Pan-Orthodox Synod Postponed Over Differences Between Churches [CLOSED]

Below is a total breakdown of the Chambesy meeting. The reporter’s sources are usually in the Phanar, which explains this paragraph: This disagreement, therefore, has revealed that two camps have formed in the Orthodox world. That of Constantinople, which draws within its sphere the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Sofia, Belgrade, Churches of Greek language and culture, and the Church of Albania. And that of Moscow, which includes the Patriarchate of Georgia and the Churches of Poland and the Czech Republic, and, surprisingly, the Patriarchate of Romania. The latter has not failed to hide its hegemonic ambitions, especially among the Orthodox Diaspora” (emphasis added).

Source: Asia News | NAT da Polis

The representatives of the 14 autocephalous Orthodox churches have not reached agreement on the rules for granting autocephalous status. Moscow will not recognize any kind of primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Representatives of the 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches, given the failure to reach an agreement during the last pan-Orthodox meeting last week in Chambesy, on the issues of granting autocephalous status and Dipticha, themes that were outstanding after the penultimate meeting, have suspended all activities emphasizing the latent differences in the Orthodox world.

The final statement, a very laconic and very one signed by the president of the meeting, Metropolitan of Pergamon Ioannis Zizoulas, makes no secret that there are difficulties due to a certain protagonism present in some areas of the Orthodox world. These preparatory meetings began in 2009, wanted by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in order to prepare the coveted pan-Orthodox synod, which has not taken place since 1054, the year of the schism between Rome and Constantinople. The Synods gather representatives of the 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

Topping the agenda of this last meeting was the completion of discussions on the issue of granting autocephalous status, ie the granting of independence of self-administration of an Orthodox Church. This self-management includes the ability to elect their own bishops and head archbishop of the autocephalous Church. It also had to consider the so-called Dipticha, that the rules of mutual recognition among the canonical Orthodox Churches. According to practice, any decision taken in these meetings must be approved unanimously by the representatives of the 14 autocephalous churches

In fact it was at the final act of the debate on how to seal recognition of the autocephalous nature of a Church by the other Orthodox sister Churches that sparked disagreement between the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan of Pergamon Ioannis Zizoulas and the representative of Moscow, Metropolitan Hilarion. Zizoulas proposed signing the recognition granting autocephalous status this way: "The Ecumenical Patriarch affirms, given the will of the other churches, to grant autocephalous status. This is followed by his signature, and then by the signature of the heads of other Churches, preceded by the word "confirm", as an expression of consent, according to the canonical order of mutual recognition. The Moscow representative strongly disagreed with this proposed formula of signing the recognition of autocephalous status, which, according to Hilarion, recognises the supremacy of Constantinople.

At this point we need to provide some background.  In the Orthodox world, historically the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem have existed as autocephalous churches, while the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is called the "mother church" because she gave birth to the Churches of Moscow, Bulgaria, Serbia, etc..

This disagreement, therefore, has revealed that two camps have formed in the Orthodox world. That of Constantinople, which draws within its sphere the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Sofia, Belgrade, Churches of Greek language and culture, and the Church of Albania. And that of Moscow, which includes the Patriarchate of Georgia and the Churches of Poland and the Czech Republic, and, surprisingly, the Patriarchate of Romania. The latter has not failed to hide its hegemonic ambitions, especially among the Orthodox Diaspora.

In an attempt to calm the waters, discussion moved on to the issue of the Dipticha, the rules of mutual canonical recognition among the Orthodox Churches. But even in these discussions, disagreements arose between the representatives of some churches, such as those of Cyprus and Georgia. Given that here too it has been impossible to reach an agreement it was decided to postpone further debate until after a closer examination of the issues.

The reaction was one of widespread and deep disappointment among representatives. Particularly that of a high priest of Slavic language (has asked not to reveal his name) who expressed his regret that, "We really cut a very unchristian figure. The time has come for us to regain the lost spirituality of the great Fathers of the church and  together re-examine our life, currently characterized by a rampant secularization, which finds its highest expression in the building of luxurious archbishops residences".

