Table for one?

Over at Ad Orientem, John wonders about the Green Patriarch’s pending trip (HT: George M.)

By my count H.A.H.’s itinerary includes…

6 liturgical functions + 1 prayer service at the UN
8 functions at which he will be honored or given some form of award
3 excursions that appear to be mainly sight seeing
2 functions where he will be speaking but do not appear to be aimed at honoring the EP and…
24 dinners, or private receptions in his honor with VIPs (excluding private meetings with Orthodox clergy). Many of these dinners and receptions will be taking place in 5 star establishments such as the Waldorf Astoria where H.A.H will be staying for much of his visit.

I am very glad to see that His All Holiness will be fed decently during his visit.

Still I wonder…

How many poor people could be fed off the collective bills from all of those formal receptions? Couldn’t they have just had one really nice dinner for him and let the man dine alone or among monastics after that? What exactly is the purpose of this visit? What exactly does he hope to accomplish hob-nobbing with high ranking politicos? Does he think he is going to convert them? Does he think he might persuade the United States to pressure the Turks to stop bullying the Church?

I am of course deeply honored when someone of the stature of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and New Rome visits the faithful in America. And it is nice to see a high ranking hierarch speaking out on things like the environment which are surely important. I guess it’s just the whole tone of the visit which seems to have more the characteristics of a state visit by royalty than a pastoral one. If we Orthodox ever wanted a Pope of our own he would seem to have the role down rather well, although Benedict XVI has revived the old Roman custom that the Pope dines alone.


  1. cynthia curran :

    I just read an article on the patriarch Bartholomew. It seems one of the factors for his enviromential cause was the pollution problem of the black sea. It helps to understand the man’s thinking on the subject. Also, helping Turkey get into the EU. I heard someone mention that thousands of Turks would immirgant into western europe because of the higher standard of living. Think about how the Turks faired in countries like Germany where it was hard for them to become citizens. So, I’m against it for now. And as many of us state Turkey needs to improve on religious freedom. I think that he goes to World Council of Churches mainly to present the views that he has in common with them and not their whole agenda. Personality, I think most churches should not be imvolved with them as members. Foreign politicans because he thinks of their influence.

  2. This is a political/lobbying visit not a pastoral vist. What is the “carbon footprint” of all these lobbying efforts.? I would love to have a running ticker that shows the Carbon footprint of the Green Patriarch as he cruises and wanders through america.

  3. Since the Pope was mentioned in the OP. I thought it might be useful to have a reminder of his 2008 visit to the U.S. This was Pope Benedict’s Itinerary:

    Tuesday, April 15

    Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base. Private welcome by President George W. Bush and Laura Bush.

    Wednesday, April 16

    Morning Mass in private.

    Welcoming ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. Speech by Pope Benedict XVI followed by a courtesy visit with U. S. President George W. Bush in the Oval Office of the White House.

    Lunch with United States cardinals, officers of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the papal entourage.

    Greeting representatives of Catholic charitable foundations.

    Celebration of vespers and a meeting with the USCCB. Speech by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Thursday, April 17

    Mass in National Park. Homily by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Meeting with representatives of Catholic universities. Speech by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Meeting with representatives of other religions in the rotunda of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center

    Friday, April 18

    Morning Mass in private.

    Farewell to those at the Apostolic Nunciature.

    Speech by Pope Benedict XVI to the United Nations General Assembly.

    Ecumenical meeting at Saint Joseph Church, Yorkville (Manhattan), NY. Speech by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Dinner with United States cardinals, officers of the USCCB, and members of the papal entourage.

    Saturday, April 19

    Mass with priests and religious at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick. Homily by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Lunch with Cardinal Edward M. Egan of the Archdiocese of New York, the auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of New York, and the papal entourage.

    Meeting with young people and with seminarians at Saint Joseph Seminary, Yonkers, NY. Speech by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Sunday, April 20

    Visit to Ground Zero, the site of 9/11. Prayer by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Mass at Yankee Stadium. Homily by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport (Queens), NY. Farewell ceremony. Speech by Pope Benedict XVI.

    Depart JFK for Rome.

    • Pope Benedict’s Itinerary is non-ethnic, he does not allow himself to be hosted by or share the limelight with Radical groups like the Center for American Progress, and he certainly did not identify with a political movement like the Green/Poverty Patriarch does. Pope Benedict had substantial meetings with Church leaders of his own flock to strenthen the faithful. And if you check on that rally with seminarians was a huge event.

