Moscow: No Episcopal ‘Monopoly’

More on the episcopal assemblies announced at the pre-conciliar meeting last week in Switzerland:

“Anti-monopoly” proposals of the Moscow Patriarchate are taken into account in Chambesy

Moscow, June 15, Interfax – The Fourth Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference in Chambesy (Switzerland) has agreed in its final decision to the need of equal management of the Orthodox Diaspora which was highlighted by the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate before the meeting.

The Conference decided to create new bishop assemblies within the regions of Diaspora (Orthodox communities living outside of the area of local Orthodox churches) to include all canonical Orthodox bishops governing the communities of such regions.

“The decisions by such bishop assemblies will be made in conformance with the consensus of the Churches represented therein. The powers of Episcopal assemblies neither allow the interference into the eparchial jurisdiction of each bishop, nor limit the rights of his Church,” the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate reports of the decisions of the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference.

Before the Conference meetings, the Moscow Patriarchate Diocese of Korsun and Movement for Local Orthodoxy in Western Europe (OLTR) expressed their concern with the work of the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in France (AEOF) officially headed by the Metropolitan of the Constantinople Church.

According to the Korsun Diocese and OLTR, the work of AEOF “inevitably raises tension and discontent”, as its head is “more concerned with interests of the Church which he represents”. Therefore, his election “by the total assembly of AEOF bishops would provide him more legitimacy.”


  1. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    It is hard to figure out precisely what this might mean, but on the surface it seems like Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy — the status-quo in a different wrapper. It looks like the loser here is Constantinople; Constantinople’s claims for jurisdictional supremacy in the “diaspora” (America in particular) have been rebuffed.

    I’m not too sure either what the “new bishop assemblies” might imply, but it could be positive. If my point above is correct that Constantinopolitan claims are seen as illegitimate (as presented by Fr. Elpidophoros), and if the jurisdictional disunity in the “diaspora” is perceived as a problem, then the long term vision just may be that the problem needs rectification.

    If, on the other hand, the “new bishop assemblies” exist just to maintain the status quo, well, then the status quo will be maintained. It might also be that the delegates themselves are unsure what form the new assemblies might take. It may be nothing more than a message to Constantinople at this point.

    In either case, it seems clear that the most compelling route to take is to continue work towards Orthodox unity in America.

  2. It sounds as if these assemblies are meant to be versions of SCOBA in different parts of the world, e.g., Western Europe, Australia, Asia, Latin America, etc.

    They could also be the basis for the kind of ruling Super Synod that Met. Jonah proposed, though the communique notes that currently “the powers of Episcopal assemblies neither allow the interference into the eparchial jurisdiction of each bishop, nor limit the rights of his Church” meaning they are more like SCOBA, at least for the time being.

    Either way is a step forward. Perhaps we take such contacts for granted here in North America.

  3. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Yes, it does appear that we take the contacts for granted. Perhaps in Western Europe the contact is less, and what there is of it more contentious — at least that is how it reads.

    I’m still struck though that the statement stresses that the canonical legitimacy of each jurisdiction must be respected, and that the legitimacy of the super-panel-of-bishops is derived from the consent of the jurisdictions* that comprise it and not by any claim of hierarchical supremacy. Unless I am way off base, it reads as if the Constantinopolitan diplomatic offensive has failed.

    *Note how they employed the American system of checks and balances against assertions of imperial prerogatives. That, ironically, is a legacy of Hellenism.

  4. The primary difference with SCOBA is that these new assemblies seem to include all Orthodox bishops in a region and not just the primates of those jurisdictions. This, again, is a step in the direction of Met. Jonah’s suggestion – minus authority as a ruling Synod that can ‘enforce’ its will on a diocesan hierarch. Still, that is a step forward.

    I have thought part of SCOBA’s ‘problem’ is that it brings together only the primates of each jurisdiction. This allows some bishops to maintain their echo chamber view of the Orthodox world regarding what ‘the Orthodox Church teaches’ – which is often, in fact, merely their own local tradition, e.g., the particularities of Constantinopolitan primacy, how Services are performed, priestly dress, fasting rules, etc.

  5. George Michalopulos :

    I wonder where all those phans of the Phanar are now? It certainly does look like the ROC never had any intention of selling the American Church down river (mixed metaphor?) like they’ve been telling us.

    One of the things that gave me hope is that Met John Zizioulis was the president of the Chambessy assembly. Although he’s a titular metropolitan in the EP, his views on the nature of the episcopate has always been spot on. (i.e. no titular bishops, all bishops equal, the territorial principle above all, etc.)

  6. Tom Kanelos :

    “Unless I am way off base, it reads as if the Constantinopolitan diplomatic offensive has failed.”

    How so father? It seems to me that the conference decided that the presidents of these local assemblies are to be the bishop who is part of the EP? Is this notb correct?

    Further, it seems like the big loser is Met. Jonah and those who claim there is no such thing as an Orthodox Diaspora. Because clearly, the Mother Churches (including Moscow) believe that we are a diaspora.

    Seems to me like it takes an awful lot of spin to make the point that the EP is somehow the “loser” in this scenario. I think one has to close their eyes to reality to believe this.

    I wonder why we are not capapble of just saying that this is some progress, perhaps not the best, but some progress nonetheless.

    This is what I mean when I state that some on this site will do whatever it takes to try and paint the EP in a bad light.

  7. Tom

    Whether or not the Mother churches believe a thing, does not make it so.

    For example, they may have believed in, and taught, heresies in the past, but time has proven them wrong, and they were corrected. I won’t even mention how many EPs were heretics in the history of the Church.

    They may have believed that the earth was the center of the universe, or that it was flat, but that, again, does not make it so.

    Just because they want to introduce ecclesiological Newspeak to the world doesn’t mean we have to drink the Kool-Aid. I remember Jonestown. No thanks.

    Finally, they are not here. Those EP appointees who are here never came to America in the first place. How many of these guys have advanced degrees and have lived in the United States for decades, but still have an accent you can cut with a knife? Why is that?

    They hate ‘Elizabethan’ English in the services (which one can actually understand) but love Koine Greek in the services (which is incomprehensible, even to Greek speaking Greeks!). Why is that?

    They will attend AIDS benefits, Ecumenical gatherings ad nauseam, and champion environmental spirituality, (and let’s not forget Greek Independence Day!)but are absent and silent from Pro-Life, anti-abortion issues and events (with exceptions, and thank God for those!), let alone American Independence Day. Why is that?

    These are the guys who want to run the Church in America? They have no clue what being Orthodox, let alone a Christian, in America even means. One cannot, for example, publish holiday encyclicals with quotes that misquote the Scriptures here in the US. This happened in a GOA Metropolis recently. Why is that?

    The EP, the MP and any other P wanting to rule the Church in America had better learn the difference between governance and rule, and that American Christians want to be governed by good, honest, holy men, and not ruled by anyone by the Lord Himself.

    If the EP wants to run the Church in America, he’d better move here quickly, and deal with Americans, not his Grecophilic sycophants.

    Tom, I do not count you in that category, but you are arguing for men who are either corrupt or incompetent boobs.

  8. When bishops of various churches meet together in council or to hold services, it would be normal to give precedence to the hierarch representing either the see with the higher honor or the clergyman who is most senior by ordination. Such SCOBA-like gatherings would most likely always have been presided over by the rep of the EP. There is nothing wrong with that.

    The result is a loss insofar as the claims of the EP to be the undisputed, canonical jurisdiction for all Orthodox outside of the traditional territories of the local Orthodox Churches were not supported. The claim is in dispute.

    I’m not sure anything can be read about what the Church thinks of a diaspora from this communique. There is also a difference between the reality of the situation today – in which there are many Orthodox emigrants who self-identify as members of a religious and ethnic diaspora as well as converts, second- and third-generation immigrants that do not self-identify as such but are members of jurisdictions organized along diasporic lines – and what the Church may do in the future to normalize the status of Orthodox Christians outside of the defined borders of the local Orthodox Churches.

    (Personally, I have no problem with the term diaspora if it is used to refer to religious identity rather than cultural. Believers have dispersed from the traditional centers of Orthodox Christianity and taken root around the world – this is a diaspora of the faith and many faithful. Also, we are all sojourners here – heaven is our home.)

  9. Oh no, not the dreaded “Diaspora” once again!

  10. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Tom (note #6): It reads as if (stress on the “if”) Constantinople’s historical apologetic claiming exclusive jurisdiction over the “barbarian lands” (read: over Churches outside of the canonical boundaries of a single Patriarch, like the United States) didn’t find a hearing outside of Constantinople (and Boston as it turned out although tepidly).

    However, it strikes me as entirely appropriate that Constantinopolitan bishops would be included in the super-council-of-bishops given that some jurisdictions, like the GOA, are still under Constantinople. It may even be appropriate that a Constantinopolitan bishop serves as the titular head of such a super-council, although the headship is solely one of honor and not based on any other claim since the statement makes clear that the council’s authority is derived solely from the jurisdictions represented. In effect, the Constantinopolitan claims have been dismissed, rendering the historical apologetic illegitimate but Constantinople’s honor has been respected.

    As for the term “disapora,” I still wonder if it is merely shorthand to describe the Churches with no fixed canonical boundaries. Constantinople clearly means it in the Jewish sense since their claim to over-arching authority requires that Orthodox identity be subsumed to ethnicity, something I have discussed elsewhere. I hear the term used by other Patriarchates, but I don’t see them use the logic that Constantinople employs.

    I don’t agree though that this is painting Constantinople in a bad light. Their apologetic was not adopted. That is all there is to this analysis. However, I do agree that this is progress.

  11. George Michalopulos :

    John, you’ve touched on several points about the diaspora jurisdictions and America that I don’t feel I’ve articulated as well. It seems that you killed 2 or 3 birds with one stone. It’s uncomfortable for me as a Greek-American to think along these lines, but if I get your drift, it’s that the lack of patriotism among the GOA hierarchy towards this land (which is not noticable to them as xenophobia/ethnocentrism is all they know) has almost come full-circle w/ their ecumenisim-at-all-costs attitudes.

    Let me explain:

    The secular elite of America is anti-American to the core. They are at best, globalists or transnationalists. That’s why you never see them at 4th of July parades but will see them at gay pride parades. They sneer at American regional folkways but love it when Muslims in America practice sharia law, make their women wear hijabs, force female genital mutilation, etc. I’m gonna go out on a limb here: that’s why Bush 43 will be regarded more warmly among the American people as opposed to Obama. Obama’s speech in Cairo is example A of what I’m talking about, Bush, for all his mistakes, was all about America, Obama, for all his brilliance, is all about the “global community.” (His speech was brilliant, but it conceded too much to the Islamic world-view and truth be told, was exceedingly unChristian –the “Prophet Muhammed,” when “Islam was revealed,”, “the Holy Koran,”–these are all code words which a Christian in good conscience cannot say.) It’s the difference between the Jacksonians and the Wilsonians.

