’s be honest: the GOA (as well as all other ethnic churches) has never acted like an American church. Even the Antiochian jurisdiction is (unfortunately) reverting to ethnic type. (Terrrible if you ask me, not only for itself, but it’s causing the other ethnic jurisdictions to react to evangelism like a scalded pig.)

    Let’s be honest, whatever the apologists for the EP say, they never address the argument of evangelism or the canonicity of the OCA head-on. It’s always, “well how come ROCOR hasn’t…” or “The OCA isnothing but a church of ex-Uniates…” Never, “wow, things were in the crapper under Methodius/Herman, but look at this, the people and priests overrode the good ole’ boys network and elected a serious man!” or “gee, I didn’t know that the OCA had so many missions (more than all other jurisdictions combined).” Or “did you see that the OCA is opening another seminary in Dallas?”

    The ethnic jurisdictions can’t change their stripes overnight. Only an American church that is native and independent will appeal to Americans, end of story. As long as the EP/GOA continues to play its Byzantine games, then it will never be accepted by the American people as “its church.” Nor will the Bulgarian, Serbian, Albanian, or Romanian exarchates as well. The Beatles will reunite before that happens.

    This is not a trivial matter. How clueless is the Phanar/GOA axis about evangelism in general and America in particular? Lambrianides’ statement that America has so much to give because of its wealth and power is correct (read: $$$). He (the Phanar) recognizes as well its independent ethos. But then VOILA! out of left field comes this zinger: “Therefore this nation must submit the First Throne of Orthodoxy.” That’s like saying “The food was absolutely delicious Honey! Just wait ’til mother shows up and shows you how it’s really done! Tom, you’re a smart guy: Americans, whether they be Yanks or Rebs, blacks, Indians, whatever, know a confidence game when they see one.

    In the meantime, the OCA will continue building missions, its seminaries will be busting at the seems, it will to continue liturgizing in English, pick up the pace in Mexico, etc. Will it’s churches be smaller? Probably. But that’s ok too. Benedict XVI is right: better a smaller more orthodox church than a large one made up primarily of nominalists.

    In the future, I will assume that if my arguments are not addressed (like the ones earlier today regarding nomenclature, translations, ROCOR’s recognition of +Jonah as MoAA&C, the patriarchal parishes recognition, etc.) then I will be forced to assume that they stand.

  19. George,

    Speaking as a member of the Church Abroad, let me assure your that ROCOR does indeed recognize +Jonah as the “MoAA&C”, if by this acronym you mean, “Metropolitan of All American OCA and Canadian OCA.”

    If ROCOR and the MP (or any Orthodox church in America and Canada for that matter) truly recognized the OCA’s autocephaly then we would have come under the OCA Metropolitan’s omophorion in either 1970 or 2007. Has anything changed in the relationship between the MP-ROCOR and the OCA since the MP-ROCOR’s straightforward rejection of the OCA’s American autocephalic arguments/intrusion during the rapprochement process?

    Anyway, you will not be forced to assume anything about the standing of the OCA within the larger Church once the issue of the recognition of autocephaly is resolved out by the Patriarchates in the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Councils.

    We in the ROCOR look forward to this resolution.

  20. It’s nice that the ROCOR and the OCA are in communion since that glorious day in 2007. Concelebration and intercommunion and good old fraternity have broken out all over the country between this jurisdiction in the past two years, but not without some reservations. Put aside at present, but not forgotten, is ROCOR’s official denunciation in 1971 of the MP’s granting of “autocephaly” to the OCA – a denunciation that has not been rescinded. The question of “what about OCA’s autocephaly,” was supposed to have been taken up on the synodal level, but the passing of Metropolitan Laurus (Memory Eternal) forced the Synod to set this issue aside. The Moscow and the Ecumenical Patriarchates have obviously taken up the issue. Will the MP argue on behalf of the OCA or take the 1971-side of the ROCOR? I can hardly wait to find out!

  21. Christ is Risen!

    George, George, George, you have an interesting interpretation of what “answering a question, demolishing an argument and popping a balloon” is.

    In reality you have done none of the above with regard to my questions and Joes similar questions.

    What you actually did was to throw out more information about the trip to Moscow and the MP’s treatment of His Eminence as the primate of an autocephalous Church. We all know that the MP treated MJ nicely, as he should. What we don’t know is why he does not offer the same courtesy with regard to his (MP) continued pr4esence in the canonical territory of another “autocephalous” Church.

    Questions you did not answer (arguments you did not demolish and balloons you did not pop):

    1. You say that the patriarchal parishes commemorate Met Jonah, but do they also commemorate the MP? In other words, who do they commemorate as their hierarch?

    2. Why didn’t the MP instruct the Patriarchal parishes as well as the ROCOR parishes to place themselves under the Omophorion of the OCA.

    Two simple questions. To that lets add another, which will probably not be answered:

    1. What exactly do you mean by “ROCOR’s recognition of Met. Jonah as MoAA&C? Do they recognize him as their Metropolitan? Or do they recognize him in the same way they recognize Abp. Demetrios as the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America? I am guessing the latter and unless I hear otherwise regarding this I will assume this stands.

    2. When it comes to the US, how does the MP treat the OCA any different than it treats the GOA, AOCA, ACROD etc?

    3. How many people have been received into the OCA by chrismation in the last 10 years? I cannot seem to find that info.

    The OCA has, by my count, 77 of its parishes which are labeled as Mission parishes. Of these, 29 are between 15-25 years old and are probably more accurately described as small parishes. That seems to be quite a good track record. Keeping in mind though, that when you read the histories of these parishes, you see that the vast majority of them start with “A group of Orthodox Christians in the (insert city here) area petitioned Bishop (ad name here) to open a parish…” Pretty much the same way new parishes are formed in the GOA (though, unfortunately it is more difficult to find the year of establishment for GOA parishes). Once parishes are started in smaller towns or outlying areas, I think you will find that pretty much across the board, the members are open to new members and more welcoming of strangers. While it is my personal experience that in big cities OCA churches are more welcoming to visitors than GOA, Antiochians, Serbians, Bulgarians, etc., in small towns or small parishes I have found the same level of welcome in GOA and OCA parishes. That is why I have often said that we in the big city parishes have a lot to learn from those in the smaller parishes in rural areas and small cities.

    Believe it or not, I have a great deal of respect for the OCA and Her hierarchy/clergy/laity. I, and others in the GOA, had commented upon Met Jonah’s election that it seemed to be a bright day for the OCA and that they had turned the corner (with courageous leadership of Abp. Job).

    However, when I hear people make incorrect statements or try to pass off their own interpretations of others motives, it makes me want to question them.

    And with regard to this discussion, it is clear that the autocephaly of the OCA is not a fully accepted reality yet. No one can argue to the contrary. That is not intended as a dig against the OCA but rather merely stating a fact. Keeping that in mind, it seems clear that my questions (unanswered though they be) are quite simple and logical. If I were a member of the OCA, I would be wondering these exact things.

    Your silence on these questions tells me you have no answer, and I can understand that being the case. However, not answering does not erase the validity of these questions, nor does it “demolish” the argument. It just means that you realize that the actions of the MP do not jive with their words, when it comes to the OCA.

    We do agree on a couple of things, Americans (indeed most intelligent people) recognize a confidence game when they see one, and I believe I am seeing one, though perhaps not the one you think you are seeing. Second is that this is indeed becoming tiresome.

  22. George Michalopulos :


    There’s been something that’s been bothering me for awhile, especially since I found out you’re in ROCOR. I find it rather discomfiting that you think it’s are alright that your hierarch +Kirill is playing games with the EP, using the OCA as a “stick, or little twig” to poke the EP in the eye. Is this how little you think of His Holiness +Kirill? That he is playing the same childish games as other hierarchs? Would your priest or Metropolitan +Hilarion approve of your cynical characterization? I rather doubt it.

    On the other hand, I prefer to look at +Kirill’s words and actions as they appear to be. If this is all a clever little charade, well, that won’t reflect poorly on those like +Jonah who go forward in good faith. I prefer to believe that +Kirill is doing so as well. That you seem to think otherwise…well, I’d rather not say Joe.

    Good day/

    p.s. BTW, I didn’t realize you were such a staunch proponent of the Phanar? If there is a “back door deal” to give America to the Phanar, I’m sure you’ll be very happy with that.

  23. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, I’ll address these seriatim (as I’m at work): yes, the commemorate +Kirill. They’re patriarchal.

  24. George Michalopulos :

    2. I don’t know. Answer me this question: how long did it take for ROCOR and the MP to patch things up? (16 years). I can say this, the new administrator for the patriarchal parishes has “temporary” in his title. You of all people should know that things happen slowly in the church.

  25. George Michalopulos :

    1. re: Jonah as MofAA&C. I don’t know. That’s what they called him. I’ve never seen ROCOR call Demetrius “Archbishop of America.” Maybe they have. Do you know of any such incidents? I never said that they recognized him as their metropolitan. All I know is that they met and had a wonderful time. That’s a good thing.

  26. George Michalopulos :

    2. Well, Tom, if you can find me other photos of the extravaganza that’s going on for +Jonah right now in Russia for other eparchies, let me know. I don’t know of any. Again, the comments to +Jonah and the OCA as Moscow’s “daughter church” were nothing less than laudatory.

  27. George Michalopulos :

    3. Chrismations. I don’t know for the OCA, just remember hearing last year that the Diocese of the South had several hundred join. I’m fixing to find out in about a month when I go back to Dallas.

  28. George Michalopulos :

    As far as stating a “fact” regarding the autocephaly, here are the facts:

    1. The churches of Georgia, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia accept its autocephaly.

    2. All other churches accept its canonicity and are in communion with it.

    Is its autocephaly “resolved”? Only in the sense that anything in this world is resolved. I know the EP probably never will. But so what? It took centuries before Antioch, Alexandria and Rome accepted the elevation of Constintinople to patriarchal rank. (Facts: stubborn things.)

    Refresh my memory, what exactly did I not answer?

  29. George,

    I wouldn’t characterize the pre-negotiation positions of the Patriarchs as “childish.” Why should anyone expect any kind of “back door” deal when all of the truly autocephalous churches will be meeting openly this June and December? I suppose that the upcoming negotiations might seem to be “back door” dealing to the OCA because they were not invited to take part. I’m glad that you take the fact-based long view on the elevation of local churches to Patriarchates. “Centuries” sounds like a realistic time frame on which to base one’s faith that someday the OCA might become a Patriarchate. This gives me hope that someday the future Orthodox Church of Mars (terra-formed, of course) will also become a Patriarchate too.

  30. Re: Back Room Deals

    It is against canonical and traditional order for a diocese regarded as having been in schism (as the Metropolia had officially been by Moscow from 1933 to 1970) to be suddenly granted autocephaly.

    So what kind of back room deal did the former-Metropolia make with the MP back in 1970? Can this uncanonical deal be undone? Redone? Renegotiated? Corrected? Answers to all of these questions should be forthcoming soon.

  31. Wesley J. Smith :

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, as a member of the OCA, I was thrilled to see this. I am very hopeful about + Jonah, and the chance I think I see developing to move toward a united American Orthodox Church.

    However, I also think some of what the Patriarch had to say, and what he did, could well have been aimed, in small part anyway, at the Ecumenical Patriarch. How was it put in Dune? “Circles within circles?”

    That said, I have no doubt that God uses Church politics to serve His will. So, in the end, I don’t think it matters why. I think it matters what and it matters to where (this can all lead).

    He is risen, indeed!

  32. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    #23. So we see that the commemoration of +Jonah by the patriarchal parishes (if it is true) does not mean a whole lot.

    #24. I don’t know is an answer. However, the reality is that not only did the MP increase their presence in the canonical territory of a Church they recognize as “autocephalous”, but during the negotiations with ROCOR regarding return to the MP, the OCA was completely shut out. Does not sound like respect to me. As far as ROCOR and MP taking 16 years to patch things up (I am not sure what you see as the connection between this and my question) it took that long for those in ROCOR to feel that the MP was trustworthy in light of the years of collaboration of the Russian Hierarchy with the communist state. Perfectly understandable.

    #25. I think you will find that ROCOR acknowledges that +Demetrios is “Greek orthodox Archbishop of America” or perhaps “Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America” and refers to him as such. The fact that ROCOR and OCA hierarchs met and had a good meeting is indeed a good thing. The ROCOR Bishop in Chicago (+Peter) has been attending GOA and pan-jurisdictional events for several years and participating for several as well. He has a great relationship with the GO Metropolis of Chicago.

    Your comment that the recognize +Jonah as MoAA&C seemingly was meant to imply that somehow they recognize his authority. I grant you that they do recognize his authority IN THE OCA just as the recognize +Demetrios authority in the GOA. Pretty simple stuff here. No great revelation.

    #26. Abp. Demetrios was received with a great deal of fanfare and extravaganza when he went as well. It is well documented and photographic and written confirmation of this are widespread. I am not saying he was received as the head of an autocephalous church, though. Of course MP’s comments to MJ were laudatory. Who said they were not.