      How Much time does the EP give to SCOBA, seminarians or youth— a couple of hours? For crying out loud, women priestesses and The Coca Cola company gets a full day with the EP!! Coca Cola!!!! The Pope also stays at the local Nunciature–he does not hold court at the Waldorf and allow himself to be roasted by Rich folks.

      Here is another thing to consider: Pope Benedict is a pastor and teacher of the first order who preaches and teaches his flock. His speeches are worth reading well after his visit. The EP -much like his Havana visit debacle- always seems to be coopted by the religious left.

      The Pope knows the meaning of Pastoral Visit. The EP does not.

      • Coca Cola – Well, this is going to offend a lot of people who prefer Pepsi.

        Seriously, comparing the EP to the Pope – whether the itinerary or the visit to Havana – does wonders for the Pope’s relative stature. I doubt that was the EP’s intent.

  4. The Ecumenical Patriarch is coming to America to lobby for Halki. In my
    own opinion, this is a lost cause and I for one am absolutely apalled
    by the way the Patriarchate and the GOA have handled this issue.

    The Ecumenical Patriarchate should take a very public stance against
    the Turkish government’s continued acts of repression. His previous
    endorsement of Turkey’s EU candidacy has resulted in nothing but
    violent attacks on the Patriarchate and continued harassment.

    I do not want to be disrespectful because I revere the Church of
    Constantinople and its history, but I think the impending visit to
    the White House is a disgrace, especially after the debacle of the
    meetings with Obama last April where the Patriarch ended up meeting
    the President in a hotel room for fifteen minutes and where Turkey’s
    violations received absolutely no scrutiny from anyone.

    In my opinion, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is in need of serious reform.
    It should either publicly declare its rights against the Turkish government
    or it should move to Greece, where it will find itself in an Orthodox
    environment with a real flock and real Bishops and Monastics to influence
    it for the better, in contrast to the negative influence of the GOA.


    • Ted,

      It’s a shame you’re not running things.

      You know, many of us who grew up in the GOA appear anti-Greek at times – that’s really not the case.

      Personally, I grew up revering the EP as well….I had a picture of Patriarch Athenagoras on my wall from the time I was about 6.

      But to see how things are being run now…it’s just sooooo terribly disappointing…such a long way from the way Sts. John Chrysostom or Photios would have done things.

      In any case…you have my vote.

      Best Regards,

  5. George Michalopulos :

    Ted, Dean speaks for me as well. The GOA needs more guys like you. Andy, right on!

    It’s side-by-side comparisons with the Pope’s itinerary that make me wonder about the fruitfulness of the upcoming Episcopal Assembly in America. I know in the past I’ve been harsh in my criticisms of the Phanar and its non-stop gaucheries, but I’m afraid the problem is much deeper than just the Phanar. It’s quite possible that almost all of the Old World patriarchates are just as inept. Although I’ve been a somewhat enthusiastic supporter of the nascent EAs (based on the fact that the phanariote supremacist position was disavowed), I’m beginning to think that unless there’s genuine repentance by the bishops, it’ll be nothing more than another SCOBA. In hearing the interview with Fr Arey, I get the distinct impression that this is about centralizing pensions, real estate, and whatnot.

    Lord have mercy

  6. George,

    RE … gaucheries… inept… genuine repentance by the bishops

    How am I to understand this criticism?

    I sometimes wonder if this scorn of the Orthodox leadership is deserved, or if it is just the sulking of articulate people who think they know better. (Please remember that I am not Orthodox, so maybe there is a perspective I’m missing.)

    If I felt this way about the highest levels of leadership of my Christian community I would find it hard to remain there. Were I Orthodox, with this pessimistic perspective it would be difficult for me to maintain that The Orthodox Church is THE Church.


    • Christ chose Judas, so if He could put up with the wrong person in a position of authority, so should we. If personal failings disqualified the Orthodox Church from being the Church, what would we make of the Disciples, all of whom fled and abandoned Christ. The Orthodox Church survived that, we will survive this. THAT’s how we maintain that the Orthodox Church is THE Church: the gates of Hell have not prevailed. That’s not to say that Hell hasn’t tried….

    • Greg,

      As Orthodox, we know that Bartholomew is not the worst patriarch we have ever had…there have been scores of others, and some have actually been worse.

      We also know that the ultimate safeguard of the faith is us, the royal priesthood. We have a 2000 year tradition of lay activism in the East..from the times of the Arian controversies. We predated the Protestant movement by 1500 years. At the Council of Florence, the emperor turned to the patriarch and asked, “Why are all my best theologians…the lay theologians?”