    Rarely (if ever) do we see an ethnic hierarch speeking at a local college talking about the faith but when they do come to St Joe of Kokomo’s Bulbanian Orthodox Church in Podunk, USA, they put on the big-dog and the poor rubes have to pony up significant sums for the honor of their visit. There’s nothing pastoral going on and the people long ago picked up on that.

    That’s why there are so few soup-kitchens, Orthodox thrift stores, medical clinics, nursing homes, orphanages, etc. It’s because most ethnic Orthodox don’t view America as a mission field.

    On the other hand, we do see them flying thousands of miles to one of the coasts so they can wine and dine at some hi-faluting ecumenical banquet at the Ritz-Cartlton. (With appropriate pictures in archdiocesan paper just to make sure that the peasants saw them with the secular elites.)

    Anyway, that’s why it looks like the Phanariote position of Rev Light-bearer came a cropper. At this point, I’d venture a guess that a bare majority of the ordinary people in the GOA are no longer fooled by all these antics. Of course, the Leadership100/Archons are still unanimous in their support, but despite their vast wealth, they aren’t the majority. Their constant bailing out of the hierarchy likewise is counterproductive in that it depresses giving by the majority. They think, “well, they’ve got enough money, let them pay for the new diocesan center/symposia/etc.

    Anyway, I’ve got to remove the mote from own eye before I can take the splinter out of my brother’s.

  12. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Note #7. John, just a quibble:

    They may have believed that the earth was the center of the universe, or that it was flat, but that, again, does not make it so.

    The Byzantines knew the earth was round.

  13. Tom Kanelos :

    John Panos, I do not really care whether you or anyone else includes me in that category, because the mere fact that you refer to heirerach of the Church in this way exposes a philosophy which is very sad and unproductive toward the goal of jurisdictional unity. I wish you no ill, but I wish you would not be filled with so much anger and self righteousness.

  14. Tom Kanelos :

    “The result is a loss insofar as the claims of the EP to be the undisputed, canonical jurisdiction for all Orthodox outside of the traditional territories of the local Orthodox Churches were not supported. The claim is in dispute.”

    I do not think this is a new revelation from this meeting. Therefore it is no great loss tot he EP (as if there is some celestial scorecard) The claim was in dispute before the meeting and it still in dispute, thogh clearly the lead role is undisputed based upn the fact that the EP bishop will preside over the episcopal assemblies.

    I agree witht he rest of your post and appreciate and thank you for it’s tone.

  15. Tom Kanelos :

    Father Hans,

    As I mentioned in my response to Orologion, I do not see this as any great revelation. Do you believe that the EP expected the other jurisdictions (especially Moscow with its ambitions) to just agree with the EP’s belief of its right of jurisdiction over the “diaspora”?

    This is why, I believe, in fact, this is a move in the right direction and the agreement that the EP’s representative preside over the episopal assembly is clearly a reiteration of its primacy and role in leading the Church in the “diaspora”.

    Also, I think it is is a double standard to assign sinister motive to the EP’s use of the word “diaspora” and assign benign motives when other Mother Churches use the term.

    Such comments appear to be an effort to paint the EP in a bad light even if the intent is to not so.

    Warm Regards,

    Tom K

  16. Tom Kanelos :

    To John and George,

    Aside from the obvious lack of actual knowledge exposed by your comments, I would urge you to seriously reconsider questioning the patriotism of hierarchs that you most likely do not know. Perhaps the next time you run into Met. Isaiah of Denver you can question the patriotism of that former active duty Marine.

    Likewise, how do you know the feelings and actions of the other GOA bishops both those who are born in this country and those born abroad? Have you ever asked them how they feel about the US? Of the GOA metropolitans 4 are American born. Are you questioning their patriotism too? How about the three auiliary bishops (all American born)? Are they patriotic enough for you?

    Not every person who speaks with an accent can be accused of not being patriotic. My grandfather was not even a citizen yet when he volunteered to fight and was nearly killed on a battlefield in France during WW I. I fly my flag every day, wear a flag on my lapel, NEVER miss a 4th of July parade, have a tear in my eye when our priest does a memorial on Memorial Day for the soldiers who died defending our freedom etc. However, I am an Archon of the EP and strongly support the Mother Church and the GOA while still being able to see the shortcomings. Where does that place me? Are you questioning my patriotism and love of this country.

    Don’t make assumptions that just make you look foolish.

  17. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, thanks for the thoughtful analysis. I need a machete to cut through the diplo-speak and I’m open to all reasonable interpretations. Please let me make a couple of points which are based on a couple of key words and phrases:

    1. A very key phrase is “in some regions…” That can mean anywhere on earth except Africa (which is in the see of Alexandria), and North America (which has an indiginous church). That leaves South America, Western Europe, Oceania, and East Asia to be “presided” over by EP metropolitans. (I don’t see Western Europe being mollified by this proposal as I read the criticisms of the ROC regarding the episcopal assemblies there.)

    Indeed, if you permit me to digress on the word “some,” I’m coming down on the side of those who feel that this was a significant setback for the EP. “Some” is definitely not “all.” Had the verbiage read “all regions” [being under the EP] then that would have meant just that –a clear win for the Phanar. Instead, it’s a type of split-the-difference type of horsetrading that gives the EP a face-saving way out of this morass created by Lambrianides at Holy Cross.

    2. “Episcopal assemblies” of “all canonical bishops” is exactly what Met +Jonah wanted, at least for North America. He long ago recognized how moribund SCOBA was. In fact, I dare say that the Phanar will find a way to drag its heals in this regard, as an episcopal assembly of all canonical North American bishops will disadvantage the Phanar’s eparchies. Numbers alone will overwhelm them, by this I mean not only bishops but parishes as well. (This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case but the boorish behavior of many in the GOA has left a very bad taste in the mouth of almost everybody else in North America.)

    3. The fact that no bishops from the “diaspora” including form the autonomous churches (i.e. Japan, Finland) gives much wiggle room for the old world patriarchates to back out since this was not representative. In other words, when the natives start howling, they can say, “we’re sorry, but we should have taken your considerations into account.” It’s basically an escape hatch.

    4. I’m struck by the rapidity with which the ROC came out and rebutted the previous day’s communique. And I’m not talking about their spin on it (which they did do), but their complete unacknowledgment of a lot of the EP’s wishes as well as this direct rebuke: “no episcopal monopolies.”
    Plus, let’s not forget, the ROC came right out and put their own spin on it: “no episcopal monopolies.” That is a direct rebuke to any patriarch who wishes to exercize extraterritorial domain.

    I guess in the final analysis, the ROC felt that they held a lot of the cards. Plus, the EP’s wings have been significantly clipped in the interim by the Turkish govt and the apathy of the US State Dept. because of this, I still believe that when push comes to shove, there won’t be a Great Council.

  18. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, Metropolitan Isaiah is a stand-up guy in my book. I know him personally. He’s very pro-evangelism. In fact, in the GOA hierarchy, he’s probably THE stand-up guy. Don’t ask me to go into any more detail about his own experiences with the 79th St crowd. I know more than you think you know.)

    As to the ordinary immigrants who spoke with heavy accents, both my dad and my granpa spoke with heavy accents (my dad still does). And I can think of no more America-loving and AmeriCAN-loving men than these.

    Tom, you’re mixing arguments thereby undercutting your case: my beef was never with the ordinary immigrant stock of the GOA (who, like me, a Greek-American, are patriotic), but the the glitterati who inhabit the salons of NY and LA and who are very much in tune with the globalist agenda. I’ll grant you that they’re more patriotic than the Sean Penns of the world, but that’s an awfully low bar to jump.

    As far as being “born in America,” then show me by your actions: where is the evangestic push? Where is the official English GOA translation of the liturgies? How come it’s not mandated? Where are the soup-kitchens? Free medical clinics? Etc.

    Actions speak way louder than words Tom. As long as the GOA is beholden to the EP and the homogeneia, it will always be an “American, but…” jurisdiction. And that’s true of ALL ethnio jurisdictions.

    If you want to argue with me, don’t mischaracterize my points.

  19. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Note 14. Tom:

    I do not think this is a new revelation from this meeting. Therefore it is no great loss tot he EP (as if there is some celestial scorecard) The claim was in dispute before the meeting and it still in dispute, though clearly the lead role is undisputed based upon the fact that the EP bishop will preside over the episcopal assemblies.

    I think you are misreading it Tom. This was a huge loss for the EP, especially in America. Fr. Elpidophoros’ speech from here on out will be seen as presumptuous overreaching by Constantinople. Yes, the historical claims were always in dispute, but now they have been repudiated. Attempts to revive them will meet with the same contempt Abp. Demetrios’ comments received when he compared Pres. Obama to Alexander the Great.

    GOA policy seems torn between aggrandizing itself with political leaders and impressing on its people that its influence reaches farther than it really does. There is an increasing sense of desperation to it all, as evidenced by the missteps at the White House, Fr. Elpidophoros speech, the diplomatic snubbing of the Patriarch in Constantinople a few months ago, among other things. I wonder if the hierarchy senses that they are losing touch with the people, that the Church under Abp. Iakovos was a different Church than exists today.

    I am not piling on here, really. But I see increasing trouble ahead. Take the upcoming Mississippi Boat Tour for example. What other Patriarch would ever consent to such a thing? Why is he doing it? The entire enterprise is political, and the downside is tremendous. The upside? I can’t think of any beyond the adoration and approval any celebrity would get who does these kind of events. But the EP is not a celebrity. He is a religious leader.

    What are his advisers thinking? Didn’t the White House debacle teach them anything? Apparently not. It appears they can’t see anything beyond the boundaries of popular culture. They certainly don’t seem to understand the kind of leadership the culture really needs.

  20. George Michalopulos :

    Fr, Tom, when I think of all the money wasted with lobbyists, all the time wasted at frivolous hootenannies with high muckety-mucks, it brings me to tears.

    We Greeks have lost decisively. Don’t believe me? Read or watch Pres Obama’s speech at Cairo. Not ONE word was said about Byzantium and Eastern Christendom. Not one. Instead, all that the historically will pick up is the Michael Moore view of Islam vs Christendom –them good, us bad.

    I know I’m a johnny one-note, but we have frittered away true Hellenism in favor of my-big-fat-greekism. And no, they weren’t laughing with us, they were laughing at us.

    We could just sit back and let the GOA/EP axis continue making fools of themselves. Unfortunately, in doing so, they would drag down Orthodoxy with them. People recognize special pleading and victim-mongering when they see it. And those who are drawn to the Truth recognize true evangelism when they see it.

  21. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    I’ve been watching the series on John Adams on DVD this past week (originally an HBO presentation I think). Absolutely superb. Most of the dialogue was taken from Adam’s own notes and provides a penetrating look into the man.

    Among other things, one point that struck me was how firmly the Hellenistic ideals, properly understood, contributed to the founding of America, including the deep Christian humanism that shapes the American character even today. Adams, like many of the American Founding Fathers, sacrificed greatly in service to those ideals which were expressed, by some Founders more than others, ultimately as obligation to God. (Interestingly, Jefferson, probably more agnostic than most, failed to recognize the French Revolution as a movement of tyranny, while Adams, a devout Christian, recognized clearly what it would become.)

