Response to the Patriarchal Address

While the Patriarchal address has much to commend it, the leveling of ideas it exhibits is troubling. The essay below was originally written as a comment, but I posting it here for comment and analysis.

Frankly, the ideas in this speech are muddled. It sounds like it an American wrote it who has only a cursory understanding of the history of ideas.

For instance, while the examples citing Ghandi and King are true, it is overlooked that the reason for Ghandi’s success was that the English, despite their empire building in India, still responded to Ghandi’s appeals that were shaped by and heard through the Christian moral tradition. The same holds true for King. He was successful because by drawing on the morality of the Christian tradition, particularly the inherent value of the individual, he awakened the conscience of nation shaped by that tradition.

Ghandi’s and King’s success however does not translate into a universal appeal for non-violence, simply because non-violence is not a moral value transferable to all cultures (take Islam for example). This is not to say that Christians should espouse violence, but only that the moral reasoning employed in the speech does not reach very deep.

Further, the speeches posits politcal polarities as if the only difference between them are of a kind, not value. “Should I have an apple or banana with lunch?” is all it asks. In fact, there is a world of difference between say, Progressive and Classical Liberal or Conservative ideas (Gramsci or Alinsky vs, say, Burke or Kirk) that diverge not only at their goals but, more importantly, in their foundational ideas. These foundational ideas are essential, and anyone who understands them will see that what the EP cites as three critical questions of the age:

1) Nonviolence;
2) Philanthropy, specifically in the form of healthcare; and
3) Environmentalism

depend on an even more fundamental question (and I would argue the question of the age): What is man? The crisis in the West in other words, is anthropological. The issues the EP cites, while important, are driven first by this foundational question.

For example, if you start with a materialist foundation (no God — a given on the Progressive side), then your ideas about the nature and value of the human person will differ from the Classical Liberal or Conservative view which eschews materialism and sees religion as the ground (and thus moral wellspring) of culture. This is not to say the Classical Liberalism or Conservatism is divinely ordained, but it certainly is closer to the Christian anthropological vision than Progressive ideology.

These approaches are not mere opposites on a political/cultural continuum (just an apple or banana). They represent different moral visions, moral wellsprings. They are the sources that teach us about the value of the individual, how he should order and direct his relationships, the moral direction of behavior, his purpose for existence and so forth. The differences are so great however that in many ways they are incompatible.

People get confused however, because the language defending the goals of Progressivism employs the same moral vocabulary of the Christian moral tradition, but mean different things by them. The author of the speech does not seem to realize this (the speech has too many “Americanisms” to have come from the EP’s hand in my view). He defends ideas simply because their moral resonance “sounds” Christian but does not seem to realize that many of the foundational assumptions of Progressive ideology in fact repudiate the values that Christianity introduced into the culture.

Sanctity of life is one example. That human life has value is the precept from which Ghandi’s and King’s words drew their moral power and by which they were heard. In our time a person can make appeals using that same language while still defending the “right to choose” (or justify assisted suicide, euthanasia and the like) and not perceive this contradiction in his own thinking.

This murkiness in language contributes to a muddling of policy goals as well. Take the EP’s mention of health care for example. Is the EP endorsing universal health care? Does he endorse Obama-and-Pelosi-care despite its abortion or end of life provisions? Unfortunately, given his unwillingness to offer any clear teaching about the sanctity of life in the womb we don’t really know.

This shows too why abortion (as well as the elderly, infirm, and disabled — remember Terri Schiavo?) remains a flashpoint. They are ground zero in all questions about human value and where we stand in relation to these questions inevitably shapes how we view other policy questions where judgments and decisions about human life have to be made.

Care for the environment is such a question. Environmental policy will greatly affect the social and economic dimensions of human existence, and how we value life will shape what policy we make that determines what the effects will be. The EP makes no mention of this social and economic dimension. In fact, they remain hidden behind a screen of moral exhortation that, while necessary to a degree, can also lead to grave errors such as we saw with the banning of DDT and other catastrophes that were justified as a moral necessity.

In fact, it seems like the muddle we see in the endorsement of health care has already jumped over to environmental care. The Patriarch endorsed the Copenhagen Protocols, which, in economic terms, is nothing short of revolutionary and thus highly likely to fail, but also a high priority on the Progressive policy agenda.

Lots of heat here but not enough light — at least for someone whose primary responsibility is the protecting and teaching of the moral tradition. Note how carefully Rome makes their distinctions whenever great social engineering projects come dressed in the language of moral reform. Note how clear Moscow is on the foundational questions of human value. We should expect the same from Constantinople.


  1. Well Done Father. I think we can all say what an invaluable resource your work and AOI have been during this visit. John and the crew here have also been wonderful these past weeks.