      Comments such as George’s, Ted’s and mine, are nothing more than a continuation of a 2000 year old process…correcting the hierarchy when they need it – just like our fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers did. Don’t forget, we didn’t have a Dark Ages in the East. We, the educated laity, have been “correcting” our hierarchs for a very very long time.

      That’s something every American should particularly appreciate.

      Best Regards,

      (PS It’s also nice to know that +Jonah is our metropolitan though)

      • Yes. Perhaps the problem is that we don’t give credit to bishops who are true shephards. Among the GOA, I’ve heard nothing but good from all the jurisdictions on Met. Isaiah of Denver, and Met. Maximos of Pittsburgh. And Archbishop Anastasios of Albania is a living saint.

        When Stalin told the last bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church that he would destroy it, one bishop replied (perhaps based on a similar exchange between Napoleon and a cardinal) “we bishops haven’t destroyed it in 2,000 years. What makes you think you will succeed?

        • Isa,

          Re: “we bishops haven’t destroyed it in 2,000 years. What makes you think you will succeed?”

          I love it!

          Fr. Roman Braga, up at Dormition, always says, “This MUST be a divine institution….otherwise we would have killed it a long time ago!!!”

          He also said, at a presentation at St Andrew House a few years ago, “God blessed the Church in the Communist countries by persecuting it…now, the churches are overflowing with people. Perhaps he will bless the church in America now too.”

          Always thought that was something to ponder.

          You’re right though, we do need to recognize the good shepherds…just as much as we criticize the bad ones. First on my list would be my own bishop, Abp Nathaniel, someone I have seen quietly sacrifice for the church, over and over and over…far beyond what should be expected from any hierarch. Also on my list would be Bishop Mark of Toledo, may God forgive our church for what we have done to His Grace. And, of course, our new metropolitan…who I am convinced is only getting started.

          Best Regards

        • I’ve mentioned it before, but I am very, very grateful for Metropolitan Maximos. He has been responsible for either cultivating or bringing in priests who “get it” and was instrumental in helping Elder Ephraim establish a monastic presence in the US – the first being just northeast of Pittsburgh (Saxonburg). He may well be a living saint. Whatever frustrations I may have with the Church elsewhere, he and Fr. John Chakos (our priest), have been exemplars of the faith. As I’ve also noted elsewhere, they and my godfather (long since a priest) make the power of the tradition present in their lived sanctity. Ongoing contact with such people is a priceless blessing. They incarnate the faith for us and are essential guides in our own efforts to incarnate it ourselves.
          And yes, we must recognize and support such people where we find them. Though they never speak of it, they have all certainly paid the cost for their faith in so many ways. What has shocked me most is discovering how much and how often members of the Church can cause such suffering to the best of its own. But then, Judas was an “inside job.” St. Nektarios, too, has been a patron for so many priests because of how poorly he was treated.
          Though I do not know Metropolitan Jonah, I have read and listened to him quite a bit and have the same sense about him. May God keep and richly bless all of them.

        • George Michalopulos :

          Isa, I must agree with you in everything you said in this comment. Let me give a resounding “hear! hear!” to your comment about +Isaiah of Denver. He is a true pastor and evangelist, THE standout in the GOA. In all my years in his diocese, I never heard a bad word about him, and he was always a humble man.

          I saw him last at Mid-Pentecost in Dallas. He came by to pay his respects to +Dmitri, who was having a retirement dinner. I talked with him privately about the current brouhaha. What he said about it was private between me and him, so I won’t divulge it, but I can say that I felt that I was in the presence of a Christ-like shepherd.

      • Dean,

        It is always good to get a historical perspective.

        I suppose that if I lived in Europe in the Middle Ages I would be confronted with much worse problems. I hope that I would accept the Franciscan solution to work within the system, but I suppose there would always be the Waldensian temptation to heresy.



    • George Michalopulos :

      Greg, you are right to call me to repentance. I hope that we don’t put you off from being Orthodox. Speaking for myself, I remain in the faith in spite of our “leaders.”

      That is in fact the problem: we only have one head, Christ. Thanks to the later Byzantine emperors, the Turkish sultans, and (let us be honest) the Romanov czars, we laymen have been content to let the bishops take care of things, even when it wasn’t within their competence or proper authority.

      Bellyaching from people like me is unpleasant (and damaging to my own salvation) but there is a kernel of truth trying to get out, and that is that as long as the North American bishops continue these hamfisted actions, then better men than me will continue to cry out.