    #27. I look forward to an answer. It would seem to me that those numbers would be published somewhere for the entire OCA. Oh well, its hard to find statistics for any jurisdiction other than the GOA. I am not sure why.

    #28. It is my understanding that OCA clergy and hierarchy are not permitted to serve in Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Cyprus and Greece. I do not take pleasure in that, but rather state it as a fact regarding the autocephaly of the OCA. Furthermore, I do not believe you are correct in your statement that it took centuries before Alexandria, Antioch and Rome accepted Constantinople as a Patriarchate. I would be curious to see any evidence in support of your statement.

  33. Dear All,

    Please pardon my last line from #29, This gives me hope that someday the future Orthodox Church of Mars (terra-formed, of course) will also become a Patriarchate too.”

    Ruminating about the upcoming Star Trek movie made me think about how the Russian Orthodox took the Holy Fire to the North Pole…the icon corner on the space station MIR…”where no man has gone before…leading to a Martian Metropolia fantasy. Forgive me.

  34. George Michalopulos :


    According to SCOBA (2007) there were 232 missions in North America:

    OCA 136
    AOCA 39
    Serbian 25
    GOA 14
    Carpatho-Russian 8
    Romanian 6
    Ukrainian 4

  35. George Michalopulos :


    I guess your critique of +Kirill stands, i.e., that he’s nothing but a game-player. Good luck with that on Judgment Day. I rather prefer my own judgment of the man which is far more charitable and Christian.

    You can’t POSSIBLY be serious about the “schism” between a Russian church which was MIGHTILY oppressed by Stalin and his henchmen and the Metropolia. That’s akin to saying a man who was kidnapped on the high seas, tortured, and sold into slavery has the right to divorce his wife.

  36. George Michalopulos :


    #27. (posted above) That’s #s for missions. I guess chrismations and baptisms can be extrapolated from that.

    #28. Centuries. Read Runciman, Erickson, contemporary letters, etc. Fact: the 2nd Ecum Council elevated the Archbishop of C’pole to second place (above Alexandria) in 381. The first bishop of C’pole to go by “patriarch” was Anatolius (d. 460) but the other three patriarchs (Rome, Alexandria, Antioch) never accepted it at that time. The first bishop to call himself “ecumenical” was John IV the Faster (d. 595) but he was roundly criticized by Pope Gregory I, who almost called this “universalism” on a par with “the Antichrist.” John never again called himself this. Nor did any of his successors. In fact, most called themselves “Archbishop of Constantinople” in all their correspondences with other patriarchs.

    The first patriarch to call himself “EP” and get away with it (somewhat) was Germanus II (1219). He wrote a letter to the Metropolitan of Epirus in which he signed it as such and he was roundly rebuked by this bishop who remarked, “never have I seen such a thing in all my years.” That means that a guy who was living in the 13th century, had served in the court of the patriarchate of C’pole for many years before becoming metropolitan himself, never heard the archbishops of C’pole being called “ecumenical.”

    so let’s see: 595-381 = 214 years. That’s two centuries. Plus the fact that throughout the united Church period the patriarchs of C’pole called themselves “Archbishop” then you have 673 years (1054-381). Notice, I’m not saying that they weren’t patriarchs, just that they called themselves “archbishops.” Even canon 28 calls the the bishop of C’pole “archbishop.”

  37. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, re #24. Yes, the OCA was completely shut out. As it should have been considering it was being run by rubes and boobs like Methodius and Herman. Obviously that is no longer the case. It’s a stretch to make something out of this.

    this leads to an interesting point: how come the GOA was shut out from these negotiations? Using your critique then none of the ethnic jurisdictions are canonical or deemed worthy of recognition. I have an answer though: maybe because it was “in-house”?

    #26. “great deal of fanfare.” I’d like to see the photos. As there were two in The Orthodox Observer, I think it was perfunctory. Believe me, the Observer is the glory-hound par excellence. They’ll move heaven and earth to get this genuinely pious man into every photo-op they can. Did you see the photo of Arb Demetrius with that great “super-star” Ronnie Milsap and his wife (who is blind)? IOr two months ago with him and Carla Bruni, the much-loved (ahem) First Lady of France? Or six months ago, with Jane Seymour (Playboy, 1983)?

    It just never fails to astound me how some people will denigrate the plain words of a great hierarch (+Kirill) because of their blinding hatred towards +Jonah. Please, stop this. He said what he said. I wish he said it towards +Demetrius, but he didn’t. Sometimes you just have to take a man at his word.

  38. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, Christ Himself told us to take His Church to “the ends of the earth.” If that includes Mars, then I suggest that you not be so dismissive of His Great Commission. (Really, it’s bad enough you impute bad faith to +Kirill, now to Christ? Have you no fear of God?)

  39. George Michalopulos :


    #25. I’d like to see pix of GOA bishops with ROCOR. No, really, I’d really like to see them, especially if they ever deigned to visit Jordanville (as did +Jonah).

    #23. On the contrary, I think it means a whole lot. Don’t try to fool me, if the patriarchal parishes were told by +Kirill to commemorate +Demetrius as “Archbishop of America” the GOA would be screaming this fact from the rooftops. On the other hand, if they were told to commemorate +Philip as “Metropolitan of North America” the other jurisdictions would be either 1) mad, or 2) dismissive. So you can’t say in all honesty that “this doesn’t mean a whole lot.” It all depends on whose ox is being gored.

  40. George,

    Re: “I’d like to see pix of GOA bishops with ROCOR. No, really, I’d really like to see them…”

    Here you go:

    Metropolitan Hilarion Visits Archbishop Demetrios of America of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (Constantinople Patriarchate)

    Caption: “On Monday, June 9, 2008, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion and Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Secretary of Inter-Orthodox Relations, visited Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (Constantinople Patriarchate). During their meeting, the hierarchs discussed contemporary issues relating to the salvific work of the Orthodox Church in the USA.”

  41. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen:

    George, re #34. I asked how many chrismatiions occured in the OCA, the number of mission parishes I came up with in the OCA was by counting those listed as “missions” in their parish listing portion of the OCA website.

    Also, does SCOBA define what a “mission” is? I hardly think a parish which is 15 or 30 years in existance should still be considered a mission. i guess the real fruit of missionary work will be determined by the number of souls chrismated at those “missions”.

    We shall see if we ever get that info.

  42. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    I have come to the conclusion that you are incapable of seeing things objectively. You try to twist the words of those who disagree with you.

    The only hatred shown on this site is that shown towards the EP and the GOA (and now apparently former Mets. Theodosios and Herman, who in spite of their enormous mistakes are still bishops and deserve not to be called names). You really should be ashamed of yourself.

    The fact is, the MP ignores the fact that there is an “autocephalous” Church in the US, which was “granted” that status by the MP. They can treat a visitor to as much fanfare and praise as is possible, but if the MP continues to have a presence in the “canonical territory” of another “autocephalous” Church anyone can see that this is problematic.

    #24. If you honestly think that if the negotiations between ROCOR and MP were going on now that the OCA would be involved because of the new Met you are fooling yourself.

    #27. Oh really, you think that numbers of chrismations can be extrapolated from the number of “missions”? I don’t think so. But lets try using the info we have. You say that the GOA has 14 “missions” and the OCA has “136. Then you state that we could extrapolate from that the number of baptisms and chrismations. Thus implying that the OCA must have chrismated more people because they have more “missions”. The GOA chrismanted about 950 people in 2007. That is just under 68 per “mission”. That would mean that with it’s 136 “missions” the OCA must have chrismated about 9,228 people. That is impressive. Not exactly scientific, but it is of course, a good attempt at avoiding the question. We shal see if anyone can get the actual #’s. This is not a criticism of the OCA. I believe they are indeed trying to evangelize and I respect and love the OCA. But it IS a criticizm of your attempt to somehow get the point across that the OCA is interested in evangelizing and the GOA is not.


    #23. When the MP still keeps parishes in the “canonical jurisdiction” of another “autocephalous” church, I can say with a great deal of honesty that commemorating Met. Jonah does not mean a great deal. This is not a criticism or a demeaning of Met. Jonah, but rather proof that something “funny” is going on.

    #25. Joe posted that picture. Bishop Peter (Cleveland) has not only participated in the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers in Chicago for several years, but he also gave the homily this year at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Libertyville, IL. I don’t see why this should be such a surprise to you.

    As far as taking a man at his word, that is exactly what I do (until actions prove otherwise) in the case of Met. Jonah, he made a mistake in his comments, he realized it and apologized and that is that. When it comes to the MP (+Kyril, or Alexey II) their actions have been speaking louder than their words for decades. This is also not to be taken as a criticism of the individuals in question, but rather a mere statement of the seemingly out of the ordinary relationship between the MP and the OCA

    Finally, your condemnation of Joe and admonition for him to have good luck on judgment day because he questions Pat Kyril’s actions seem foolish given your own propensity to condemn and disrespect hierarchs whom you don’t like (+Methodios, +Gerasimos, +Demetrios, the EP, +Theodosios and +Herman). I wonder how long until +Jonah does something that you don’t like and you turn on him? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm

  43. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, I said AT Jordanville.

  44. Michael Bauman :

    Tom, if I am not mistaken, the OCA has essentially reduced both Herman and Theodosious to priestly rank by limiting their ability to serve anywhere but their own home parish and forbidding them the attire of the office.

    In actuality most of our bishops, in all jurisdictions, are doing a poor job right now. Disrespecting the person in the office, especially when the disrespect is so abundantly earned as Herman and Theodosius, does not mean that one disrepects the office. It might very well mean that one honors both the office and the function so highly as to be quite distraught when it is so misused.

    I have a visceral dislike for my own Metropolitan, Met. Philip. That dislike pre-dates his recent stupidity. I am constitutionally unable to take the traditional approach to bad bishops…they will all die but God endures.

    The only bishop of Metropolitan rank that I can speak highly of right now is Met. Joseph of Bulgaria. Most seem to be just filling their slots, some are bad, at best confused and spineless, lacking in any recognizable leadership skills.

    In any case they are all sinners just like the rest of us. The unfortunate fact is that I am, at times, a boob and pretty much any other negative adjective you may wish to apply to me. Of course Holy Scripture does warn us not to call our brothers fools.

    We will see about +Jonah. He obviously has a lot of bitter herbs on his plate. However, given our current choices, if I had to make the choice today for one bishop, it would be him even if he is secondary to Moscow.

    What I’d really like to see (which is not going to happen) is for Met. Philip and +Antoun to retire then have the remaining Antiochian bishops petition Antioch to name +Jonah as our Metropolitan releasing us all to the OCA as well.

  45. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, obviously (re #41) we are talking different languages. I clearly said “I don’t know” how many chrismations. That “maybe” than number “could be extrapolated” from the number of missions. That is a factual statement. Maybe it could. Within 5 years, our mission has had 25+ Chrismations. (i mission = 25 chrismations, I dunno, sounds reasonable.) I knew you’d mickey-mouse around with the SCOBA numbers. Those are missions. How big, how small, I don’t know. They are missions, and it looks like the OCA has more than the rest combined. Obviously, you didn’t want to comment on my statement regarding what would have happened had +Kirill told his American parishes to commemorate +Demetrius as the prime hierarch of America. That tells me something right there, because you know they’d be screaming that from the rooftops.

    As for someone who doesn’t mean “demean” +Jonah, you do an awful good impersonation of someone who actually does. I admit that my characterizations of +Herman and +Methodius were intemperate but I’m glad to see that you are now a big supporter of theirs’ and by extension, the OCA. You will notice however that I offered no criticism of +Kirill, or +Hilarion. Why? Maybe because they are true pastors who tend to their flocks rather than curry favor with the world.

    As for the photos you posted, you have got to be kidding. They are nice, but they hardly are of a par with what is taking place in Russia right now. My criticism stands: The Orthodox Observer would have plastered them all over the internet and their paper had they been as extravagant.

    As to who is incapable of “understanding” things, obviously, I have no problem understanding the English translation of +Kirill’s words towards +Jonah and the OCA. Since you cannot grasp +Kirill’s words, perhaps I need to look at my own sinfulness and fallen nature. In order to consider the possibility that I might be wrong, I need to break out my sons’ old “Hooked on Phonics” program and/or take remedial English since I obviously speak a different dialect than yourself.

    Or it’s possible that because I’m from the South, we tend to be more plain spoken in these parts. Words tend to mean things to us.

  46. I’ve been trying to remember the last time we had the MP, ROCOR and the OCA all in one spot together. The last time that I recall was a little over a year ago (March 2008) at the funeral of ROCOR First-Hierarch Metropolitan Laurus.

    At the funeral, the Moscow Patriarchate delegation led by Metropolitan Yuvenaly refused to concelebrate with the OCA bishops.

    Metropolitan Yuvenaly did concelebrate with the 6 ROCOR bishops and the Serbs, and Antiochians while the Bishop Tikhon of Eastern PA (OCA) had to stand in the altar.

    Please note that it was the MP that refused to concelebrate, not the ROCOR.