    I have long thought the EP is tone deaf to Western Culture and that the people who shape his speeches lean far left and have serious axes to grind. Hearing the Patriarch on Charlie Rose and the words he uses reveals a disconnect between his thoughts and his speeches. Its not a gigantic disconnect but its there nonetheless if you pay attention.

    There is no doubt the Patriarch is being fed the Angry Frank Schaeffer world view where the big bag Christian extremists are the enemies of the good and kind hearted progressives.

    The senior staff at the GOA is taking a huge risk by going all in on this progressive agenda. It is simply a matter of time before this experiment explodes on them. The only question remaining is what will the damage be?

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      The senior staff at the GOA is taking a huge risk by going all in on this progressive agenda. It is simply a matter of time before this experiment explodes on them. The only question remaining is what will the damage be?

      Good point Andrew. The EP has hitched his wagon to the Progressive agenda, particularly with the endorsement of the Copenhagen Protocols.

      Further, since despoiling the environment is so tightly interwoven with notions of sin in the EP’s language (the videos highlight this point over and over again), does this make the passing of the Copenhagen Protocols a moral necessity? If the language is taken at face value, and if we agree that the EP is a moral leader, the answer is yes. Certainly his endorsement implies nothing less.

      You are right. They are taking a huge risk. I am not sure they see it.

      • I was thinking that there is really a Manichean element to all this EP rhetoric. The dark evil forces of pollution and profit versus the enlightened environmentalists. Fanatics vs progressives. Copenhagen vs corporations. The good stay-out-of-bedroom Orthodox vs the prolife people.

        • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

          Andrew, just to be clear with the terms (very important), there is no Manichean element. What you see is the the twisting of the moral vocabulary in order to avoid real engagement with the Progressive ideas. That is what makes the endorsement of the Copenhagen Protocols so troubling.

          Copenhagen seeks centralized control of state economies under the moral umbrella of protecting the environment. Sound far-fetched? Consider this. Last week the European Court ruled that Italian classrooms could no longer display the crucifix in public classrooms while global warming was categorized as a religion.

          Copenhagen is statist overreaching into the economies of sovereign states, in the same way that the European Court overreaches into culture. Patriarchal endorsement of Copenhagen implies its passage is a moral necessity because of the moral authority inherent in the office. People who don’t really understand the issues will be swept along with the tide, especially after viewing the videos of the Patriarch replete with images of severe pollution, and hearing him say time and again that pollution is a sin.

          What happens if Copenhagen doesn’t pass? Does Constantinople become the activist wing of Orthodox Progressives? Looks like they don’t have a choice. They are in too deep already.

          Render unto Caesar the things that belong unto God?

        • George Michalopulos :

          Greg, even if Copenhagen is unworkable, unrealistic, and fantastic (and anyone with a modicum of knowledge in physics, economics, and human nature will agree that it is all these and more), it really doesn’t matter. What is at stake here is the loss of national sovereignty and the erosion of individual rights.

          In the past, apocalyptists have wondered about the coming one-world system in which there would be a universal currency, empire, and religion. What if they’ve been wrong? What if these things become irrelevant? In other words nations “exist” but their borders are irrelevent. Currencies are interchangable, and all religions are accepted but nobody really believes in them? In other words, that they are merely “narratives”? OK for you and me but not efficacious for salvation for others?

          • I like the way you put this.

            However, the wild card in this present and future (I think of it as a version of a sensual Brave New World) is Islam. Such a weak and unconfident culture is no match to a robust and self confident Islam.

            I would like to think that it is no match for a robust and confident Christianity, but the fact is it is as it is a product of Christianity…

      • Fr Johannes & Andrew,

        What is the “damage” and “risk” you had in mind?

        I am of the opinion that little risk is involved. The temporal benefits of going with the trend (in this case a materialist and “progressive” zeitgeist) almost always outweigh the negatives.

        Since the EP, GOA, and most who pay attention to them are already of like mind (with these trends) getting it wrong (in this case morality, anthropology, etc.) will hardly be noticed, let alone have any real impact.

  2. Teresa Polychronis :

    Fr. Hans,
    Your explanation of why Gandhi was successful against the British is correct. While I was in India on a study program in 1955 I became acquainted with one of Gandhi’s sons and with his personal secretary. Each told me the same thing: Gandhi had said his peaceful non-violence worked against the British because of their cultural and legal heritage. He explained that his approach would not work against a Hitler or a Stalin. Incidentally, during World War II, Gandhi called off his campaign. His reason was that India must support the British in their fight against tyranny. The son and secretary also told me that Gandhi had said that, if any foreign army were to invade India, he would take up arms to fight and repel them.
    In Christ,

  3. George Michalopulos :

    Teresa, excellent insights. I was not aware of Gandhi’s provisional attitude towards non-violence. He was a wise man. Incidentally, he got his ideas of Christian pacifism from Leo Tolstoy. Of course, I realize that Tolstoy played fast and loose with Orthodoxy but he was Orthodox at one time and it was a form of the ascetic struggle that informed his own pacifism.