Finally, the Reverend Dositheos, head of the press office, speaking to AsiaNews declared: "We need to clarify one thing: that the so-called leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not intended as that of Rome, but rather should be understood as the primacy of charity and as a result of diakonia (service, ed) and non-administrative. It wants to express respect through the diaconate. This element expresses the importance of Constantinople’s diaconate, far removed from any identification of national expression. If the Ecumenical Patriarchate expresses itself through the Greek language and uses tools like Greek thought, this is because it is what happens in the tradition of the great Fathers of the United Church. " The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, concluded Rev. Dositheos, has repeatedly pointed out that the Church must get rid of the localisms and provincialisms that afflict it”.


  1. What are the odds that the episcopal assembly is one and done???? I doubt 79th Street is going to throw money at this effort if it does not help them politically. Besides if you bring all the bishops together there may be momentum for changes that are not Phanar friendly.

    Time to take SCOBA off of life support and re-instate the rotating presidency that is clearly spelled out in the SCOBA Constitution.

    Here is what the constitution says:

    (a) Authority.

    1. All authority in the Conference resides in the member hierarchs and is derived from them. All decisions of the Conference shall require two-thirds approval of the member hierarchs present at a regular or special meeting to become binding on the Conference.
    2. No decision of the Conference shall interfere with the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of any of the Canonical Orthodox Churches, or any of the member Hierarchs.
    3. Autocephalous Churches, represented in the Standing Conference, are recognizing each other as equal sister Orthodox Churches with equal canonical rights.

    (b) Structure.

    1. Presiding Hierarch. The Office of Presiding Hierarch shall pass in turn annually to the presiding hierarchs of the member jurisdictions in order of their precedence in the Church.
    2. The Presiding Hierarch shall preside at all meetings.
    3. The conference shall elect a Vice-Chairman, who in the absence of the Presiding Hierarch, shall preside at meetings.

    Imagine that we know how SCOBA votes and we have a ROTATING PRESIDENCY. This is a far cry from the EA which we do not know how it votes and it has no rotating presidency.

    Which is better in the long run?

  2. It is unfortunate that the Orthodox Church hierarchs could not agree on how to recognize a church’s autocephaly. I expressed my own disappointed views on this unfortunate situation on my Theology and Society blog. To read them, visit

  3. Geo Michalopulos :

    It is only fitting that the latest round of shenanigans at Chambesy breakdown. One of the hidden agenda items among the Phanariote-controlled churches was to decimate the OCA.

    Let us consider the facts:

    1. While the OCA’s Holy Synod was meeting, a website named released the news of +Jonah’s firing. I heard earlier today that is run out of Geneva (haven’t confirmed it yet). Regardless, they were being fed real-time information from someone on the Holy Synod (a bishop) or Syosset (somebody like Garklavs).

    2. A carefully orchestrated plan by conspirators on this side of the Atlantic (Stokoe, Garklavs, a bishop and perhaps others) made common cause with collaborators in the Phanar. Speculation: in getting rid of +Jonah, the new metropolitan would be rewarded with a seat on the ExComm of the EA.

    3. HB was aware that something was afoot. Hence his earlier trip to Moscow. The clumsy descriptions of this trip (“official”, “semi-official”, “private”) indicates that HB had grave concerns. I realize that this is out of the time-sequence but it makes sense in retrospect. Let us remember that Stokoe’s newsflash tooks days, if not weeks of preparation. (As for that matter the pro-+Jonah website, more on that later.)

    4. The animosity against +Jonah is cultural/political. He veritably signed his death warrant when he signed the Manhattan Declaration. It put him on the side of traditionalists. The elite of the OCA are no different politically than the GOA in these matters.

    5. HB has been making nice with ROCOR and the MP churches. Not a month goes by that he doesn’t concelebrate with them. These churches are traditionalist as well and they see in HB a kindred spirit.