    Anyway, I thought of Fr. Elpidophoros’ speech while listening to Adams’ words and, well, it’s just an embarrassment. The thinking is so poor, the bias so transparent, the historiography so captive to political categories — it is hard to find anything in it worth defending. Read Adams instead. You will learn a lot more about Hellenism that you will from these clerics.

    You are right George. The legacy has been squandered.

  22. Tom Kanelos :


    You win! I cannot argue with people who have to make such broad assumtions to make their points or who, quite honestly, hold double standards when it comes to making such assumptions. Why are so many people who have have left the jurisdiction of the EP/GOA and purport that the jursidiction to which they now belong “have it all” while we Greeks are just a bunch of toadies and bootlickers to the secular politicians, so concerned with what happens in the EP/GOA?

    We hear nothing on this sight about why the OCA and the AOCA don’t just get together and form an American Church. Come on, get going! We hear nothing about all the funny business going on in the AOC. Besides the constant criticism of the EP, the only criticism we see on this site of other autonomous or autocephalous churches is leveled at those who are somehow attached to the EP (ie the Finnish Church) I just don’t get it. Is it jealousy? Is it like the ex smoker who now is the biggest anti-smoking person around? You guys are so caught up in the Rush Limbaugh style of political conservatism (with which I largely agree) that you let it carry over into your views about the Church. People here find so much to criticise about the EP and his ecological symmposia. Well, I don’t buy all the tree hugging stuff either (though I do think we should be good stewards over creation), but what is worse, the ecology stuff or the MP being so tight with people like Putin? Does anybody really believe the piety stuff coming out of these reformed communists? Come on.

    Furthermore do you see GOA people jumping over everything that happens in the OCA or AOCA? Did you see GOA people jumping all over the OCA during the scandal, or worse yet, did you see them reveling in it? Do you see GOA people jumping all over the AOCA now with all the funny business and back room dealing going on in the AOCA, or worse yet reveling in it? I guess I understand why this sight cannot print anything critical of the AOCA but why are posters so silent? Is it just the old saying “Don’t %#&! where you eat”?

    Well I guess, the GOA is the biggest and most organized and well funded. So perhaps we should expect the criticism of others. Perhaps we should expect that people will be critical whether or not they know what they are talking about. Perhaps the OCA is more in tune with pushing towards jurisdictional unity in the US becasue they see their drastic decline in numbers and fear for their future. I don’t know, but I do know that a friendly hand goes farther than constant insults.

    There are many of us in the GOA and even in leadership positions who know the shortcomings of the GOA and try to make it better. But when we hear a onstant barrage of criticism of our Church by those outside our Church sometimes even from hierarchs, it makes us think…Why do I want to be around these people? Let them do their thing and we’ll do ours. Let the chips fall where they may. It’s a good thing when we visit parishes of other jurisdictions (which my wife and children do quite a bit during the summer) we don’t encounter this kind of mentality.

    I got sucked back into a conversation here and it is proving just as un-prodictive as before, so I will try once again to not engage. I will not, however, stop trying to work towards greater cooperation among the Orthodox in the US and praying for an eventual administratively unified Church in the US. I think this can be done without constantly tearing apart any other jursidiction.

  23. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, you raise cogent criticisms. But yes, to answer one question, I did see clerics within the GOA jumping all over the OCA during the late financial crisis. It was very ugly and hurtful. Also, I did hear and read official GOA types say boorish and ahistorical things like only the GOA was the “the canonical jurisdiction in America.” (That was Fr Mark Arey, writing in last year’s Orthodox Observer, when he was writing about the new Palestinian vicariate.) It’s ironic, but Arey is the GOA’s man on SCOBA, which is the Standing council of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America. (How does one square that circle?=?)

    If I may be so bold, my beef is not with the GOA or the EP, but with the triumphalism of ethnicity over Orthodoxy. Like you, I will continue to work for inter-Orthodox cooperation but will not pursue it with those elements within certain jurisdictions who prefer ghettoism. And not all in the GOA do btw, I know for a fact that Metropolitan Isaiah is one major standout. It’s too bad he’s not archbishop.

  24. Joanna Pappas :

    Furthermore do you see GOA people jumping over everything that happens in the OCA or AOCA? Did you see GOA people jumping all over the OCA during the scandal, or worse yet, did you see them reveling in it? Do you see GOA people jumping all over the AOCA now with all the funny business and back room dealing going on in the AOCA, or worse yet reveling in it? I guess I understand why this sight cannot print anything critical of the AOCA but why are posters so silent? Is it just the old saying “Don’t %#&! where you eat”?

    The coarseness of your final sentence in this quote illustrates the banality of your arguments in general. How does recent history in either the OCA or the AOCA change the ridiculous staged events which make up the pressing daily schedule of the hierarchy of the GOA and Istanbul? It is a bit reminiscent of Kathy Griffin on the D-List trying to find a way onto the A-list. But the tradegy is that our Church is not vaudeville, or a lousy cabaret act.

    And exactly what does Rush Limbaugh have to do with anything? Why is it that when all else fails, coarseness and ad hominem attacks are all that is left to people when their specious

    It is self evident to anyone with clear eyes that what is going on in the GOA and in Istanbul is absolutely off the insanity charts. The unctuous and sycophantic grovelling our Church leaders have fawningly heaped upon politicians is reminiscent of the character made famous by Lincoln Perry, Stepin Fetchit. The tragedy is that these men, now well into their twilight years with so many academic and scholarly accomplishments, insist on playing Stepin Fetchit to a clearly pro-Muslim Obama adminstration.

    And despite all the public shows of philoxenia in the GOA and in Istabul, these organization are riddle with the basest examples of xenophobia. The heartbreak in all of this is that for too long and for too many generations, the Church in America has been thwarted by nationalistic self-interest. Who can dispute the ugly substitution of national identity for the Gospel? And that this dreadful exchange has not harmed generations of baptized children who are now adults and have not a clue as to the basic message of the Gospel? I defy anyone to visit a GOA Church on Sunday and not have them asked the question, ” Are you Greek?”. All this comes from the leadership, who is clearly more concerned with reopening a seminary in a Muslim country than they are advancing the Gospel in America.

  25. Joanna Pappas :

    There are many of us in the GOA and even in leadership positions who know the shortcomings of the GOA and try to make it better. But when we hear a onstant barrage of criticism of our Church by those outside our Church sometimes even from hierarchs, it makes us think…Why do I want to be around these people? Let them do their thing and we’ll do ours. Let the chips fall where they may. It’s a good thing when we visit parishes of other jurisdictions (which my wife and children do quite a bit during the summer) we don’t encounter this kind of mentality.

    I got sucked back into a conversation here and it is proving just as un-prodictive as before, so I will try once again to not engage. I will not, however, stop trying to work towards greater cooperation among the Orthodox in the US and praying for an eventual administratively unified Church in the US. I think this can be done without constantly tearing apart any other jurisdiction.

    Can you explain to me what you mean by outside our Church? I must be under the mistaken assumption that there is one Church, one Body, one Gospel. And that the jurisdictional irregularity which is America is a tragedy. Just so I am crystal clear, if I am not a “pledge” member or a “dues” paying member of a GOA Church, then I am outside your Church? Are we different Churches, or are we a Church in America which has a confused ecclesiastical structure?

    “Let them do their thing and we’ll do ours. Let the chips fall where they may.”
    Is this the intellectual equivalent of picking up your marbles when you are losing the game. And what exactly does “let them do their thing, and we will do our thing” mean? Does not this attitude in and of itself solidify the status quo and imply that we are all doing separate things which may or may not be rooted in the truth? And will not this radical relativism applied to the Church will only lead to more ecclesiastical confusion?

    And actually I think the conversation is quite productive. Why is it we can not simply and clearly say that the GOA is obstructing unity in America. That the position of the GOA and Istanbul is clearly the Diaspora (read the GOA) is not ready for independence from the mother Church. We can argue whether then maintain this position for financial, political, or geo-political reasons, or because they believe that the Greek Church is for Greeks. I guess it comes down to whether you see yourself as a Greek first, and American first, or as a Orthodox Christian first. This is America, and we are Americans and somehow for the life of me I don’t understand how anyone can not see these self evident truths. At some point, the Orthodox in America will be forced to deal with the onward march of assimilation and change, much like the once ethnically bound Lutheran and Catholic Churches before her.

  26. See what I mean.

  27. George Michalopulos :

    “Is Christ divided?”

  28. Sbdn. Anthony Stokes :

    This is my first time posting here, but I’ve been reading for a while.

    I see many clear answers to some of your questions that you have raised. First of all, I don’t think this website needs to concern itself with the OCA or AOCA problems, because there are already enough websites doing that now. We already have people posting the same comments across multiple sites, why add another.

    With regards to GOA people taking an interest in the affairs of the OCA or AOCA, I think part of it is because many of them are sheltered in their Orthodoxy. I spent my childhood in the GOA. I had never even heard of the OCA or AOCA, or any other “OA” until I was in college and the other non-Greek members of my church split off and formed an OCA parish nearby. Now, true, that was before the internet, but I still think the case is that your average person attending a GOA church may not even know what’s going in the other churches.

    As far as the OCA and AOCA joining together, I think we can all admit that the past few years were not really conducive to that idea, and the current situation is not great for it in the AOCA. We will have to wait and see what happens in Damascus this week.

    These are just my impressions on the points you raised.
    Sbdn. Anthony

  29. Good first steps, especially for us in the United States. In other words, “no monopoly” rules out OCA monopoly (i.e. primacy).

    The words of Metropolitan Jonah that surely set the OCA on a collision course with the EP:

    “The dilemma, however, is that with autocephaly, the presence of any other jurisdiction on American territory becomes uncanonical, and membership in the Synod of the Orthodox Church in America becomes the criterion of canonicity for all bishops in America. This, of course, has not been pushed by the OCA.”

    Is it safe to assume that this “criterion of canonicity” was not pushed by the Moscow Patriarchate in this Pan-Orthodox Council that ended and that it will not be pushed (cf, “No Monopoly”) in the next session?

  30. George Michalopulos :

    All, I’ve taken time to re-read both posts which concern this thread, and the more I read it, it seems like it was driven by the Holy Spirit. Ordinarely, I would think that “episcopal assemblies” are rather mickey-mouse affairs, but when I look back at the history of American Orthodox post-1908, and see nothing but chaos and anarchy, this may be a huge step in the right direction.

    I can honestly see dozens of bishops sitting as equals, each with one vote. Also, the president of said synod, would be very weak (not necessarily a good thing, but a good start), in that the phraseology which describes these assemblies is very tepid. Who knows? If you have forty+ bishops sitting reguarlaly side-by-side, they may start to think about the size of their dioceses and how they can make them more manageable. If nothing else, it will break up bloc-voting. Even the presidency of said assembly could be rotating –Zizioulis left enough wiggle room for a lot of flexibility. This could empower them to start acting like bishops in due time.