  4. Can’t you see? It sounds like a Freemason wrote it. Connect the dots…the wolves are not at the door…they are inside the gates!!!

  5. Geo Michalopulos :

    As a Greek-American, I can’t but help coming back to this point that I make over and over again: that we are for the most part conservative in our socio-cultural outlook, and the wealthy people that make up the Archons are even more pragmatic than spiritual. For the life of me, I can’t see what they are doing getting on the Kyoto-Copenhagen bandwagon, when I know full well that they don’t believe a word of it (nor practice it in their daily lives.) I mean, what gives? Just an opportunity to dine with the swells at the Waldorf-Astoria and show show off? Don’t these people think logically? Can’t they connect the dots. Gimme a break already! Somebody please explain to me. (Sorry, but I had to vent.)

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      George, it is the same internal dynamic that Ryan Close points out in his conversations with Fr. Elpidophoros: To criticize the political/cultural ideas coming out of Constantinople is tantamount to a personal attack on the Ecumenical Patriarch. This frames the criticism as a loyalty test and renders the critic speechless since his purpose is not to attack the Ecumenical Patriarch. Meanwhile, the generalized moral bromides that justify the status quo remain in place.

      It’s the same reason why the Archons (some of them anyway) support a Patriarch whose cultural/political ideas they would never support apart from him.

      • Fr. Johannes, I have made the same experience on the German Orthodox Forum (mainly German and Greek members of the Constple German Exarchate) I have mentioned. There is an absolute unwillingness to look at the politics involved. When I pointed to some of the things pertaining to the European Situation (Orthodox jurisdictional disunity and interference of the Phanar), the reaction was across the board to close the ranks and accuse me to make an evil attack on the person of the EP. None of my explanations that this is not the case were accepted… it went sofar as insults against me and all the North American “schismatic Orthodox”…

        • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

          If people refuse to listen there is not much you can do. You would hope that if the EP makes political endorsements, his supporters could explain them. Apparently this is not the case.

          • I have posted and asked for verification. Give it some time, they are 9 hours ahead of me (PST) and are going to bed right now… haha
            Yes, it IS very frustrating to establish communications…

  6. I apologize, but I have an off topic question and don’t know where to ask.

    I read in a German Orthodox Forum, the EP has made the announcement, while in a meeting with the GOA hierarchs, that all Bishops under Constantinople can now apply for Turkish citizenship in order to be able to vote on Phanar business and to be able to become the next Patriarch.
    It was specifically made mention of the Bishops of the GOA in the USA among all others under Constantinople worldwide.
    Did anyone here hear about any such announcement? And if yes what is the reaction to this, im my opinion, outrageously strange idea? Basically,it says that Turkish Bishops running the Constantinople Churches not in Constantinople, but in North America, Australia and of course Europe. Is this a new Millet system who’s birth is announced?
    What do you think about a Bishop, who for career opportunities (becoming eligable to be Patriarch) applies for Turkish citizenship?

    Thank you for giving me your ear.

    • Even if the speculation is true. Just because you apply for Turkish Citizenship does not mean the Turkish government will grant it. They will pick the bishops they like and discrard the ones they do not. The government still has it hands were they should not be.

      You know the EP can survive without being a Greek Institution. There have been non-Greek EP’s before (I think) and it would be refreshing to see a Non-Greek EP again. After all, those Italian Cardinals In Rome elected a Polish Pope in 1978 and the world was changed forever.

      Besides, didn’t the EP say to Charlie Rose that there are no ethnic Churches????

      • The posting said that this citizenship thing was granted to the EP on August 15th this year by the Turkish government…
        The announcement was supposedly made during a meeting of the EP with the GOA hierarchs.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      Joseph, is there any way you could confirm whether or not this is true? It’s an explosive point, but it may also be an urban legend. Can you go back to the board and ask the poster for independent verification?

  7. Geo Michalopulos :

    Joseph, I pray that this abominable idea is nothing but an internet rumor. If however it is real, then this validates my hunch that the EP is worried about the increasing native-born Russian presence in Istanbul.

  8. George Michalopulos :

    Andrew, excellent point, which in my flabbergastedness I overlooked completely. If true (and I pray it isn’t), this would increase the dhimmitude coefficient of the Greek-speaking churches by a logarithm. There would be nothing more unseemly than seeing Greek-American, Anglo-Greek, or Greco-Australian bishops bowing and scraping before Turkish overlords for Turkish citizenship for the possibility of being “elected” EP (can anyone say bribery or simony?).

    Of course, you are correct, there is no guarantee that the Turks would grant it, but are we overlooking another, even more salient (and disturbing) point: would these ladies in waiting (if this comes to pass, I would hesitate at that point to use the word “bishops”) be forced to renounce their American citizenship in order to get Turkish citizenship? Is it possible that the powers-that-be in the GOA are so dhimmified that they can’t see this?