    6. The visit of HE +Hilarion Alfeyev to the US was instrumental in all of this. I personally saw how pleased HE was with what he saw in the Diocese of the South and he and +Jonah are quite sympatico on all sorts of things that matter. +Hilarion smelled a rat as well.

    7. The trap was sprung. +Jonah had to swing into action in order to save his primacy and the OCA from being overtaken by liberals. Hence his rash actions –confiscating the e-mails, attempted firing of Garklavs, the investigation into another bishop, etc. Personally, I thought he was hasty as well (and said so in earlier posts). “Why not wait until the All-American Assembly in Seattle, then gently retire Garklavs?” I now know the answer, because by then it’d be too late.

    8. As mentioned by others, Stokoe’s “newflash” had the feel of a well-prepared brief against +Jonah. In my own blog, I’ll catalogue three misstatements of fact for proof of what I’m saying. For now, it’s enough for us to know that supporters of HB have confiscated the incriminating e-mail from Stokoe which shows his careful planning. (Go to and see for yourself. In fact, I’d say that +Jonah and his supporters have more than enough amunition againt their detractors thanks to HB’s “rash” actions back in Syosset.)

    9. +Jonah was supposed to be thrown out of his office by the HS but he confronted one of the bishops with incriminating information that he (+Jonah) had against him thanks to the investigation that even Stokoe reported. It caused the entire cabal at that point to collapse. HB accepted the “leave” at first but once he was out of the confines of Santa Fe, he went along his merry way acting as the Metropolitan. You can go to to see several photos of HB meeting and greeting other primates. In the most recent one, with Patriarch +Sergei of Serbia, he is standing in the middle of five bishops, with the Patriarch to his left. Now, I’m just a good ole boy from Oklahoma, but I know what that means. Even Stokoe’s latest missive admits that the opposition against +Jonah at least among the HS has crumbled.

    And this bring us to

    10. Alfeyev was privy to all of this and the machinations of the Phanar and he pulled the plug on the recent Chambesy meeting. So now we come full circle. +Jonah will remain as primate, the rest of the HS will quake in their boots, the MC will start sniping at each other, etc. Syosset may yet crumble. Divide and conquer. Brilliant. As to whether the Great and Holy Synod takes place, I wouldn’t bet on it but that’s another matter.

    • I’m trying to remember the chronology. it seems to me Chambesy was in some dusty file for over a decade, and then Met. Jonah was elected Metropolitan of the OCA. The Phanar’s chief loudmouth (who I hear is being rewarded with a miter) comes her ripping things Met. Jonah wrote as a monk and spouting nonsense about the EA (the presidency of SCOBA was not Constaniople’s ex oficio), whose dicttates did not come to the end of the year. Am I corrrect? It would seem then, that the Phanar doth protest too much when it says that it does not obsess on the OCA and North America. The collapsse of Greece has resolved the question of where most of the Phanar’s funding will come from.

    • Nick Katich :


      In the most recent one, with Patriarch +Sergei of Serbia, he is standing in the middle of five bishops, with the Patriarch to his left. Now, I’m just a good ole boy from Oklahoma, but I know what that means.

      First of all, it is Patriach Irinej and not Sergei.

      Second, as an ole boy with Serbian-Bosnian roots, born in Italy, raised in Germany till 3 1/2 years old, and blessed to be in Indiana for the last 60 years, I do not know what that means. Please enlighten me. Thanks.

      • Geo Michalopulos :

        Nick, forgive me for misremembering his name. What I mean is that optics matter. The guy standing in the center is usually the star attraction. Personally, I feel that Patriarch Irinej was telegraphing a very important message: “+Jonah is the Metropolitan of an autocephalous church and I support him.”

        Go with me on this: the Church of Serbia doesn’t recognize the OCA’s autocephaly. Why then did it meet with +Jonah and offer him such a prominent position?