    The day before the funeral, Metropolitan Herman served a panikhida with some ROCOR deacons and then was asked to leave. Thus, the OCA delegation at the funeral was limited to Bishop Tikhon, and Fr. Behr and Fr. Kishkovsky, none of whom were invited to serve.

  47. George, I believe the lesson here is that actions speak louder than words.

  48. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, the point being? Let me give you my humble take on these incidents: the “dissing” of +Herman by the MP was much deserved. Contrast this however with what took place in Moscow recently with +Jonah. Yes, I for one do believe that “actions speak louder than words.” +Herman would have gladly received 1/10th of the lavishness that was bestowed upon +Jonah.

    p.s. a little background: back in the late 70s, Bishop Dmitri of Dallas was a regular traveler between Moscow and Syosset. One of his jobs was to press the cause of the OCA to the MP. During one of his trips, he flat out asked the MP why they didn’t turn over their parishes in the US to the OCA. He was told (I’m paraphrasing here): When the OCA starts acting like the American Orthodox Church it will receive these and more. I’m sorry to say it took 38 years for the OCA to get off its ethnic duff but it did and the MP (which itself is newly-liberated after 70 years of the Bolshevik jackboot on its neck) has noticed the reinvigoration of the OCA.

    Please forgive me for any intemperate remarks I may have made towards you.

  49. George Michalopulos :

    Michael, thank you for stating my sentiments better than me. I truly would love to see the AOCA’s bishops (less +Philip and +Antoun) enter with their dioceses & parishes into the OCA. In +Mark, +Thomas, & esp +Basil, you’ve got some real winners there.

  50. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!

    Nice dance around my response and nis quick change on your previous comments:

    You did not say that “maybe” we could extrapolate from the number of missions, rather you said “I guess chrismations can be axxtrapolated from that”. Big difference, unless one is trying to do a little back pedaling.

    With regard to Joe’s commenst, you did not say AT Jordanville, you said “I’d like to see pix of GOA bishops with ROCOR. No, really, I’d really like to see them, especially if they ever deigned to visit Jordanville (as did +Jonah).” Again, big difference, to an honest person.

    “As for the photos you posted, you have got to be kidding. They are nice, but they hardly are of a par with what is taking place in Russia right now. My criticism stands: The Orthodox Observer would have plastered them all over the internet and their paper had they been as extravagant.”

    You have lost touch with reality.

    As fas as your assertion that I have demeaned Met. Jonah,
    please give me one concrete example of how I have been disrespectful or called Met. Jonah names. I challange you to do that. You won’t find a single instance.

    When I do not respond to a point it is because it is either a) a foolish and trivial argument or b) calls for wild speculation and therefore is not worth discussion. Take your pick, they both apply at times.

    Do you know that when the MP celebrates he also commemorates The EP? Does that mean he recognizes the EP as his authority?

    The fact is the actions of the Church of Russia speak louder than their words and have since the “autocephaly” was “granted” by them. No dis to Pat. Kyril, no dis to Met. Jonah, just facts. Deal with that fact.

    #48. Are you kidding? The MP said that back in the 1970’s? Why in the world would they have granted autocephal;y to the OCA if they thought that of Her? That is quite a tall tale you tell. Let me be more clear, I believe this comment was made up to fit this argument. Unfortunately, it is so nonsensical that no one in their right mind can possible believe it.

    Obviously this discussion gets you a little “upset”. The only explanation I have for why you refuse to deal with the issues directly, but rather resort to name calling and soft shoeing around the logical argements of others, is that you are too busy pushing an agenda to face reality. I don’t think you need to pull out the “hooked on phonics” just take off the blinders, that should do it.

  51. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    Re #44:

    I must respectfully disagree with you on several points. While the actions of Mets Theodosios and Herman were deplorable, and they deserved to be “retired” they are still listed as hierarchs (retired) of the OCA. They may have been suspended from episcopal duties, but they have not been reduced in status. therefore, while they are fair game for criticism, the Grace of the ordination should still be respected and they should nlot be subject to the name calling of anyone. Faithfull have the right to question reasonably, disagree respectfully and even call for the removal from office of a hierarch. they do not have the right to call them names and be disrespectful. Not if they understand the apostolic succession. They also would be more charitable as one Christian to another if they really understood that each bishop will, not only answer for himself, but will be judged on how he shepherded our souls.

    Regarding Met. Philip, the same applies. I understand your displeasure with his actions. Many of us have been trying to point this out for years while many others, especially OCL was touting him as somehow the savior od Orthodoxy in America. Well, we have all seen the results of his actions, but he still deserves respect (though he does not deserve to be free from criticism).

    I don’t know how you can make the statement about “most of our bishops in all jurisdictions” doing a poor job. Unless of course you know all of them. I do know many of them and agree that some, perhaps many, are not doing all they could. Some are even misguided in their goals. But your statement is to far reaching to be considered accurate.

    Frankly, I think that Abp. Job would have been a wiser choice. In him the OCA would have gotten integrity, piety, wisdom of experience, humility and patience. However, the last three times I saw him he quoted to me the exact number of years, months, weeks and days until his retirement. It is too bad, becaause he is a remarkable person.

    I would not count too much on your last paragraph coming true. Especially since +Antoun, +Joseph and +Thomas all signed a resolution of obedience to the recent decision of the Patriarchate of Antioch.

    It is true that we shall see about Met. Jonah. He showed a lot of courage in recognizing his mistake and apologizing. Perhaps this all happend in such a rush (from monastery to primate in under 4 months) that he still needs to settle in. He deserves to have his apology honored and a chance to show he means it. I pray he rises to theoccasion.

  52. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!

    Oops. My comments in #51 should ahve been addressed to Michael.


  53. Michael Bauman :

    Tom, my comments about most of the bishops doing a poor job rests on the inability/unwillingness of most of them to address the moral depravity of our culture and/or have a real heart for the United States. When I see so many of the Romaninan and Serbian bishops who wish to retreat further into ethnic isolation, several of the GOA bishops lapsing into messanic idolatry of our President, plus the drive toward false union with Rome, the incredible non-response still being demonstrated by the Holy Synod of the OCA to the immorality and corruption, and last but not least, the insane actions of Met. Philip and Antioch built on a long standing culture of cronyism and fear. I’d say that qualifies for most.

    ROCOR is a complete mystery to me so I can’t comment one way or the other on them.

    The actions of Herman and Theodosius were civilly and eccclesially criminal. They showed themselves to be moral idiots with neither respect for God nor other people. Sure it is wise to discipline our own tongues and strive for forgiveness, but they deserve no respect at all until they stand before the Holy Synod of the OCA and make a public confession.

    I have absolutely ZERO expectations that the scenario I outlined with respect to AOCA will ever take place. It is just a wild pipe dream. At this point it will take a miracle of the Holy Spirit for anything positive to come out of our mess in the short run. Since all things work for good to those who love God, the long run will be OK but not as good as it could have been.

    The Church in the U.S. is in a period of testing-all of us. We are being asked to live up to what we say we are. We all have the opportunity to step up or step back. We need much stronger, principaled and apostolic leadership from our bishops as part of that.

  54. George,

    The point being:

    The OCA tried to legitimately assert its rights as an “autocephalous” church to the Moscow Patriarchate by trying to convince her Mother Church to do the canonical thing and force the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to come under the OCA omophorion.

    As we all know, the MP totally disregarded the OCA’s entreaties, and to add insult to injury, at funeral of Metropolitan Laurus, Met. Yuvenaly served with the Serbs. He served with the Antiochians. He refused to serve with the OCA!

    The point is that when the OCA tried to assert its canonical rights against its Mother Church, the MP showed the OCA its place. “Once burned, twice shy?” I think the OCA will not try that again, hence its current non-insistence on the canons, “hat in hand” posture before the MP.

    By reconciling with and granting autonomy to the ROCOR, the MP either committed canonical actions against an uncanonical “autocephalous” church (OCA) or it committed uncanonical actions against a canonical “autocephalous church.”

    If the OCA is indeed THE autocephalous church of America, then the MP has committed grave violations of the canons by recognizing the autonomy of the ROCOR within the canonical territory of the autocephalous OCA.

    If the OCA is not truly autocephalous, then no harm, no foul.

  55. Re: “When the OCA starts acting like the American Orthodox Church it will receive these [MP parishes] and more.”

    But look what happened when the OCA started acting like the American Church by asserting its canonical American Church rights!

    What more basic action can there be for the American Orthodox Church than to defend its own jurisdictional boundaries?

    The OCA acted like the American Church and got punished for it.

    Last year I met a monk from the Moscow Patriarchate who congratulated me for doing the right thing by leaving OCA for Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. He actually called the OCA, the “Other Church in America” and characterized it as “Eastern Rite Episcopalians.”

    From what I have seen in these past years is that the relationship between the OCA and the MP has gone from good (1970 Autocephaly) to bad (2007 MP-ROCOR reunion) to possibly worse (2008-“Other Church in America”). For the rest, 2009 and beyond, we will see what we will see.

  56. John Kotalik :

    While I might be too much of a late-comer to the discussion to add much, I hope to add something.

    The discussion seems to have bypassed the very issue of the MP’s recognition of the OCA’s autocephalousy. It is my understanding that the Patriarchical Parishes in America are technically “representation” parishes and thus commemorate both Met. Jonah as the Hierarch of the jurisdiction they are physically located in but they, as representation churches, are also under the omophorion of the Pat. Kyrill and thus commemorate him as well. Such representation churches are common throughout the Orthodox world; the OCA even has two in Russia. Representation parishes are parishes set up by one Church within the jurisdiction of the other (with the other’s permission, of course) in order to serve emigre populations and what not (for the sake of the fact that emigre populations might not be served as well by the local church due to language and cultural barriers). For example, I’d bet there are representation parishes in Greek embassies in Russia (though I have no idea if this is true).

    The question of course becomes whether having 90 some Representation Parishes of the Patriarch of Moscow in America is reasonable. Considering these parishes seem to serve Russian immigrants (if you look at their websites they almost always seem to be only in Russian; not English) who have moved here since the fall of the Eastern Bloc, I do not find it that unreasonable. Either way, it shows that, if only legalistically, the MP recognizes the OCA’s autocephalousy in its actions regarding its parishes in America, as they clearly representation parishes.

    In regards to ROCOR, reunification will not happen overnight. Yes, ROCOR is canonically reunified with the MP, but the process of practical unification will be a slow one and is Moscow were to say “we recognize the OCA’s autocephalousy and thus you either have to join them or become representation churches”, this would not be a charitable move. ROCOR is an interesting case which we must be patient with, but either way they will figure everything out. However, we cannot judge the MP’s view of the OCA’s autocephalousy based on ROCOR; we can only judge that both Patriarch Alexy and Patriarch Kyrill are loving and prudent leaders who are more concerned with healing a terrible schism (which though stitched has still yet to heal) than dealing with the OCA’s jurisdictional rights as a autocephalous church (especially with the fact that the OCA seems to be offended by ROCOR’s presence in America).

    Christ is Risen!

  57. Scott Pennington :

    I think people here are misunderstanding the nature of the rocky relationship between ROCOR and the OCA. Historically, though for some period of time the Metropolia and ROCOR were in communion, they often did not enjoy cordial relations for political and ethnic reasons. Moscow granted autocephaly to the OCA in 1970. Moscow and ROCOR were not in communion at that time. ROCOR was, indirectly, in communion with the rest of the Orthodox through the Patriarchates of Serbia and Jerusalem. This, of course, was an anomalous situation, like the division of the Russian Church and the current situation with ROCOR and the OCA occupying much of the same canonical territory.

    I assume that ROCOR’s position before the reunification in 2007 was that it would have to be an autonomous province of the MP. From conversations with those in the OCA (the local OCA priest’s confessor is a priest at a nearby ROCOR monastery) and with those in ROCOR I know, I think a lot of this has to do not only with the ethnic/political history but also the fact that many in ROCOR view the OCA as unacceptably modernist in its practices. This is not a problem in ROCOR’s relations with Moscow since the MP observes the Julian Calendar and retains traditional practices. I think, at bottom, the Russians are ok with intercommunion with modernist churches but are quite protective of their own internal traditional practices (and I applaud them for this).

    I think, really, that ROCOR and Moscow view the situation as an anomaly and an internal Russian matter. It doesn’t diminish at all Moscow’s view of the OCA as autocephalous. They probably feel that the situation is sustainable, at least for the present, no more odd that prior odd arrangements and a small price to pay for the reunification with ROCOR.

  58. John Kotalik :

    “Last year I met a monk from the Moscow Patriarchate who congratulated me for doing the right thing by leaving OCA for Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. He actually called the OCA, the “Other Church in America” and characterized it as “Eastern Rite Episcopalians.”

    From what I have seen in these past years is that the relationship between the OCA and the MP has gone from good (1970 Autocephaly) to bad (2007 MP-ROCOR reunion) to possibly worse (2008-”Other Church in America”). For the rest, 2009 and beyond, we will see what we will see.”