    Real men (read: bishops) would never pimp their wives (read: the Church) out to others for temporal glory.

  9. With regard to the discussion on the Ecumenical Patriarchate, I would
    like to make some points.

    I am the first to agree that valid criticism does not amount to an
    attack on the Ecumenical Patriarch, but I think some balance is in order.

    1) There has been some question of whether the Patriarch suffers.
    The present Patriarch has made some mistakes, but he has also quite
    bravely withstood six assasination attempts by Turkish extremists
    including several bombings, plots by Turkish military officers, and
    violent demonstrations by Islamic groups calling for the execution of
    the Patriarch.

    This in addition to repeated slander in Turkish newspapers, the
    confiscation of Churches and Monasteries and other Church property,
    and the desecration of graves.

    The Ecumenical Patriarchate is in large part experiencing the persecution
    of the early Church. I have come to the conclusion that the time may be
    at hand to move to freedom in Greece in light of a situation that does
    not appear to be improving. At the same I can respect the decision of
    his holiness to remain in what is a venerable and most Holy City while
    risking his physical safety.

    2)I am a supporter of Autocephaly and unity for all Orthodox in America
    and profoundly disagree with the Phanar’s environmental turn in addition
    to his Ecumenism, so please note I am not some sort of Phanar stooge.

    I respect the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the occupant of the Throne as
    I respect all Bishops of the Church. I think the term loyal opposition is
    a good one to apply when one remains respecful of the Bishop or Bishops
    of the Church while disagreeing with some things.

    3) The term “Eastern Papacy” has frequently been thrown around at the
    Phanar (and justly so in many cases). Dostoevsky used the term during
    the Bulgarian Schism of the 1870’s to describe the Church of
    Constantinople. At the same time, I do not believe the Orthodox Churches
    can be compared with or modelled on the outspokenness of the Catholic

    Much has been said about abortion. Yes, Pope Benedict is to be commended
    for being Pro-Life and his predecessor deserves praise for helping to
    bring down Communism. Placed in proper context however, the Catholic
    Church is in serious disarray. We can criticize the Phanar for being
    “Dhimmi” or the Russian Church for being “Sergian” but the fact remains
    that the Papacy used to burn people alive during the inquisition and
    ordered the Crusades.

    The Orthodox, Phanar and Russian alike even at their very worst moments
    never descended to the kind of murderous activity that the Papacy did
    over a period of several centuries. The Papacy is pro-life but has
    serious ethical lapses against it.

    There is a documentary film about the pedophilia in the Catholic Church
    entitled “Deliver us from Evil” that showcases a family devastated by the
    fact its daughter as a five year old was molested by a priest. Their is
    a scathing critique of then Cardinal Ratzinger at the Vatican with regard
    to his indifference to the growing pedophilia scandal in the American
    Catholic Church.

    The Catholics are outspoken on abortion (rightfully), but their
    credibility in the midst of history as well as the recent pedophilia
    scandals indicate they have a serious image problem to overcome to advance
    the pro-life cause.

    3)As to the question of non-Greek Ecumenical Patriarchs there were one or
    two Serbs who were Ecumenical Patriarchs during the Ottoman period. This is
    asserted by Steven Runciman in his book “The Great Church in Captivity”.

    4)With regard to the Russian Orthodox presence in Constantinople. It was
    Patriarch Bartholomew who suggested to Patriarch Kyril that Russians in
    Turkey should come under the Church of Constantinople. Henceforth, there
    is no fear of Russia to be attributed either to the Phanar or Greeks in
    general about a non existant Russian plot to seize the Phanar.

    Patriarch Bartholomew made a suggestion and Patriarch Kyril kindly and
    appropriately saw that Orthodox Christians in what is Turkey should come
    under the Patriarch who is the local Bishop.

    5) The suggestion that the Ecumenical Patriarch be a non-Greek is an
    excellent one. I think a good idea would be for each Orthodox Church
    to have one Bishop at the Ecumenical Patriarchate as a member of the Holy
    Synod to represent their respective local Church.

    The above comments are submitted respectfully and in the interest of
    Orthodox Christian harmony and brotherhood.


    • Some perspective is in order here.

      If I remember correctly Pope John Paul II made it part of his ministry to seek forgiveness for the wrongs of the Church. He openly spoke of the Church repenting many times.

      I think we can all agree how horrible clergy sexual abuse is but unless I missed something the EP has not addressed this issue publicly. Pope Benedict met with numerous victims to seek their forgivness privately on his trip to America. Has the GOA or EP done anything close to that? Is there even an acknowledgement of the problem?

      Could not the EP have been privately with sex abuse victims during this past visit?