    Yes, it was a rebuke to the phantasmagoric claims of Lambrianides which were near-papalist (to say nothing of his shocking historical ignorance and flights of illogic), and it did recognize the legitimacy of American Orthodoxy and regional churches, both giant steps also in the right direction. At the same time, it salvaged the office of the Ecumenical Patriach as a true “first among equals” (with emphasis on the “equals” part). Kevin Allen is right, Bartholomew does deserve credit, for convening it. If this is of the Holy Spirit, then he will be forgiven for the tumult that erupted from the disruption of Ligonier and the firing of Iakovos. (And I will have to ask forgiveness for the many hurtful things I said.)

    My concerns however remain: are the GOA hierarchs going to go easily into an episcopal assembly in which they are no longer an eparchy of the EP? More importantly, will their wealthy patrons allow them to? Will the Old Calendarists accede to a relaxation of canonical norms for the sake of unity? Will New Calendarist bishops be able to tighten said norms and sell them to their worldly flocks? Will contentions erupt which will cause blocs to leave and reform themsevles into another “true Orthodox” jurisdiction?

    Other obstacles remain:

    Assuming that all forty+ canonical bishops join hands and jump off the cliff together (a la Butch and Sundance), how will the presidency of said synod be resolved? There is no way that the other jurisdictions will accede to what happened in the past, in which the GOA archbishop automatically assumed presidency. I can tell that this is already a non-starter. This directive legitimizes the history of America and other “diasporas,” therefore the office of Metropolitan of All-American and Canada is real. The only other “continental” metropolitan is +Philip and he’s on his last legs. The Phanar, by foolishly creating regional eparchies emasculated its North American metropolitan (+Spyridon) making him the bishop of an “archdiocesan district.” (And also breaking up their North American contingent into three separate metropolitinates. The old GOAL crowd may be having the last laugh here.)

    That’s why I hope that thanks to the work of Zizioulis and the other bishops at Chambesy, the Holy Spirit enlightens the ethnic jurisdictions –and I mean the laity here–to cast off their biases and xenophobia and realize that God has planted them here in this land to redeem it. We have a lot of catching up to do and the secularist/Islamist juggernaut is gaining much momentum. If all goes well, then we can look at this event in much the same way some look at the election of St Tikhon as patriarch of Russia in 1917. God allowed that office to be revived because He knew that the Bolshevik Terror would be unleashed. The revived patriarchate kept the sacred remnant afloat. I fear we are in danger of a major persecution here.

  31. Dear Subdcn Anthony,

    With respect, I think the answer about this site not needing to concern itself with the AOCA or OCA because those sites already exist is too simple an explanation. I the past there have been no shortage of sites criticising the GOa during turbulent periods. It also gives the impression that it is the GOA and the EP that are in the way of administrative unity and progress in the Church in the US. Which is clrearly not the case. Look, I understand why the site istelf cannot print things critical of the AOCA, but it is hypocritical for the posters to criticise and twist every move of the GOA and EP while ignoring the 2000 lb gorrilla in the living room.

    This leads to another of my points which is that instead of spending so much time criticising the GOA and the EP why don’t the OCA and the AOCA join together and leave the GOA in their dust. I mean enough of the grandstanding by Mets. Philip and Jonah (more so Met. Philip because Met. Jonah is too new on the stage). And if the OCA and AOCA are too messed up to take such action now or over the past few years, then perhaps they should not be pointing the finger at the GOA and the EP. But this takes away a convenient boogie man.

    Regarding why folks from the GOA do not jump all over their sister Churches during their difficult times, I believe there is some element of truth in what you offer as a reaso. However, today there is no shortage of people within the GOA who are well aware of the sister jurisdictions in the US and what they are and have been going through the past several years. I just think there are some very angry people in the AOCA and OCA (most of the most critical ones I have come across have been former members of the GOA) who seem to revel in criticising the EP and the GOA. I think they do so to the point of twisting the truth, assigning sinister motives and sometimes by outright lying. It is even more sad when clergy or hierarch join in.

    Look, the GOA and the EP have PLENTY of shortcomings (though I honestly believe the greater problem exists in the parishes), but we are not nearly as off track as some on this site would have us believe. When people take their own narrow experience and project it in judgement of the whole GOA and EP, it is just plain not right.

    It is no secret that I believe Met. Jonah’s comments were not only insulting and immature, but I believe they were wrong and showed a level of arrogance. Should I project a blanket condemnation of the OCA because of that? How about if I made a sweeping judgement about the AOCA because of Met. Philip’s behavior (not just recently, but his well known dictatorial and vindictive style) or the behavior of other AOCA bishops?

    Just a few more thoughts.

    Tom K

  32. George Michalopulos :

    Joe, the “no monopoly” was a direct rebuke to the Phanariote claims, else, it would make no sense. Plus, it came from Moscow, which is very jealous of protecting the prerogatives of the local churches.

    Let me explain: in traditionally Orthodox lands, there is a monopoly, it’s the local Orthodox church. Only it’s not considered a monopoly, it’s just “the Church.” The question, as I understood it, and as Lambrianides stated, was that, only the EP had “exclusive” claims to all lands outside “traditional” Orthodox lands. That is by definition a monopoly. Now the Chambesy council declared that this type of universal jurisdiction qua universal jurisdiction is invalid. The EP seniority can exist in “some regions” but not “all regions.”

    As to how this will all work out in North America, your guess is as good as mine. I rather think that the status quo will obtain for several years. But I could be wrong. As I said in an earlier post, I’m rather liking the idea of “episcopal assemblies” as a transition to an autocephalous church.

  33. George Michalopulos :


    your points are well-taken. I however have re-heard +Jonah’s speech and it wasn’t insulting. Look at it this way: he reproached papalism, and he went to bat for Armerican Orthodoxy. As an American, i would never dream of telling the Archbishop of Athens what a rotten job he’s doing. I’ve talked to GOA priests since Lambrianides’ speech, and almost to a man they were outraged by his intemperate and ill-consiered remarks. And let’s be honest, his speech was vetted by the Phanar. I was told by two people at Holy Cross that it was a direct provocation to see how far they could push the envelope. Tom, that’s not Christian and any any man has the right to defend himself and his Church. That’s what +Jonah did.

  34. Tom Kanelos :


    My points are not well taken, and that’s OK. I don’t really care. It is arrogant and presumptuous to say that the remarks were not insulting. Clearly, many people were insulted. I was insulted. Every GOA priest I asked (about 75 priests were insulted. A GOA priest who was a neighbooring priest and friendl;y with Met. Jonah when he was in California was insulted and told me the reality is he is in way obver his head and hopefully he will mature into his role. Your ideology prevents you from seeing clearly. You can say that Met. Jonah did not INTEND to be insulting (though I believe he did) but you cannot say it was not insulting.

    As to if some people at Holy Cross were insulted by Fr. Elpidophors speech, I am sure they were. I bet I can guess who they were. Fine. I even spoke to one who told me he was bothered by it. That is their perogative. I spoke to a whole lot more who thought Fr. Elpidophors was right on target in most fo the speech.

    As far as being told by people at Holy Cross that it was purposefuly provacative, I doubt that you were told that and if you were, I doubt the truthfulness of the statement.

  35. Tom Kanelos :


    You know fully well Moscow is concerned with protecting ITS perrogatives, not neccesarily the perogatives of local Churches. As evidenced by Ukraine, Estonia and the utter disregard fot he “autocephally” of the OCA in the US.


  36. George Michalopulos :

    OK, Tom, now you’re rambling. Estonia and Ukraine probably should be autonomous, but the way it was done was wholly bassackward and you know it. It was a severe slap in the face of Moscow that the EP did (as he did w/ Finland earlier). Arb Hilarion Alfeyev’s prophecy of looking forward to more local churches is merely the way things were in the first 500 years of Christianity. And to the extent that the markers that the ROC laid down markers before Chambesy, and they were duly taken into consideration, means that yes, the MP is an honest broker, one who will stand up to neo-papalism. In that sense, I’d rather throw in my lot with any Christian archpastor who will stand as a bulwark against universal jurisdiction.

    As far as Lambrianides’ speech, I rather doubt that it was as well-received as you indicate. If it was, then why don’t these GOA priests whom you’ve consulted implement his “reforms” in their parishes? Answer: because they know they’d have their heads handed to them. So in other words, they’ll talk the talk (in hushed tones and only among themselves) but they won’t walk the walk. And yes, I’ll stand by what I said, +Jonah had every right to rebuke any man who slandered him and his church. And you know full well Lambrianides did that. (If you don’t believe me, then I challenge you to read it to your parish verbatim.)

    Tom, really this is getting tiresome. Nobody is fooled by the special pleading of those who keep crying wolf. It seems that Phanar functionaries can slander anybody all day long and treat other jurisdictions in contempt but when they’re called on the carpet, they act like crybabies.

    There’s an old Greek saying my dad taught me, something to do with throwing excrement around and then saying “I’m sorry.” It doesn’t work.

  37. Basil Bauer :


    I can’t take it anymore. I’ve been quietly reading this blog for as long as it’s been up, and I must say, most of what I’ve seen here has been far from Christian charity.

    That aside, I’m a convert in a Greek parish. I also just graduated from school in Boston and have many friends at the seminary. I have a few points to add as a result.

    Firstly, I have seen nothing of what has been said about Greek parishes on this blog come true. There has been nothing but hospitality, love, and encouragement of conversion at my parish, as long as it’s motivated *sincerely* (and this qualifier lies behind what I’ve discerned is a lot of converts’ sense that Greeks hate converts because they don’t favor the revolving door approach) out of the person’s will. Additionally, my parish has been regularly bringing in converts from other traditions since my conversion 7 years ago. And what’s more, our conversions have reinspired many Greeks to commit to the church more fully. Our parish is doing nothing but growing, quite rapidly, in fact.

    Secondly, in reference to Fr. Elpidophoros’s speech, I do know for a *fact* that he clarified much of it in a classroom right after he gave it in response to questions of the seminarians. One of the things he said, in response to a convert’s concerns about the contents was, that he did not want to be misconstrued in his comments, and that no one, *no one*, is born Orthodox. We’re all converts. His words. That’s right, out of the EP! I know this little anecdote will be dismissed as inaccurate or made up, but I don’t care. That’s what seems to happen to many others on this blog.

    Third, please don’t belittle Tom Kanelos’s comments. He has done nothing on this blog but try to bring some rationality to the ideological lambasting of the EP and the GOA, and has done so for the most part with great kindness and fairness to all parties involved, including the other jurisdictions who are slinging the mud without self-examining their own motivations. Somehow saying his comments are tiring is ridiculous, and coupled with the other vitriolic comments aimed at fellow Orthodox Christians, makes me want to abandon this hot-air blog entirely anyway.