    How can you judge the MP’s view of the OCA based on the opinion of a single monk, let alone one who seems biased towards ROCOR over the OCA. I believe that the opinion of Patriarch Kyrill ranks far higher than one monk. I have nothing against ROCOR, and the OCA certainly has something to learn from them when it comes to not being so lax about so many issues, but as my godfather, who goes to a ROCOR parish, says: “ROCOR needs to figure itself out.”

  59. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    I think your first paragraph contains some truths (in my opinion) some wild speculation with no basis in fact (only opinion) and some assumptions that may or may not be true but are subjective anyway so we will have to just agree that we have differintg opinions on this.

    I think your paragraph about Mets Theodosios and Herman are understandable from a knee jerk, secular point of view, but from an Orthodox perspective you are quite wrong that they deserve no respect at all. I have a hard time believeing that you really think thay way, not because I know you, because I do not, but because you seem to have a lot of faith and therefore I would think you understand that the hierarchs deserve respect. It is one of the cornerstones of our faith.

    We also need much stronger moral leadership from our priests and from our families. The hierarchs bear a good deal of the responsibility, perhaps the lions share, but the rest of us are not free from responsibility for the moral decay of our society. Which is why I agree with your final paragraph.

  60. Wesley J. Smith :

    I find the bitterness expressed here puzzling and disturbing. Are we not “one holy catholic and apostolic church?”

    No one has answered my question: Is it the “Orthodox way” that there be a united American Orthodox Church? It seems to me that there is no question the answer is yes. The current divided jurisdictions is not the accepted approach. If so, our efforts should be in that direction, not fighting old jurisdictional battles that only continue our divisions.

    Is the OCA that church? I am a member of that synod. We are the only one not answerable to a foreign hierarch. But I don’t think that means that the OCA is IT, and I don’t see + Jonah so asserting. It seems to me that the OCA will one day be subsumed by a new entity that will be the American Orthodox Church (for wont of a better name, for now).

    What would it take to unite the various jurisdictions into a united American Orthodox Church? It seems to me that it would require mergers among existing churches in America. That will require compromise on all sides, financial, eclesiastic, and otherwise, and it will require the patriarchs and other hierarchs of the non American jurisdictions to work with Americans and each other to move the merged entity toward an agreed upon anencephaly from all the relevant jurisdictions.

    What about our respective local bishops? It seems to me that once the intent is reached to merge churches in the Americas into one church, it would be by attrition, or perhaps, by electing one of the several regional bishops as the bishop in the new AOC entity with the others remaining as auxillary bishops, who might or not be replaced–depending on need–when they retired or reposed.

    This might be all wet, but the current snipping across jurisdictional lines isn’t healthy. We have to find a way to make Orthodox Church in the Americas reflect the proper structure of Orthodox Churches, and that will require sacrfices, radical self giving. and patience with each other.

    Forgive me my ignorance if I have gotten any terminology or organizational issues wrong or if I appear impertinent.

  61. Wesley J. Smith :

    I obvously meant autocephaly in the post above, not anencephaly. How embarrassing. Sorry.

  62. Re: “How can you judge the MP’s view of the OCA based on the opinion of a single monk”

    My opinion, which is of course my own is based on what I said at the beginning of the post: “From what I have seen in these past years” and what I have seen and heard is more than a single MP monk.

    Anyway, let’s all see what the next year will reveal to us.

    The truth will out.

  63. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    “No one has answered my question: Is it the “Orthodox way” that there be a united American Orthodox Church? It seems to me that there is no question the answer is yes. The current divided jurisdictions is not the accepted approach. If so, our efforts should be in that direction, not fighting old jurisdictional battles that only continue our divisions.”

    In my opinion, the answer to your question is yes. the problem is how do we get to that point. The situation we have (and the entire “new world” has) is that we are in a situation which the Church (as a whole) has never faced before and therefore, the solution is not so simple. In the mean time, if we keep working to build up our parishes and to get to know one another, we will help work towards that end.

    But in order for that to ultimately happen, we cannot keep making one or two jurisdictions into the “bogey man” who is the casue of the problem. That is why we tend to get hung up on “old rivalries” as you refer to them.

  64. Michael Bauman :

    Tom, the only thing in my first paragraph that is not based upon published public statements by bishops or jurisdictions, is the part about the Holy Synod of the OCA still being unresponsive to the corruption and immorality in the leadership. I would grant my statement on that is somewhat speculative, but not wildly so.

    One of the primary reasons that bishops get so out of whack, IMO, is because of the breakdown of the natural interrealtionship that should exist between the bishops and their flock. When they are isolated and treated with false respect and imperial dignities that mean nothing, a incredibly difficult vocation becomes well nigh impossible.

    Also, Tom, by your standard I should respect every bishop who has ever lived like Nestorius, or Sergius, or the legal sex offender in my own jurisdiction Demetri. I respect them as fellow human beings struggling with sinful passions just as I do, but not as hierarchs.

    The failure of the hierarchs is largely our own failure as the people of God. Leaders always reflect the will and state of the people they lead. Until we as Christians start acting like Christians what else can we expect? The fact is we want to be separate. It satisfies our own desires to do our own thing. We want bishops who are obviously less than saintly for the same reason. If God gave as a saint we’d probably do our best to drive him out.

  65. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, John is right. Basing your opinion on one monk is ridiculous. I know quite a few Russians, and have a very dear friend who travels back and forth to Moscow regularly (as he has family and business interests there). Even under the inept leadership of +Herman, he was told by his spiritual father in Moscow that he should attend the OCA mission in our town. (Even though there was a ROCOR church in a nearby suburb.) Now of course, he has told me that many people in Russia (in the Church) are excited about +Jonah.

    But let’s be honest, actions speak far louder than words. You seem to engage in pharasaical reasoning to try and not see the obvious. Your bold-face “the” this and “the” that to the contrary really don’t mean much.

    But let’s be really bold: if the OCA was such a bastard step-child of the MP, then why did they not rescind its autocephaly? (This assumes of course that autocephaly, once given, can be revoked.) Are you honestly trying to tell me that all the slights of the “tiny” OCA against the gigantic MP caused this leviathan to act “once burnt, twice shy”? Do you even realize the absurdity of this scenario.

    I stand by my comments. As to why ROCOR hasn’t come under the omorphorion of the OCA, I will still ask (until I get a cogent answer): Why did it take 16 years for ROCOR to come under the MP? If May 8, 2007 was such a “glorious day” (and it was), then why couldn’t May 8, 2006 been that “glorious day” or April 3, 2005, Jan 1, 1999? And don’t tell me because there were people under a KGB cloud in the MP.

  66. George Michalopulos :


    just what would be this “the Orthodox way to American unity”? The laughable hallucination propagated by that “archimandrite” who spoke at Holy Cross 6 weeks ago? (I put archimandrite in quotes because I’d like to know what monastery he has oversight of.)

    I know you feel like you’re taking it on the chin because “one or two ethnic jurisdictions” are being treated like the “bogeyman” standing in the way of unity, but until the GOA en masse repudiates the delusional ramblings of the archimandrite in question, and his puppetmasters, then the unfortunate stereotype of the GOA being run by elitist xenophobes will only be hardened. (Leave aside for the moment its hierarchy’s sycophancy and almost complete obliviousness to the sanctity of life.)

    This of course brings me to a question that nobody in the GOA has ever been able to answer to me. Perhaps you will: Why did the EP grant autocaphaly to a third-world hellholes like Albania and Estonia (both of which have a tinier Orthodox population than the US) but won’t grant autocephaly to the US?

    Just curious. Maybe we should start asking them for money, especially since the GOA has been “under its protection” lo these many years? We could ask for arrears. That way, by subsidizing the training of authentic Byzantine chant, we could get the GOA parishes to get rid of their organs, pews and choir robes. (How those abominations slipped through the oversight of our “protectors” I’ll never know.)

  67. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, in re-reading your critique, you wrote that the OCA got “punished for acting like the American Orthodox Church” When did that happen? And by whom?

    Finally Joe, if the OCA is “not really autocephalous” then the MP should state this right out. If the MP doesn’t believe it then it would mean that they’re even less straightforward than the phanariotes, who are game-players deluxe. I’ve never met a Russian who was not a straight-shooter. Maybe you know some, but I don’t and +Kirill and the other ROC bishops (+Hilarion) don’t strike me as such either.

    As for calling the OCA “Eastern-Rite Episcopalians,” I’ll call you right out now as being mendacious. If you really believe this, then what do you call the AOCA or the GOA? Unitarians?

  68. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    re: Fr. Elpidophoros’ comments were right on target. The fact that you have troble seeing that because you are so blided by hate for your former jurisdiction is your problem.

    Your arrogance is only exceeded by your lack of knowledge in some cases.

    “This of course brings me to a question that nobody in the GOA has ever been able to answer to me. Perhaps you will: Why did the EP grant autocaphaly to a third-world hellholes like Albania and Estonia (both of which have a tinier Orthodox population than the US) but won’t grant autocephaly to the US?”

    First of all, Estonia is neithert a hell hole nor an autocephalous church. Secondly, the “hellhole” of Albania (as you call it) shows more piety, outreach, charity, humility etc. than we do in the US. Also, the EP merely helped get the already autocephalous Church in Albania back on its feet after decades of persecution. The ressurrection of that Church has been nothing short of miraculous. THAT is missionary work.

    But really who cares about that “hellhole” we are bigger and we hav more money in the US. We must be a more mature and better church, right George?

    Does that answer your question? I’ll answer for you, it does and I am sure you have heard that answer before, it just suits your agenda to pose it every so often in new surroundings to people who may not know the facts.

    As far as “taking it on the chin” for the GOA and the EP, I don’t feel that way at all. I know their failures an shortcomings and I discuss it often. What I feel like here, is that I must point out the lies and distortions in your arguments so that others know them for what they are.

    I notice you have no coment about the “back pedaling you were called out on in #50.

  69. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    Actually your entire first paragraph is based on speculation and opinion. That is not to say that some is not correct (at least in my opinion) but is is still speculation and opinion and requires an assumption of motives which may or may not be correct.

    Respect for the office of the bishop and for the individuals who hold that office does not imply forced agreement, no right to disagree or criticize etc. It does mean that they should not be referred to as buffoons, boobs etc. And yes, every bishop deserves that respect because of the Grace of their ordination.

  70. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, as I said, I have no hate for my former jurisdiction. Albania is a Third World basket case. Estonia is an autocephalous church.

    Which exactly of the archimandrite’s criticisms were right on target? The fact that secularism and worldliness have crept into the GOA? OK, I’ll buy that. Which GOA parish do you attend? I’ll right them a letter asking them to remove their organ and pews. That’ll be the start.

    Then we’ll start talking about the monasteries of “a certain Athonite influence.” Perhaps we could start closing them down, or, better yet, send archimandrites like him to oversee them!

    I don’t know if you got a chance to read my complete response to Lambrianides (posted on this website and OCL) but I have still to hear a refutation of any of its points. On the other hand, I’ve gotten quite a few “atta boy”s from people across the spectrum (GOA priests included).

    what exactly did I backpedal on #50? My request that the GOA go to Jordanville and meet with ROCOR bishops?

    I notice however that you never answer my questions:

    1. Why did the Phanar grant autocephaly to Albania, the poorest, most wretched country in Europe?

    2. What do you think an American Orthodox Church would like? (An American church dedicated to evangelism and piety or an ethnic nostalgia club).

    3. Just exactly has the GOA been “under the protection” of the Phanar these past few decades? Which way did the money go, East to West or West to East? I guess if the latter, then “protection” means something totally different than the plain meaning of the word.

    Regarding my supposed “hate.” Keep the dime-store psychologizing to yourself. You don’t know me. As I’ve said in another post here, when it came time to set up a mission where I live the only game in town was the OCA. Why?

    1. Because their parameters were far more realistic. (Fewer hoops to jump through),

    2. There was no insistence upon an ethnic group (other than American)

    3. We were told that once we got to a certain level, we’d be obligated to start another mission (no turf battles here).

    4. The OCA, even when misruled by the previous metropolitans, legally is an autocephalous church. This means two things:

  71. George Michalopulos :

    (sorry, continued):

    a. The diocesan bishop is sovereign (can’t be interefered with as he has no “superiors.”

    b. It’s easier to rectify changes when you don’t have to worry about the Old Country and them getting their cut off the top.

  72. Michael Bauman :

    Tom, my comments about most of the bishops doing a poor job rests on the inability/unwillingness of most of them to address the moral depravity of our culture and/or have a real heart for the United States.
    Your bishop there in Chicago has come out with a statment on the Illinois FOCA, much to my surprise the California bishops united around on Prop 8, +Jonah made quite a strong statement during the March for Life and my own bishop has made many statements here locally regarding abortion. But in general silence or consent when dealing with politicians especially.

    When I see so many of the Romaninan and Serbian bishops who wish to retreat further into ethnic isolation The movement is back to the mother country especially for the Romanians in the OCA. Whether it will suceed or not, time will tell.