      • George Michalopulos :

        excellent question Andrew. Does anybody know? I’d like to withhold comment until it can be verified one way or the other.

  10. George Michalopulos :

    Theodoros, wise words. However I must quibble on two points:

    1. The Inquisition was set up by the Papacy to STOP the civil authorities from needlessly executing people. And it succeeded quite well, as it saved many thousands of people from the stake (not well enough obviously, several thousand people were executed). Also, the Inquisition in Spain was taken over by the Crown, which used it to purge the Church of conversos or those Jews and Moors who converted to Christianity after 1492. The Church shamefully acquiesced to this office being subverted by the State. Regardless, the RC Church did not use the Inquisition to punish, harass, imprison, or execute anybody –quite the opposite. (I suggest reading David Bentley Hart’s new book Atheists Delusions for a much-needed corrective. Hart btw is an Orthodox Christian.)

    2. The Crusades, though technically called by Pope Urban II, were done so at the behest of the Greek Orthodox Church. In fact, the Eastern Church never once condemned the idea of a crusade or war in general (in fact, we have a long “just war” tradition). This is not to say that Eastern Christians did not condemn certain peculiar side-effects of the Crusades such as warrior-monks which are oxymoronic in and of themselves (i.e. the Templars, Hospitalers, Teutonic Knights, etc.) As for the lamentable Fourth Crusade, the armies which plundered Constantinople were brought there against their will by the Byzantines themselves, to solve an interminable dynastic struggle. They didn’t want to go. When they got screwed out of their pay, they went on a terrible rampage. They were excommunicated by Pope Innocent III. None of this excuses this wretched enterprise. And certainly, the use of “crusaders” against the Russian lands are to be condemned.

    Please forgive me for these minor points. Otherwise, I don’t believe they take away from your larger thesis.

    • I stand corrected on the matter of the Inquisition. Thanks for

      On the matter of the Crusades however, Byzantine Emperor Alexios
      Comnenos was looking for mercenary soldiers to help reverse the
      Turkish invasions of 1071. He had no idea this invitation would
      result in the concept of the Crusades.

      Also, the Byzantine view of war was distinct from the Crusader
      ideals. The Byzantine wars were wars of the Empire, not the Church.
      The Bishops blessed the Emperor and his soldiers they did not
      necessarily bless their military and political endeavors.

      The Byzantines were shocked at the very idea of “holy war” for war
      could never be considered “holy”. Also, they were apalled by the
      Priests among the Crusaders who carried swords and fought in battke.
      They were disgusted that any priest would carry a weapon or use it
      against another person.

      The Byzantines were fully conscious of the Canons which require a
      soldier who has killed in battle to abstain from communion for a certain
      period of time. This is in recognition that even enemy combatants are
      God’s people.


  11. I have here the website from which the news originate. I don’t understand greek, but was assured that this article contains the story about Turkey allowing citizenship for any EP hierarch who asks for it.

    As far as I can make out, with my minimalistic recognition of the Greek alphabet, there is mentioning of the Bishops of the USA, Australia, England, Canada,etc:

    Συγκεκριμένα, ισχύει για τον Αρχιεπίσκοπο και τους ιεράρχες της Αρχιεπισκοπής Αμερικής, τους Μητροπολίτες της Ευρώπης, τον Αρχιεπίσκοπο και τους ιεράρχες της Αυστραλίας, τον Αρχιεπίσκοπο και τους ιεράρχες της Αγγλίας, τους Μητροπολίτες Κορέας, Χονγκ-Κογκ, Καναδά, Νοτίου Αμερικής, για τον Αρχιεπίσκοπο και τους ιεράρχες της Κρήτης, καθώς επίσης και για τους ιεράρχες της Δωδεκανήσου.

    I leave it to more knowledgeable people here to read this and inform us foot soldiers of its meaning…

    • The story is confirmed at today. Thanks to AOI readers for once again being ahead of the news.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      You are correct Joseph. We are having the text translated and will post as soon as it is completed.

    • George Michalopulos :

      This is the money quote:

      “Specifically, this applies to thie Archbishop and hierarchs of the Archdiocese of America, the Metropolitans of Europe, the Archbishop and hierarchs of Australia, the Archbishop and hierarchs of England, the Metropolitans of Korea, Hong-Kong, Canada, South America, of the Archbishop and hierarchs of Crete, and of course of the hierarchs of the Dodecanese.”

      (This is a literal translation.)

  12. George Michalopulos :

    This is too stunning for words. I wonder how all those who are wedded to the ethnocentric concept of Greek Orthodoxy will react to this news?