        • Nick Katich :

          George: Jonah was not invited by the Patriarch for a pow-wow. He merely showed up, knowing the Patriarch was there. The Patriarch, being a good Serb, showed and confered hospitality on another bishop. Nothing more and nothing less. Trust me; I know about what I speak on this matter. As for the picture position, I assure you the Patriarch, whom I have known for well over 20 years thought nothing of picture position. He is that kind of guy. A guest was present and it was natural that the guest be flanked by the two hospitable hosts, the Patriarch on Jonah’s left and my former bishop Longin on Jonah’s right. I assure you the Patriarch was not telegraphing anything. A week earlier, after Liturgy, I sat on a sofa, in the middle, with the Patriarch on my right and his Deacon on my left having a pleasant conversation. I assure you that he was not telegraphing anything in that case either to an otherwise room full of clergy.

          • Geo Michalopulos :

            I also know +Jonah, and he would never put himself in the middle of the picture. I also know how patriarchs act, and I can assure you that the hospitality of the Greeks are legendary as well. But if +Jonah had shown up at Holy Cross to visit with the EP, he would have even been placed close to the broom closet when it came time for a picture.

          • Nick Katich :

            George: You are dreaming if you think Pat. Irinej was trying to send any message, let alone the one you suggest. I am intimatelly familiar with the Serbian hierarchy’s position regarding the OCA.

    • wesley j. smith :

      I was speaking to a venerable heiromonk I know, who has been around American Orthodoxy for a very long time. He personally knew Fr. Seraphim (Rose) as Eugene, and St. John the Wonder Worker as Archbishop John. I mentioned the OCA autocephaly controversy. He looked very sad and said, “We aren’t mature enough for autocephaly.” And he referenced the difficulties the OCA has had over the years–and that was before the + Jonah War broke out into the public realm.

      I am not saying I agree with him, but this mess is very disheartening. If we can’t even manage to get past internecine administrative disputes, how can we hope to evangelize the country and create a united American Orthodox Church? And I fear it gives great encouragement to those who are not friends of the OCA.

      I have been very pleased with + Jonah from afar. I am more than willing to give him my trust until proven that I shouldn’t. But I cannot possibly take a position about matters that are being fought in public on the Internet. That’s not where they belong.

      Lord have mercy.

      • Macedonia74 :

        Are we ever really, mature for autocephaly? Are we ever really autocephalous?

        • Wesley J. Smith :


        • This is a good question. In what way can one consider the EP and the Jerusalem Patriarchate, with all their attendant scandals and petty jockeying, to be mature enough for autocephaly?

          • Macedonia74 :

            Everytime I read about this stuff, I curse a little bit in my mind. Lord Forgive me for what I am about to say, but …

            I think when we spend so much time pursuing status on one end, and then denying it on the other, it speaks a thousand words about our “sickness(es)”.

            When we put status before Truth, then we’ve gone astray, then our clergy are no longer shepherds rather hirelings. I think this has been stated previously, but I believe overall, any regional church that can trace Her roots back to the Apostles (Apostolic succession), practices/teaches sound Orthodox Theolgoy, and resides within a sovergn territory with Hierarchs that are, first through the prism of Orthodox doctrine, loyal citizens and good representatives of that territory (i.e. Solzhenitsyn’s definition of patriotism), should be viewed as autocephalous. And, none of this should supersede the fact that any Autocephalous Orthodox Church, on any given Sunday, is going to have problems that make others take a double-take, and that the only way to solve those problems is through community and co-celebration of the Divine Liturgy with other Autocephalous Churches. Any Bishop that doesn’t understand, accept, or practice this should be asked to retire to a monastery immediately, or put on a time out, or something …

            Mutual recognition and dignity, which requires mercy and forgivness over form, between Churches and then Co-celebration of Christ’s Mysteries and constant community is the surest way, in my opinion the only way, to break through ethnophyletism, schism, and heresy. When you do this, you’re actually practicing being the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and not just declaring it, and you’re putting Christ before anything else, like you’re supposed to.