    , several of the GOA bishops lapsing into messanic idolatry of our President, The comments of the GOA Chancellor right after the election are a prime example, and +Demetrios played right into that. +Gerasimos seems to be of the same mindset. The Chancellor was quite clear and messianic in his praise of Obama. The other two examples are speculation.

    plus the drive toward false union with Rome,The article in the GOA-Pittsburg newsletter The Illuminator all but proclaimed union with Rome without any of the traditional requirements. Pat. Barthlomew is obviously pretty far down that road.

    the incredible non-response still being demonstrated by the Holy Synod of the OCA to the immorality and corruption, This is speculation but with Kondratick and friends still in good graces in the Diocese of the South, seems pretty non-responsive.

    and last but not least, the insane actions of Met. Philip and Antioch built on a long standing culture of cronyism and fear. Not speculation at all. I’ve seen first hand culture of cronyism and fear created by Met. Philip and personally felt some of the sting of it. The action itself is so irregular it has to be either insane or from a fool-for-Christ place so I guess one could call that speculation.

    But since clear, unequivocable empirical proof exists nowhere when dealing with human actions any decisions we make with regard to other’s actions will always be speculative. The overall trend here is quite distrubing to me however. However, as I have noted elsewhere, we get the quality of leaders we want. The change has to be in our own hearts first, if we want change.

  73. George,

    I don’t know how to write so that you can understand what I am trying to communicate. Forgive me.

    I will try to clarify a few things:

    – “Once burned twice shy” refers to the OCA, not the MP.
    – “Eastern Rite Episcopalians” was said by the Russian monk not by me.
    – Rescinding Autocephaly: As I said before, we will see what we shall see this year about the MP’s true stance on the OCA’s autocephaly vis-a-vis the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the other truly autocephalous churches. I heartily agree with your statement that “if the OCA is not truly autocephalous then the MP should state it straight out.” It would be a nice clarification if the MPs words matched its actions (MP parishes in the U.S & ROCOR autonomy) and the MP flatly stated that OCA is not truly autocephalous.

    Question to you about this “calling you out” that was directed towards me. Are you challenging me to a duel of honor or something? Cool!

  74. Scott Pennington :

    Patriarch Kirill welcomes Metropolitan Jonah as the fellow head of an autocephalous Church, he specifically addresses him in writing as “your Beatitude” during the aftermath of the Fr. Elpidophoros incident, the tome of autocephaly for the OCA is over thirty five years old and Moscow shows no signs whatsoever of backing away from it, and there is no canon that states that the EP has the sole perogative to grant autocephaly . . . and still some of you are shoveling this stuff out about the OCA not being “truly autocephalous”. Well, suit yourselves. The largest Orthodox Church in the world disagrees with you, the OCA will continue to behave as if it were autocephalous (since it’s mother church granted it that status) and those who don’t accept it can pound sand. I’m mean it’s not as if you have the power to do anything at all about it.

  75. George Michalopulos :

    OK, Joe, “Eastern Rite Episcopalians.” I stand corrected: not you, him. What is his opinion of the AOCA and GOA? Better yet Joe, what’s yours? I think you can speak for him, you obviously are of like mind with him.

    Again, I guess you’re calling +Kirill a prevaricator (that’s a fancy word for liar.) You obviously have insights into his mind that nobody else does since you write that he doesn’t really believe that the OCA is “one of the truly autocephalous churches.” Again, is +Kirill a liar or a game-player? Which is it Joe? (BTW, I’m gonna keep on asking this question ’til I get an answer.)

    No need to challenge me to a duel, just your own conscience. Mine is clear: Five autocephalous churches consider the OCA to be autocephalous. Four dhimmi churches do not (EP, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria). Romania, Serbia and Greece do not. But wait, I guess you haven’t heard, the Phanar does not consider these last three to be “really autocephalous” either. So since the Phanar is your guidepost –and since you’re such a consistently logical person–you mush consign all of the other Balkan churches to the same contemptuous status you reserve for the OCA. Remind me: which of these “non-autocephalous” churches recognized ROCOR all these past few decades when nobody else would? (answer: Serbia. I guess that means ROCOR wasn’t canonical all those years?)

    Just curious, what will you do if the EP and the rest of the dhimmi’s go uniate?

    I’ll gladly belong to a church which is recognized by 95% of worldwide Orthodoxy as canonical and autocephalous.

  76. Tom Kanelos :

    “No need to challenge me to a duel, just your own conscience. Mine is clear: Five autocephalous churches consider the OCA to be autocephalous. Four dhimmi churches do not (EP, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria). Romania, Serbia and Greece do not. But wait, I guess you haven’t heard, the Phanar does not consider these last three to be “really autocephalous” either.”

    George, you just plain old don’t know what you’re talking about. Not only is the above comment not true (regarding Romania, Serbia and Greece), but you don’t even know that Estonia is not an Autocephalous Church.

    Come on George, lying to try and make a point just makes you look silly.

    The fact that you say your conscience is clear after the things you post here and elsewhere just tells me one thing. You have no conscience.

    “I’ll gladly belong to a church which is recognized by 95% of worldwide Orthodoxy as canonical and autocephalous.”

    95%? On top of everything else, you cannot even do math. Population wise, approximately 70% of the worlds orthodox pupulation is under Moscow (and a huge portion of that does not wish to be under Moscow, but that is a different argument). Of that 70%, 90% is Moscow.

    None of this is contempt for the OCA, juts contempt for your questionable comments and methods.

  77. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    The MP constistantly referred to Met. Jonah as “your eminence”, could you please show me where the MP refered to Mte Jonah as “your Beatitude”. I am not saying it did not happen, I just have not seen it.

    Additionally, it is not so much the words that call into question what the MP truly thinks, but rather the actions which have been spelled out clearly here many times.

    The largest orthodox Church in the world was dominated by KGB for decades, should we take every word or action made by them at that time as correct?

    I AM NOT SAYING THAT I THINK THE OCA IS NOT AUTOCEPHALOUS. Those decisions are not mine to make and frankly are not my concern. I am saying that the verdict is still out as to what will happen going forth from here as the MP increases its presence in the “canonical trritory” of another “autocephalous church”.

    You are correct in that it is not as if any of us can do anything about it. Whatever is going to happen, will happen as a result of the decisions of people more knowlegable than us.

  78. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Tom, George — you are both men of goodwill. You both love the Church. You both want to see the Gospel flourish inside of the Church. Don’t let your disagreements drive a wedge between you.

    On some things you may just have to agree to disagree. That is fine. Some of them will work themselves out in the long run anyway.

  79. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!

    Fr. Hans,

    If you are saying I am being disrespectful then out of respect for your opinion, I apologize.

    If you are asking me to agree to disagree on matters of opinion, presented in a civil respectful way, you are correct and I will try to do so.

    If you are asking me to just agree to disagree on points which are outright misstatements or worse (and there have been many), I cannot.

  80. Scott Pennington :


    If you read what I wrote above, it was not referring to how Patriarch Kirill addressed Met. Jonah at the latest meeting in Russia.

    I wrote: ” . . . he specifically addresses him in writing as “your Beatitude” during the aftermath of the Fr. Elpidophoros incident . . .”

    What I was referring to was this incident reported on Orthodox Christians for Accountability and which I posted under the article on this site about Fr. Elpidophoros’ speech (it is post #67):

    I saw this on Orthodox Christians for Accountability and thought you all might enjoy it:

    Formal church greetings are rarely memorable. The following, a formal greeting from Patriarch Kyrill of the Russian Orthodox Church to Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America, given on March 22nd, six days after the Chief Secretary of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis’ controversial speech at Holy Cross Seminary, is an exception. The complete text, reprinted from a Moscow Patriarchate website, reads:

    Your Beatitude!

    I sincerely welcome your visit to the St. Nicholas Cathedral of the Moscow Patriarchate in the city of New York, this memorable and holy place connected with the life and service of St. Tikhon.

    Your first visit as head of the Orthodox Church in America to the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA and to a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church comes during the week of the Cross, when the Honorable Cross stands before us for reverential worship and adoration.

    May the invincible and inscrutable power of the honorable and life-giving Cross strengthen the love between our Churches and overcome the demons of feeble impertinence (emphasis in original).

    Having passed over the course of Great Lent in peace, I wish you a joyous Pascha. I await the upcoming visit of Your Beatitude in Moscow.

    With love in the Lord,

    Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

    As to the rest of the comments about autocephaly, time will tell. It is interesting that for polemical purposes there are those who question Moscow’s presence on the OCA’s canonical territory. Really, this criticism, if coming from someone in the GOA, should extend to all other presences in the US besides GOA (just to be consistent).

    Also, one should remember that Moscow granted the OCA autocephaly 37 years before the reunion with ROCOR. I think they’re just happy to be united with their brethren in the US, but if you want to read into it that Moscow somehow considers the OCA less than autocephalous, be my guest. Again though, I believe you will be disappointed because Moscow does not seem to share your opinion.

  81. Richard Barrett :

    Christ is risen!

    Re: Estonia.

    At least according to their own website, they are autonomous. See here.


  82. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Note 79. No Tom, I am not asking you change your opinions or even to hold back from what you see as misstatements of fact. All I am saying that from my vantage point, both you and George are men of goodwill and not to let the obvious disagreements (not a bad thing in my view, I think that “iron sharpens iron” like the Scripture teaches) blind either of you to this fact. Just a caution, nothing more.

  83. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    “As to the rest of the comments about autocephaly, time will tell. It is interesting that for polemical purposes there are those who question Moscow’s presence on the OCA’s canonical territory. Really, this criticism, if coming from someone in the GOA, should extend to all other presences in the US besides GOA (just to be consistent).”

    I respectfully dissagree with your comment. The reason it has significance for the MP and OCA relationship is becasue the MP recognizes the OCA as autocephalous. Thus, it continues to maintian, even increase its presence in the “canonical” territory of another “autocephalous” Church. The GOA does not recognize the OCA as autocephalous and therefore it is not guilty of the same act as the MP.

    “Also, one should remember that Moscow granted the OCA autocephaly 37 years before the reunion with ROCOR. I think they’re just happy to be united with their brethren in the US, but if you want to read into it that Moscow somehow considers the OCA less than autocephalous, be my guest. Again though, I believe you will be disappointed because Moscow does not seem to share your opinion.”

    As I stated, my opinion on this point is insignificant. I am just puzzled by the ACTIONS of the MP towards the OCA vs. the WORDS of the MP towards the OCA.

    As far as the letter from PK to MJ it is odd that the salutation would be Your Beatitude and just a few short weeks later, when face to face, the salutation would be Your Eminence. As I mentioned in one of the earliest posts on this topic, i wonder what the original Russian version states.

  84. Scott Pennington :

    Well Tom, let’s see, if 1)Constantinople is an autocephalous church and 2) Constantinople claims North America as its sole canonical territory, why would it tolerate other jurisdictions here such as ROCOR, the OCA, AOCNA, etc.? Answer me that and I’ll tell you why the OCA and the MP tolerate ROCOR on the OCA’s territory.

    Or maybe Constantinople isn’t any more autocephalous than the OCA?

    As far as the letter is concerned, if a letter off of the MP’s official website doesn’t convince you, when it addresses him twice as “Your Beatitude” and states that he is the head of the Orthodox Church in America, then you’re simply not discussing this in good faith and are inventing goblins to satisfy your desire that the OCA not be autocephalous or not be recognized as such by the MP.

    “I am just puzzled by the ACTIONS of the MP towards the OCA vs. the WORDS of the MP towards the OCA.”

    Don’t be dishonest. You’re not “puzzled” at all. You’re engaging in wishcraft . . . looking for any argument, however thin, to prove that what is obvious is not so. It’s beneath you.

    Anyone at all familiar with the history can see what the case is: The MP granted autocephaly to the OCA in 1970. The ROC and ROCOR were not in communion at that time. Thirty-seven years later, the ROC and ROCOR resume communion, but ROCOR wants to be an autonomous province of the ROC for two main reasons a)ROCOR thinks the OCA is too modernist whereas the ROC is not and b) there is still bad political and ethnic feeling between the ROCOR and the OCA.

    None of that has anything to do with the MP revoking the OCA’s autocephaly. If you have some evidence that the OCA behaves as if it is not autocephalous (besides tolerating ROCOR, the AOCNA, the GOA, etc on it’s canonical territory, much like Constantinople tolerates other jurisdictions on its alleged canonical territory) then offer it.

  85. Tom Kanelos :

    CHrist is Risen!


    Now you are using George logic. You cannot change your argument when someone corrects you.

    Your logic in paragraph 1 is simply wrong. Please re-read your initial comments and then my response. The difference between the two should be pretty clear, unless you are avoiding the question.

    If the text of a speech given face to face by the MP in the presence of the MoAAC (posted above) refers to him FIVE times as Your Eminence…

    Spare me the “your not dscussion this in good faith”. That sound like a liberal who tolerates discussion as long as it is in agreement with their opinions.