    • George, I wonder is this an attempt, with other means, to re-establish the Ottoman Millet system? Is it likely the Greek community (and it is not only the Greeks, in Canada the Ukrainians are under Constple, in the “Diaspora”) will overlook it’s 1400 years of “questionable” relations with Turks, the almost 500 year oppression under the Ottomans, the War of Independence, the 1920 “population exchange”, the 1950s Istanbul pogroms, in order that one in a gaggle of carier bishops can get promoted to Patriarch?
      Will Orthodox Americans (Australians, Canadians, etc) jump to their feet in joy, to receive a Turkish Bishop, or have their own Bishop forsake his USA (etc) citizenship to become a Turk? I have my doubts.
      I will observe how this will develops…

      • In my opinion, it is one thing for a Bishop who goes to reside in
        a particular country to obtain citizenship there. It is one thing
        for any Bishop who goes to the Patriarchate to have Turkish

        It is another thing altogether for Bishops who reside in America,
        Greece, Europe and elsewhere to gain Turkish citizenship. As a
        member of the GOA I feel the Bishops should be American citizens
        because this is America.

        Being Turkish citizens while presiding over the Church in America
        means being under the watch of an Anti-Christian government that
        has gone out of its way to wipe Christianity out both in its own
        territory and in territory it has ceased by force (Cyprus).

        This does not by any means present a solution to the Patriarchate’s
        problems. Either the Patriarchate should make a stand for its rights
        in Turkey, or it should leave. It should not bring those Greek
        Orthodox outside Turkey under Ankara’s influence.

        There are numerous Greek Orthodox Bishops and priests who were
        murdered between 1913 and 1922 by the Turks for speaking against
        the Turks. The idea that Bishops outside Turkey should be citizens
        of that country is a very bad one, to say the least.


        • Just a point of legal clarification. There is no reason why an American bishop who took Turkish citizenship would have to give up his American citizenship. Neither Turkey nor the United States have such a requirement.

  13. The Byzantines were shocked at the very idea of “holy war” for war
    could never be considered “holy”.

    Can you cite a reference for this? I ask because I have an interest in the “lesser evil” philosophy that is in vogue now in the Orthodox intellectual and seminary circles. Fr. Webster’s book “The Virtue of War” traces this philosophy to the early 20th century, but no earlier.

    However, if there is an explicit (not implicit – the promoters of the lesser evil philosophy find all sorts of implicit support for their interpretations) reference to the rejection of “holy” war earlier that might lend support to the idea that it goes back further.

    Thanks in advance!

    • To begin with there is a volume with a collection of essays
      entitled “The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the
      Muslim world” which examines how these two religious societies
      viewed war.

      The best on Byzantium in this book is an essay entitled “Defenders
      of the Christian People by George T. Dennis. Here are some brief

      “For the Byzantines, it must be said at the outset, both ideas and
      forms of holy war- Jihad ans Crusade- were abhorrent. They absolutely
      rejected both. First, the Jihad they did not understand it. What
      motivated the armies of Islam, as the Byzantnes saw it, was the
      hope of booty and a barbaric love of fighting…

      “Byzantine authors, from the seventh to the fourteenth century, repeat
      these accusations , as they profess their utter repugnance for the
      doctrine of Jihad. In their polemics against Islam they vehemently
      criticize the Jihad as little more than a license for unjustified
      murder and a pretext for pillaging.”

      Byzantium on the Crusades

      “Pilgrimage they understood and warfare they understood, but the
      conjoining of the two they did not understand. They would have been
      utterly appalled at the preaching of Saint Bernard and his call for
      the extermination of the infidel, as well as his assertion that
      killing an enemy of Christ was not homicide, but malecide”.

      Many works on the Crusades and Byzantium recount the tensions between
      the Byzantine and Latin approaches and attitudes to religion and war.
      Steven Runciman’s three volumes on “History of the Crusades” is very
      good, as is Johathan Harris “Byzantium and the Crusades”.

      Another source you may find interesting is “Warfare, State, and Society,
      in the Byzantine World 565-1204” by John Haldon


  14. George Michalopulos :

    Notice, I did not say “holy war,” but “just war.” Big difference. Very little (if anything) in creation and of it, is holy.

    • Ah, except the “Holy City” and “His All Holiness” of course 😉

      Important distinction yes. I was simply following Theodoros wording here. I am assuming he is referring to an explicit reference and not parroting the novel “lesser evil” narrative of history.

    • Understood, but what I was referring to was the argument that the
      Eastern Church did not condemn the Crusades when in fact both Church
      and Emperor expressed revulsion for the Crusades when it became clear
      what it really was, an endeavor that went beyond achieving security
      and defence.


      • George Michalopulos :

        Theodoros, I like what you’re saying, but we cannot forget the self-serving “revulsion” that the Byzantines felt. We must never operate under the delusion that the Byzantines were “more exalted” in their senstitivities. When it suited them, they slaughtered with the best of them. Or they hypocritically hired Goths and other barbarians to do their dirty work.