  4. Scott Pennington :

    “At this point we need to provide some background. In the Orthodox world, historically the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem have existed as autocephalous churches, while the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is called the “mother church” because she gave birth to the Churches of Moscow, Bulgaria, Serbia, etc.”

    Yes, but what the article fails to mention is that the Phanar uses “Mother Church” in its addresses to all churches, which is dishonest and condescending to older patriarchates and indicatve of its papalist ambitions. It also leaves out the proximate cause of the Church of Russia’s de facto autocephaly: Constantinople’s lapse into Uniatism.

    “The latter has not failed to hide its hegemonic ambitions, especially among the Orthodox Diaspora.”

    Accusing others of hegemonic ambitions at the same time as clinging to the canon 28 narrative and having your mouthpiece, Fr. Elpidophoros, accuse those who see primacy (correctly) as an administrative matter of discipline, rather than dogma, of being heretics . . . Christ had a word for that. The hypocrisy just drips with blind arrogance.

    This is probably the best news in the Orthodox world I’ve heard all year. It was either this or cave to the Phanar. Endless talk corrupts. What I was most concerned about was a “meet in the middle” deal that would misstate Orthodox ecclesiology.

    Slava Bogu. Better the two camps just coexist as long as possible and let God and time work their wonders.

  5. *Now Metropolitan ELPIDOPHOROS of Proussa (now known as Bursa by most)… Here’s the original article from everyone’s favorite source:

    • Nick Katich :

      Wow! Another flockless Shepherd. I thought the Lord said: “Feed my sheep”. I guess there is a developing tradition at the Phanar that he meant “Feed the sheep in your imagination”. I guess that comports with the Platonic dualism of “idea” and “form”. I thought Origen was anathemized for carrying these Platonic concepts into our theology. I guess times are a changin’. When you give a sermon to a flockless flock, I guess you can call that just blowin’ in the wind. Oh well.

  6. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Prussia? 🙂

  7. Kevin Allen :

    I am beginning to wonder whether the Ecumenical Patriarchate truly has “papalist ambitions” as is often alleged (here and elsewhere), or whether its ambition is simply to see some order in the world-wide Orthodox churches. (I imagine I will get responses alleging its ambition is to “impose” order, etc.). I think we need to be honest however; much-vaunted “conciliarity” has not yielded much in terms of a unified voice for The Orthodox Church, much less in actions. While we are not supposed to be a despotic oligarchy, or a nationalistic dynasty, we are also not supposed to be a dysfunctional democracy. Organizations – in order to function – NEED leadership. We need to have leaders who can figure out how to work with each other, to lead the Church in the 21st Century. Frankly as dysfunctional as we are now, I am not sure an Ecumenical Council would bear any fruit.

    • Our problems started with the the 1907 Constrantinople Conference and its 1908 Tomos kicking off its paopal ambittions. What problem do we have which did not eminate out of the Phanar?

      • Nick Katich :

        Isa: None which do not so eminate. Therefore, ignore the Phanar and there are no problems.

        Kevin: You said: “I am beginning to wonder whether the Ecumenical Patriarchate truly has “papalist ambitions” as is often alleged (here and elsewhere), or whether its ambition is simply to see some order in the world-wide Orthodox churches”. I say: He is creating “disorder”. Until Metaksakis came under the influence of Metaxa or some mind altering “organization”, we did fine for a millenium without someone trying to create some “order in the world-wide Orthodox churches”.

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Kevin, I must respectfully disagree. The reason conciliarity hasn’t worked is because of an utter lack of humility and love among the principals involved. Speaking as a ife-long Orthodox, I can remember when the previous EPs were simply called “Patriarchs of Constantinople,” and addressed as “Your Holiness.” That’s all gone out the window now. Go to the Phanar’s website, it’s just pointless musings on an obsolete canon which was nullified right after it was created. All of the patriarchs are at fault as well. As +Jonah wrote in an essay many years ago, concepts such as “universal jurisdiction” are effectively held by all of them, hence the present anarchy in America. If love abounded then they’d stop this nonsense and tell their eparchies, “unite! and be done with it!” It’d be that simple. But the fault does not stop there. We here in America don’t really want to unite.