    If you cannot see that the actions of the MP are unusual at best and uncanonical at worst then you choose not to see it.

    People with such knee jerk reaction to those who question their opinions are an obstacle to unity. Perhaps if you would start discussing things in good faith and not in anger you could be part of the solution.

    I think very highly of the OCA. I only know one of Her bishops, but as I stated on this site before, I think he is one of the finest in any jursidiction. During the summer months when my wife or eldest daughter are not teaching Sunday school at our parish, we visit parishes of other jurisdictions and enjoy going to different OCA parishes very much. We love the Russian style traditions and the people are usually quite friendly. I have never seen any of the “angry man” syndrome I see here.

    I wish no ill on the OCA. But if we cannot discuss certain glaring anomalies or if we continue to try and blame the Greeks, we will get nowhere.

    Did you ever wonder why Met. Jonah, in the sermon about “unity” did not address the points made by Fr. Elpidophoros, but rather just chose to go on the attack of the EP? Perhaps if he addressed those points in a sober manner (as they were presented by Fr. Elpidophoros), we could have discussion instead of argument.

    That is, if you are willing to accept the goodwill of the other side of the argument.

    In closing, I NEVER made any comments that the MP is considering revoking the OCA’s “autocephally”, rather that its (MP) actions are puzzling at the very least.

  86. What we have here is a failure to communicate.

    If we use an OCAism, their much used dichotomy between Big “T” Tradition and little “t” traditon, I think that we can clarify the reality of the situation.

    There is Big “A” Autocephaly and there is little “a” autocephaly.

    Big “A” Autocephaly is an Autocephaly that is universal and necessarily accepted by the whole Church.

    Little “a” autocephaly is a “local” autocephaly that is recognized by only parts of the Church.

    In the case of the OCA, Moscow, the Church of Georgia, the Church of Bulgaria, the Church of Poland and the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, extend a conditional recognition of her little “a” autocephaly. Apparently, the condition for their recognition of the OCA’s little “a” autocephaly is that they have the right to establish and keep their own parishes and dioceses within the territory of said little “a” autocephalous church.

    Like the little “t” traditions that the OCA say are optional for their believers, recognition of little “a” autocephaly is optional for the various parts of the Church since the issue of the recognition of the OCA’s a/A-utocephaly has very little impact on the Orthodox Church as a for good or ill.

  87. Sorry, I was typing too fast:

    Like the little “t” traditions that the OCA say are optional for their believers, recognition of little “a” autocephaly is optional for the various parts of the Church since the issue of the recognition of the OCA’s a/A-utocephaly has very little impact on the Orthodox Church as a whole for good or for ill.

  88. Scott Pennington :


    You haven’t corrected me (although I did correct you once elsewhere when you simply didn’t read my post before you responded).

    I wrote,

    “Really, this criticism, if coming from someone in the GOA, should extend to all other presences in the US besides GOA (just to be consistent).”

    I fail to see where I changed my argument at all. If someone in the GOA criticises Moscow’s presence on the OCA’s canonical territory it seems to me hypocritical if they themselves tolerate a number of other jurisdictions on their claimed canonical territory. You’re argument is that the OCA is not autocephalous because of this anomaly which it tolerates. (If this is not you’re argument, then you have no point. Why point out the anomalies if they don’t indicate something? What is it they indicate?) Constantinople is autocephalous and tolerates other jurisdictions on its claimed territory. Fr. Elpidophoros stated that pretty plainly. Why aren’t you bringing Constantinople’s autocephaly into question. Are they the only ones allowed to be magnanimous? (pause for laughter)

    Now, I’m not suggesting that the two situations are totally similar but you have a problem with asserting that this jurisdictional anomaly somehow negates autocephaly if other jurisdictions recognize Constantinople as autocephalous and yet maintain presences on its canonical territory.

    “If you cannot see that the actions of the MP are unusual at best and uncanonical at worst then you choose not to see it.”

    They are unusual, they are uncanonical in the sense that they should not maintain or establish a presence on the OCA’s territory (well, perhaps patriarchal parishes for diplomats, etc.) after they granted it autocephaly. I’m not arguing that at all.

    In the end however, it’s not really any more deplorable than the overlapping jurisdictions that cover this country.

    I’m just saying that that has nothing to do with revoking or even questioning the OCA’s autocephaly. ROCOR was here before the grant of autocephaly. By receiving it back, the MP is not really creating a new presence here.

    If you’re stating that the comparison between Constantinople and the OCA does not hold water because there’s no one who granted Constantinople autocephaly and subsequently intruded on its territory, then I understand your point. But it really isn’t particularly significant since I’m not arguing that the MP’s actions are defensible on canonical grounds. I’m arguing that the fact that the OCA tolerates other presences, including ROCOR, does not negate its autocephaly. If you think that a)Moscow wants to revoke the OCA’s autocephaly or b) that autocephaly once granted can be shattered willy-nilly, well, I’ll let you make that argument. It sounds like you’re saying that autocephaly only lasts as long as the granting church speaks and behaves as though the daughter church is autocephalous. You might want to support that with some source.

    PS: If you’re the calm one and I’m the angry one, why are you capitalizing?

  89. Scott Pennington :

    “But if we cannot discuss certain glaring anomalies or if we continue to try and blame the Greeks, we will get nowhere.”

    You know Tom, I’m really sick of this “blame the Greeks” stuff. You’re making it difficult to believe you’re defending the EP, et al. for any reason other than that the Greeks are your “home team”.

    Put up your best argument for the EP’s interpretation of Canon 28. If you can’t, spare me. It is right to blame the EP for such a baseless claim, for insisting that it has the sole right to grant autocephaly, and for the condescending way the whole matter was handled by Fr. Elpidophoros. They (the Phanar, not “the Greeks”) deserve the criticism received and can expect only more if they persist.

  90. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, just for the record, there is no such thing as “little a” autocephaly or “capital a” autocephaly. Just like there’s no such things as “being a little bit pregnant.” And as far as “little T” traditions, I could write a 5 volume set on the ones that I grew up with in the GOA. I’m sure otehrs could write them for the other ethnic jurisdictions as well.

  91. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, “George logic”? Really now. I’m actually not offended. After all, there’s “Aristoleian logic” and “Euclidian logic.” I’d be honored to be placed in their company.

    Like another participant, you never bother to answer my question which is at the base of all these specific problems: in our case, I keep asking just what exactly do you envision an American Orthodox Church to be (and problematically, how does Lambrianides’ vision square with this reality)?

    p.s. Did you notice that the GOAA has now taken to calling itself “The Holy Archdiocese of America”? A great step in the right direction! I hope they’ve cleared that w/ the Greek government and the secular elites who actually run them. (I guess at the next Clergy-Laity, instead of Greek dancing we’ll see square dancing and people singing just the American national anthem.)

    p.s.s. Although I applaud them, my observations (which you evade) are coming to fruition. Remember I kept asking you (or was it Joe) what would happen if the MP called +Demetrius “The Archbishop of America”? I was told that +Kirill’s comments and letters lauding +Jonah as “Metropolitan of All-America and Canada” were “mere niceties.” But isn’t it curious that for the first time in history, the GOAA is now knows as the “Holy Archdiocese of America”? Who says words don’t matter? There’s no way anybody can tell me that E 79th St isn’t watching what’s going on and is not escalating the protocols.

  92. George Michalopulos :


    please forgive me. My last post was too snarky by half. Upon reading an earlier comment of your’s, I realize you are a man of good will.

    Thank you for being patient with me.


  93. Metropolitan Jonah looks to draft missionaries from Russia to go to the El Salvador Nicarauga!

    What is this, a repeat of St. Herman and the Russians doing the work (as in Alaska) so the OCA can swoop in later to claim both the territory and the credit?!

    Orthodox Church eyes Maya Indians

    Metropolitan Jonah of All America and Canada is looking to students from Moscow with a Russian Orthodox background to work as missionaries among Maya Indians. The proposal was announced in the St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University on Saturday, during Metropolitan Jonah’s first official visit to Russia, ITAR-TASS reports.

    “We require your help. You receive a high-quality theological education, and you will have a chance to fulfill missionary duties in your own country and society, as well as, possibly, overseas,” Metropolitan Jonah told students.

    He noted that Orthodoxy was widespread among indigenous peoples in Alaska, including Aleutians and Eskimos, while some groups of Maya Indians in Nicaragua and Salvador, according to his words, are willing to join the Orthodox Church too.

    “I am not speaking of individuals. I mean hundreds and thousands of people. We need missionaries,” Metropolitan Jonah said.

  94. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    What is this, a repeat of St. Herman and the Russians doing the work (as in Alaska) so the OCA can swoop in later to claim both the territory and the credit?!

    Maybe, but that would be the cynical interpretation.

    On the other hand, this might be the bold vision of a bold and visionary man. How often do we hear an American Orthodox leader speaking like this? Are we seeing the unfolding of something new? Maybe.

  95. Wesley J. Smith :

    Excuse me, but since when is evangelization about “credit?” We may have different jurisdictions, but it is ONE Church.

  96. Dear Fr. Johannes,

    How often do we hear an American Orthodox leader asking for Russian missionaries to do missionary work in the Americas? I have never heard of such a thing until now.

    I have heard that the ROCOR seminary at Holy Trinity (Jordanville) is switching to English language instruction soon in order facilitate missionary work in the U.S. It seems that Russian Orthodox missionary work (on behalf of the Orthodox Church as a whole) is breaking out everywhere! N. America, possibly, Central America, Central Asia (late breaking news) and even China!

    I’m happy that Metropolitan Jonah is wise and humble enough to ask for help where help is available.

  97. cherokee steve :

    I am gald someone like Met. Jomah is going to do something with the native population of North America. We need mission minded people like Jonah to help bring orthodox to us. We native american have been overlooked far to long by the orthodox church as a whole.

    I can’t wait until we have orthodox churches here in the indian nations of Oklahoma.

  98. Wesley,

    Evangelization is never about “credit” unless one is in the OCA. The former Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America makes exclusive claims that they are the direct descendants the Russian Orthodox missionaries to the Russian territory of Alaska (year 1794), despite the inconvenient truth that the direct descendants of the 18th Century Russian Orthodox missionaries are living and active in the form of the extant (not extinct) Russian Orthodox churches in America: the Patriarchal parishes and the ROCOR.

    I believe in giving credit where credit is due for the missionary efforts that have built up the Church as as whole. That credit belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church. It seems that Metropolitan Jonah (a son of Valaam, by the way) has a genetic memory of this fact, hence his call for Russian Orthodox missionaries to the Americas (again).

    It is telling that he made the call to evangelize Central America to the Russian Orthodox seminarians even before his own OCA flock.

  99. cherokee steve :


    I agree let Jonah ask for thousands of missionaries to North American. If no one else if going to do it let him. For example we have more indian tribes here in Oklahoma than any other state.
    Do you know there has been orthodox families here since the late 1800’s and how many of the orthodox tried to reach out to us indians? (None) As of yet there has been no missionary outreach among the orthodox churches to us.

    Keep up the good work Met. Jonah my people and others are waiting to hear about the orthodox faith.

  100. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    “If you’re stating that the comparison between Constantinople and the OCA does not hold water because there’s no one who granted Constantinople autocephaly and subsequently intruded on its territory, then I understand your point.”


    “They are unusual, they are uncanonical in the sense that they should not maintain or establish a presence on the OCA’s territory (well, perhaps patriarchal parishes for diplomats, etc.) after they granted it autocephaly. I’m not arguing that at all.”


    “In the end however, it’s not really any more deplorable than the overlapping jurisdictions that cover this country.”

    Sorry, cannot give you a YAY! on this one. It is very different as in the eyes of the other jurisdictions to whom this territory belongs canonically has not yet been determined or is not completely clear due to the anomalous way we evolved in the US. Obviously, the EP has a different opinion than the OCA and MP. The reason that what the MP is doing is more deplorable is because in granting “autocephaly” to the OCA they are stating that this is OCA canonical territory. However their actions betray that they don’t really believe that.

    “ROCOR was here before the grant of autocephaly. By receiving it back, the MP is not really creating a new presence here.”

    You are correct that the MP is not creating a NEW presence here in taking ROCOR back under its omphorion. My point is that it is INCREASING its own presence on the “canonical territory” of another Church.

    I must say that it is much nicer communicating with “Calm Scott” than “Angry Scott” 😉

  101. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!

    Regarding #89

    Oh no…here comes “Angry Scott” again. 🙁

  102. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    “Tom, “George logic”? Really now. I’m actually not offended. After all, there’s “Aristoleian logic” and “Euclidian logic.” I’d be honored to be placed in their company.”

    Not exactly what I meant but if it works for you, i am glad to be of help.

    “Like another participant, you never bother to answer my question which is at the base of all these specific problems: in our case, I keep asking just what exactly do you envision an American Orthodox Church to be (and problematically, how does Lambrianides’ vision square with this reality)?”

    I have spelled that out more than once on this site. You’re a smart guy (like Aristotle and Euclid) I am sure you can track it down.