      Please don’t take what I’m about to say the wrong way: I’m no prophet but the prophets of ancient Israel and Judah were usually laymen who called kings and priests to account for their many lapses. And they used harsher words than those spoken here to get their message across. Our language is passionate because we care passionately about our Church, the blameless bride of Christ. And yes, we care about our bishops, even when they act stupidly in much the same way that grown children care about their parents when they go off the rails. If we didn’t care, we’d just go along, pay minimal “dues,” not take the sacraments seriously, etc.

      This concern for my Church leads me unalterably to this: speaking for myself, I care for this country very deeply. It took in my great-grandfather, my grandparents, and my dad (and my wife’s grandparents). Whatever I’ve accomplished in this life, I did it because I stand on the shoulders of giants. Men and women who had the courage and humility to come to this nation and put up with more than I’ll ever have to.

      Now when we see this great land being laid low by all manner of vice and immorality, and come to the realization that the Christian heritage of this land is laid waste because the Judaeo-Christian concensus no longer obtains (thanks to the failure of Protestantism), we also know that Orthodoxy can and should rescue it. (Sorry for the compounded, rambling sentence.) But as long as we persist in talking about “primacy” instead of preaching the Gospel, then we abrogate our witness.

      I pray that you will join the Faith. If I didn’t believe that it was the true faith, I’d have left a long time ago.

  7. No Nobel Prize for the EP this year! One thing I have sensed over the years is that the GOA and Phanar pretty much covet the Nobel Peace Prize for the EP. They very much want him to have it and I believe that many of these left wing meltdowns are efforts to have the EP become a Nobel Laureaute. There is also probably alot of lobbying in the background for this prize.
    I wonder how many times he has submitted his name and been rejected. It has to be up there by now. The bureaucrats at 79th Street and the Phanar must feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick in vain to kick the football only to have it pulled out from under them again and again.

    This year the EP loses out to Barack Obama who was president for only 10 days when he applied for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Actually, I am relieved the Green Patriarch did not win again. To award the Nobel Prize to the EP for being an enviromentalist not an evangelist would cause harm and confusion to the Body of Christ. The World does not need a Green Patriarch.

    • I had missed that the big 0 (that’s a zero) was given the prize. What a farce.

      Maybe the EP can get the Olympics, though.

  8. I hear it was a close race…Kermit the Frog was runner up.

    That could be a rumor though.

    Kyrie Eleison!!!


  9. George Michalopulos :

    re the Big O getting the peace prize: can’t you just feel the peace just breaking out all over?

    Seriously, Andrew, you’ve got a point, maybe even hit the nail on the head. I’m convinced that Oslo gave Obama the prize as a bribe to get out of Afghanistan, otherwise, if he listens to McChrystal and sends in another 40,000 men, the Oslo committee will look like fools. (not that they don’t already.)

    • George,

      You know what caught me the other day. I went to the GOA website and there is a invitation to “Join the Movement” and follow the Green Patriarch on facebook and twitter. Join the Movement? Since when is the Church a movement?

      More and more I think there a total breakdown of the basic fundamentals of the faith in the leadership of the GOA and the Phanar. The choice of words at the GOA is both startling and tragic. The ability to communicate the faith has been compromised.

      The light of Christ does not come from an energy efficient Light Bulb. This is not the faith people gave up their lives for.

  10. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    The Church is not a movement, unlike environmentalism. You wonder if they are getting everything confused.

  11. George Michalopulos :

    This may be the logical end-result of nationalism, that is to say the incipient nationalism that was somewhat justified in the recreation of the Balkan Orthodox kingdoms but which became co-opted by the governments in question. Nationalism and secularism are both non-spiritual at their cores (notice I did not say “patriotism,” we are called as Christians to be patriotic). The Russian Orthodox Church paid for their subservience to the Romanov political agenda by being persecuted by the Bolsheviks. I fear that the CoG and the EP (and us here in the US) are in store for a more insidious persecution, one from which is not violent but from which our Churches may not recover.

    Please listen to Fr Thomas Hopko’s lecture “When Bishops Disappoint.” In the last days, the Church will exist but only as a “form of religion,” not as “the religion.” Bishops will still dress in their robes and swing censers, but theology will give way to political pieties (see the latest idiocies from Arb Puhalo). This has already happened in most all the major mainstream Protestant denominations. They are just as political and as wedded to the prevailing political ethos as the ROC bishops ever were (in fact, far more so). But they think because they are “compassionate” and “caring” that they are more in the spirit of Jesus than the more retrograde “fundamentalists.”