    Fourthly, Metropolitan Jonah’s comments WERE insulting. I found them to be, and I was also told this by a priest of the OCA, in fact, who has been in the OCA for 30 years. He also is a good friend of Jonah’s. If he can see it, I really don’t know why no one else in the OCA can.

    May God have mercy on all of us!

  38. Tom Kanelos :

    George, what is getting tiresome is your back pedaling and “spin”.

    Perhaps Moscow would like to show the way by letting Ukraine and Estonia become independant local Churches, or by instructing its Patriarchal parishes in the US and it’s ROCOR parishes to place themselves under the “local” “autocephalous” Church. Maybe by this ACTION instead of talk Abp. Hilarion’s “prophecy” will be a little more believable. There is an old saying taught to us by Abraham Lincoln: “Actions speak louder than words.” How’bout a little action!

    George, you really must remove the blinders. It is amazing what you let yourself believe in order to avoid admitting you are wrong.

    Respectfully, there is plenty being thrown around here, but I am not the one throwing it.

  39. Ilya Kharin :

    George and All in Christ,

    Per post # 17 – concerning the issue or hierarchal representation of the “diaspora” at the conference.

    I decided to figure out who were the hierarchs who assembled at Chambesy. It turned out that there was a number of them more or less representing the “diaspora”. Since it may interest some at this blog, I figured I’d share this.

    There were 22 hierarchs participating.

    Of them 4 serve in dioceses not only located, but named by their genuine “diasporic” names – met. Jeremiah of Switzerland (Constantinopolitan), met. Emmanuel of France (Constantinopolitan), met. John of Western Europe (Antiochian), abp. Mark of Berlin (Russian). The first thee are Greek/Arab by birth and I know little about them, but abp. Mark is a native German and a true pillar of the Church in Germany and the UK – as far as I know loved by many natives and local ex-Soviet expats alike.

    Now, I am not clear where met. John (Zizioulas) serves. His title is “of Pergamum”, but what reality hides under it? In any case, a major part of his life has been spent in academic pursuits in the UK and US.

    As some perhaps recall, abp. Hilarion (Alfeev) of Volokolamsk has, for some 6 years up to a few months ago, served as a bishop in Austria and Hungary, while earlier he was a student and then a vicar in the UK, then a bishop in Brusseles.

    The Czechoslovak representative, bp. Tikhon (Hollósy) of Komarno, although born in Slovakia, is ethnically Hungarian. This makes him, as far as I know, the sole Hungarian Orthodox hierarch in the world, in a way representing his nation which is, at present, also covered by a network of overlapping “jurisdictions” and has long been in need of a Local Church.

    Finally, and most interestingly for the US faithful, there was also an American-born bishop at the conference – bp. Elijah (Katre) of Philomelion. His title masks his service in the US, as a vicar of the GOA in charge of Albanian expats in North America. Bishop Elijah himself is an Albanian-American, born of immigrant parents in Michigan. For a long while he served at the Holy Cross theological seminary, then in Las Vegas, and then has been helping to restore the Church in Albania. At the present conference he, although a hierarch of the Church of Constantinople, was on loan to the Albanian Church as one of its delegates.

    This makes 8 archpastors out of 22 – over 1/3. So, the “diaspora” wasn’t altogether unrepresented. Its voices, I think, were heard in many ways. Let us find solace in that and in the Providence of our merciful Lord, is leading each of us to salvation.

  40. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, this is trite now. You are perfectly aware that the MP parishes in the US have been instructed to commemorate +Jonah. Are things progressing as quickly as anybody would like? No. That’s Orthodoxy, we believe in eternity.

    I notice also that you did not address my point about the bassackwardness of how the UOC was taken from the MP. If you feel the MP is dilatory in granting autonomy to the UOC, then why didn’t the EP do it? Because autonomy is not what the Phanar is about. Did the Phanar take the UOC away from MP and place it under it? Yes or no?

    Tom, I have no blinders. I know what the faults and strengths of most all the jurisdictions are. I went into the OCA suspecting that there were problems in Syosset. Why? Because it’s autocephalous and I knew that if there was any chance of an American church rectifying its problems, it’d come only from an American assembly. I stand vindicated.

  41. George Michalopulos :

    Ilya, I agree with you, the conference in Chambesy was not representative at all (as noted). Regardless, it’s findings were identical to what +Jonah wanted, an episcopal assembly. That is why I think the Holy Spirit was at work. John Zizioulis, even though he’s a titular bishop in the EP (and he wrote against the concept of titular bishops), has a very keen understanding of the nature of the episcopate. I highly recommend his book, “Being as Communion.”

    Welcome to the discussion!

  42. Fr. Constantine :



    Letter of Bishop Dositheus Ivanchenko, Russian Patriarchal Exarch of North America, to the Member-Hierarchs of SCOBA, 16 May 1962:

    “…The defect which we speak of in the title of the Standing Conference concerns the word ‘canonical.’ This word ‘canonical’ in the title of the Conference does not correspond with the actual composition of the Conference. Besides canonical bishops who represent canonical eparchies, there are uncanonical bishops representing uncanonical eparchies in the Conference, e.g. the so-called Metropolinate [present-day OCA] a schismatic body which has fallen away from unity with its Mother Russian Church. …at the very adoption of the title of the Conference, it was necessary to arrive at a new interpretation of the word ‘canonical’ as used by the Conference – understanding by this word that a canonical bishop is one who received a canonical consecration. By this definition a bishop may remain canonical even though after consecration he falls away from the Canonical Church and finds himself unrecognized by any of the Canonical Regional Churches throughout the entire world.
    “This new type of ‘Augustinian’ view of canonicity is something entirely new to Orthodoxy.
    “…the Conference has become a sort of co-participant in willfull deception not only of ordinary Orthodox Christians but of judges in American courts.
    “…We think it is necessary, in view of the above-mentioned, to move the adoption of the following title for the Conference in place of the present one: ‘The Standing Conference of Bishops of the Orthodox Jurisdictions in America.’
    “With such a name, not only may such groups as the Metropolitanate be part of the Conference, but so many other uncanonical jurisdictions as well. …we believe it would be profitable to permit the various Orthodox non-canonical jurisdictions to belong to the Standing Conference. This would be one way in which they could eventually be integrated into the life of canonical Orthodoxy.”

    Of course, the self-creating, exclusive-club members of SCOBA refused Bishop Dositheus’ attempt toward fairness, just wisdom, and Christian charity approach.

    “They that are of the Church of Christ are they that are of the truth; and they that are not of the truth are not of the Church of Christ … for we are reminded that we are to distinguish Christianity not by persons who have ecclesiastical titles, but by the truth and by the exactness of the Faith.”
    -St. Gregory Palamas, 1296-1359.

    “[Even] those churches, who, although they derive not their founder from apostles or apostolic men (as being of much later date, for they are in fact being founded daily), yet, since they agree in the same faith, they are accounted as not less apostolic because they are akin in doctrine.”
    -Saint Ireneaus (130-202 AD.), Prescription Against Heretics, Vol. III, p.258, Chapter 32.

    “If then any come to you, and, as blessed John says [2 John 9-10], brings with him right doctrine, say to him, All hail, and receive such an one as a brother.”
    -St. Athenasius [296-373 AD], Second Letter to Monks.

    “Of course, faithfulness to the truth of the Great Tradition, not organizational continuity, is what counts most.”
    -Prof. Bradley Nassif, Biblical & Theological Studies at North Park University, and member of the Antiochian Orthodox Church: Will the 21st Be the Orthodox Century?, Christianity Today magazine, December 2006.

    “Unity is to be understood not in jurisdical … terms. Unity is not imposed from above by some hierarch or administrative center endowed with supreme power of jurisdiction.”
    -Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, Communion and Intercommunion, 1980, Greek Orthodox Church-Constantinople, Light & Life Publishing, Minneapolis, MN). 


  43. George Michalopulos :


    you will notice that although many have belittled the GOA as being non-convert-friendly, I have tried mightily to refrain from doing so. At the same time, I acknowledge that this stereotype exists. It does. Perception is often based on reality, and sometime, unfortunately, perception becomes reality. That is a given.

    I am grateful that you have been received lovingly into a GOA parish as have others. I know of others as well that are doing the Lord’s work. That is all I will say about this.

    As far as Lambrianides’ speech, I’m glad he clarified one of the hurtful points he said there. Too bad he said it in the first place. It was hurtful and it was wrong. since you were there, may I ask what other points he clarified? He made several inaccurate statements. He also engaged in flights of illogical thinking. He also omitted several important facts. If you would like to see them serialized, please read my response to his remarks (dated Mar 25, 2009 on this blog). You will see that they are laid out in detail and rebutted. I engaged in no smear or personal attacks. And yes, he did engage in personal attacks.

    Rather than address your criticisms regarding my tit-for-tat with Tom, you are right, that is unChristian of me. I just like to cut to the chase and sometimes that comes across as snide. I think you will see that in many of my posts to Tom, I have given him much benefit of the doubt and more than once have I used this phrase: “point, well taken.” That means I agree with him or I stand corrected. In other words, I admit my error.

    One thing I will not do, is let an invalid or inaccurate statement stand. All I ask from you, Tom or anybody for that matter, is that my arguments be addressed in a factual manner. I don’t engage in “spin” or try to put a lipstick on a pig. (Clearly, Lambrianides engaged in spin, or at least backtracking. Even you must admit that as your account indicates he had to admit that “we are all converts,” to a concerned convert whom you quote in your anecdote.)

    In the interests of addressing criticisms, what exactly did +Jonah say that was “insulting”? And if you’re being honest, did Lambrianides say anything in his speech that –in your opinion–was likewise insulting?

  44. George Michalopulos :

    Fr Constantine, these are all great quotations and they are apropos of the present jurisdictional anarchy. If I may be so bold as to refer any and all to then-Bishop Isaiah of Denver’s excellent essay “The Dangers of Multiple Jurisdictions in the U.S.” (2001) for another view of the current morass. Among his many cogent points is that under the present scheme, any ecclesial body can incorporate itself in the US as “Orthodox” without any attendant legal scandal.

    As far as canonical scandal is concerned, all jurisdictions in America have been tainted to some degree or another, even the Metropolia, since communion between the MP was cut off for a brief period. (Although in its defense, the MP was not a free agent but literally had a gun to its head.)

    Repentance is called for, by ALL, triumphalism by ANY is uncalled for and will be dealt with harshly by the true Judge.

  45. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    George, I looked for the article. It seems to be removed the internet completely. Do you have a link?

  46. Tamara Northway :

    Hello Fr. Hans,

    You can find the article on St. Andrew’s House:

  47. George Michalopulos :


    thanks for retrieving that. I only had it on hard copy. I’ve referenced it in a couple of my more recent essays. I hope it hasn’t gone down some memory hole.