  103. Scott Pennington :


    If you can’t admit that it’s hypocritical of those in the GOA, which asserts sole jurisdiction in North America, to attack the OCA’s autocephaly on the grounds that they allow other Orthodox presences here, then again, you’re simply not discussing this in good faith.

    I notice that you totally ignored my request for coherent arguments or authority that a) autocephaly is only good so long as the mother church continues to speak and behave as if it were so and b) Canon 28 means anything like what the EP says it does. I assume you have none.

    As to the first two paragraphs and your “YAY’s”, well, that seems childish, as does your general attitude. You also did not address my point that it’s not about the MP but about the OCA. I agree that it is odd and uncanonical for the MP to have a presence on the OCA’s territory. But your point is to disprove the autocephaly of the OCA. If it’s not, you have no point other than random criticism of the MP (which is fine by me). Condescension is what secured Fr. Elpidophoros such a wave of criticism. You tend to accuse others of being angry when they come up with points that you are incapable of addressing.

    Have the last word if you want it. Twice we’ve come to the point where you’re not responding with reason but simply accusing me of “anger” and “hate”. I don’t think this benefits either of us.

  104. Michael Bauman :

    Tom, there is a basic flaw in your approach which renders it more agumentative and less effective than I think you intend. You seem to operate under the assumption that ‘facts’ are all that matters. They are empirical evidence that determines the truth or un-truth of any proposal. That assumption is wildly incorrect in any discussion that involves the interactions of human beings. Shoot even Gil Grissom on CSI always used to say that facts require context before they mean anything at all.

    As long as you continue to insist that ‘facts’ are the only or predominant determinent of the relative merit of any argument you will not communicate very successfully. What matters in the cases at hand is the pre-suppositions, the foundational assumptions that are argued from.

    The ‘facts’ will be selected and interpreted based on one’s foundational assumptions. Your failure to address that ‘fact’ is why you perceive your questions are not being answered and your frustration builds.

  105. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, re no. 96. Gee, that’s mighty wide of you to congratulate +Jonah on his “humility.” I wish those poor benighted people who are in the OCA could be as wonderful as you.

    The fact that you cannot give credit where it is due reminds me of the Pharisees who would not give praise to God when Jesus cast out demons. They had to resort to accusing Christ of “casting out demons by demons.” Maybe +Jonah was injected by MP vitamins while he was in Russia to learn how to evangelize. Or, it’s just possible that +Kirill saw a like-minded man in this relatively young metropolitan.

    I don’t know where you’re from, but I can tell you that the OCA has been evangelizing here in the South just fine lo these last 35 years. Not even ROCOR was as successful (and I’ve ALWAYS applauded and respected ROCOR, even when they weren’t in communion with the MP.) You owe Archbishop Dmitri and his fine priests a major apology.

  106. Wow. Such topics really get folks going.

    Like my namesake on here, I am also in the Russian Church Abroad. I think that Scott Pennington nails it regarding ROCOR-OCA relations. There are some misgivings based on the rocky history of how both camps responded to the Soviet crisis. Time will obviously heal that.

    However, I think that many people in ROCOR (such as myself) fear being incorporated into the OCA because many things about the OCA trouble us. “Eastern Rite Episcopalians” is definitely offensive — and an obvious exaggeration — but it touches on the modernism of many in the OCA that we find disturbing. I think that the OCA, like the Antiochians, have done a tremendous amount of good in bringing Orthodoxy to the American people. Their parishes often have that characteristic American Protestant vitality that leads to large evangelization efforts. At the same time, their accessibility to Protestants might have something to do with some shared tendencies. For instance, Joe comments on the OCA’s beloved distinction of big T and little t, thought the fault line between the two is a matter of debate. The minimalism inherent in such a distinction and the individualism necessary to interpret it seem to be rampant in the OCA and among the Antiochians. Sure, I understand that Christianity absorbs and transforms culture, and that is one of its innumerable beautiful qualities. We should expect the Church in America to sing different melodies (figuratively, if not literally). That process is organic, and it will happen over time. Yet, the attitude of rebellion and contempt against the past and against our spiritual heritage (especially in matters of simple piety) so prevalent in certain jurisdictions is definitely not Orthodox. It reeks of Protestant rebellion, and many converts have carried it with them as religious baggage. Think of how often you encounter disrespectful dismissals of “those peasants who wish to put us back in the 19th century” in certain jurisdictions. That attitude might be characteristically American, but it is from the Enlightenment and it remains antithetical to our faith.

    So, while I hope that down the road, we can have a normal canonical situation in the Western lands, I realize that the conditions for it are not met, and that is not due to greedy, self-serving hierarchs or ethnic chauvinism. It is due, rather, to our spiritual immaturity. When the dust settles and when we American, Canadian, British, French, Australian, Brazilian (and so on) Orthodox Christians have acquired an Orthodox mindset mature enough to resist the temptations and perversions inherent in post-Christian lands where the default Christian framework is alien to our apostolic tradition (a new challenge, though, of course, an extension to the normal challenge of being a Christian in a fallen world), then we can resolve these political issues. Until then, we should try to live Christian lives and to share the gospel with those around us. We thus should cooperate in our noncanonical situation, but we cannot put secondary issues (of administrative unity) above more substantial goals — like transforming ourselves and the world around us by incarnating in our own persons the gracious presence of Christ.

    As someone posted above, pastoral considerations and the salvation of souls have far more priority than adhering to the letter of the law. That people are questioning Moscows’s view of the OCA because of ROCOR may indicate an unhealthy obsession with the latter, which only exist for the former. Human life is messy, and modern life is especially messy. We do what we can . . .

    I mean no offense to any. I just wished to express one of the reasons that ROCOR does not wish to be under the OCA.


  107. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    Re: 104

    I did not intend to imply that facts are all that matter. I certainly do not believe that.

    However, when appliccable, facts do indeed help to prove a point or at least to help set up parameters from which I or someone else draws their argument.

    If we completely ignore facts when they exist, then ultimately no progress can be made in communication.

    You are correct if I can paraphrase that some answers to questions come in forms that may not seem like answers. However, in some cases an honest answer is realy quite simple and straightforward.

  108. George Michalopulos :

    Joseph, as I understand it, +Jonah never said anybody would be “under” the OCA but that a “newer synod of local bishops”. As to your other point, I am not familiar with the intricacies btw ROCOR/OCA relationship, but if you correctly peg the OCA & AOCA as having some “modernist” tendancies, then how do you reconcile the fact that ROCOR is expected to be placed under the GOA, which is far more modernist than the OCA?

  109. Mr. Michalopulos,

    I apologize for the confusion. I was not responding to the Metropolitan’s comments, but to the previous commentators who are aghast that ROCOR continues to exist on the canonical territory of an autocephalous Church (and who then suspect that Moscow might thereby be rethinking the OCA’s autocephaly). Though the OCA may not have had any input (I do not know), I would be surprised if the issue was not a topic of dialogue in the run up to reestasblishing communion between Moscow and ROCOR. The ROCOR bishops would have insisted on maintaining their governing structure, and Moscow would have been (correctly) more concerned about resolving a schism than with the canonical situation in America, which is a mess anyway (due to all the other jurisdictions). As relations warm, I expect that Moscow’s communities abroad (“patriarchal parishes”) and ROCOR will join in one exarchate administrative system. That could happen rather soon (in Orthodox terms).

    Concerning your last point, I cannot believe that Moscow would allow its parishes to be placed under Constantinople. If for no other reason than turf concerns, such will not happen. However, if a situation like that amazingly did occur, the Greeks would have to govern quite liberally . . . and allow the Russians, the OCA, the Serbs, and so on to maintain their traditions. Any Greek overseer would have to be a big tent leader. If ROCOR were simply placed under the OCA, then such liberality would not be forthcoming, in my opinion. There are ROCOR-esque currents in the OCA, and such folks may hope that ROCOR’s traditions would rub off on the OCA and help to counteract its modernist currents — just as some think that Rome engages in ecumenical overtures toward us in order to help set its own house in order. I think that such helpful cross-pollination will occur as Orthodox Christians cooperate across parish boundaries. Let us avoid the specter of ecclesial politics while we can.


  110. Michael Bauman :

    Tom, the point I’m trying to make is that facts are mutable depending upon the context one puts them in. To argue about facts is counterproductive when fundamental differences exist such as the form the Church should take in the United States.

    The ‘facts’ about who was here first, who did what to whom when, etc. can only be helpful, if at all, in attempting to reach a large understanding of the Church here and now. For anyone to use them in any way to defend anything is absurd.

    With Patriarchal opposition (all of them it seems) any kind of intelligent, evolutionary approach is dead on arrival. More and more it seems as if the only way to even move the discussion forward is going to take a more revolutionary approach (even Met. Jonah’s rather mild remarks are considered revolutionary by some).

    It seems patently clear to me that as long as we are distracted by Patriarchal entanglements, we will continue to weaken and fail to realize our calling as a Church.

    There are good things going on anyway, by the grace of God, but the preaching of the Gospel in our context needs to increase, which means us living it.

    It is simply unacceptable to me to see so many bishops flouting the very basic tenents of the faith, tenets that take no deep understanding to appreciate. Jurisdiction hopping is unacceptable by clergy and laity alike.

    To me the needs of the people are to here the Gospel preached and see it lived. Spiritual formation within the community as much as possible rather than ‘programs’ per se. A revival of the diaconate as it is described scripturally (serving the body of believers so that the Apostles can pray and perform the sacraments) would be a great help. They might have to be ‘part-time’ unpaid deacons but they could certainly help the priests in the larger parishes and stregthen the community at the same time.

    How to free ourselves from unnecssary foreign entanglements whild maintaining the spriritual continuity. How to dismantle the monarchial episcopate and the false ecclesiology that goes with it.

    These are the questions we should be addressing, not parsing the public speeches of this and tht bishop looking for ammunition or defending against such salvos by the same methods.

    It is absolutely astounding to me that any Orthodox believer would even consider supporting a politician who advocates abortion, let alone a bishop. It is absolutely astounding to me that leaders of the Church apparently don’t have the capability to think as clearly on moral/spiritual matters such as warfare as my 18 year old son was able to, settling instead for wrapping political ideology (any flavor) with ‘Christian’ terminology.

    I’m angry at the GOA, the OCA, the AOCA et. al. and mostly I’m angry with myself for accepting an Orthodox Church and life that is so far below that to which we are called as to be an entirely different faith. Christianity is meant to be both radical and uncomfortable, that is our salt, our savor.

    We can disagree with the extent of the problem–certainly, as Fr. Hans pointed out recently, I’m emphasizing the glum. Nevertheless, overall, the current status quo in the Church is clearly dysfunctional. The jurisdictional mess is mostly a symptom of the dysfunction, not a cause. Continuing to focus all our energy on the symptom will not help.

  111. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    “I’d like to see pix of GOA bishops with ROCOR. No, really, I’d really like to see them, especially if they ever deigned to visit Jordanville (as did +Jonah).”

    I guess this answers your question:

    Even I was a little surprised at the way Metropolitan Hilarion refered to Abp. Demetrios. Perhaps there si kmore going on than we know.

    Anyway, this rapproachment between ROCOR and the various jurisdiction is a good thing, even if it does shine a light on the unusual relationship between the MP and the OCA.

    Hopefully some of ROCOR’s behavior will rub off on the rest of the Church in the US. We could use a little wake up call in the other jurisdictions.

  112. Re: “I’d like to see pix of GOA bishops with ROCOR.”

    I like seeing those kind of pictures too!

    A bunch more here:

    As an added bonus, (March 2009) Metropolitan Hilarion brought the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign to Holy Protection Greek Orthodox Monastery (White Haven, PA), one of the monasteries established by Elder Ephraim.

    Story and pictures here:

  113. For those who were maybe disinclined to click on the link that Tom provided, here’s how Metropolitan Hilarion addressed Archbishop Demetrios:

    “We welcome the Chief Orthodox Archpastor of America and the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

    I agree with Tom, something must be going on…

    Could it be that the Moscow Patriarchte and the Ecumenical Patriarchate have sealed the deal already?

  114. George Michalopulos :

    So Joe, it looks like the +Jonah’s whole episcopate is driving them to say silly things? Isn’t this what I predicted? Why now? Why not last year? My other observation: that if +Kirill had lauded +Demetrius in similar vein, the GOA would be yelling it from the rooftops? Voila! It happened! (Or is it “gotcha!”?) The primate of ROCOR (who nobody in the GOA knows has called +Demetrius the “chief archpastor of the Orthodox in America,” which isn’t even his title. Or how about my other prediction, that the GOA would exalt its nativism (“The Holy Archdiocese of America.” Another first!)

    You may not know this Joe, but growing up in the GOA, we always looked down on ROCOR (and the OCA, AOCA, etc.) if we were even aware of them. I can’t figure out who’s playing whom. I’d like to think that they’re being honest, but really, the over-the-top language bespeaks an obvious and cynical powerplay. Unfortuantely, it’s so maladroit that it’s more like a Monty Python sketch to be taken seriously. (And I don’t think anybody is.)