      I for one refuse to believe that this is simply about “good order” in the Church on an international level. The EP has primacy of honor. That’s enough.

  8. Macedonia74 :

    I don’t think the EC+ has “papist ambitions” as well, albeit I’ve seen some “evidence” that he would like to see Orthodoxy under Rome or something similar to this so that he can ramain the EC+. He is fighting for his life in Turkey and instead of viewing this situation as he is supposed to be “what did I do wrong to get us in this situation” or perhaps we should do what is best for Orthodoxy, i.e. move the throne even and if this means I move to a monastery or teaching position at St. Vlads then this what is best, he is blaming others, and utilizing non-Orthodox methods and Helenization to maintain his position.

    In the end, if all that is being written is true, we have a Hierarch in the West with an established, functioning, missionary Orthodox Church (perhaps the “most” in Orthodoxy) seeking to dissolve status and “empty” himself at the cost of the Church, and a very sickly, poorly functioning, non-missionary Orthodox Church in the East agressively seeking to “fill” himself at the cost of the Church.


  9. It certainly appears that the Chambesy Conference was derailed by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev.

    One day quite soon, the Russian Orthodox Church is going to have to decide whether it is Orthodox or something else.

    The rest of the Orthodox world cannot be held to ransom by the likes of Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Hilarion.

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Briton, I must disagree with you. Regarding the entire charade in Chambesy, I’d like to say: “May its memory be forgotten!” A complete and total waste of time, unless it was interrupted by ski vacations in Gstaad or meetings at Davos.

    • Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim :

      Briton, as a member of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America I can say without hesitation that while is Moscow far from perfect it still has to take the lead in keeping the Ark of Salvation on an even keel and on course, otherwise the vainglory of Constantinople will steer her over the precipitous waterfall plunging her into the abyss of chaos.

      I have no difficulty with the concept of primacy on an ecumenical level, and I even acknowledge that a mere primacy of honor devoid of an accompanying authority is something that has never existed in the Church’s history. However, for the last century beginning with Patriarch Meletios (Metaxakis), Constantinople’s perception of her own primacy has been so far off the mark it is literally embarrassing.

      The Phanar still promotes its relatively recent, and I would add untenable, interpretation of the 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon claiming that it gives Constantinople jurisdiction over all Orthodox Christian who live outside the geographical bounds of the ancient autocephalous Churches. Anyone who has actually read the canons without a predetermined agenda and is familiar with Church history knows this is absurd. The only way to arrive at that conclusion is via circular reasoning. It is prooftexting par excellence identical to Rome’s efforts to justify the papacy via the patristic texts, canons, etc.

      Conciliarity is not just about checks and balances, its about achieving a genuine consensus by direct and honest discussion, which sometimes turns into conflict and drags on for years. Thank God for divergent opinions on these critical matters because it safeguards the Church from gradually embracing deviant beliefs and practices under the pretense of fidelity to the past, organic developments or good order.

  10. Briton:

    I think you have it backwards. Beyond Russia, there’s not much to the Orthodox world if shear numbers mean anything. It’s the Phanar and it omenogenic minions holding Orthodoxy hostage.

    Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia seem to be closer to Russia on these questions. There’s Anitioch of course. So, 3,000 Orthodox in Turkey, not many more in Jerusalem, a handful more in Alexandria and Cyprus. And a pro abortion Athenian Church. Whose holding whom hostage? The megalomania of a contortionist force-feeding a long discredited bastardization of the 28 Canon.

    • Alexander – I agree with everything you said – but not so much that the Greek Orthodox Church is pro-abortion, albeit some of their bishops and most of their political following are.


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