  48. Tamara Northway :

    Well then, perhaps AOI, AFR, OCL, or St. Andrew’s House might want to discuss who will permanently archive various vanishing papers such as the paper written by Metropolitan Isaiah and the Antiochian Constitution. It disappeared from the Antiochian website soon after the February 24 decision from Damascus. We could just consider it to be the beginning of the eventual permanent archive of the United Orthodox Church of North America. : o )

  49. George Michalopulos :

    Tamara, I like your style!

  50. Tom Kanelos :

    This was posted on OCAnews.

    Tom, I removed this post. (If I edited OCAnews it would never have been published.) It contains unsubstantiated allegations that an objective reader would consider slanderous. This renders it unfit for publication.

  51. Tamara Northway :

    It has been said that there are some on the Holy Synod in Damascus have been
    receiving money from the gravy train. There may be some wisdom over there but there is also corruption. It is a compromised, poor church living in a land controlled by muslims. No patriarchate or jurisdiction will ever be blameless. And there have been many examples of corruption in other patriarchates so this example is not unheard of. But at least if we have a local autocephalous church, there will be more control by all the members of that church to root out the evil as we have seen happening in the OCA. It is not clear how the AOCA mess will be addressed.

  52. George Michalopulos :

    re: post no. 50: ? Is this the one that was anonymous?

    Tamara, if the above posting is the one on, then my points regarding autocephaly remain valid. No one –me included–ever said that an autoecaphalous church would be scandal-free. That’s impossible as long as men and women are in the Church. But –and this point is unassailable–only an autocephalous church can identify and root out corruption. It may take years (as it did in the OCA, again kudos to Mark Stokoe), but as long as one has to go hat-in-hand to the Old World, it’ll never be done.

    The reason is because the cult of secrecy/lack of transperancy is even more pronounced in the Old World.

    One more thing about the above post, its logic is flawed in this respect: it states that by staying with Antioch, which is “rooted,” then this would have a salutary effect on the AOCA. In reality, no such thing happened. +Philip’s directive of Feb 24th is clearly uncanonical. Damascus should have picked this up immediately. (Is it possible that they didn’t know about it?)

  53. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Yes, it was. Actually, some of the analysis was good. The personal allegations however, were unsubstantiated. We don’t allow unsubstantiated allegations on AOI.

  54. Respectfully, Father, you don’t allow unsibstantiated allegations unless they are about the EP of Fr. Elpidophoros or EP and GOA hierarchs.

  55. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    There have been no allegations of malfeasance made against the Ecumenical Patriarch, Fr. Elpidophoros, or any EP or GOA hierarchs on this blog.

    Criticisms of their positions and statements have been made, but that is fair game because the statements, once made, become part of the public discussion. That’s what happens when you discuss global warming, human rights, politics, history, and any other issue in the public square.

    I take your allegation seriously Tom, because it speaks to the editorial credibility of AOI. Do you have some examples?

  56. Father,

    The allegations of malfeasance could have easily been edited out of the article. Is it only unsubstantiated allegations of malfeasance which are unacceptable? I understand why these types of articles would never be published as a feature on this site. I know how things are and can accept that, however as an opinion piece, edited of its allegations of malfeasance, it should have been left.

    I would like to edit out the allgations of financial malfeasanceand post the article. Will I be allowed to do so?

  57. George Michalopulos :

    In the interests of fairness, criticisms of Metropolitans +Jonah and +Philip have been made on this site as well, however none alleging malfeasance. Therefore, I agree with Fr, this standard should be maintained.

    As to Tom’s point however (and if we’re talking about the post on Stokoe’s site), I for one would like to see it posted on this website shorn of the more egregious allegations and ad hominem attacks.

    If I may interject my own opinion here, I wish it signed. I don’t like anonymous postings, it makes me doubt their overall credibility. As such, arguing about an anonymous piece’s merits proves to be nothing but a distraction. But that’s my opinion. Perhaps they do serve a purpose.

  58. Tom Kanelos :


    For once you said something with which I can agree. I believe in signing my name to my thoughts. I do not like anonymous postings or articles either, but sometimes they are still right on target, as i believe the vast majority of this one is.

    Tom K

    PS: Perhaps the “For once…” is a bit of an exaggeration.

  59. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Tom, George, no, AOI policy is not to edit articles already posted elsewhere.

    I agree with your opinion on anonymous postings however, something we have not enforced because the comments have not been particularly egregious. This is something we may have to tighten up.

  60. George Michalopulos :

    Fr, understood. I’m actually torn between critiquing it and letting it go. I’m not sure that it’s not a deliberate “put-up job” by some provocateur for the express purpose of diverting attention from more important things.

    And no Tom, the “vast majority” of this hit piece is quite incredible.

  61. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    So Tom, are you still saying there are unsubstantiated allegations against any hierarch on this blog?

  62. Goor Morning Father,

    Not regarding financial malfeasance, but certainly about other things.

    According to George, the criticisms of Met. Philip (and I can presume by his past postings the same would apply to Met. Jonah) and his well known administrative style, are “ad hominim attacks”. While, of course, criticism of the EP and GOA bishops, clergy, lay leadership etc are presumed to be accurate whether or not they are substantiated by facts. BTW George, the characterization of Met. Philip’s tenure is quite on the mark according to many I know in the AOCA and priests who were formerly in the AOCA. Not to mention, the fact that they are common knowledge, though I am quite sure you are well aware of this.

    So in answer to your question Father, yes there are many unsubstantiated allegations against individuals in the EP/GOA both named and unnamed. You may call them interpretation of their actions or words, but they are, nonetheless, as unsubstantiated as the criticisms the article points out about Met. Philip. After all, aside from the allegations of financial malfeasance which have swirled around Met. Philip for years, aren’t all the rest of the points merely interpretation of his words and actions?

    It is quite clear that the policy is hands off the AOCA (and the for the most part the OCA as well) here. I can understand the reason, but it is certainly not fair and balanced.

    Tom K

  63. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    What are some examples of the unsubstantiated attacks? I don’t think there are any.

  64. Tom Kanelos :

    Goof morning Father,

    I don’t think I used the term unsubstantiated attacks, but perhaps some fit into that category as well.

    Many postings on this site are riddled with unsubstantiated allegations and accusations about the EP/GOA. Too numerous to count. As I said in my previous post, “You may call them interpretation of their actions or words, but they are, nonetheless, as unsubstantiated as the criticisms the article points out about Met. Philip.”

  65. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Tom, I don’t think there are any unsubstantiated allegations or accusations either about the EP or GOA on this site. None. It goes to the credibility of the site. That’s why I am asking for examples.

  66. Tom Kanelos :


    I respectfully disagree and I don’t know how to explain it in any simpler terms than I did in my last post.

    Every time you or anyone else makes an accusation/assumption/interpretation of the motives etc of the words or actions of the EP/GOA you are making an unsubstantiated allegation. It is an opinion. It is not fact. The same holds true every time I make a statement in which I interpret a statement or action of Met. Philip or Met. Jonah, or anyone else. Do you really believe otherwise?

    What questions the credibility of this site (or at least the blog portion which is inherently subjective) is not that there are unsubstantiated allegations posted here, but rather the claim that there are NOT unsubstantiated allegations/attacks/accusations.

    Father, I understand WHY the rule here is hands off the AOCA and especially Met. Philip. I have been around and I know how things work better than most. Furthermore, this is your site and you make the rules. If I choose to come here, I need to live by those rules even if they are biased.

    But to state that well known and routinely accepted criticisms of Met. Philip are “unsubstantiated allegations” while the same types of statements about the EP/GOA are not categorized the same way is disingenuous at best.

  67. Michael Bauman :

    The problem is not the men themselves, allegations or not, it is the ecclesiology they seem to support, i.e, the bishop is the Church, I am the bishop, do what I say or else. Met. Philip is and always has been that way. As a friend of mine, a life-long Antiochian remarked to me, “I don’t think Met. Philip is genetically able to change.”

    It is the idea of the monarchial episcopate that is the problem. We need to find a way that we can maintain hierarchy without tryanny and abuse. The Holy Synod of Antioch made it clear that bishops should be accountable to synods. I pray that the Holy Spirit will also empower the laity to a more active and on-going involvement.

    We need to identify and stop the Dhimmi practices and attitudes in order to move on. We need to become more pastorally concerned in ways that engage the problems of people in our society by bringing the healing power of the Church to people. That will take a lot of flexibility and understanding. We need to take the Pauline approach that proclaimed the absolute standards and prinicpals of God, BUT directed us to go boldly before the throne of grace when we are unable to adhere to those principals.

    Right now, I’m not sure any of our bishops in any jurisdiction are thinking that way. It seems to me, Met. Jonah perhaps as an exception, that the high profile bishops simply want to be left alone to rule. They may not be as open about it as Met. Philip, but the attitude is still there. Of course, in some of this I am surely seeing my own arrogance, but nevertheless, we must find a more healthy, productive and Spirit-filled method of ordering the Church than, “My way or the highway”. We have to find the way to an understanding when we can trust and value our bishops supporting them in their humanly impossible task rather than being at odds with them so often.

  68. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :


    But to state that well known and routinely accepted criticisms of Met. Philip are “unsubstantiated allegations” while the same types of statements about the EP/GOA are not categorized the same way is disingenuous at best.

    You keep saying this, I ask for examples, and you offer none.

    You offer none because there aren’t any. Attacks like the kind made against Met. Philip in the post I took down are not tolerated against any person, not just hierarchs.

    Again, your assertion goes against the credibility of the site. If unsubstantiated allegations of malfeasance have been made against anyone on this site, point them out to me so they can be removed. If you can’t find any, let this dispute drop.

  69. It is the idea of the monarchial episcopate that is the problem.

    Careful, St. Ignatius supported the monarchical episcopate, and this is an essential, central aspect to traditional Christian ecclesiology.

    The problem is whether we interpret ‘monarchical’ through the lens of worldly monarchs a la Louis XIV, autocratic Tsars, Byzantine despots and Turkish sultans, or through the lens of the Kingdom of Heaven and its monarch.

    The key is remembering the ‘the first shall be last and the last shall be first’ is a more important canon than those spelling out the powers, rights and prerogatives of the bishops. These latter must be understood in light of the former. The other key is the title ascribed to St. Gregory the Great, ‘servant of the servants of God’.

    The same is true of marriage and the headship of the husband. A husband is to be the head of his family in the same way that Christ is head of the Church – he is to lay down his life for her, he is to be meek, longsuffering, willing to suffer unjustly, etc. However, such sentiments are usually understood through worldly ideas of ‘headship’ and ‘authority’ – ideas foreign to the Kingdom not of this world.

    I would kindly suggest that the monasticism of the bishops should not be gamely sidestepped. It became the universal tradition of the Church because holiness is more important, and more influential than is managerial skill and power. As Dostoevsky pointed out in ‘The Grand Inquisitor’, we like to think we need to fix Jesus’ mistaken ideas – this is lack of faith, nothing less. We are suffering from our episcopal leaders because we all have allowed the Church to become the plaything of worldly interests – Emperors, Tsars, commissars, sultans, parties, merchants, ethnarchs, ethnic, national and political movements – thinking them more important than holiness, humility and the fruits of the Spirit tried in a monastery.