    Maybe you can help me sort out this one. To be consistent, you have to believe that this is all a charade because that’s what you believed about the dog and pony show that went on in Moscow btw +Kirill and +Jonah (your estimation, not mine, btw. I continue to feel that it was all in good faith). But what do I know? I don’t play “Byzantine games.” Ouch.

  115. George Michalopulos :

    p.s. Joe, I’ve never had a problem with ROCOR. I’m glad they took the Kursk Root Icon there. (BTW, they’ve taken it to OCA parishes as well in the past.) You may not know this but Elder Ephraim was part of ROCOR for a while because he didn’t like the modernism in the Phanar. He was brought back kicking and screaming into the EP. From my own wonderful experiences in his monasteries, I can tell you that their estimation of the increasing modernism of the GOA is not going unnoticed.

    p.s.s. looks like the next bishop of Alaska is going to be a ROCOR monk.

  116. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, re post no. 111, I’m glad to see they took my advice. Since it’s obvious they’re reading these postings, many of us are going to start making other recommendations to make the GOA more evangelical and convert-friendly. Be watching, you’ll never know when we’re going to strike and how they’re going to respond! (On a discordant note, I do worry that The National Herald’s readership is going to explode in collective outrage when they realize that the GOA is now going to be known as “The Holy Archdiocese of America.” “What?! we’re not Greek anymore!”) I’d like to see them square that circle.

  117. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    Looks like George has already started to spin this. Oh well, I guess for some people it all depends on the definition of “is”.

    Very interesting.

  118. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    So you got what you asked for and now you want to make it look like its all some kind of GOA/ROCOR scheme. That’s a good one.

    So it went from:

    “I’d like to see pix of GOA bishops with ROCOR. No, really, I’d really like to see them, especially if they ever deigned to visit Jordanville (as did +Jonah).”


    “I said AT Jordanville”


    “Why now? Why not last year?”

    Don’t sell yourself short, George, you do indeed play “Byzantine games” and you are quite good at them. So good at them that perhaps the name needs to be changed.

    Any suggestions? “Georgantine games”? Does have a bit of a ring to it.

  119. From my experience in the monasteries of Geronda Ephraim, I can tell you that the Fathers are well aware of the modernism and ecumenism within the OCA. With that as a hint, I’ll let you guess who directed me to leave the OCA.

    About the GOA, a monk from Mount Athos told me that no matter how bad things are in the Greek Orthodox Church, the Greeks have Mount Athos. They have the monasteries of Geronda Ephraim. If monks are indeed the “sinews” and “foundations” of the Church, then the GOA is in better shape than most.

  120. Michael Bauman :

    ….so’s your old man, and your mother wears combat boots

    Does any of this have ANYTHING to do with salvation? I think not.

  121. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    I sense Tom’s frustration, and I think I know what he is trying to say because I know his priest — an excellent priest, a good man, and a friend of mine. They are doing good work in Tom’s parish.

    I also know there are many good priests in the GOA who have a great deal of frustration with the same problems that are outlined in this discussion. What Tom is saying I think is that they are trying, and in some cases trying very hard.

    Nevertheless, the GOA is in crisis, and I think it is a crisis of leadership. But the crisis — and I am going to stick my neck out here — really exists on the Episcopal level. Parish problems, for the most part, merely reflect it.

    Let me give you an example. Most of the Metropolitans have been approached with the statistics cited in Peter Kehayes’ paper I posted. I am very familiar with the paper because I edited the final version before it was posted on the GOA website. I know that no Metropolitan in the GOA is willing the face the ramifications of the data that Mr. Kehayes compiled.

    This indecisiveness trickles down, and it leaves important problems in the parish unaddressed, such as secularism clothed in ethnic self-identity conflicting with authentic Greek Orthodox Christianity. Tom’s frustration, if I understand him correctly, is that: 1) interference in these conflicts by other jurisdictions exacerbates them, especially on the parish level; and 2) criticism of the ethnic dimension of authentic faith, when based on the shortcomings of secular ethnic identity masquerading as faith (which is often more visible), is inaccurate and unfair.

    The failure, it seems to me, is that the leadership blurs these lines, rather than drawing the sharp distinction needed in order to teach the ways of authentic faith.

  122. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, too bad the GOA bishops don’t want any more of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries here in the good ole US of A. Why do you think that is?

  123. George Michalopulos :


    I had always stated AT Jordanville. It’s you and Joe who think that what happened in Moscow was a dog and pony show (not me). Does what happened at Jordanville the other day (finally) sound authentic to you? If you do, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

    Fact: I made an observation that +Jonah’s activities have spooked the GOA.

    Fact: I predicted that you and the GOA would yell from the rooftops if +Kirill lauded +Demetrius with the same or similar words as he did +Jonah.

    Fact: The GOA is proclaiming to the high heavens the enconiums of +Hilarion (who in your estimation is a puppet of +Kirill, therefore might as well be +Kirill.

    Tom, who’s playing games now? Who’s issuing the spin? Not me, not you (you’re believing it though); the GOA.

  124. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, I forgot to mention. One of the abbots at an Ephraimite monastery confesses to an OCA bishop. Some of these monks are regular attendees at his cathedral. This bishop likewise goes regularly to this monastery. As do several of his priests and their families. Why do you think that is?

    Btw, I’m still waiting for your answer regarding +Kirill. I guess you haven’t figgered it out yet. Get back to me when you do.

  125. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, I forgot, while you’re at it, lemme know if your priest commemorated +Demetrios this week as “Chief Archpastor of the Orthodox in America” this week instead of Hilarion. Just curious. You do understand irony, don’t you?

  126. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is risen!


    “I had always stated AT Jordanville.”

    How can you continue to lie about this when IN WRITING everyone can see the truth?

    I posted EXACTLY what you said, and you did not always say “AT Jordanville”. You are making yourself look pathetic.

    The rest of your post is just “Georgantine Games” and back pedaling to try to make some sense out of what is going on.

  127. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    Lemme know if the ROCOR parishe commemorated Jonah and MoAA&C INSTEAD of Met. Hilarion. Just curious. You do understand irony don’t you?

  128. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    Re: 110

    I do not dissagree with most of your post.

    Especially the following.

    “The jurisdictional mess is mostly a symptom of the dysfunction, not a cause. Continuing to focus all our energy on the symptom will not help.”

  129. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, Joe, this is from ROCOR’s official website:

    “Demetrios, head of the Greek Archdiocese of America, visited…”

    Let’s see, what was missing?

    1. “Primate,”
    2. “Orthodox,”
    3. “Church,”

    and of course “‘Chief Archpastor.” His title btw, is “Archbishop of America.” There may be less here than meets the eye.

    I did love the pictures however, I’m glad when primates of the various jurisdictions visit each other, even if it took 40 years to do so.

  130. George,

    I’m sorry, but I can’t follow what you are going on about.

    As a point of etiquette, the term,”Eprhaimite” as it refers to the monasteries established by Geronda Ephraim, is considered a pejorative by the Fathers.

    Better descriptors are “Athonite” and “canonical.”

  131. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, I’m not surprised that you can’t follow me. That’s ok. As to your second point, I know that “Ephraimite” can be used as a pejorative and that “Athonite” is more “canonical.” I will tell you of course that I first heard the word “Ephraimite” used as a pejorative by secular priests in the GOA. Of course, just as you won’t my question regarding whether you view +Kirill as a liar or a poltroon, I know you won’t answer this question as well (but I’ll ask it anyway): Why do so many in the GOA deride these monasteries?

    This is factual btw (re-read Lambrianides’ speech). This leads me to another question: why have the GOA bishops placed an embargo on the creation of any further such “canonical” monasteries?

    OK, let’s see that’s four questions I will continue to ask rhetorically of course:

    1. Is +Kirill a game-player or a prevaricator?
    2. How come the GOA just all of a sudden sent +Demetrius to Jordanville? (40+ years!)
    3. How come the official ROCOR website account is so radically different in its content from the GOA website?
    4. How come the GOA doesn’t like these “canonical” monasteries?

    These questions will continue to be asked. (Others of course will come to the fore as you continue to grasp at straws.) As long as they remain unanswered, your points will continue to be invalidated. The only thing that will be apparent is your very real hatred towards God-pleasing bishops. You’re making it too easy for me.

    Good day.

  132. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    1. I would say that he is a little bit of a game player (politician or diplomat perhaps might be a better term), and that he is in a difficult situation given the reality that he inherited. Perhaps he is also as confused as most are about how to solve this US sitiation. Finally, I would say that maybe they realize as well that the “autocephaly” was a bit premature and did not have the effect which was initial envisioned.

    2. Perhaps because for the first time in 40+ years the two are groups are in communion. Perhaps because some hierarchs (from both jurisdiction) acted stubbornlyThough there has been contact between the GOA and ROCOR hierarchs for several years now. Leave it to you to ask why something has not happened (Pictures of GOA hierarchs with ROCOR hierarchs) and then when it does youe say “Why did this happen?” Depends on the definition of “is”.

    3. The article is different, the content is not contradictory. Do you suspect that the GOA made up the account?

    4. The GOA likes them just fine or they would not be under the omophoria (is this proper plural) of GOA hierarchs. Are there questions and concerns? Yes. Are there some (indeed perhaps many clergy and laity who do not like them? Yes. Perhaps this is one of the biggest problems in the GOA. For so long we existed with a huge and important part of Orthodoxy absent in the US. Monasteries. When they finally (thank God) started popping up some people went bananas in favor of them and some went bananas against them. Hopefully these extremes will mellow. But people on both sides of the issue need to be more Orthodox in their approach.

    Just so you know,these are answers to your four questions listed above. I am sure Joe (and/or others) will answer for themselves, but just because you don’t like or agree with the answers does not mean that they are not correct.

  133. Kevin Allen :

    As I read these posts and this thread I grow sad. This is all so typical of us Orthodox – the parsing of sentences and the deconstructing of posts and blogs, speaking to ourselves, while we are at best a footnote to history.

  134. Scott Pennington :

    “. . . but if you correctly peg the OCA & AOCA as having some “modernist” tendancies, then how do you reconcile the fact that ROCOR is expected to be placed under the GOA, which is far more modernist than the OCA?”


    Where did you ever get the idea that there is any possibility of ROCOR coming under the GOA? It may be what the Phanar would like but I for one can’t even imagine such a thing happening. There is a world of difference in understanding of orthopraxis between the GOA and ROCOR.

    If you have any information on such a thing, I’d love to see it.

  135. Richard Barrett :

    Kevin: I tend to agree with you. Have any solutions?

  136. George Michalopulos :

    Scott, I don’t make that assumption, but others have. That’s what the other correspondents mean when they say that “it looks like the deal is already sealed between the EP and MP.” (I’m paraphrasing.) In other words, the EP will give up the Ukraine in return for uniting all the ethnic jurisdictions under +Demetrius, therfore ROCOR will be under the GOA.

    Tom, re point #3, yes, I do believe the GOA made it up, or heavily misunderstood +Hilarion. Again, it’s just a simple question, there’s a lot of pretty pictures on the ROCOR website about the event but hardly any content whatsoever, and nothing approximating what the GOA’s website says. All I ask is that they print it to settle the issue once and for all. It’s not like I’m asking for the sun, moon and stars. The fact that they haven’t possibly indicates that they think they’re being used by the GOA.

    and yes, Scott, the Orthopraxia is night and day. We’re talking USMC versus the meter maids. But that’s where we find ourselves should there really be a “back-door deal” between the MP and the EP (which I don’t believe).

  137. Kevin Allen :

    Richard (Barrett),

    My comments were rhetorical, I guess. I don’t have general solutions. For me, I am trying in my thinking and work to venture out more from my “Orthodox cocoon”, and engage in ideas and with people beyond my “tribe” – to “human” and “pan-Christian” interests. I, too, get caught up in Orthodox parochialism and our intrigues, scandals, internal politics and so on. It’s all very interesting of course, but only to fellow Orthodox, a very small and unfortunately insignificant demographic. In addition to consistent debating of the fine points of all this amongst ourselves, maybe we need to take a break, put the periscope up and take a good, long look around. And ask our hierarchs to do the same. As compelling as these issues are to us, most people I speak with don’t know ROCOR from asparagus. Are we just talking to ourselves??

  138. George Michalopulos :


    I believe you are correct. In my talk with you, I talked about the “collapse” of the other confessions. I meant that. We have so much to be thankful for. That is why I’m so angry at what I see with all this jurisdictionalism. It’s the devil’s work.

  139. Tom Kanelos :

    Christ is Risen!


    I think your imagination is running away with you.

    You seem to be willing to say anything in order to try to discredit the GOA.

    If your attitude is typical of the OCA (I pray it is not), the status quo of jurisdictional disunity is sad and lamentable, but acceptable.

  140. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Note 135. The solution is to authentically seek Christ, live your life in the Spirit of God, as St. Paul says, and go from there. The rest will work itself out, although not without cost, but then there always is a cost to following Christ.

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