  12. Nationalism and secularism are both non-spiritual at their cores (notice I did not say “patriotism,” we are called as Christians to be patriotic).

    Mr. Michalopulos (or anyone else),

    Do you have any Orthodox sources for this? I believe you to be correct, and have found Christian defenses of patriotism from Saint Clive (C.S. Lewis) and Chesterton to name two, but don’t have much to go on from an Orthodox point of view. Fr. Webster touches on it in his “The Virtue of War” but his main theme of course is refuting the “lesser evil” philosophy.

    In any case, I would be interested in any Orthodox thinkers you could point me to.

    Thanks in advance!


  13. cynthia curran :

    Probably, the last Byzantne Emperor Constantine XI, I believe that he stated that it is good to die for Country and Emperor and God. He certainly died for Country or city-state and God.

  14. George Michalopulos :

    Christopher, right off the top of my head I can quote four Scriptural sources (although not chapter/verse, forgive me):

    1. Jesus cried over Jerusalem. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…but you would have me not.”

    2. St Paul said: “Pray for the Emperor.” Also: “The king does not hold the sword in vain.”

    3. St Peter said: “Fear God, honor the king, love man.”

    4. John the Baptist told soldiers who came to him what they could do to become better soldiers: “do not extort, be content with your wages, etc.”

    The first passage may be more opaque but it is clear that Jesus was a Jewish patriot in that he loved His nation and worried about its future (he predicted the destruction of the Temple). He preached primarily among the Jews, and only with reluctance to the non-Jews (he even called the Syrian woman who begged him to cure her daughter, “a dog”). He paid taxes to the state, the Temple, and obeyed its laws. And let’s not forget, He accepted the legitmaacy of the state when He submitted to arrest and execution. He didn’t have to die, He could have escaped into the Judean desert, gathered an army, and come back to try and lead an insurrection.

    As far as John the Baptist, he did not delegitimize their occupation. Far from it, he saw it as a necessary and good thing in and of itself. Notice for example, no prostitute came to him asking how to be a “better prostitute.” Let’s develop this further: no abortionist came to him asking how to be a better abortionist. Clearly, if there was something intrinsically wrong with the profession of arms, John would have said for them to beat their swords into plowshares, or some such.

    When we get to Paul, we must understand the context of what and who he was talking about. Quite probably, when Paul said “pray for the emperor,” the emperor in question was probably Caius (also known as the madman Caligula). Even if it had not been this particular monster, Caligula’s predecessor (Tiberius) was a bloodthirsty man and notorious pederast. Even if we take the position that Paul was talking about the king of Judea, we are talking about one of the Herodians, men who were monstrous on their own. (In fact, from about 40-55 AD, Judea was completely independent, the last Roman garrison had left a little after the crucifixion of Jesus. They were only brought back in many years later when it became clear that the Judea was becoming unstable.)

    Forgive me for the history lesson, but the implication of Scripture alone is that we should love our respective nations. Besides, it’s logical: if you don’t love your country, how can you love the people who are in it? I realize we are called to love all men, but if you can’t begin with the ones you see, then you’re really not a philanthropist, are you? Besides, all nations (legally constituted ones anyway) create benefits for their citizens, things like the rule of law, roads, schools, public safety, etc. These are good things. If nothing else, the state restrains evil. I believe St Augustine was a premier political theorist but I think there are other Church Fathers as well who talk about the necessity of patriotism. (Not nationalism, which is a type of idolatry.)

  15. cynthia curran :

    George is of course correct on all of this history, neither the Caesars nor the Herodians well always good rulers.Tiberius was worst in his later years when he allow Sejanus too much influence in his later years. Tiberius was different as a young man, he had loved Vispania but Augustus force him to marry his adulterous daughter Julia. And alas, in his old age he turn to perverisons.

  16. George Michalopulos :

    Cynthia, wasn’t it Tiberius who said “It is better to be feared than loved”?

  17. Thanks for the thoughts George. Your post with some context and little expansion would make a good essay…

  18. George Michalopulos :

    Thanks for the words of encouragement. I’ll get to work on it! Soon, I hope.

  19. cynthia curran :

    George,I believe so, it was Tiberius, I’m looking at a fast look at Suetonius’s life of him and have not found that quote.

  20. George Michalopulos :

    Cynthia, try Tacitus. Otherwise, it may be apocryphal.

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