    I think it no mistake that a monastic like Jonah has brought a breath of fresh air to the stale episcopate in America.

  70. George Michalopulos :

    Orrologion, although I have no beef against a married episcopate, I see the wisdom of what you’re saying. I have often said that we need more monks so we can have more bishops. I think we could have more bishops throughout North America if we had monasteries which could sustain them. That is to say, provide them with shelter, etc. As monks take vows of poverty, there is no reason that this could not happen.

    Such bishops would be immune from the blandishments of worldly laymen. (I’ve often wondered how much bishops in the US presently get paid. I’ve heard in some jurisdictions it’s in the six figures. If true, this is unconscionable.)

    How then would such a monk/bishop be an archpastor? It’s not difficult. I’ve never been one to state that monasteries must be necessarily secluded from cities. The Studion in C’pole wasn’t. Nor have I bought into the fallacy that people could not go visit their bishop while he’s in the monastery. I’ve seen way too many people of all ages –and both sexes–travel to monasteries for spiritual comfort.

  71. Tom Kanelos :


    Please. First of all you have pulled a George by changing the subject back to malfeasance when you already know I have agreed that I have seen no allegations of malfeasance. It is the abundance of other unsubstantiated allegations/accusations/criticisms about which I was speaking. But, resectfully, I believe you know this.

    Unless you are saying that every criticism/interpretation of motive/accusation you or George or anyone else makes of the EP/GOA is 100% substantiated by objective facts.

    As I stated, you make the rules. And I understand, as the old saying goes, one does not perform a certain bodily function where one eats.

  72. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, since you insist on engaging in ad hominem attacks against me, I will no longer respond personally to any of your posts. Instead, I will address any arguments you make that are deemed reasonable and/or arguable to the general audience. In the interests of my own salvation, I will refrain from making disparaging remarks about certain hierarchs, even if they continue to make fools of themselves.

    p.s. As to why I’ve refrained from going after +Philip, the reasons are as follows: (1) I am quite ignorant of the inner workings of the AOCA (although becoming less so by the day) and (2) because I have a soft spot in my heart for him for this reason and this reason only: when the OCA and the Phanar (notice I criticized the OCA as well as the GOA/Phanar) slammed the door in the face of the Evangelicals, he took them into the Church. I can’t help but believe that on the Day of Judgment, this one act may override his recent buffooneries. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the upcoming riverboat extravaganza that the Knights of St Andrew are planning for a certain ecclesiarch. Please give my regards to the beautiful people who will attend.

  73. Tom Kanelos :


    “I am quite ignorant of the inner workings of the AOCA (although becoming less so by the day)”

    Well I got news for ya Geo. You are, aparently, quite ignorant of the inner workings of the EP/GOA as well.

    Among other things, this is evidenced by the fact that the riverboat extravaganca you have your undies all in a knot about is not planned by the Order of St. Andrew, but is rather another in a series of ecological symposia sponsored by the EP over the past decade or so, always held on water(Black Sea, Arctic, Mediterranean etc.) Whether or not the “beautiful people” will be there or not, I will not know as I am not going to be ther as I am not an academic nor do I go much for the ecology stuff (other than taking care of God’s creation).

    I find the following humorous, though not surprising:

    “In the interests of my own salvation, I will refrain from making disparaging remarks about certain hierarchs, even if they continue to make fools of themselves.”

    “I can’t help but believe that on the Day of Judgment, this one act may override his recent buffooneries.”

    You just can’t help yourself.

  74. George Michalopulos :

    to all, it appears that I was mistaken about the upcoming extravaganza and its sponsors. I thank a certain correspondent for correcting me. I can’t help but wonder though from which body the funds will flow from to finance said event. Perhaps it will flow as manna from heaven, or more likely, some NGOs that are committed to questionable science and/or Gaia worship. (I wonder if Oscar Hammerstein’s libretto of “Ole Man River” can be put to a capella chant?)

  75. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Note 71. Tom, I missed that you said there were no allegations of malfeasance. My apologies.

  76. Tom Kanelos :

    To all,

    Will someone please tell a certain someone that another certain someone does not know where the money is coming from but the first certain someone can look at GOA financials which are more readily available than financials from the OCA or AOCA and see if it is coming from there.

    Does anyone know where the money came from for the recent trip of Met. Jonah to Russia? Perhaps the information is in their financial statements, though they do not seem to be published anywhere. Perhaps it came as manna from heaven as well.

    Maybe certain individuals should find out what is on the agenda before they make statements about what is “likely” or not. That way they would not be making an “unsubstantiated accusation” which, of course do not exist on this site.

    What’s next, putting tape down the middle of this site and saying, “You stay on your side and I’ll stay on my side”.

  77. Tom Kanelos :

    I know this isn’t about the EP or thge GOA but I thought it interesting in any case. I am surprised it isn’t posted her. I suggested that it be posted but my suggestion was ignored. Perhaps it contains too many “unsubstantiated accusations”. We know those are not allowed here, unless they are about the EP or the GOA. We wouldn’t want to call the integrity of this site into question. It is taken from


    Rather than calm the turbulent waters, the publication from Damascus on the patriarchal website of the official June 17th decision of the Synod of Antioch, in both Arabic and English, concerning the status of dioceses and bishops, has led to even more profound trouble in the shaken American Archdiocese. The Synod’s official re-affirmation of the diocesan status of the Antiochian Bishops in America has led the Antiochian Archbishop in America to just one step away from open rebellion.

    The Current Posting on

    Late this afternoon there appeared the following statement posted on the official Archdiocesan website,

    “Important Statement Concerning the Resolutions of the Holy Synod of Antioch

    It has been the tradition of the Holy Synod of Antioch that all official resolutions that have been duly adopted at a meeting of the Holy Synod are published with the signatures of the Patriarch, as well as all of the Metropolitans who were present at the meeting. In this way, the will of the Holy Synod is expressed in a most powerful way by the presence of all of the signatures of the attending hierarchs. The most recent example of this was the communication of the decision of February 24th, 2009, which was distributed with all of the signatures of the hierarchs who were in attendance (the Arabic version may be viewed here by way of example.

    The Holy Synod of Antioch met from June 16 through 18, 2009, to consider the status of bishops across the See of Antioch and other matters. However, the Archdiocese has not received any document that contains the signatures of all of the hierarchs who were in attendance at that meeting. When we do receive such a document, we will publish it as the official decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch.”

    The Metropolitan has not actually refused to obey the decision – he just refuses to acknowledge the decision as authentic, that is, until his conditions for doing so are met.

    Does the Metropolitan Have A Point?

    It is difficult to see how Metropolitan Philip can credibly defend this position. He refuses to publish the document released by the Patriarchate bearing only the Patriarchal signature, but was more than willing to publish three documents of unknown provenance, all of which bore only the Patriarchal signature, yesterday? (In fact, all three, of the documents, two of which the Patriarch himself has ordered “not to be considered” are still available on the Archdiocesan website under the heading “Synodal Resolutions”. Absurdly, one of them is the very document +Philip now refuses to acknowledge or publish today. )
    In short, +Philip recognized the decision yesterday, but not today, after the Patriarch himself publicly affirmed it.

    It might be suggested the Metropolitan is now acting out of an abundance of caution, having been “duped” by a spurious decision and its translation. But if he feels he was “duped”, why then, 18 hours after being rejected by Antioch, do both falsifications still appear on the Archdiocesan website? According to sources close to Englewood, +Philip received an official hardcopy of the decision, in Arabic, on Patriarchal letterhead, signed and sealed by the Patriarch by international courier from Damascus, early this week. The decision not to acknowledge the decision, therefore, is not because he is awaiting an original copy from Damascus out of caution. He has had one for days. One can only infer that he knew, and knows, the decision posted today on the Patriarchal website is authentic – he just refuses, for his own reasons, to acknowledge it as such.

    Delay, Delay, Delay

    The Metropolitan, having suffered a public defeat in his attempt to reduce his fellow Bishops in America to Auxiliaries by the unexpected and singular publication of the decision on the Patriarchal website (which has lain dormant for years), appears to be playing for time.
    But time is running against him. Cries for a real Local Synod, for full audits of Archdiocesan accounts and open elections for the Board of Trustees are growing louder on the internet as the July convention in Palm Desert approaches. With this afternoon’s posting +Philip has sought to buy time – claiming a standard so as to ignore this Synod decision that would give his fellow bishops a greater presence and voice in their own diocesan, and Archdiocesan affairs. +Philip is arguing that the decisions of the Synod, as opposed to the Minutes of Synod, must now be signed by all Bishops in attendance to be recognized as an “official decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch” – a standard he was willing to ignore just yesterday when the documents he published favored him.

    What +Philip expects to gain from this delaying tactic, however, is unclear. Time for what? Lacking signatures, does he hope to force another Synod meeting where he can attempt once again to reverse the current unfavorable outcome? It is difficult to imagine the Patriarchate will hold another Synod meeting soon. For if it does, the Archdiocese would have to question whether any decisions of Damascus have genuine pastoral authority – or just represent Middle Eastern court politics.

    Or is +Philip just seeking to buy time to maintain all authority until the Convention, so as to preclude questioning of his actions during his tenure as Archbishop? If that seemed unlikely before, it seems even less likely now given this most recent controversial posting.

    Or is this just the case of a man accustomed to power, struggling to maintain it, at any cost?

    Whatever Metropolitan Philip’s current goal, the hope of a resolution to the crisis that dawned this morning is gone in Antiochian America tonight. The Patriarch has spoken; the Synod has spoken; the Bishops have spoken, and now the Archbishop has spoken. In the cacophony of voices, it is now, perhaps, time for the clergy and laity of the Self-Ruled Archdiocese to speak – not as to who shall lead them, but whom they intend t- to follow.
    – Mark Stokoe

  78. George Michalopulos :

    Tom, I too read this by Stokoe. It does not cover Holy Orthodoxy in glory. I understand your point regarding how it seems a majority of us bash the Phanar/GOA. It isn’t fair.

    I cannot defend Philip’s recent actions. Why then is there more goodwill (albeit residual and dwindling fast) to Philip than to the GOA? Because of one reason and one reason only: Philip for all his faults wanted a united American Church. Since 1996, the GOA/Phanar (i.e. post-Iakovos) has done everything in its power to derail unity (and I don’t view subjugation as “unity”.)

    It’s not fair. Let us pray. Lord have mercy. We all need to repent.

  79. Tom Kanelos :


    Let’s look at this objectively. Does Met. Philip really want unity? Have his ACTIONS shown any real move towards that unity? I know that he has SPOKEN some about unity but his actions have been almost non-existent. I call it grandstanding.

    Met. Jonah, in his speech posted here a few days ago, suggested that the OCA and the AOCA could perhaps merge and then (implied) slowly other jurisdictions may decide to join in.