        Please note, as a matter of realpolitik, I’m not against states doing what they have to do to secure their borders and/or interests. Please read Edward Luttwak’s recent piece “The Byzantine Doctrine,” on The Weekly Standard website (last week’s edition.)

        • Correct, the Byzantines slaughtered but they did not do so under
          the banner of religion. There was no Orthodox version of the
          Crusades or the Jihad which asserted that one would go to heaven
          by slaughtering people.


  15. Michael Bauman :

    The ‘lesser evil’ or ‘necessary evil’ cannard is simply an attempt to avoid the moral choices and distinctions involved in fighting a war–an attempt to find a non-existent fence. Like all fence-sitting prevarications, neither ‘side’ is satisfied. It is cowardice. It is interesting to note that some of the priests who publically hold to the ‘necessary evil’ position refuse to say the full blessing in the First Antiphon of the Divine Liturgy. Refusing the blessing of the Church to our troops for ‘victory over all enemies and adversaries’. (which to me includes their own passions and demonic influence as well as on the physical battlefield). More prevarication.

    If war is evil, we should not participate in it, yet the Church has never been pacifistic in the modern sense. There are many soldier saints and one of the icons of St. Demetrios depicts him killing an enemy soldier (not a metaphor for evil).

    The attempt by some to make a dogma out of non-violence is simply wrong and does great violence the Church’s understanding of our duty in this world.

    The Church must always work for peace in every way possible, but there are times when the evil one threatens us through physical means. It is right and proper to stand up to such threats with physical means while avoiding the worldly concept of total war. Simply accepting the Augustinian concept of just war is not very satisfactory either.

    One of the big questions for me is if it is proper for Christians to serve in the military of an anti-Christian government such as is increasingly being formed in this country. The issue of the types of weapons and armaments we have at our disposal is also germane, but these are specific questions that can only be addressed when the main issue, war and our participation in it, is faced directly and forthrightly.

    There is no question that killing another human being is a horrible thing; an act that often mars the killing person forever even with spiritual guidance and repentence. It is obvious to me that the military option is used more frequently than it should be, but that does not invalidate its use altogether. It is simply moral and spiritual cowardice that prevents folks from really examining the issues from within the Holy Tradition rather than current ideological politics, i.e, the wars of Bush are bad the ones of Obama good or the other way round.

    • Excellent summation.

      We reallyneed someone like David Hart to really explode this “lesser evil” philosophy. The Bishops are getting nothing but the very liberal St. Vlad’s view.

      As far as ” ‘victory over all enemies and adversaries’” It has never been used in any jurisdiction I have been a part of (GOA, Antiochian, OCA, and Ukranian). Is it’s deletion a translation issue or do the bishops actually approve of it’s deletion by all these priests?

      • Michael Bauman :

        The offical Antiochian service book contains the full blessing. In my parish the Dean of the Catherdral always includes it, his assistant always omits it.

        As I understand it, the non-use of the full blessing began during the Vietnam War.

        • Michael,

          Is this wording in the in the great litany or the litany of fervent supplication (and not the antiphon)? – a priest friend of mine with the Antiochian service book (I don’t have it) says it is not there. Simply trying to confirm either way…

          • Michael Bauman :

            It is in the litany that comes after Blessed is the Kingdom. Excuse me for being so impercise–liturgics are not my strong point. I don’t have the Service Book in front of my, but I have one at home and have frequently read in it during the Divine Liturgy. The petition is there. A similar petition in the Great Entrance is simply for all armed forces everywhere.

      • “…give victory over our enemies and adversaries” is the prayer in my church (OCA)
        As well, we pray for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Government, the Civil Service and the Armed Forces…

  16. George Michalopulos :

    wonderful insights Michael. As I’ve said in another post, pacificism in and of itself can be a heresy. (Only the ascetic who is truly solitary can practice it, otherwise, even if he lives in a skete with just one other monk, is responsible for his brother’s well-being.)

  17. PRIEST: Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.
    PEOPLE: Amen.
    PRIEST: In peace let us pray to the Lord.
    PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.
    PRIEST: For the peace from above and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.
    PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.
    PRIEST: For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord.
    PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.
    PRIEST: For this holy house and for those who enter with faith, reverence and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.
    PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.
    PRIEST: For our Metropolitan, for our Bishop, for the honourable priesthood, for the diaconate in Christ, and for all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord.
    PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.
    PRIEST: For her Majesty our Queen, Elizabeth, for all civil authorities and for the armed forces, let us pray to the Lord.
    PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.
    PRIEST: For this city, for every city and country, and for the faithful dwelling therein, let us pray to the Lord.
    PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.
    PRIEST: For seasonable weather, for abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord.
    PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.
    PRIEST: For travelers by land, by sea and by air, for the sick and the suffering, for captives and their salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
    PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.
    PRIEST: For our deliverance from all afflictions, danger, and necessity let us pray to the Lord.
    PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.
    PRIEST: Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Your grace.
    PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.
    PRIEST: Commemorating our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, the Theotokos, and ever-virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commend ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God.
    PEOPLE: To You, O Lord.
    PRIEST: O Lord, our God, Your power is incomparable; Your glory is incomprehensible,
    Your mercy is immeasurable; Your love for man is inexpressible. Look down on us and on this holy house with pity, O Master, and impart the riches of Your mercy and Your compassion to us and to those who pray with us. For to You are due all glory, honour and worship to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.
    PEOPLE: Amen.