    THAT is a concrete suggestion and I applaud it. However, I guarantee that nothing will come of it as long as Met. Philip is alive. This is what very few in the AOCA are willing to say. It is quite clear that Met. Philip is no more willing to break his ties with Antioch than the GOA is willing to break ties with Constantinople. Antioch is no more willing to lose its Archdiocese in the US than is Constantinople.

    The reason that people here and on similar sights blame the GOA for this lack of unity is for one and only one reason. The GOA is the only entity big enough and organized enough to pull it off. Period. The same reason many places in the world hate the US. We are the biggest kid on the block and the others don’t always like the way we lead.

    What you do not understand is that large portions of the faithful, perhaps a majority, in both the GOA and the AOCA are not ready to make a break with the Mother Churches. Some of us in the GOA do not ever wish to see a break from Constantinople. The GOA and AOCA leadership both know this fact. Met. Philip, though, chooses to take the easy way out and talk the talk because he does not have to walk the walk.

    As I have stated before, I think the best solution would be for the EP to set up a center in the Fourth Rome (Washington), divide its time between Constantinople and Washington, and start organizing the Church in the US. I know many of you shudder at that thought, but only because of the years of EP/GOA bashing that you have heard and the misinterpretation that you all choose to apply to their actions.

    As I read a few of the foolish posts attacking the EP for the Mississippi River Symposium, I was struck by the level of ignorance and hatred spewn by many. They go on without knowing the facts. All because environmentalism is a liberal cause (in their eyes). I wonder if they realize how stupid they sound.

    The OCA is barely recovered from a decade long (perhaps longer) scandal involving the theft of millions of dollars, misbehavior of numerous hierarchs, the remaining hierarchs basically trying to shut down the one hierarch who had the courage to speak honestly throughout the whole mess, the list could go on. And many in the OCA know that the whole mess is not cleaned up yet.

    The AOCA is in the midst of its own crisis in leadership, they have had to deal with their own misbehaving hierarchs, many of their parishes are far more ethnic that GOA parishes, their finances are essentially secret, they have had to deal with a whole host of problems resulting from the rush to ordain evangelical clergy who in some cases, were not ready, and this list could go on.

    Yet people on this site from those two jurisdictions, instead of looking inward at the problems in their own jurisdictions, would rather pick pick pick at the EP and now jump all over this environmental thing because it does not agree with their political ideology. I find that pathetic and childish.

    You know, the more I think of it, the status quo is looking better and better. I think the EP should focus on strengthening the groups under its Omophorion in the US and let the rest do as they please.

    The next step would be to have the GOA parishes be more open to outreach and evangelism and let the chips fall where they may. The GOA parishes, which do not do this, will probably be gone in the next 50 years, those that do, will be stronger and will continue to spread the Gospel.

    In the meantime, all those who are so hate filled and hypercritical of the EP and the GOA can do their own thing. I think that Dean Calvert is fond of using a phrase that fits here. They can go pound sand.

  80. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    You know, the more I think of it, the status quo is looking better and better. I think the EP should focus on strengthening the groups under its Omophorion in the US and let the rest do as they please.

    Tom, you realize of course that this stand contradicts the Orthodoxy-Hellenism apologetic coming out of Constantinople and New York. You are implicitly arguing against the position that the EP should have jurisdiction over all the Orthodox in the “diaspora.”

    Upstream however you wrote:

    As I have stated before, I think the best solution would be for the EP to set up a center in the Fourth Rome (Washington), divide its time between Constantinople and Washington, and start organizing the Church in the US.

    Which is it?

    Regarding the Mississippi trip, it would be irresponsible not to think critically about the statements coming from Constantinople and New York concerning the environment given that they implicitly assert economic and social activism (here scroll to note #8; and here scroll to note #4). Presumably the ideas informing them will be fleshed out in due course. When they are, those ideas will be examined.

    If the thinking is shoddy, like this claim:

    Unfortunately, however, human history is filled with numerous examples of misuse of these privileges, where the use and preservation of natural resources has been transformed into irrational abuse and, often, complete destruction, leading occasionally to the downfall of great civilizations.

    …it will be pointed out. (I am still waiting for at least one example of a civilization that has befallen this fate.) This kind of statement by the way, is an example of a moralistic imperative (note the dash of apocalyptic fervor) that is used to lend moral gravity to ideas that remain unexamined.

    Solid thinking will be pointed out too.

    No one however, gets a pass when moralistic imperatives substitute for the clear explication of ideas. Finger-wagging doesn’t get very far here.

  81. George Michalopulos :

    Fr Hans, the EP/Phanar axis is fundamentally schizoid. They can’t decide whether they’re a church or a social club. Therefore they try to split the difference between the Gospel and social activism (which of course fails each and every time its tried). Caesar will always win out over Christ in such a scheme because Caesar is of the world.

    If anybody honestly thinks that the present trajectory of the GOA is conducive to growth, have at it. If they want a division in American Orthodoxy, fine. Even Lambrianides saw that the status quo is untenable, that’s why he correctly stated that the present system is uncanonical. His way out of it though was unpalatable (subjugation to Istanbul’s premier eparchy).

    The majority of Orthodox in America however are not going to subjugate themselves to such an ecclesial body. However, if any wish to follow the present socialist/secularist path of the Phanar, they are more than welcome to do so. They shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking that the Phanar is going to provide the way out by setting the EP up here in Washington.

    I make a prediction: in this economic climate, the vast majority of Americans who are even aware of the upcoming riverboat extravaganza, are not going to look kindly upon it. Why? Who is this foreigner coming to our land telling us how to run our river? And why are there no Christian stalwarts with him, just NGO types? Who’s paying for this? Soros? And by the way, what’s so bad about the Mississippi? Has anybody ever seen the Amazon, the Nile, or the Ganges? The word “hell-hole” comes to mind.

  82. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :


    Fr Hans, the EP/Phanar axis is fundamentally schizoid. They can’t decide whether they’re a church or a social club.

    Let me expand this using the proper categories. The EP/Phanar cannot decide whether it is ekklesia or synagogue. The Orthodoxy-Hellenism apologetic raises ethnic/race self-identity to prominence by substituting the universality of the Gospel with the universality of Hellenic ideals. In this case the assembly becomes synagogue which also renders the term “diaspora” sensible.

    If the assembly is defined by the universality of the Gospel however, it becomes ekklesia, or the assembly called out of the world by the Gospel. In this case, the term “diaspora” has no meaning since there is “…no Jew, no Greek…”

    You raise a very interesting point as well. The self-understanding will determine the focus of the Mississippi River trip. It will either be a public relations gambit, or (at least it should be) a pastoral visit. It cannot be both without major contradictions emerging.

  83. As someone with only a shallow awareness of the history and dynamics at work, it appears that the Phanar is leveraging and solidifying the constituencies that form it’s political “base.” While there is nothing wrong with an organization doing that – especially given their dire circumstances – it does appear to be distracting the focus from the gospel. The first concern ANY spiritual leader should have is the formation of the flock under his charge (especially for us barbarians who would – as stated in Boston – need it all the more).

    Environmental policies do, as George notes, seem to be driven more by political than scientific considerations. Setting aside the particulars of the debate, however, what value is there if we clean up the whole world but lose our soul?

    My concern is what this says about priorities and focus.

    Regarding priorities: ceding the imperative priority of salvation and theosis to a political agenda – however popular – is trading the pearl of great price for a mess of pottage. If the published agenda really does represent what he believes is the most important message to convey, this is not promising.

    Regarding focus: temptation comes in many forms – persecution as well as plenty can turn us to focus on God or turn us to focus on our own plight. Whether in comfort or distress, if we become focused on our own lives rather than the Gospel, we lose our Life. Likewise, if we are willing to lose this life then surely we will gain our Life and everything else besides. Even the world recognizes that the power of spiritual integrity and conviction transcends even the greatest political advantages.

  84. Tom Kanelos :

    Fr. Hans,

    Perhaps you are correct, however, if the bitter, angry, pseudo intellectual arguments and attacks put forth on this site are an indication of the attitudes found in large numbers in the OCA and AOCA then I think we would be better off avoiding them. We have enough issues to deal with without adding to them.

    “Tell the “tree hugging” hierarch and the NCC heretics to keep out of the South. And stop pandering to the “Left.” I’ve had it with their “agenda.” Is this the kind of stupidity with which you want to be associated? I have no use for the left or for the NCC either, but don’t you think this comment is a little…out there?

    As far as the “which is it” comment, I think the words “You know, the more I think of it…” answer that question.

    “Tell the “tree hugging” hierarch and the NCC heretics to keep out of the South. And stop pandering to the “Left.” I’ve had it with their “agenda.” A

    The only finger waving that gets very far here is the finger waving directed at the EP/GOA, for obvious reasons. The same reasons that it is hands off the AOCA on this site. Your whole argument about the integrity of the site is just a bunch of BS. It is really too bad.

  85. Tom Kanelos :

    If people on this site were not so ignorant and willing to make accusations about things which they have no clue, they would know that the EP has had these types of ecological symposia in many other areas (Mediteranean, Black sea, Arctic, Amazon etc.) before. Even if he is some damn ferinner.

    Try to look beyond your own ignorance and hatred.

  86. Dean Calvert :

    Hi Tom,

    Re: “If people on this site were not so ignorant and willing to make accusations about things which they have no clue”

    When I read the above, I thought, “Boy, that’s extreme even for Tom.”

    Chill my brother…the folks on this site are among the brightest anywhere, you and I excluded…LOL I think they let us in for entertainment…

    I sincerely hope business is picking up for you.

    Best Regards,

  87. Hi Dean,

    Keep in mind that ignorance is not neccesarily indicate a lack of intelligence. One can be bright and still ignorant on any give topic. Yes many of the people on this site are indeed quite bright. That is not in conflict with the fact that they are also ignorantabout many of the things on which they comment, or perhaps they do not care about the truth but are willing to say anything to advance their agenda.

    Their is not right and they are not good for the Church. You may think my comments are extreme “even for Tom” 🙂 but I do mean them.

    And thank you for your thoughts about business, with some change in direction, things seem to be getting slightly better. Though the problems we are heading for as a result of Obama’s policies and ideology will make this bump short lived and perhaps the last one for a LONG time.

    Best Regards,
    Tom K

  88. Cynthia Curran :

    This is true about obams’s speech. He foregotten that Islam conquered parts of the Perisan Empire and the Byzantine Empire that gave it an advantage over Westen Europe. Egypt which had been the breadbasket of the Byzantine Empire fell to Islam in the 7th century and also Syria, wealthly province of the Empire. We know that the Byzantines past on the Roman Law Code system to Western Europe by Justinian’s update of a 1,300 years of Roman laws. In fact, it was in the late 1000’s in a law school in Italy that received a first copy of it, and it influence law in Western Europe and Latin America in particular even today. Valens Aqueduct, Hagia Sophia and so forth were built by the Byzantines. In fact, John Philponius influence by Islamic philosophers in the Middle ages and Conservative Protestants on an agrument on the existence of God.

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