    • From the official service book of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, copyright 1971:

      The Great Ektenia (the relevant petitions)

      PRIEST: For the President of the United States and all civil authorities, and for our Armed forces everywhere, let us pray to the Lord.
      PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy
      PRIEST: That he will aid them and grant them victory over every enemy and adversary, let us pray to the Lord.

      The Divine Liturgy in the Jordonville prayer book, omits most of these petiions entirely asking only for a blessing on the President and civil authorities.

      I wonder what other differences exist?

  18. cynthia curran :

    I agree with George, the Eastern Empire use Alans, and White Huns and Goths to do a lot of their military work mainly from the 4th to 6th centuries. In fact, Asper, the Alan was a very influencial general during both Theosdosius and Macrion reigns. In fact, Germans have served under Romans as far back as the early Empire. Remember Herman- his German name that defeated Varus. And I believe that many of them first entered in service after Marcus Aurelius defeated a early German people. Both Constantine and Theodosius used a lot of Goths in their military units. In fact, the West in particular had Germans that control Western Emperors because they had risen to the rank of generals. The Eastern Emperor Zeno made a deal with Theodoric the strong soldier and ruler of the Ostergoths to rid of Odovacer.

  19. cynthia curran :

    Well, this still off from what views modern orthodox should take on the war issue. But on another blog which is historical I stated that in the long run bribery didn’t always work for the Byzantines. Take all the payments that the emperors of the east gave to the Perisans, and still had to fight out and out wars in the early 7th century against them. Maybe, bribery will not work for the US or Western Europe either in the long term.

  20. George Michalopulos :

    Cynthia, good historical analysis. We need to stop dissing the West because of their just war theory. There is no difference between a triggerman and the man who hires him. That includes the Crusades, which I think were just wars (for the most part), called by the pope to protect Christians in the Levant and to take back formerly Christian lands. The massacres attributed to them for the part are highly-exaggerated. They did nothing that was not in keeping with established military tradition.

    Please understand, there were excesses, including the idea of warrior-priests and warrior-monks. And it was the idea of paying for the outfitting of knights by those who couldn’t go that we find the first instance of what would eventually become the sale of indulgences.

  21. Michael Bauman :

    Another great post from Fr. Stephen Freeman on his blog:

    An excerpt:

    There are many modern forms of the Grand Inquisitor – or at least that for which the chapter stands. Our human lives are repeatedly tempted to take up certain “Christian” goals and implement them. Indeed, the increased organization and efficiency of modern man seems quite capable of eradicating hunger, abuse, neglect and the like. Strangely, the many efforts towards such worldly perfection (in the name of heavenly goods) has left history littered with failed schemes and occasionally vast amounts of carnage.

    I have written repeatedly: Christ did not come into the world to make bad men good, but to make dead men live.

    • You are right: a great post. I found the following excerpt particularly apt.

      Indeed, the Christian response is not a response to the actions of man: it is a response to the actions of God.

      Dostoevsky’s answer to the Grand Inquisitor is not a better-honed argument – but a kiss – it is the lives of holy characters

      That said, for all the injustice that an individual can inflict on another individual, I’d rather live with the “mess” of liberty than under the concentrated force of the Collective, where injustice can be inflicted on a truly grand scale. In this regard, in particular, the founding fathers were thoroughly Christian, recognizing the real and enduring problem of original sin (which power – to paraphrase Lord Acton – leverages).

      As I see it, the “real” sin of the statists around the world is that they are so absorbed by their “noble” goals and good intentions that they are blind to their own passions. Were they aware of them, they would be very cautious about their own power, and doubly so about inordinate power in the hands of anyone else.

      Father is right: the answer is not smarter and better policy, but holy people who do not react to men but rather respond to the will of God.

      • Michael Bauman :

        We become blind to our own passions when God is ignored. The statists, without exception, ignore and blaspheme God by idolizing the state. That is one of the many things that makes the EP’s approach so troubling.

        It is also one of the messages in the first chapter of Romans–“we love the created thing more than the creator”

  22. George, yes and I’m afraid many of us are falling into that trap any time we replace the truth of the Church with the wisdom of the world.

    • Well said, Michael. Idolatry is pervasive and unavoidable in a life that has not given itself with ascetic disipline to the love of God.

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